A cruise vacation is almost always synonymous with good eating and plenty of it. The Disney Dream is no exception. Dining options are bountiful morning, noon and night, ranging from a variety of sit-down table service spots to the less formal, counter service eateries, all Disney themed in some manner.
One of the more unique features of a Disney cruise is the rotational dining program, which allows passengers to dine at each of its three main restaurants for dinner. There’s not just the opportunity to dine somewhere new each night, but you also have the same servers at every meal as they accompany you throughout your rotation. It’s a nice way of getting to know some of the staff in a personal and individualized way. An added bonus was that D and I had our own table at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This was very nice considering that on other cruise lines, couples are not guaranteed their own table.
There are two dinner options on the ship, the first at 5:45 PM, the second at 8:30 PM. How it works is that if you have the first dinner seating, you will see the show after dinner, and if you have the second dinner seating you’ll see the show before your dinner. D and I opted for the first seating as we thought 8:30 was a bit late to be eating a four course meal. Seating preferences are made at the time you book your cruise and just as a forewarning, the first seating tends to book up faster than the later seating.
Guests are given the option of an appetizer, soup or salad, main entree, and dessert. All of the menus at the three restaurants feature Disney Cruise Line favorites as denoted by an image of a miniature ship, as well as lighter fare options featuring a Mickey Mouse symbol. Baked salmon and oven-roasted chicken breast are available upon request.
For our first night we dined at the Royal Palace, which features a French inspired menu. The decor is reminiscent of main dining rooms on other ships, the noticeable differences being the exquisite floor length paintings of some of Disney’s classic princesses-Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and a bread basket in the shape of Cinderella’s coach. All of the courses at the Royal Palace were excellent and the portion sizes just right (no course is too large so you’re able to comfortably enjoy each one). Highlights for me included my main entree, a pan seared tofu with grilled vegetables atop a bed of Israeli couscous and my dessert, Tahitian Vanilla Creme Brulee with a macaron. Soup and appetizer selections included Belle’s French Onion Soup with Gruyere cheese and a Spinach Cheddar Souffle. My only critique of the restaurant was that with it being so large and filled with hundreds of people, it was extremely difficult to enjoy conversation.
Our second night of dining was at the Animator’s Palate, a restaurant inspired by Disney animation. The chairs feature a distinct red, black, and yellow color scheme with a trademark design, Mickey Mouse pants with two bright yellow buttons each. Character sketches, maquettes, light boxes, computer work stations, and other tools of the animation trade serve as the restaurant’s decorations. Scenes and characters from popular Disney films adorn the walls and actually interact with diners (Nemo from Finding Nemo paid us a “visit” while there). Although the look of the restaurant was extremely innovative and memorable, D and I found the food at Animator’s Palate to be the weakest link of the ship’s restaurants, good but not great. Menu selections include mushroom risotto, potato and cheddar bacon soup, trio of veal, and a no sugar added lemon mousse which was terrific.
As we had reservations at Remy, an adults only restaurant and our cruise was just three nights, we didn’t get to dine at the third main restaurant, Enchanted Garden, although we did eat there for breakfast and lunch, both of which were buffet style. I especially enjoyed lunch because, in addition to the hot and heavier fare, there were numerous cold cuts and vegetables. (I reasoned that it would behoove me to eat sensibly at lunch since I would be eating so much and possibly less healthier at breakfast and dinner.) Lines for the buffet could get long but it was just something you needed to deal with and queue up when there was a break. The interior of the restaurant is stunning, similar to the Royal Palace in terms of striking elegance, but in a more relaxed and casual way. It has a color palate comprising whites, light greens, light blues, and light pink. The theme of the restaurant is modeled after French country gardens and at the center of the room is its piece de resistance, a seven foot tall cascading fountain topped by a cherub Mickey Mouse. Looks wise, this was my favorite place on the ship.
Other places to eat at on the ship included Cabanas, a casual spot that serves a buffet breakfast and lunch, and a table service style dinner on deck 11. It’s labeled as an alternative spot to the ship’s main three restaurants. For counter service options there is Flo’s Cafe, also located on deck 11 and themed to popular characters from the Pixar film Cars-Luigi’s Pizza, Tow Mater’s Grill and Fillmore’s Favorites. Selections there include burgers, chicken tenders, pizza, fresh fruit and salads. It was perfect the one day when I wanted something light and quick before dinner, and I found just that with some cut up melon.
There is the option of ordering room service, available 24 hours a day at no extra charge, however, sodas are not free (soft drinks and juices are free in the restaurants and from dispensers on deck 11 but not from room service). D and I never ordered room service simply because there wasn’t enough time to do everything.
Dining on the Dream was spectacular; it was probably one of my favorite parts of the cruise. Feeding thousands of people at all times of the day, with dozens of different things is no easy feat, but Disney Cruise Line succeeds beautifully and at least to guests, effortlessly. The Dream will not disappoint from a foodie perspective.
(Note: I will be posting a separate review of the adults only restaurant Remy. It was simply too excellent to post it with the other dining spots.)