Monday, April 21, 2014

Gluten Free on the Disney Dream

Last week, we took our 5th cruise on the Disney Dream.  You can view my previous post about dining gluten free on the Disney Cruise Line here.  We have always taken the 3 night cruise in the past, but on this trip, we had four nights on the Dream.  

We boarded the ship so early, Cabanas, our usual lunch spot, was not even open.  While my daughters and their cousins impatiently waited at the front of the buffet, I started to look for a chef.  The chef I spoke to pointed out gluten free options on the buffet for me, and brought me a plate of french fries from neighboring Flo's Cafe.  On the first day of our cruise, I did take salmon, lamb chops, chicken, and steak from the buffet, because it had just opened, but on the second day, I asked for food from the back because of cross contamination concerns.  I was offered Enjoy Life Soft Baked Snickerdoodle Cookies at the dessert station, but when I inquired if any of the desserts on display were gluten free, I was told that I could eat the chocolate mousse.  

Cabanas always has two meats at the carving station, and on both days we dined there for lunch, I was told the meat was gluten free.  On day two, I sampled the beef, which might have been my favorite beef dish of the cruise.  I also really enjoyed the polenta cakes, which I have had on previous cruises.  

After our first lunch, I stopped in at the Enchanted Garden on Deck 2 to pre-order my dinner, a suggestion made to me on our last cruise.  I was shown the menu for Animator's Palate, where we would be dining that first night, I chose what I wanted to eat, and a food ticket was filled out by the head server I spoke to.  

That night at dinner, I was dreading being served the poorly heated Ener-G rolls that I was used to from previous cruises, but I was in for a surprise.  The bread I received was heated well and tasted pretty good.  I think it was Ener-G bread, but the shape was different than previous cruises.   One night of our cruise, the bread was not prepared well, so our assistant server whisked it away and reappeared with perfectly heated rolls about 5 minutes later.  

None of the appetizers at Animator's Palate appealed to me, so I ordered two choices from the soups & salads portion of the menu.  Feel free to mix and match from the menu and order multiple appetizers, soups & salads, main courses, or desserts.  My extended family certainly did this, especially my brother!  My bowl of baked potato and cheddar cheese soup tasted nothing like potato, cheese, or bacon, so I told my server.  Twenty minutes later, I had a much improved bowl of soup.  I also ordered the roasted red bell pepper, zucchini and red onion salad, minus the onions.  For a main course, I chose the seared red snapper with scallops, crushed new potatoes and salsa verde.   Dessert is usually a mystery, because you don't get to pre-order it, but I figured I would be receiving the gluten free chocolate cake I had been served on previous cruises.  This time, it was served with fresh strawberries and a strawberry sauce.  Nothing about my meal at Animator's Palate wowed me, but I certainly didn't go hungry.  

Of the three main dining rooms that serve dinner on rotational dining, I had my best meal at the Enchanted Garden.  I started off with a cucumber garden roll, followed by an incredibly delicious spinach & raspberry salad.  My main course, the marjoram scented all natural chicken with baked crushed sweet potatoes, spinach and thyme, and red wine chicken jus was pretty amazing.  I also enjoyed my apple cinnamon sundae.  

At the Royal Palace, I skipped the appetizer course again, and ordered the leek & potato soup, and the red wine bosc pear salad from the Soup & Salad portion of the menu.  I enjoyed my soup and salad, but was disappointed that my Chateaubriand-Roasted Filet Steak was served with mustard on it, which I don't eat.  My green beans had no butter on them, like others at my table, and my crushed new potatoes were dry.  I would have sent the whole dish back if I had not been so full from my brunch at Palo, which you can read about here.  I know my serving team would have replaced my meal if I had notified them that I did not like it.  Howard (server), Didit (assistant server), and Ronald (head server) did an amazing job, and my whole family loved them.  It's great that your serving team moves with you in rotational dining, and they were aware that I could not eat gluten before they even met me, because my travel agent made note of it in our reservation.  I love the Tahitian vanilla creme brulee at at the Royal Palace, so my meal ended on a good note.

We ate breakfast at the Royal Palace every morning, except the day we arrived back at Port Canaveral.  This was the first cruise where I was asked by my server the night before if I would like to pre-order breakfast.  For the first morning, I choose gluten free pancakes, sausage & bacon, and they added a muffin and a donut.  I pre-ordered poached eggs, bacon and sausage for the second morning.  For our last breakfast at the Royal Palace, I chose scrambled eggs, because we were having brunch at Palo, and I didn't want to eat too much food.  Every morning, I also requested a bowl of fruit.  On the morning we arrived back at Port Canaveral, we ate a quick breakfast up in Cabanas, where I just had some fruit.  I was a little tired of eating by that point.  

For lunch on Castaway Cay, Disney's private island, I did not pre-order anything because our head server said he would be working there that day and would take care of me.  I found Ronald at Cookies, and he made me up a plate of ribs, chicken, and corn.  He also gave me a plate of Enjoy Life Snickerdoodle Cookies.  I love the fruit on the island, which includes three of my favorites, papaya, mango and pineapple.  I also snagged a bag of Lay's potato chips, which are labeled gluten free.  

Ronald also let me know that all of the soft serve on the Disney Dream and Castaway Cay is gluten free.  

Some final Disney Cruise Line (DCL) tips for you:

  • Book your next cruise while on the ship.  You will save 10%, and the cruise can be switched to another date or canceled after you get off the ship.  
  • Use a travel agent, so you get extra stateroom credits.  When we book our next cruise at the Future Cruise Desk, we mention our travel agent.  
  • Don't forget to bring warm clothes.  The ship can be quite chilly.  
  • On the first day of your cruise, pre-order your dinner ASAP.  I visited the Enchanted Garden, the only rotational dining restaurant that was open for lunch.  
  • Be your own best advocate.  If you don't like your food, send it back or ask for something else.  Your service team is there to make your cruise an amazing experience.  
  • At buffets, ask to speak to a chef and don't be afraid to ask for food from the back.  
  • If you have time, don't miss the the Making of the Dream and the Art of the Theme Show Tour.  
  • Definitely don't miss the evening entertainment if this is your first cruise -- Disney's Believe, The Golden Mickeys, and our favorite, Villains Tonight!  We also had a chance to see The Magic & Illusion of Jason Bishop.  His show was impressive.  
  • I suggest requesting the main seating for dinner unless you like dining well after 8:00.  
  • We always bring our Tervis Tumblers or reusable water bottles, and we refill them with water on the pool deck.  We never pay for bottled water on the ship or on Castaway Cay, where you can get free fountain drinks and water at Cookies.  
  • If you have a chance, dine at Palo.  It's amazing!  
I hope in the future that Disney Cruise Line will start marking gluten free items on menus and buffets, and serving gluten free Mickey waffles.  Overall, DCL does a great job with special diets, just like Disney World and Disneyland.  I know I don't ever need to bring food with me on the ship or to the parks, because Disney chefs take such great care of me!  

We are really looking forward to our 7 night cruise on the Disney Magic in December!  Please comment and share your experiences on the Disney Cruise Line below.  

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  1. They were bringing me gluten free donuts for breakfast on the Dream! Talk about a Celiac's dream come true!

  2. Question... Do you stop by the restaurant you are assigned to or the location of dining questions/changes to pre-order your night one meal?

    1. Beth, I always stop at whatever rotattional dining restaurant is open for lunch to preorder with a head server.