Let’s face it, there are a ton of things to research when it comes to taking a vacation and a Disney cruise is no exception. Disney vacationers, in my opinion, are the “Type-A” of all travelers and want to know and plan, well in advance, every detail of their trip. I get it. In an effort to help those planning their next Disney cruise, here are 10 things I think you need to know about dining on Disney Cruise Line.
- You will be assigned to a dining time and rotation schedule. You can pick your dining time when you book your cruise—either main seating or second seating. Your dining time and rotation can be found on your room key. If you are unhappy with your time or rotation and wish to change things, visit guest services desk as soon as you embark.
- Your table number is the same every night. If you decide to eat in the main dining room for dinner every night, your table number will be the same—no matter which restaurant you are in. Your table number can be found on key card as well, but after once through your rotation, you will be able to find your own way to your assigned table.
- ALMOST all restaurants are included in your cruise price. With the exception of Remy and Palo, all restaurants are included in your cruise price. Also included: room service and coffee, tea, soft drinks, and tap water when ordered at restaurant and at the self-services areas by the pool deck and buffets. Do not order soft drinks and juices at the bars, as they are NOT free when ordered there.
- You do not have to dine in the main dining room every night – but you should. Why? Because you paid for it. The food is one of the main reasons to go on a cruise. Yes, the destinations and family time are a big plus too, but really, whenever you hear someone has just returned from a cruise, chances are one of the first things you ask is “how was the food?”. Food is the main dining rooms are created to be one of the focal points of your trip. You can try new things or simply enjoy a fresh twist on old favorites. And the DESSERTS—oh my! Plus, when you dine in the main dining rooms every night, you get to know your wait staff. By the end of our cruises, our servers were like family. They were attentive, got to know and anticipate our likes and dislikes, and, on our last cruise, my husband would just tell our waiter to bring him whatever appetizer, salad, soup, entrée, dessert, he thought he would like. The guy was amazingly intuitive and brought my husband food that he may never have thought to try but LOVED. So while you don’t HAVE to go every night, I recommend eating in the main dining room nightly. It’s a big part of the cruise experience.
- Palo or Remy? I’ve only experienced Palo but I would definitely recommend the brunch. Food and service was certainly worth the extra $$. Remember though, no kiddos allowed—not that my kids minded extra time in their “clubs”. If you are thinking you want to dine at Palo or Remy, make reservations as soon as you can. They fill up quickly!!! If you are unable to get an advanced reservation, you can try to make on embarkation day. Ask a cast member where to go to do this as soon as you board the ship. We were able to score a brunch reservation at Palo this way.
- Utilize room service. Even if it’s just for Mickey ice cream bars at night, it’s a great service that makes you feel pampered. We ordered room service every morning. It’s great to have coffee to sip on while enjoying the views from your veranda and having a little something for the little ones to eat while everyone gets ready in the morning is a great option. I have heard the lunch/dinner food isn’t all that great, but while the breakfast options are limited (baked goods, cereal, fruit), we enjoyed it. Personally, I think the room service coffee is better than the coffee they serve in the buffet areas. I’m not sure if there is a difference but to me it always tastes better. Room service is free of charge but you do need to tip.
- Buffet quality is always a matter opinion. Keep in mind when you read food reviews, some people are more selective than others. I found the buffets on the Disney Cruise Line to be pretty good. I felt the food was always fresh, well stocked, and of great variety. Being a vegetarian family (half of us are), we always found PLENTY of delicious food and never went away hungry. There are always mixed reviews when it comes to cruise buffets, so regardless of what you read (including my lovely post here), keep an open mind when you dine at one of these restaurants. If you decide you are not a fan, there are always plenty of other food options on board.
- You’re a grown-up—eat two desserts. Yes, you can order two desserts….or two appetizers…or three entrees. Stuck between the steak and the roast duck? Order both. No one will judge you, I promise. Your wait staff wants you to be happy and if having both is what floats your boat, by all means they want you to do it. And if you are feeling a bit embarrassed by asking for another dessert, remember this. My dad was so excited on his first cruise and the idea that he could order whatever he wanted that he got a bit carried away. When our awesome waiter brought him his third appetizer (in addition to his salad, soup, entrée and dessert), he had to tell him (very apologetically) that he couldn’t bring out any more food because the kitchen had to get set up for the next seating. So, go ahead and order that second crème brulee!
- Do not fear dietary restrictions here. Don’t. Disney, in my experience, is the BEST when it comes to assisting guests with special dietary needs. Make sure to note any restrictions you have when you make your reservations. On your first night, let your servers know your needs and they will be sure to let you know what is okay for you to eat. If your server does not know, he/she will grab the chef and they will be sure you have delicious food that is safe for you to eat.
- Miscellaneous food bits: Each ship has three main dining rooms, one buffet restaurant, and depending on the ship, one or more food service areas near the pool deck. The Wonder and Magic ships have Palo for fine dining and the Fantasy and Dream ships have both Palo and Remy. The main dining restaurants have set hours of operations while service varies for all other restaurants/food service areas. Hours of operation can always be found in your Navigator.
Did I cover everything? What are your “first-timer” cruise questions? If you’re a seasoned cruiser, is there something you wish you knew about dining on a Disney cruise before your trip? Comment below! Happy sailing!!