Disney Fantasy Dining
For the most part, dining options mirror those on Disney Dream, with one wondrous exception (more on that in a bit). The rotational dining routine unique to Disney remains on Fantasy, with diners moving from one eatery to the next each night, their regular servers in tow. The three main themed-dining restaurants -- Animator's Palate, Enchanted Garden and the Royal Court -- have each received a bit of an upgrade on the newer ship; for instance, a painted wall in Dream's Royal Palace is now an elaborate mosaic in Fantasy's Royal Court.
One thing: While you move from one restaurant to another each night, there are still prescribed times to dine, a bother if you'd prefer to chow down on your own terms.
Animator's Palate -- a colorful pastiche of giant paintbrushes, cartoon art and big-screen TVs -- is home to that aforementioned exception, the startlingly brilliant "Animation Magic" show. After you draw a character on your placemat (basically scrawl whatever you want in a template that looks like a person), they're scooped up by waiters. Then, about two-thirds into the meal, everyone's masterpieces come to life -- dancing, skipping, singing -- on the screens around the room. The effect is breathtaking. (Be careful with those drawings: Racy ones are censored backstage and won't make the cut.)
The show runs in repertory with "Undersea Magic," which features an animated Crush the Turtle from "Finding Nemo." He interacts in real time with diners, which can be both thrilling and a little off-putting if he starts chatting you up when you have food in your mouth.
The French countryside-inspired Enchanted Garden transforms from day into night depending on what meal you're at -- daytime for breakfast and lunch, nighttime for dinner (complete with starry sky). Meanwhile, the waiters at the Royal Court -- a richly appointed affair with a huge chandelier, plush furniture and myriad Cinderella references -- literally treat you like a king; they're lined up when you arrive and garbed in imperial costumes.
Overall, the quality of the food is good, with the surf-and-turf at Animator's Palate a standout (regular entrees include beef tenderloin and mushroom risotto). The Royal Court menu has a French accent, so expect such offerings as Dijon-roasted rack of lamb and a wine list that harks back to the Continent. Enchanted Garden is the sole member of the trio that offers three meals daily -- buffets at breakfast and lunch and a seasonal menu in the evening (think prime rib, sea bass and wild boar, with desserts like creme brulee).
The children's menus throughout the ship are predictable at best, but we have a confession: We spent a lot of time noshing at Flo's Café, with its side-by-side fast-food stations on Deck 11 in the pool area. The pizza, burgers, chicken fingers and wraps are terrific, and none too healthy.
Other dining spots include Cabanas, also on Deck 11, a mammoth, twisty buffet with a beach theme. Seating is indoors or out, and there's ample space to tuck into the decent variety of chow, including fresh-carved meat (turkey and, on our voyage, some huge hunk of beef called "steamship"), pasta, a salad bar and the like. The Cove Cafe, adjacent to the adults-only Quiet Cove Pool, doles out gratis snacks and for-fee specialty coffee drinks ($2 and up) and cocktails.
Room service is free and includes a limited menu of soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.
Last but certainly not least are Fantasy's two alternative dining spots, both adults only: Remy, the French blockbuster introduced on Disney Dream, and DCL stalwart Palo, an Italian holdover from the line's other ships.
At $75 a pop, Remy remains the most expensive restaurant at sea, and if you add in the $99-a-head fee for the wine-pairing option, you may be talking about one of the most expensive meals you've had on land as well. Is it worth it? Up to you, but we were wowed by the exquisite service, languorous pace of the meal (three-plus hours) and, of course, the food -- seven courses of ultra-rich Gallic grub that we're still dreaming about.
Passengers are invited to meet with the sommelier pre-dinner to plan the wines for the evening (nice touch), and we were surprised to find a box of Remy chocolates on our bed when we returned from our gastronomical expedition. Yes, we ate them.
Palo offers al-fresco dining as well as seating in a warm Italianate space showcasing floor-to-ceiling windows with amazing views. This Northern Italian eatery serves dinner nightly, as well as a Champagne brunch on sea days. The cover is $25. Carb cravers may refuse to share the awesome bread basket, but don't fill up on those empty calories: Our lobster ravioli rocked, though we also coveted our tablemate's osso bucco. Brunch includes a cold buffet (meats and cheese, shrimp, salads, desserts) and a selection of hot made-to-order items (omelets, fish).