I am a self diagnosed obsessive compulsive Disney Dining Planner, so when it came time for The Hunter Family to take our first cruise, I was near in a panic over the dining. There is no planning here, other than the adult only establishments. Disney assigns you a “rotation” of the main dining rooms, along with a seating time of either 5:30 or 8:15. Word has it that you can request a time and/or a specific rotation, but we decided to throw caution to the wind (and take anxiety medication) and allow Disney to choose for us. I happily made one reservation for brunch at Palo on our first sea day, and then turned my obsession loose on the Port Adventures….Don’t worry, you can read all about that in a future post.
We received our Key to the World cards when we checked in at the airport, and discovered that our rotation was ERAERRA and that we were seated at table 39 for the 8:15 seating. The Fantasy has three main dining rooms, and they are Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace, and Animator’s Palate. So, if you follow along, we were in Enchanted Gardens for our first night, and yes, I was also nervous about the idea of sitting with at least one other family. What if we didn’t like them? What if they didn’t like us? Yikes, it was just like being in high school all over again…but, my fears were quickly laid to rest. We were seated with a lovely family from Utah, who had a daughter a year younger than our son.They were very friendly, and somehow, Bryan, the dad, is a cyclist…as is my husband. Now, I know that Disney tries to “match” the families, but what are the odds that in about 4,000 people, they are going to seat two cyclists at the same table? It boggles the mind what The Mouse can do.
Now on to the dining…sorry, I don’t have much in the way of food porn, as I was too busy stuffing myself silly. And yes, kids, you can have three entrees, two desserts…anything you want. Kids can order from the adult menu, they will bring you Mickey bars every night, as we learned from Bryan’s wife Kim, and your servers move with you from room to room. Our Assistant Server, Mikey, was just the best. By the second night, he knew that I would want an iced tea with lemon, that our son is NOT allowed to have caffeine, and that I could easily be talked into a cocktail. He entertained the kids with magic tricks during lengthy waits, reminded me to take my motion sickness meds, and and made sure that Kim, who was pregnant, knew if any of the menu items were not suitable for her. The other members of our team were good, but Mikey was the best. For those who have never cruised, the tips for your servers are a set amount per person per night for each member of the team. Mikey was the only member of our team that we felt deserved an extra tip, and we made sure he knew how we felt.
So, as for the food…it was very good. With the exception of Palo, it wasn’t stand on your head great, but it was very good. I was going to do a lengthy, meal by meal review, but I will give you my must-dos and must-don’ts instead. In Enchanted Garden, the prime rib and the North Atlantic Lobster Ravioli were excellent…the ravioli are an appetizer, but I could have eaten an entree sized portion and been happy as a clam. My hubby did not care for the Heirloom Tomato Soup and as he is a soup snob, I would take him at his word on that one. Desserts here were kind of bland, with the Steamed lemon Buttermilk Pudding being the best of the bunch. Another hint…ask for an extra dessert to take as a snack to the midnight movie. Yes, they will even give you soda in to-go cups! This saves money, as the snack bar outside the movie theater is one of the few places that is not included in the price of the cruise.
We were in Royal Court for formal night, and this was my favorite meal of the cruise. The Aged Angus Grilled Beef Tenderloin topped with garlic shrimp was terrific, and the Grand Marnier Souffle was to DIE FOR. I won’t lie, I also had the Peanut Butter Mousse to go. It was also quite tasty, but I am a sucker for chocolate and peanut butter in any form I can have it. The specialty drinks here were also the best, be sure to have a Double Crowned. We were also in Royal Court for The Captain’s Gala, AKA Lobster Night. My favorite part of The Captain’s Gala was the free drinks in the atrium, they were delicious, and did I mention free?? A yummy rum drink, champagne, beer, and fancy juices for the kids, and did I mention free? The lobster at this meal wasn’t my favorite, as it was baked, not steamed, and this was just not my thing…there was no amount of butter that was making that lobster work for me. If you are a mushroom person, do not miss the Wild Forest Mushroom Soup, it was heavenly, I had to stop myself from licking the bowl.
Pirate Night was also at Royal Court for us, but the menu for Pirate Night is the same in each dining room. I had two appetizers here,The Buccaneer’s Sun-Ripened Pineapple and Pirates Golden Pot Stickers; they were both not to be missed. No one at our table enjoyed any of the Pirate desserts…my advice to you is to eat lightly during dinner and head to the Pirate’s Buffet..the food was better by a long shot and the desserts were varied, plentiful and much fresher.
Our least favorite food would be found at Animator’s Palate. This is a visually stunning room, but the food did not match the atmosphere. Our first night here was the better of the two, with the Wild Mushroom Risotto and Porcini Twist and the White Shrimp Pennette Pasta being stand outs. Our last night was spent here, as was our final morning’s breakfast. The animation show here is adorable, but the food the last night had everyone feeling blah. Maybe it was just that we were leaving the next day, or maybe it was that we had spent the day in the sun and water at Castaway Cay, but the popcorn soup and the Roasted Filet of Beef Wellington just didn’t do anything for any of us. Oh, and the Baked Alaska? Not en flambe….very disappointing.
The food on the Fantasy was plentiful, and in my next post I will give you the highlights of Cabanas and review Palo. I will give you a little hint…if you are on the fence about booking Palo…go. Run. Fast. Book Palo….