My husband Lee and I spent two weeks on the Disney Wonder as it traveled from San Diego to Galveston, going through the Panama Canal. In this blog series I cover our experiences in the various dining rooms – what we liked, and what we didn’t.
Dinner #11 was the Seasons menu, and we were in Triton’s. Another menu that I looked at and wasn’t wild about. There was only one appetizer that interested me, the Chopped Iceberg Lettuce and Baby Spinach Salad. For some reason I didn’t take a photo of it. It had avocado, bacon, chicken, tomatoes, marinated cracked wheat and a red wine vinegar dressing. It turned out not to be a “chopped” salad at all, but it was nicely layered with all of the ingredients. The best part was half of a sliced avocado on top. It really was an excellent salad.
Lee ordered the North Atlantic Lobster Ravioli, with roasted garlic and basil in tomato broth. He enjoyed it, as did others at our table.
For the entree I tried another of the vegetarian dishes: Pumpkin Curry with brown lentils and apples on Basmati rice. Visually it was not the most appealing dish, but it was quite tasty. I’m glad that it wasn’t a hot or highly spiced curry. Just a lot of nice warm, blended flavors. The inclusion of the apples was a bit odd because they didn’t really go with the rest of the dish. The first time I had a bite of one was a shock because it was so different – and then I remembered what it was.
Lee tried the Roasted Thyme Marinated Chicken Breast with fondant potato, haricot vert, and Morel mushroom, cognac, and sour cream sauce. He said it was very good.
I passed on dessert, but Lee had a Warm Apple and Almond Tart with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Dinner #12: Back in Animator’s Palate for the Animation Magic dinner. This is always one of my favorite dinner experiences, and I think they have improved the menu since the last time we did it on the Disney Magic. The appetizers used to come as a set sampler, but now you have a choice of appetizers like you do with every other dinner.
But back to the Animation Magic dinner. When you sit down there’s a “Draw Your Own Character” template at your place setting. You try to do this quickly, since your servers have to take your order AND collect the templates before serving dinner.
Towards the end of the meal there is a show, and the drawings are placed in an animation sequence – they walk, dance, appear with Disney characters – it’s fun to see them. Fortunately there are multiple sequences for the restaurant, and your drawing is placed with maybe 40-50 others as opposed to 200-300 others, so everyone gets a little more screen time. (The pirate in this photo is Lee’s drawing). At the end of the meal your drawing is returned to you with an “Official Disney Animator” gold seal on it. A fun souvenir.
Back to the food… I started with the Tomato Caprese with Roma tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. While not as good as the one I had in Palo the night before, it was better than the one I’d had earlier in the cruise.
Lee tried Malaysian Chicken Satay – grilled chicken skewers marinated in turmeric, chili, and coriander, served with peanut sauce and cucumber. I was surprised that he received two skewers and not just one. It was pretty tasty.
Next for me was Sesame Crusted Tuna Sashimi with wakame salad, pickled ginger, and soy sauce. I enjoyed it – the tuna tasted fresh, though I’m sure it had been frozen.
Lee had the Lobster Bisque with fresh lobster and sour cream. I think he was surprised that it was a tomato bisque, but it was pretty good.
My entree was Grilled Garlic-Marinated Shrimp with linguini pasta, roasted cherry tomatoes, artichokes, sauteed baby spinach and tomato-basil sauce. The shrimp were good, and the pasta was fine. I would have enjoyed more artichokes.
Lee ordered Chicken Schnitzel – breaded chicken breast fried in butter, served with roasted bacon potatoes and buttered green beans. It was pretty heavy and not something he enjoyed that much.
Lee’s dessert choice was Celebration Cake – layers of cheesecake with strawberries and vanilla cream. I think he enjoyed it.
Dinner #13: Tiana’s Place for the Mardi Gras menu. This is the one I had been looking forward to in this restaurant. Some of the menu items are named for characters in the movie “The Princess and the Frog”, like Prince Naveen’s Charcuterie Board, Charlotte La Bouff’s Bucatini Pasta, Big Daddy’s Roasted Prime Rib of Beef, and Mama Odie’s White Chocolate Bread Pudding.
I started with Ahi Tuna Tartare, with mango, pine nuts, radish and walnuts. It didn’t look at all like what I expected, but it was really good. It needed something, though – Bryce, one of our tablemates, requested soy sauce, and that really improved the flavor.
Lee had the Boudin Sausage Fritters – breaded and fried minced pork and Boudin sausage with a bourbon aioli. Not really visually appealing, but good.
Next for me was Mama Odie’s Creamy Tomato Soup. I wouldn’t call it “creamy” – more like a tomato soup broth, but a good flavor.
Lee had the Iceberg Wedge with pepper jack cheese, bacon, tomato, basil, and Thousand Island dressing.
I chose a vegetarian entree: Eudora’s Artichoke Ravioli with sauteed spinach, lemon butter, sage, and pecorino. It was very good, though maybe a bit salty.
Lee had Cajun Spiced Sea Bass on shrimp jambalaya with fennel salad and remoulade.
For dessert, we first shared a Southern Style Pecan Nut Tart with bourbon caramel sauce. So good. One of the top desserts of the cruise for sure.
And then came what we’d all heard was the restaurant’s specialty: Tiana’s Buttermilk Beignets. Unlike the churros I’d had earlier in the cruise these WERE freshly prepared and fried to order, and they were excellent. Dusted with powdered sugar and served with chocolate espresso dipping sauce.
There’s a show along with dinner – Tiana and the Crawfish Crooners perform, and just before they brought the beignets out they got most of us to come out and parade around the restaurant and under the limbo bar. It was Halloween (really, it was actually October 31), and many of us were in costume, which made it a bit more of a challenge. I had a VERY wide skirt. 🙂
Dinner #14: This was the final night, and it was the Captain’s Gala menu. We were in Triton’s. I must have gotten distracted and I missed taking photos of some of the appetizers…and I don’t have any notes from this meal, either. I’m pretty sure Lee had the Aged Prosciutto with sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, and roasted garlic. I don’t remember what I had. In looking back at the menu none of the appetizers appeal to me very much.
He had White Onion Soup with caraway and smoked salmon.
For entree I went vegetarian again with Thai Red Pumpkin and Coconut Curry with steamed bok choy (ick) and sticky rice. As I recall the curry was pretty good.
Lee chose the specialty of the evening, as did most of our table: Oven-Baked Lobster Tail with sun-dried tomato, lemon pesto mash and roasted asparagus. When you’re on a Disney cruise, your servers will remove the lobster tail from the shell for you – they’ve had lots of practice and are very good at it. So many people had lobster that the head servers were on lobster duty as well as the servers and assistant servers.
Even on the final night I couldn’t be talked into dessert, but Lee ordered the Chocolate Lava Cake with double chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. I had a bite and it was actually quite good – better than the one we’d had during brunch at Palo, I think. (That one suffered from not being warm all the way through.) Surprising when you consider how many of those they must have prepared that evening!
Obviously we ate lots of other meals on board. We generally went to Cabanas (the buffet) for breakfast for fruit, cereal, yogurt, and maybe eggs (we had made-to-order omelets a few times), bacon, and toast. Pretty basic. Occasionally we went to Cabanas for lunch, but more often to some of the quick service windows. Daisy’s Dee-Lites had salads, wraps, sandwiches, and paninis, and also soups and rice bowls (those were new to us). Pete’s Boiler Bites had a new Shawarma counter with chicken or lamb/beef, and we also enjoyed that. And Lee’s go-to is always Pinocchio’s Pizzeria.
Overall… the food was decent. I like the longer cruises because you get different menus than you do on the 3-7 night cruises. We have been fortunate to do a number of Disney cruises – but the menus look quite familiar after awhile. (If I never had a Pirate Night menu again I would be OK with that.) If you order the right items, the ones that they can really prepare well, then I think you can have some excellent meals on Disney Cruise Line. In general, though, it’s a bit hit-and miss. Though I do appreciate the opportunity to sample a lot of dishes that I probably wouldn’t order if I were at a restaurant and had to pay for them, whether I liked them or not.
Now, if only Disney Cruise Line would stop using so many bell peppers in dishes they don’t belong in…
Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.