If you’re a regular KOAP reader, you probably already know my family has a thing for Disney.
Our son has life-threatening food allergies and Disney (whether it is their theme parks or cruise ships) has always been great working with us to ensure he’s safe while on vacation. It’s one of the reasons why we return to Disney World or cruise with DCL every year – we know it works for our family’s situation (foodies with food allergies).
Love food and have a Disney cruise vacation planned? This blog post is for you.
One of the many reasons why people love cruising is the variety and abundance of food available on cruise ships. Disney Cruise Line is no exception.
From buffets, adult only restaurants, snacks and drinks available 24/7, menus especially for kids and multiple course dinners in beautifully decorated restaurants, it’s one less thing for parents to plan.
Here’s our top 10 dining tips for families going on a Disney cruise:
1. Pick An Appropriate Dinner Time for Your Family
There are two seatings for dinner on Disney cruise ships – 5:45PM and 8:15PM. Dinner takes approximately 2 hours from start to finish – so choose a dinner time that works with your kids’ sleep schedule. If you happen to be assigned the second dining time and are wondering how your kids will make it to the end of dinner, take advantage of the Dine and Play program.
The Dine and Play program is available for kids 3 to 12 years old. Dinner is served to the kids first while the parents’ dinner is served at a more relaxed pace. Youth Club staff members will take children from the dining room into the Oceaneer Club or Oceaneer Lab while the adults finish their dinner.
2. Let Dining Room Staff Know About Allergies and Food Preferences
Disney offers rotational dining where you visit different restaurants throughout the cruise and your wait staff follow you from dining room to dining room. This is great for getting to know them better and having someone familiar with food allergies or food preferences. The chefs will sometimes come out and discuss what options are available.
Our servers were always quick to point out what was nut free and what wasn’t. It was great not having to explain Little Man’s allergy situation to new people everyday.
3. Bring a Refillable Water Bottle or Sippy Cup
To avoid having to walk back and forth to the drink stations near the main pool (soda, lemonade, water, tea and coffee are free on all Disney cruises), bring a refillable leak proof cup from home. We love Contigo travel mugs.
4. Still Hungry? Call Room Service
Complimentary 24 hour room service (tips aren’t included) is available on all Disney cruise ships. While the menu is limited it is convenient when you’re hungry or need a midnight snack. Although it isn’t listed on the menu, you can order Mickey Ice Cream Bars any time of the day via room service.
5. Prepare for Pirate Night
If you’re on a Caribbean or Bahamian cruise itinerary, there will be a pirate themed dinner and Pirates In the Caribbean party the day you port at Castaway Cay. Many families love to go all out for pirate night so if you’re one of those people, make sure you pack your paraphernalia for dinner and the deck party.
Pirate attire and accessories are available in the gift shops but expect Disney theme park prices for these items. Also, there’s a midnight buffet after the fireworks and pirate show/dance party so don’t get too full at dinner if you’re planning to check out the buffet tables later that night.
6. Make Reservations at Palo or Remy Before Your Cruise
Cruisers who want a fancy meal without the kids should reserve a table at Palo or Remy as soon as possible – there is a nominal fee associated with each of these restaurants. Champagne Brunch at Palo fills up quickly (considering it’s only $25/person) and it’s difficult to get a last minute reservation once you’re on board.
7. Bring Your Own Alcohol
DCL allows guests to bring their own alcohol on board. Bottles must be sealed and they must be in your carry-on luggage prior to embarkation. This is a great way to save money on drink packages. Do note however that there is a $20 corking fee if you bring a bottle of wine into the restaurant at dinner time.
8. Save Money at the Concession Stand
There are two theaters on each Disney ship. One is for live stage shows, the other is for movies. Snacks and drinks are available for purchase at concession stand however if you want to save money, feel free to bring snacks, drinks and even room service items into the theaters – it’s allowed!
9. Eat as Much or as Little as You Want
Don’t feel restricted one appetizer, entree and dessert at dinner time – you can order as much or as little as you want. Cruisers are allowed to mix and match their dinner and children can order off mom and dad’s menu (no additional fee) if they don’t see anything they like on theirs. If someone misses dinner (or part of it), you can ask servers to pack it up so they can enjoy it later in the stateroom.
10. Budget for Tips
At the end of your cruise, tips are automatically charged to the credit card on file for the dining room staff.
Disney Cruise Line recommends tipping dining staff as follows:
- Dining Room Server – $4/night/person
- Dining Room Assistant Server – $3/night/person
- Dining Room Head Server – $1/night/person
- Dining Manager – at your own discretion
These are not set in stone and can be changed on the last day of your cruise at Guest Services.