Sometime ago we got going on some cruise coverage, but like most things, other things happened and the updates fell by the wayside. But since I am in the mood to reminisce and just lost about six hours of work on the Best Deluxe Resort update due to the fact my browser hates me and I’m still running WordPress 1.0, we’ll return with very brief commentary. These pictures are about 18 months old now, so things have certainly changed, but even if they were from yesterday, they will inevitably change again. There are two other posts linked on the right under Cruising – Disney Dream.
We begin with one of my favorite meals of the cruise – Palo brunch. Palo is one of two upcharge restaurants on the ship that requires diners be at least 18 years old. Brunch costs $30 per person and is scheduled on “select days” on 4+ day cruises.
The meal includes your choice of mimosa or a kir royale, which is sparkling wine and creme de cassis.
Brunch is part-buffet, part-table-service. Your server will walk you through your options at the start of the meal:
Things like eggplant with feta cheese, smoked salmon, salted meat (the bresaola in particular is outstanding) and prosciutto-wrapped melon.
Tuna nicoise salad, carpaccio-wrapped asparagus with hollandaise.
Caviar, tomato and mozzarella, freshly-baked bread.
Seared scallops salad, shrimp, smoked trout mousse, and smoked salmon mousse up front with artichoke hearts, hummus, marinated mushrooms and olives, and cippolini onions and orange something or other.
The same with sauces and sun-dried tomatoes in back.
An assortment of Italian breads, melon, and cheese.
Alaskan King Crab Legs, Crawfish, Seared Spicy Ahi Tuna in the middle.
The buffet portion destroys anything available at Walt Disney World. If Palo is the NFL, Chef Mickey’s is kindergarten T-ball. It’s not even the same sport.
In case you’re worried that you’re only going to shorten your life by six or seven days at the buffet, more food is available made-to-order. Your server will walk you through your options and take your order as you somehow make up your mind:
You’ve got a variety of pizzas and pastas, in addition to Eggs Julia, Eggs Florentine, Frittata.
Pancakes with rum syrup and cream.
The whole thing is a little overwhelming, but that didn’t stop me from trying to make a dent:
The pictures do not capture the quality of the pizza, which is topped with gorgonzola and grapes here. If this pizza is Miss Universe, Via Napoli is your typical theme park blogger. We’re barely talking about the same species here.
Oh my gosh. I would make a comparison to Mama Melrose or Tony’s Town Square but I think it would cause both restaurants to pack up shop and go home.
On the Magic, Palo offers picturesque views from the back of deck ten.
We got a killer cast member rate on this 5-night cruise and paid something like $560 for the two of us including taxes and tips. So potential splurges like Palo were an easy decision, not to mention bloggability even 18+ months after the fact. The same cruise in January of next year would cost something like $2,200. Everybody always asks whether or not these sorts of things are “worth it.” I would absolutely do it again, whether the cruise cost $500 or $5,000. Service is stellar and the food is excellent. And not like Liberty Inn steak excellent and Sci-Fi hamburger stellar, but like actually good.
With that said, one of the dining rooms will offer complimentary table service brunch:
Service isn’t going to be as good and the ambiance is not quite as intimate, but you should certainly leave satisfied, in addition to saving some money.
And there is a daily breakfast buffet of course. On the Dream it’s at Cabanas here as we overlook Nassau:
Scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes.
Corn beef hash, grilled tomatoes, hash browns, and more sausage.
A better look.
Mickey waffles, chocolate pancakes, buttermilk pancakes.
More of the same, in addition to poached eggs and asparagus. Miso soup with mushrooms and toasted bagels are also available.
Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, capers, onion, provolone cheese, cottage cheese, and cream cheese on the top. Ham, salami, sliced mortadella, turkey, smoked peppered mackerel, smoked trout, gravlax (raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill), smoked salmon, and pastrami salmon along the bottom.
Prunes, cranberry, muslie, sunflower seeds, apricots, dried pineapple, and a whole lot more at the yogurt bar.
Food quality here is probably similar to something like the Captain’s Grille or The Wave breakfast buffets with some slightly higher quality offerings here and there.
Breakfast overlooking Castaway Cay.
Continental breakfast is also available. Just let them know what you want and when you want it and leave the card outside your door:
You may want to start your day with a couple orange juices to put in your fridge for later.
There is a lunch buffet of course, of course. This time on the Magic:
And some examples from the Dream:
The lunch buffet is decent – on par with what you’d find at most Disney lunch or dinner buffets, though items like the lamb chops, shrimp, mussels, and crab claws are a little upscale along with carved beef, a large salad bar, little sandwiches, cheese, etc. Out of all the food options available, the lunch buffet is probably the weakest component, though I would still put it ahead of most other cruise line buffets that I’ve experienced.
A longer look at the buffet line, which didn’t tend to be all that crowded.
Seating at Cabanas on the Dream.
While there is undoubtedly too much food on board, some of the operating hours are constraining:
That table service breakfast is only available if you arrive between 8am-9:30am. Table service lunch is only available from noon to 1:30pm. The lunch buffet runs from 11:30am-3pm, which seems like it would be plenty of time, but with excursions and activities and such, it can be “hard” to find the time to squeeze in a meal when what you want is open. But of all the problems you could have, I suppose only 3.5 hours of access to crab legs isn’t that bad. I am constantly reminding myself that it could be worse. Sometimes I wonder what Universal’s cruise line would be like. Would you just watch somebody else take a vacation on a screen while spinning around slowly? Would their version of the Aquaduck have a metal detector? Would the ship only be open until 7pm? And where would you go after it closes?
Pete’s Boiler Bites was operating from 11am-10pm on the Magic and offers made-to-order items like hamburgers, cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, fish burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, hot dogs, and fries.
And somewhat surprisingly, shawarma with a ton of toppings.
You can see the meat on the spit in the back with the fresh toppings displayed out front.
You can get just a couple of bites or a much larger version.
Veggies, wraps, salad, and fruit from Daisy’s De-Lites. I don’t have time for any of this.
Actually, it’s all pretty good and the small bites lend an opportunity to try a variety of things.
All-you-can-eat soft serve.
The smoothies are a rare upcharge. On the Dream, the quick service options are similar:
But the various windows are closer together. On the Magic, they’re kind of all over the place on the lido deck.
Some of the various lounges offer complimentary appetizers and such into the late evening:
Chicken skewers, potstickers, egg rolls, chicken wings, petite fours, and brie on crostini with raspberry, candied pecan, and prosciutto.
A makeshift nacho bar.
“Nightlife” on the Disney ships tends to be deader than the ballroom in Haunted Mansion, which may not be a good joke because the ballroom scene in Haunted Mansion is actually pretty hoppin’ and nightlife on the ship is completely dead. My point for the moment is just that the food tends to sit out a bit too long as nobody comes by to pick anything up, and the quality suffers because of it. Your goal should instead be to drink until it tastes good.
On the Pirate Party night there was a late night buffet that we “literally” stumbled upon after approximately 375 straight hours of drinking:
A baked potato bar.
Fajitas for some reason.
Crepes I think?
I just about lost it when I saw the turkey legs and proceeded to grab two and pretend like I was a pirate and the turkey legs were my peg arms. I really hope I didn’t eat them both, but I’m also certain I did.
In case the day’s 14 desserts weren’t enough.
Vista Cafe is another option on the Dream.
I think each one of these desserts requires a fancy coffee purchase.
I’m not sure if anybody really cares about cruising, but I’ll probably run a few more posts either way. I have something like 1,500 pictures. It would make sense to cover the various dining rooms and dinners next.
On the Disney World front, we’ll probably get out to Animal Kingdom for a rope drop on Monday. Maybe over to Magic Kingdom for a wall update. It’s really hard to come up with something interesting to talk about at Epcot, but I’m open to ideas if somebody has one. Maybe a rope drop that starts with Soarin’ or something.