Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lunch on the Disney Fantasy

Last week, we took a seven night Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy.  This was our 7th time cruising with the Disney Cruise Line, but our first on the Disney Fantasy.  You can read about my previous experiences dining gluten free on the Disney Dream and the Disney Magic, and my breakfast reviews from the Disney Fantasy here.

We have always sailed out of Port Canaveral, which is less than an hour from our house in Orlando.  Being gold Castaway Club members, we were able to sign up for the earliest boarding time on the Disney Cruise Line website, so we were in boarding group two, and headed up to Cabanas for lunch right around noon.

Cabanas is a casual-dining restaurant found on Deck 11 of the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream, and on Deck 9 of the Disney Magic.  For breakfast and lunch each day, Cabanas features a buffet that flows around the entire restaurant, but for dinner, Cabanas is transformed into a table service restaurant that features some exclusive menu items and some dishes from the Main Dining restaurants.  We have never eaten dinner at Cabanas on any of our cruises, but it is our favorite restaurant for lunch, because of the amazing views, the wide variety of food they offer, and the fact that we can dine quickly.

On the Disney Fantasy, Cabanas features two large "Finding Nemo" mosaic walls that were created by Italian artists using hand-crafted Venetian enamel.  Be sure to check them out, because they are quite impressive.

On the first day of our cruise, I asked a crew member working behind the buffets if there was someone I could speak to about gluten free options.  I was introduced to Chef Sinclair, who said he would prepare my food after I told him that I had celiac.  On previous cruises, chefs have often given me tours of the buffet, but Chef Sinclair did not even consider that to be an option.  He wanted to make me a safe meal in the back.  After about 15 minutes, he brought my lunch to our table.  I loved the grilled chicken, which was incredibly tender, and well-seasoned, and the mashed potatoes were great too.  I liked the swordfish, even though it is not one of my favorite fishes, but the veggies were a little bland without butter and seasoning.

For dessert, I headed to the dessert buffet and asked what gluten free options were available.  On previous cruises, I have been offered Enjoy Life cookies at Cabanas, but this time, I was told that I could have the chocolate mousse, jello, or fresh fruit.  I opted for the chocolate mousse, but forgot to ask if it was sugar free.  I avoid all no sugar added desserts at Disney World and on the Disney Cruise Line, because the sugar substitutes Disney uses can really mess with my insides.  I had some very minor gut pain after eating the chocolate mousse, which happened to me on a previous cruise after I ate this dish, so I will definitely avoid it in the future.  Besides this incident, I felt great after eating every meal on the Disney Fantasy.

The second and third days of our cruise were at sea days, so my husband and I had brunch at Remy and Palo, the two adults only restaurants on the ship.  I will post my reviews of those meals later this week.  On the fourth day of our cruise, I had lunch at Cabanas, but it was pre-ordered with our server Massiel the night before from the Royal Court lunch menu.  My family loves to eat a leisurely table service breakfast at the Royal Court every day on our cruises, but for lunch, they prefer to dine at Cabanas.

I really enjoyed my salad with feta and raspberry dressing, but the butternut squash risotto I ordered was so rich, I could not eat much of it.  The presentation was beautiful, but I could tell by looking at it that it contained a lot of cream.  My whole extended family enjoyed sampling it after I ate a small portion, all agreeing that it was very good, but no one could eat too much of it.

On the fifth day of our cruise, I decided not to pre-order anything for lunch at Cabanas, because we had a shore excursion on St. Thomas, and I was not sure when we would be back, or if we would be eating on the island.  Because we were in the U.S. Virgin Islands, my phone was working the day we were on St. Thomas, so I was able to find some restaurants to dine at using the Find Me Gluten Free app, but my husband and I decided to take our daughters and our nieces back to the ship for lunch at Cabanas.  The chef I spoke to offered to make me grilled salmon, and he mentioned that he could also get me some french fries when he heard me speaking to my family about them.  When I asked him about the lamb tagine on the buffet, he told me he would check to see if it was gluten free.  It turns out the lamb tagine was gluten free, so he brought me a bowl of it, along with my salmon and french fries.  

My salmon was well cooked and well seasoned, and the french fries were amazing, just like they always are on the Disney Cruise Line.  The lamb tagine was good, but I could not eat much of it, because I was pretty full after eating my salmon and french fries.  I am glad I turned down the chef's offer to bring me rice to go with the lamb, because I had too much food.

The lunch I had on the sixth day of our cruise was pre-ordered the night before with our server Massiel.  I was used to waiting about 15 minutes to receive my food at Cabanas, but it took 30 minutes for the head server to bring my lunch to our table, and by the time it arrived, my whole family was done eating.  I had asked Massiel if gluten free chicken tenders were available on the Disney Fantasy, and she told me they were, so I decided to try them, because I know a lot of my blog readers and their children love to eat them at Disney World, just like I do.  I am pretty sure that they were either made at Cabanas or at one of the quick service restaurants on Deck 11, which is usually where my french fries come from.  The tenders did not taste like any of the chicken tenders I have had at Disney World, which is currently using Ian's and Saffron Road, which I like better than the ones I ate on the Disney Fantasy.

I was surprised that all the food I pre-ordered from the Royal Court menu was served in Cabanas bowls.  The chilled raspberry soup was delicious, but the pineapple with watermelon dressing was a little off-putting because the dressing looked orange instead of the pink color I expected.

My meal arrived without the dessert I pre-ordered from the Royal Court lunch menu, so I had to wait about 10 minutes for the head server on duty to deliver my raspberry creme brulee.  It was one of the best desserts I had on the Disney Fantasy, so it was definitely worth the wait.  I did bring some of my favorite individually packaged low calorie gluten free cookies from home to have as lunch treats at Cabanas, and to take as snacks on shore excursions, just in case I got hungry.  Beyond the cookies and two Straw Propeller oatmeal cups, which I never ate, I did not bring any other food on the cruise, because it really isn't necessary.

On the last full day of our cruise, I was supposed to eat lunch on Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, but the weather was so terrible, we had lunch on the ship at Cabanas.  Because I had not pre-ordered my meal, I found Chef Sinclair, who made me a delicious lunch of grilled salmon, fried rice made with gluten free soy sauce, and sauteed spinach, tomatoes, and mushrooms.  I am pretty sure Chef Sinclair is the head chef at Cabanas.  I found him to be incredibly kind and helpful, and he took the time to answer all my questions about the gluten free Mickey waffles Cabanas makes.

Our server Massiel was working the lunch shift at Cabanas, so she offered to get me pineapple and french fries.  The french fries arrived on a plate from Flo's Cafe, a quick service restaurant on Deck 11 of the Disney Fantasy.  If you are interested in gluten free pizza, I ordered it at Luigi's Pizza on a past cruise on the Disney Dream, a quick service restaurant that can also be found on the Disney Fantasy.

Soft serve is available in a variety of flavors from Eye Scream Treats on the Disney Fantasy, Dream, and Magic, and on Castaway Cay, so it is a great dessert option on any day of your cruise.  I checked with our head server, and they are still using the same brand of soft serve mix that they have used on my previous cruises, and I have always been told that it is gluten free.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes for lunch on the Disney Cruise Line?


  1. Super helpful and informational. A welcome change from food reports bogged down with irrelevant non-food related details.