Disney Dream Dining
In a sea of new ships boasting dozens of dining options, Disney Dream's five main restaurants (excluding the buffet at Cabanas) may seem comparatively limited. But, Disney does more with five than others do with twice that many, and it reminds us in the process that quality trumps quantity. Each of Dream's three themed main dining restaurants -- Animator's Palate, Enchanted Garden and the Royal Palace -- has its own appeal, and all have elaborate themed decor. It's in this area, in creating magical, whimsical spaces that come to life, where Disney really triumphs.
The addition of the adults-only Remy (French) and the return of adults-only Palo (Italian) are other dining options. The Rotational Dining system in place on Disney's other ships carries over to Dream, so you rotate to each of three themed restaurants each night while your servers follow you. While it's fun to move to a new setting nightly, and we appreciate getting to know our waiter, Disney still sticks to traditional assigned dining times, and on this trip we found we longed for more flexible options.
At Animator's Palate, also on Magic and Wonder, screens adorned with Disney art begin in black and white and then transform into color during meals. In keeping with the theme, the screens take you to an underwater world with fish, bubbles and appearances by Bruce the Shark and other "Finding Nemo" characters. Also promising to entertain you while you eat, the Versailles-inspired Enchanted Garden (which thankfully replaces the tired Parrot Cay) throws a bit of pizzazz into the dining experience by cleverly transforming day into night with lighting effects. The Royal Palace will tickle princess-lovers with its hand-painted portraits of "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty," character stop-'n'-chats and waiters decked out in royal duds who make you feel as if you're about to witness the changing of the guard. Little imperial touches are everywhere, right down to bread baskets in the shape of Cinderella's coach. A bit much? Sure, but it is Disney after all.
Overall, the quality of the food was very good, though success varied from venue to venue. The pan-seared sea bass at Enchanted Garden was outstanding and cooked perfectly, as was the double-baked spinach souffle at Royal Palace -- so tasty we ordered a second. The wild boar was getting rave reviews, though we didn't partake. Items for the kids were adequate but a little disappointing. The children's menu could use a few more healthy (or just more interesting) menu items for the younger set. The macaroni & cheese and chicken finger thing is getting tired.
Our servers were amicable and timely and had great banter with the kids. We didn't wait long for our meals, and special requests were delivered without a raised eyebrow. But, we did have some communication issues with the bar waiter on more than one occasion. Inquiries about our wine plan were met with a befuddled look, followed by several trips to the kitchen and back before it was cleared up.
Remy, a new restaurant concept on Disney Dream, is so very French that you may want to have your French-English dictionary handy. The venue -- named after the star of "Ratatouille" -- is, in our minds, the first cruise ship restaurant to vie for a Michelin star. (Its menus were created by a Michelin two-star chef in France and Scott Hunnel, the head chef at Disney World's award-winning Victoria & Albert's.)
Remy means serious business when it comes to food, and it charges serious prices, with an industry-high service fee of $75 per person just to set foot inside the door. (And, don't even think about coming if you're not properly dressed in 50th-anniversary gala kind of garb.) Having said all that, Remy really is a wonderful special-occasion restaurant; the $75 cover really is value for money. It was that memorable of an evening.
Cocktails and wine are additional, and a wine-pairing option costs $99 per person. Passengers are invited to meet with Remy sommeliers before their meals to plan wines for the evening. Go for it -- it's a great chance to learn something, and the menu's marvelous. The lobster with vanilla sauce and veal chops with sweetbreads were outstanding.
Palo, the ship's other adults-only venue, is a familiar and friendly face. This Italian/Mediterranean eatery, worth every cent of the $25 cover, serves dinner nightly, as well as a Champagne brunch on select days. The fish and seafood entrees were superb, and the panna cotta with fresh berries and chocolate souffle are dreamy. The brunch is equally enticing, with a cold buffet (meats and cheese, shrimp, salads, desserts) and a selection of hot made-to-order items (omelets, fish).
Cabanas, on Deck 11, is a food court with food and drink stations and the predictable selection of hot and cold buffet items -- including a few we found noteworthy: lamp chops and made-to-order omelets and sandwiches. Seating is indoors or out. Flo's Cafe has quick eats like burgers, chicken fingers, wraps (the fresh mozzarella wrap was delightful), mediocre pizza and a salad bar that was never busy.