I quickly learned last time, that the unofficial mantra of cruising is “Eat. Sleep. Eat More.” However, this time around, I made sure to save my dining splurges for the group dinner seating despite my multiple visits to Cabanas. Also, the days were so packed with activities, that the sleep portion was also rather meager.
During the lunch rushes, Cabanas is the best bet for getting a wide variety of what you want to eat. Make sure you make your way all the way (yes, ALL the way) to the back of the dining room, as some of the fancier food and more importantly, dessert, options are located near the bar area. On Embarkation Day, both Cabanas and Enchanted Garden are open prior to departure, so road warriors missing lunch to board the ship, fear not. There is food, oh-so-much food readily available.
If you choose to dine on the patio, especially while docked in Port Canaveral or Nassau, make sure you sit under the awning and someone always guards your plate. Those stupid seagulls crying, “MINE!” are relentless and have zero shame about helping themselves to things on your plate or fork! Also, nobody wants any “presents” from their new-found, and exceptionally grateful feathered friends. Cabanas also has quite bountiful,l breakfast buffet bonanza, but I prefer easing into my morning at Enchanted Garden (much quieter) or better yet, with room service which permits me to enjoy noshing on my verandah in my pajamas.
Of the three primary dining halls, Animator’s Palate is my favorite, largely in part to their lighter Pacific Rim menu and adorable interactive Finding Nemo screens. Tonight, we met our dining team: Helsnki (India; Server), Lucia (Dominican Republic; Assistant Server), and Roland (Netherlands; Head Server). No surprises here, every last one of them were absolutely darling, hard working, and exceptionally kind.
I started off my meal with the Creamy Butternut Squash Soup and the Black Truffle Pasta Purseittes. Initially, I leaned toward the Lemon Herb Marinated Chicken Breast, but folded like a soufflé when I caught sight of the Herb Crusted Veal Chop. The kicker was the sun-dried tomato risotto and the Barolo wine sauce. I should have stopped there, but then I peeked at the dessert menu. The Crunchy Walnut Cake with chocolate mousse and raspberry coulis was far too tempting to pass up. I oozed my way out of my chair fully prepared to slip into a food coma. I passed on both of the signature cocktails offered, but maybe next time, I’ll nix one appetizer and order a drink instead. The Golden Breeze is already calling me…
After our busy day of big kids’ summer camp, we descended upon the Enchanted Garden for dinner. Our group whittled down to four as Pat & Cici scored a reservation at Palo, one of the ship’s adults only restaurants. (Lucky Goobers!) The only mystery here is which Disney film precisely is EG modeled after. Taking a look at the menu and the children’s service plate, the flowers from Alice in Wonderland peek their floral faces out. Other than that, the room is simply a beautiful gardens themed venue.
Without hesitation, I ordered the Heirloom Tomato Soup and the Ahi Tuna & Avocado Tower for my starters. What can I say, DCL gives good soup. Real good soup. Despite my living in Japan for five years! and most likely eating my own weight in maguro (tuna) sushi and sashimi, I couldn’t bring myself to partake in the wasabi dressing. It simply is one of those tastes I can’t see to acquire. Helsnki took particular caution to check on the handling of my food as my dining record was notated with my seafood allergy. DCL and Disney in general are at the top of their game when handling special dining considerations.
The Marjoram Scented Roast Chicken with mashed sweet potatoes and buttered baby spinach was incredible. I came close to burying my face in those potatoes. Seriously. When dessert came around, I was feeling rather cheeky. I opted for double desserts: Esterhazy Cake and the bread pudding. Alas, neither particularly knocked my socks off, but both could have paired nicely with some coffee. I may pass on dessert all together next time, and cozy up with The Nutty Chocolate mixed drink as my apertif.
Castaway Cay/Pirate Night:
Unlike the four-night cruise, the three-night does not have the special pirate menu at all the restaurants, so as to avoid guests dining with the same restaurant menu twice. Previously, I dined at Palo on the night we were scheduled to take in the Royal Palace, so I was excited to take in the ambiance of the Princess-themed dining hall. Although Ariel wasn’t featured, Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella, and Belle were widely represented. I especially liked the art nouveau panels of the princesses and the cameos of their Princes near one of the corners. The room had a warm glow from all the crystal chandeliers, including the one with life-sized glass slippers in the center of the room.
After a brief hesitation, I opted for the Impérial Illusion cocktail, and then kicked myself for not enjoying cocktails on the other evenings with my dinner. I attempted a vegetarian smörgaåsbord, selecting the Deep Fried Brie, Porcini Mushroom Ravioli, and Grilled Marinated Tofu with Roasted Zucchini, Eggplant, and Red Peppers. The best of the three was the ravioli without question with the Brie a distant second. The coup de grâce was the Grand Marnier Soufflé. I should have made this my double dessert night. I snuck a sip of the Double Crowned, the other RP signature cocktail, which was equally delicious. I’ll need to go halfsies next time. Our head server, Ronald rounded up the service staff for our section to surprise Pat & Cici with a “Happy Anniversary Song” (that suspiciously sounds like the “Happy Birthday” one), but it came with a adorable little chocolate mousse cake with mouse rainbow sprinkles. I mean, who would pass that up?!
Having dined at all three restaurants now, I believe that if I had to pick one to sacrifice for a reservation at the Italian-inspired Palo or the French-themed Remy, it would be Royal Palace, only because it was the venue with the most Karen-unfriendly menu (lots of shellfish options). Knowing that RP is also available for a la carte lunch service, I think I wouldn’t be too crushed had I needed to skip dinner. The difficult thing about the adults exclusive restaurants (besides securing a seating reservation), is the additional charges required. Without planning properly dining at either can result in a bit of sticker shock (more so from Remy than Palo). I would need to research the Remy menu further as its also French inspired, and if I had some frustration at RP, Remy would be equally if not more dangerous.
Also, I’ll need to do more than the Castaway Cay 5K to feel less guilty about all the decadence I consumed, too. 😉