Thursday, August 3, 2017

Disney Magic - Lunch & Dinner

In July, we took a 12-night British Isles cruise on the Disney Magic, our 8th cruise with Disney Cruise Line.  You can find all my previous Disney Cruise Line reviews on the Disney page of my blog.

We spent 5 nights in London before taking a train to Dover to board the Disney Magic.  You can read all my dining reviews from London here.

While we waited in the terminal, I started to look at gluten free options for dinner on the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app.  Every night, at least three of the four lighter note offerings are gluten free.  The first option, which is usually a salad, changes every night, but the other three remain the same for the entire cruise.  On this cruise, I did not order any of the lighter note dishes as a main course, because I find them to be a little bland, and I had plenty of other options to choose from.

The first night of our cruise, we dined at Animator's Palate, then rotated through Carioca's and Lumiere's in that order for the rest of our cruise.  Our serving team was with us every night, except when my husband and I dined at Palo, the adults only restaurant on the Disney Magic.  Our travel agent always notes my gluten "allergy" on our reservation, so our serving team is alerted ahead of time, and we always request the main seating, which was 6:00 on this cruise.  Marista from South Africa was our server, Joe our assistant server, and Aziz our head server.  We loved our serving team on this cruise, and I was happy we ended up with Marista, who I requested ahead of time along with several other servers who were recommended by my blog readers or members of the Facebook group Gluten Free Disney.

The first night of our cruise was the only night that I did not pre-order my dinner.  There were enough gluten free options on the menu that I felt it was not necessary, but it can be done if you visit the rotational dining restaurant that is open for lunch the first day of your cruise, and ask to talk to a head server.  When we sailed on the Disney Fantasy, we took a galley tour, and learned how Disney Cruise Line deals with special diets.  One chef is in charge of prepping all allergy pre-orders for the Main Dining restaurants, and they are written up on pink tickets

The only night I had gluten free bread on our cruise was the first night, because it was dry and not worth eating.

In the rotational dining restaurants, the four courses are appetizers, soups and salads, the main course, and dessert.  You can skip courses, or order as many menu items as you would like from any course.  I usually chose options that were labeled gluten free on the menus, but sometimes, I pre-ordered dishes that were not marked gluten free, in the hopes that they could be modified, which the chefs were able to do every time.  The pictures above and below show some of my appetizer, and soup & salad choices - sliced bresaola with watermelon, chicken & walnut salad with cranberry dressing, tomato Caprese, Malaysian chicken satay, and leek & potato soup.

If I wasn't happy with the choices offered for the first two courses, I often ordered fresh fruit, like mango, papaya, kiwi, pineapple, and mixed berries.

I enjoyed every main course that I tried on our British Isles cruise, and I love that they offered regional dishes, many of which were labeled gluten free.  Pictured are the thyme-roasted loin of pork with homemade applesauce, prune-stuffed pork loin, lemon & lime roasted half chicken with sun-dried tomato risotto, marinated chicken breast with crushed sweet potatoes and grits, rack of lamb, rosemary marinated strip loin, and filet steak.

 I also tried several vegetarian dishes, like the green pea & fava bean risotto with pesto sauce and toasted pine nuts, a favorite from previous cruises, black bean chipotle cakes, and pumpkin curry, a main course that I ordered as an appetizer one night in a smaller portion.

The first night of our cruise was the only night I ordered a fish entree, the Scottish salmon fillet, which was a regional dish.

Every night, our head server Aziz would bring me the dinner menu for the next night, and I would pre-order with our server Marista.  I always looked at the dessert menu in my Disney Cruise Line Navigator app too, so I could specifically request desserts that were labeled gluten free.  I do not eat sugar substitutes, so I made sure I was not given any of the No Sugar Added desserts, which are sometimes gluten free.  Some of my favorite desserts were the Kahlua chocolate creme brulee, a gluten free version of the Grand Marnier souffle, the crunchy walnut cake with dark chocolate mousse and raspberry coulis, and the bananas foster sundae.  My favorite Disney Cruise Line dessert is the chocolate souffle at Palo, and I have always wanted to try their Grand Marnier souffle.  The first night I requested it, I was told they could not make it, but after meeting Chef Silvio, the Disney Magic's executive chef who has a daughter with celiac, I was presented with a gluten free version the next night, and it was delicious.

Sometimes for dessert, I went with the chef's special, which was lingonberry roll one night, and a delicious mango mousse another night.  Mickey ice cream bars are always available, so I tried one for the first time in years the last night of our cruise.  I was also told the soft serve was gluten free, and they had blueberry, a new flavor that I had never tried before, which might be my new favorite.  A couple of times, I had vanilla soft serve with a Cadbury Flake that I had bought in the U.K.  Pineapple Dole Whip was also available at the stand next to Eye Scream on Deck 9, but it was $5.00, so I decided not to try it.

For my birthday, we pre-ordered a gluten free Mickey cake a couple of weeks before we traveled to Europe.  I chose chocolate cake with dark chocolate mousse filling and chocolate glaze.  The cake was $49 and serves 10-12 people, according to Disney Cruise Line's website, but the four of us managed to eat about half of it.  It looked so good, I had to double check with Marista that it was really gluten free before I took a bite.  I loved everything about my birthday dessert, including the crunchy little chocolate balls all over the sides of the cake.

We never ordered room service, because we do not eat between meals, and I had no interest in eating in our room.  There were a couple of gluten free items on the room service menu, but if you are interested in room service, talk to your head server about additional options.  Twice on our cruise, I had Strongbow hard apple cider, which is available on tap in the Promenade Lounge, one of our favorite places to hang out on At Sea days because of its large portholes.

I enjoyed breakfast and dinner on the Disney Magic, but was not crazy about the few lunches I had on the ship.  The first day of our cruise, we had lunch at Cabanas, where I spoke to a chef about gluten free options.  He made me lamb chops, salmon, and french fries in the kitchen.  My salmon was overcooked, and my lamb undercooked, so I did not eat much of my lunch.  I have noticed that on our last couple of cruises, the chefs will discourage people from eating from the buffet if they have celiac or a food allergy, because they understand the risk of cross contamination, which is fine with me, because I do not like to eat off buffets.  For our first At Sea day, I pre-ordered chicken tenders and fries with Aziz at dinner the night before to be sent to Cabanas for lunch.  The fries were decent, but I did not love the chicken nuggets served on our European cruise, because I prefer chicken tenders with large pieces of chicken.

On two separate occasions, I pre-ordered salmon with rice and vegetables, but everything was served without sauce or seasoning, my fish was overcooked, and the second time, they forgot the rice.  I pre-ordered a pizza to have for lunch in Lumiere's our last day at sea, but it was just ok, so I ordered the steak frites instead, a gluten free option on Lumiere's lunch menu.

Aziz could tell I was not happy with the pizza and salmon I had pre-ordered, so he asked if I wanted dessert, and brought me this warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.  The cake was very good, but the vanilla ice cream was just ok.  I am not sure what brand they were using on this cruise, but it was not as good as the ice cream I have had on previous cruises.

Most of our shore excursions had us off the ship at lunch, so I either ate snacks I had brought with me, or looked for gluten free options in the cities and towns we were visiting.  On our way to Mont Saint-Michel in France, our bus stopped for a bathroom break, and I was able to buy Gerble gluten free madeleines, which were individually wrapped and quite delicious.  My gluten-eating family had crepes at a restaurant my husband found, but I did not see anything promising at Mont Saint-Michel, so I just snacked on food I had with me.

On our shore excursion to Glastonbury Tor and the Cathedral City of Wells, we had lunch at Twentyone Cafe + Kitchen, where I had carrot coriander soup with gluten free bread.  The soup was incredibly flavorful, and the bread was very good.  On a rainy day in England, it was the perfect lunch.

In Dublin, we stumbled upon Kilkenny Shop Cafe while we were waiting to meet our Dublin City Highlights tour guide.  I bought two of their amazing raspberry scones, which were some of the best gluten free baked goods I have ever had.  The Cafe had a huge selection of gluten free savory dishes and sweets, which were marked with a "C" for celiac.  We were originally going to have lunch at Beshoff Bros, which makes safe gluten free fish & chips, but after tasting the scones, we decided to have lunch at Kilkenny Shop Cafe.  I loved my poached salmon, and enjoyed my sides of roasted tomatoes and bean salad.  My husband chose one of the gluten free frittatas, which he said was very good.

On our Taste of Chester shore excursion from Liverpool, we could have eaten at Cote Brasserie, a Coeliac UK accredited restaurant we had dined at in Windsor before our cruise, but we did not want to have a sit down lunch, and my girls wanted to try some pasties.  We snacked on some Cheshire cheese from The Cheese Shop, which is made with an old Roman recipe.  I could have bought some gluten free crackers there, but I had Urban Remedy spicy lemon almonds with me, that I had brought from home.

On our Edinburgh Castle & Holyrood Palace shore excursion, we had lunch at a 100% gluten free crepe stand called Tupiniquim Brasil Crepes, which you can read about in a separate review here.

In Kirkwall, we took the Ancient Standing Stones & Dramatic Cliffs, and the Orkney's Neolithic Heartland shore excursions on my birthday, but had time to eat lunch on the ship.  Our Cawdor Castle and Culloden Battlefield shore excursion from Invergordon started after lunch, so again, we ate on the Disney Magic.

Our final shore excursion was the Alnwick Castle Tour we took from Newcastle, and on this one, lunch was included.  I received this note from Disney Cruise Line the morning of our shore excursion.  As requested, I presented the card to the crew member who checked us in, but they gave it back to me without comment.  I asked our tour guide if she could recommend a place for me to eat at The Alnwick Garden, the first stop on our excurstion, and she suggested the Pavilion Cafe.

A lot of gluten free options were available, but I played it safe, getting a jacket potato, which was delicious with the butter I added to it, and a gluten free brownie, which was also very good.

We loved all of our shore excursions, the entertainment on the ship, our serving team, and Maricar, our stateroom host.  The Disney Magic is a beautiful ship, and we loved our British Isles cruise so much, we would have booked another European cruise for next summer if we did not already have plans with family for a vacation in Italy.  A European cruise on the Magic is definitely in store for us in 2019, and we booked a placeholder while on board so we can get a discount on our next cruise.

While we were on the Disney Magic, we bought Disney Vacation Club points at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.  My family has owned DVC points at Disney's BoardWalk Villas for over 20 years, and we have loved our vacations there, so we are looking forward to having a second home resort to stay at, and plan on vacationing at Disney World twice a year while we live in California.

I wrote about breakfast on the Disney Magic, and our meals at Palo in separate posts, which you can view here and here.

What are your favorite gluten free options on the Disney Cruise Line?


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