Monday, April 22, 2019

Disney Wonder Baja Cruise 2019

Over Easter Break, we spent three nights at Disneyland, and took a five night Baja cruise with my parents on the Disney Wonder out of San Diego.

This was our ninth cruise with Disney Cruise Line, and our first on the Disney Wonder.

We booked a deluxe oceanview stateroom on deck 7 at the front of the ship. We prefer forward and midship staterooms over aft, where we have found there to be too much vibration and noise.

We also like to be two decks below the pool deck, so it is an easy walk up the stairs to get to the drink stations and Cabanas, where you can enjoy ocean views for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The first and last nights of our cruise, we dined at Animator's Palate, one of three main dining restaurants on the Disney Wonder. We always choose the main seating, which was 5:45 on our Baja cruise.

Our first night featured a menu I had not seen before, and it was standard across all dining rooms that evening. You can stop at the main dining room that is open for lunch to preorder your dinner on the first day, but it is not necessary.

There were plenty of gluten free options noted on the menu for me to choose from. If you would like to see the menus before you dine, you can use the Disney Cruise Line app to view them once you board the ship. After the first night, I preordered all the dinners I had in the main dining rooms, and most of my breakfasts too.

The last three lighter note entrees are always gluten free, and the salad offered on this part of the menu is usually marked as a gluten free option too. Occasionally, I order the salad on our cruises, but I find the sirloin steak, chicken breast, and salmon filet to be very plain, so I avoided them on this cruise. When you preorder, you can even choose appetizers, soups & salads, and entrees that are not marked gluten free on the menus. The chefs will modify those dishes to make them gluten free, though don't plan on them being that flexible with desserts, with a few notable exceptions that I will discuss later.

At Animator's Palate, I was served gluten free rolls that were heated well, but I did not enjoy them enough to have them at dinner again after the first night. I am pretty sure that they were Ener-G rolls, my least favorite brand of gluten free bread served at Disney World. I much prefer Deanna's Gluten Free allergen free dinner rolls, which we order online a few times a year.

Our first night at Animator's Palate, I skipped the appetizer course, and ordered two gluten free dishes from the soups and salads portion of the menu. The chilled mango and papaya soup was one of my favorite dishes of the cruise, and I enjoyed my arugula and baby spinach salad with sherry wine dressing. The mesquite grilled chicken breast with wilted spinach and crushed sweet potatoes did not look too exciting, but everything on my plate tasted good. My entree was supposed to be served with cream of corn and bacon sauce, but I was given mashed potatoes instead, which was fine with me. For dessert, I was served a plate of fruit with vanilla ice cream and creme anglaise. The creme anglaise was amazing, but there was a lot of melon on my plate, which I do not like, so I was requested some berries to eat with it as well.

For the last night of our cruise at Animator's Palate, I preordered the sliced serrano ham with manchego cheese (modified to be gluten free by skipping the bread with olive tapendade), baked potato and cheddar cheese soup, chicken and walnut salad with cranberry dressing, roast pork chop with sun-dried tomato risotto and a Barolo wine sauce (modified to be gluten free by removing the breadcrumbs, and I left off the mustard too), and the crunchy walnut cake with dark chocolate mousse and raspberry coulis. I loved everything about this meal except the soup, which was just ok, and the asparagus, which I gave to my husband.

I will preorder desserts when they are marked gluten free on the menu, because on past cruises, I have been given "chefs choice" desserts that I have not enjoyed, when there were desserts marked gluten free on the menu that I was interested in. With every meal, I did preorder a plate of fruit too. I like to request mango, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, and fresh berries, but we did not see any kiwi on the Wonder.

The second night of our cruise, we had dinner at Tiana's, a main dining restaurant unique to the Disney Wonder. We were scheduled to eat there the third night of our cruise too for Pirate Night, but my husband and I had dinner at Palo, which you can read about here.

At Tiana's, I preordered the sauteed gulf shrimp and grits, New Orleans seafood pepper pot, and the warm lobster salad with avocado, butternut squash, grapefruit, jicama, hazelnuts, and a citrus dressing. The highlight of this meal was the shrimp and grits, which were not marked gluten free on the menu. If we ever cruise on the Wonder again, I would order an entree size portion of this appetizer. I did not like the New Orleans seafood pepper pot at all, though I did eat the seafood out of it. I ordered a salad for an entree, because my husband and I had a huge brunch at Palo earlier in the day, and I did not want to eat too much for dinner. For dessert, I had a few bites of my New Orleans bananas foster sundae, which was very good, and marked gluten free on the menu.

I did preorder Tiana's beignets with chocolate espresso dipping sauce, because I had heard that they could be made gluten free, but when dessert was served, I was told that they did not have the flour on the ship to make them. Later in the cruise, our head server informed me that they would make them for me the last night we dined at Animator's Palate. The beignets looked very different than pictures I have seen from other cruisers, and they were not good, so I doubt I would bother to order them again. I did appreciated the effort though from our serving team.

The fourth night of our cruise, we had dinner at Triton's, another main dining restaurant that is unique to the Disney Wonder. We celebrated our daughters' 14th birthdays at Triton's, and our server was kind enough to get Emma an entree from another restaurant, because she was not excited about anything on the menu that night.

I preordered the leek and potato soup, red wine bosc pear salad, rack of lamb with Dauphinoise potatoes, brussels sprouts, and a burgandy rosemary sauce. I did request a gluten free version of the Grand Marnier souffle for dessert, which I have had on a previous cruise. I am not sure why I was served two of them, but I was not going to complain about extra dessert. Every part of my meal at Triton's was delicious, and I ended up eating both of my souffles, because they were so good, especially with the Grand Marnier creme anglaise they were served with.

The second day of our cruise, we had breakfast at Cabanas. I just preordered a plate of fruit, because my husband and I had brunch plans at Palo. The next three mornings, we had breakfast at Triton's. Two of those days, I preordered Mickey waffles, and the other day, I chose chocolate chips pancakes. The waffles and pancakes I had on the Disney Wonder were made with King Arthur gluten free pancake mix. The waffles were good, but I much preferred the pancakes, though I found myself wishing I had ordered them plain or with blueberries instead of the chocolate chips. I also had bacon and/or sausage most days, and I always preordered fruit.

One day without my asking, I was served gluten free donuts and a muffin. I know they are available on Disney ships, but I never order them anymore, because they are way too sweet for my liking. The last morning of our cruise, we dined in Animator's Palate, and I was told that I did not have to preorder this meal. There are no fancy plates of fruit available on the last day, and no Mickey waffles, but I could have had pancakes. Instead, I decided to order scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage, which were good, but I later regretted my choice, because we ended up stopping at one of my favorite gluten free bakeries in Los Angeles on the way home a few hours later. I should have eaten one of the granola bars I brought with me to start off my day on a lighter note.

Besides the day we had brunch at Palo, we had lunch at Cabanas, because my family enjoys the buffet there. I do not eat off buffets, because of the risk of cross contamination. When I enter Cabanas, I ask to speak to someone about gluten free options, and I order with the dining manager. The first day, I asked for lamb chops, steak, french fries, a green vegetable, and pineapple. The gluten free chicken tenders and fries were so good, I had them for lunch two days in a row later in the cruise.

The day we had dinner plans at Palo, I just had pineapple, and a cup of vanilla and chocolate soft serve from Eye Scream on the pool deck for lunch. All of the soft serve is gluten free. I had recently heard that the Disney Cruise Line now has gluten free cones, but when I asked the server working at Eye Scream if they were available, he told me that the Wonder does not have them on a regular basis, and that he has only seen them twice.

On our cruise, we visited Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico. We are not beach people, so I chose shore excursions to see The Arch (Los Arcos) in Cabo, and La Bufadora, a large blowhole near Ensenada. My parents picked out different shore excursions, so we compromised and booked the Coastal Highlights shore excursion in Cabo that they wanted to take, which we regretted. I would have loved to have seen The Arch up close with the Harbor Cruise & Scenic Stop excursion instead of taking a long bus ride to the town of San Jose del Cabo, which we found to be pretty unexciting.

Overall, we had a great vacation with my parents, and I was very happy with the food and service I received. We had an amazing serving team on the Disney Wonder, which included Zelton, our dining room server from India, and Emanuel, our assistant server. I did request two servers ahead of time, and Zelton was one of them. When you request servers, Disney Cruise Line likes to know their first name and country of origin, which is why I included where Zelton is from. Our head server was very helpful too, but sadly, I forgot to write down her name. On past cruises, I did my preordering with the head server, but on this cruise, Zelton always took my order.

I have my travel agent note my gluten "allergy" on our reservations, and I tell our serving team that I do not want desserts made with sugar substitutes. We took a galley tour a few years ago on the Disney Fantasy with the head chef from Palo, who told us that in the main dining restaurants, one chef preps all allergy-preorders, which are written up on pink tickets. If you are interested in a galley tour, stop at the Guest Service Desk and ask if they are available, because they are not advertised in the Disney Cruise Line app.

My family prefers the smaller ships to the Dream and the Fantasy, because there are significantly fewer people on board, but we all agree that the Disney Magic is still our favorite ship. Maybe it is because we took our two favorite cruises on the Magic, our 12-night British Isles cruise, and our Very Merrytime 7-night Western Caribbean cruise. We will be cruising on the Magic again this summer for a 10-night Mediterranean cruise, and next June for a 9-night Mediterranean with Greek Isles cruise. My daughters also talked my parents and I into booking a 3-night Bahamian cruise on the Dream next July before we go to Disney World for my 50th birthday. I have cruised with Royal Caribbean and Princess, but we prefer Disney Cruise Line.

You can read my previous Disney Cruise Line reviews here, and my friend Sarah has some great DCL posts on her blog Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at WDW.


Post a Comment