January 12, 2012

Disney Cruisin’ Part 1: The Food

The day after Christmas we went on a Disney Mexican Riviera Cruise for 7 days with Casey’s family (22 of us total!).  My in-laws decided to take EVERYONE on the cruise. I never imagined that I would go on a Disney cruise! (thank you thank you Linda & Phil!). It was a blast!

Rather than inundate you with TONS of photos, I’m going to break it up into a few parts. Today I’ll be showing you the FOOD!

Can I tell you that I was a little scared about the food situation on the boat? I read reviews online that the food wasn’t that great. Someone said that it was like eating at Sizzler for a week. While I do like their cheesy toast, I have my standards!  I feared I would miss my kitchen terribly. I kinda did but overall there were some great options.

Here’s how it works.

BREAKFAST = Buffet or sit down meal

LUNCH = Buffet, sit down meal, or “Fast Food” options upstairs near the pools.

(the sit down meals are at specific times so if you’re having a busy morning/afternoon, it’s not always easy to get a sit down meal)

DINNER = Every night you have dinner at your allocated time. At 5:45pm our whole family (all 22 of us) went down together to our assigned restaurant (it changed every night) and had dinner until 8. The next batch of people were to come in at 8:15pm. We had the same waitstaff each night but in a different restaurant. It was an adventure!  These meals are optional by the way. If you don’t feel like doing dinner at a restaurant, you can head up to a buffet or get something poolside.

Every night I ordered a salad with my dinner.

I should mention that the food is all inclusive. You just have to pay for fancy beverages & alcohol.

There’s a coffee/soda fountain bar up on the top deck that’s open 24/7 too. That fountain soda station is KID central.

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They have some pretty good vegetarian options on the boat; I was pleasantly surprised.

I ordered a turkey dinner one night. This meal was meh. That was probably the only time I felt that.

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I did have a really good chicken dish on another night. The presentation was always really nice.


A nice little vegetarian stacker! Pumpkin, mozzarella & zucchini with a red pepper drizzle.

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When we had to eat at the buffet restaurants for lunch, I made sure to load my plate up with FIBER.

Breakfast BUFFET time!

I have a hard time keeping focused when there are too many food options.

Cooper had Pops for the first time on our cruise. It was love at first site.

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This is a sit down breakfast. It’s basically all the buffet foods (with a few additions) served to you by a waiter.

That hash brown was TO DIE for and the eggs? I didn’t finish them. I missed my eggs!

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One of the great parts of the Disney Cruise is their special reservations only restaurant called Palo.

I think they charge about $20 a person to eat at the restaurant. What a steal!

It’s Italian food and the quality is the best on the ship. When we ate there, we felt like we were eating at a good Californian restaurant.

We booked a brunch at Palo on one of the first days of our cruise and were a little disappointed to see that it was a buffet.

But it’s only buffet during brunch!

Here’s a sampling of antipasti:

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We were able to order some additions and the Gorgonzola Grape pizza was a hit!

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I forgot to mention that whenever we went to this restaurant, we were able to drop Cooper off at the camp so he could be taken care of. The counselors texted us on our ship phones in case something happened.

They had a great dessert bar too and some of the best coffee on the ship. Here’s my loot:

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We ate at the restaurant two more times. This is our date night. Just us two.

Casey had a really tasty grilled shrimp dish with pesto & asparagus.

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I got an arugula salad. I was ECSTATIC to see arugula on the menu!!!!!

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I had the most scrumptious lamb for dinner. Top notch, really!

The service was impeccable because the waitstaff is comprised of 9 of the top servers on the boat.

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At this point I was paged by the staff at the Camp saying that Cooper peed his pants!

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He did not! It was a different Cooper. MISSION ABORT.

We had our New Years Eve dinner at Palo again. All of the adults were there and we were served in a special room!

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There’s that arugula salad again. I was obsessed.

The nice part about cruising is that you can order ANYTHING. Two appetizers, a salad and an entree? Sure!

Wanna try ALL OF THE DESSERTS? No problem!

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I got a buttery/herbed steamed fish in parchment dish.

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And of course I saved room for the chocolate souffle!

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Let’s talk about the kids food.

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I’m glad I brought some additional snacks for Cooper because he didn’t eat well. I think he might have been the only person to lose weight on the ship. It wasn’t for lack of variety; he was with his cousins every night in a different restaurant and I think he suffered a little bit from sensory overload. Because we didn’t have some of his staples from home (sliced red peppers, freezer burritos, his favorite yogurt, cucumbers cut into spears, kale chips, sliced apples & pears with NO peels) it was hard to get him to eat everything on his plate. Cooper is a little particular about what he puts in his mouth so a lot of the food looked a little foreign to him.

Our waiter Boris convinced him to eat chocolate (was it that hard?!) on the second night we were there.

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Also the chocolate dipped Mickey ice creams were phenom! We used it as a bribing tool 🙂

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They also had soft pretzels shaped like Mickey Mouse! We got those by the pool.

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And look how they serve ketchup for fries:

One of the myths about cruises is that you ALWAYS GAIN WEIGHT. I didn’t!

I made sure to:

  • take the stairs instead of the elevators (it was an INSANE workout!)
  • order healthier options at meals (they have markers next to the vegetarian and light foods on the menu)
  • limit my desserts (although it was hard!)

But! Being on a cruise boat for 7 days made me miss:

  • kale
  • granola
  • avocados
  • nuts
  • fried eggs
  • almond butter
  • seeded bread
  • vanilla soy milk
  • burritos
  • Thai food

So overall, the food wasn’t that bad.

  • Joyce Au

    I went on a cruise to Vietnam last year and the food was pretty amazing!

  • Jessica Ann

    That all actually looks really good, and not at all what I would have expected from a cruise. I am glad you’re blogging about it, I’m excited to see how it was! (Listening to your story about your couples massage made me laugh SO HARD). Can’t wait to see more (ps I love Coopers rocket ship shirt!)

    • Tracy

      Hahaha!!! Holding hands! Crazy, right?
      That rocket shirt is actually the top to his pajamas. Lazy mom alert!

  • Amanda Bimble

    The Italian looks really good! Grape pizza = curiously cool. And the antipasto… Yum!

    I must admit to being surprised by the quality here. I have heard that the food is a bit meh on the cruises but this looks much better 😀

    Glad you had a ball!

  • Katrina

    haha, oh this made me laugh. I remember you mentioning on the podcast how you rarely took photos of food. A tiny fib?!

  • Jen

    Question–were there non-dairy options at all for milks? I dont drink soy or reg (I drink rice or almond milk) so I wonder if I would be able to eat cereal at all!

    • Tracy

      That’s a good question. I don’t think they did. I didn’t ask for them because I’m loyal to my brand of soymilk, but I DO know they didn’t have them out. Like at all. Ever.

  • MaryBeth

    I’m so happy we get to see your cruise experience! I just watched a special about what goes into the planning in a cruise kitchen, it’s bonkers! I’ve heard the same from people in the past about bad food, but if you ask them where they ate, mostly it’s at the buffets. In my land-bond experience’s buffets are never that great no matter where you have them! The restaurant food looks good though.

    I think if I get ketchup anywhere I’m going to ask for it Mickey style!

    • Tracy

      You should totally get your ketchup mickey style!

      We watched a few documentaries on the food in the ship (they have them on repeat on the TVs in your room) and it was FASCINATING! What’s more fascinating is the people that actually work on the ship. I tried to be nosey and get the scope on what it’s like to work there. I was so dang curious!

  • judy

    Breakfast buffet with (sugar) Pops! I’m such a sucker for cafeteria style…and the hash brown patty. Laughed out loud at the dreaded “text” incident…ha!

  • Rachel W.

    This was such a cute recap. I’ve always said that when we have kids, I’ll NEVER go on a Disney Cruise. After seeing this, I may change my tune – if only to get one of those soft pretzels!!

  • Dana

    This was such a great read Tracy! We are talking about going on a Disney cruise at some point in the next year with my whole family for my dad’s 70th birthday and I am relieved to know that you can eat decently. How fun for you guys!

  • ChocoMeat

    Awesome. I love blogging about Disney dining! Did you ever see my Disney World run-down? http://www.thechocolateofmeats.com/search/label/disney

  • Alix

    I have been DYING for this update!! Wow….it actually sounds like an awesome time. All things considered, it coulda been scary. I totally forgot to ask you about that yesterday!!

    So happy you guys had a great time and HOW CUTE is that Cooper??

  • Jane M

    Looks like the food was good! Haven’t been on a cruise in many years — but all I know is this, I could NEVER lose weight on a cruise!

    I bet it was a fun week away! Aren’t vacays the BEST?!!!!

  • Lauren

    It was super fun to see all the pics in re-cap. As a fellow cruiser (AKA Tracy’s sis in law) I have to agree that the food was 1000x better then I expected. I had a few things I did not enjoy but I had many more things I loved, and a few things that were out of this world- especially at Palo the Italian adult dining restaurant. I did gain 4.5 pounds 🙁 Maybe because I took the elevator with the stroller (or maybe having dessert EVERYNIGHT). My kids, who eat almost anything- loved the food and the great and fun variety. Tracy I totally agree the service was amazing, and our wait staff were so good with the kids too. Can’t wait for part II

  • kim

    The part about the other Cooper peeing his pants is so funny!!! Man I bet you’re glad that wasn’t your kid. I went on a Disney cruise when I was 8 and my sister was 10 and we HATED the babysitting place! I’m sure we were too old to be there, but they had some characters in costumes that seriously freaked me out.

  • Kelsey

    I like the ones where Casey is waiting patiently in the background for you to snap food photos; my husband has been trained to do the same. 😉

  • laura k

    I never thought a cruise sounded like fun, but you’re making me change my tune. My family are all trying to decide on our next (well, first, really) big family vacation, and I might suggest something like this. We only have one little one, though…

  • Kerry

    The food looks really nice! Did the kids get over their love at first sight with the pops or are they still bugging you for more?

  • Kara

    That was so fun to look thru! I really need to learn how to take a good picture. You make it look so beautiful! I have to admit as a fellow cruiser.. I took gained about 5lbs on the ship and I worked out every other day! It was those darn french fries by the pool everyday!

    • Tracy

      KARA!!!!!!!!!!! You’re here!!! Welcome!

      I wanted those french fries CONSTANTLY. I think I ate a batch of Cooper’s while he wasn’t looking. I did partake in a heap load of those soft serve cones though 😉

  • Christina

    mmm cruise food. THey make such a variety of stuff I always love to go. Sounds like you all had a blast!

  • JenMarie

    I really enjoyed your post! I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise ship, mostly for the food! 🙂

  • heidi kenney

    I’ve been really excited to hear about your cruise experience since my in-laws are taking the big family (all their kids and kid’s families) onto a Disney cruise in a couple of months. I’ve been wondering about the food with vegetarian and vegan diets. But when we were at Disenyworld and had dinner in the Animal Kingdom they were really amazing about making special vegan food! I loved hearing about the couples massage on the podcast, and was telling my husband about it. He said “we are NOT doing that please” haha I agree, and I can’t believe they tried to sell you producs afterwards, crazy.
    While I’ve never wanted to go on a cruise, let alone a Disney cruise..I am getting kind of excited 🙂

    • Tracy

      FANTASTIC!! So glad you listened to the podcast and I wish you a FABULOUS time! Stay tuned, I’m gonna share a post about the Adult time & Family time on the ship 🙂

  • Kara

    I found you! Absolutley love your blog!!! Amazing pics and fabulous conversation ! I am hooked!!!

  • Megan - Newly Wife

    I”m a horribly commenter. That is going to change. Also, can you tell that I am horrible at keeping up with my google reader? Anywho. Love your posts on the cruise, especially the adult time (maybe I should just post there). Glad you had such an awesome trip!

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