the disney food blog Rotating Header Image

Top Ten Disney Cruise Line Dining Tips

Kim L. is our Disney cruise guru around here! (Seriously. She knows EVERYTHING about cruising and was even the Disney World Moms Panel Cruise Specialist her second term on the panel.) She’s put together her top 10 tips to get the most out of your Disney Cruise dining experience, but we want to hear your tips as well, pretty please. Will you add yours in the comments section below?

1. Order The Cake of the Day: Order the Cake of the Day from Room Service! Room service is complimentary (although a gratuity is appreciated) and it’s fun to sample (um, okay, devour ;-)) different cake slices.

Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake at Animator's Palate

2. Skip Shore Excursion Eats: Use Room Service for a quick sandwich while getting ready for your shore excursion. Then time your return to the ship to coincide with your next meal.

3. Find Hidden Treats: Ask your server to start each meal with a cheese (similar to All Hands On Deck) or seafood platter (I saw shrimp served in the Mediterranean) for the entire table to enjoy. It’s not on the menu. Parents can request cheese, grapes, and crackers for the kids. Just ask if it’s available during your voyage!

Likewise, chocolate covered strawberries are not on the dessert menu but are sometimes available by special request. Ask for a small plate of them to be brought with your dessert. They are divine!

Bacon, Brie, and Tomato Panini from Flo's V8 Cafe

4. Late Night Dining: If you’re dining late and the kids are getting hungry, stop by one of the counter-service restaurants (or call Room Service) for a snack prior to the show. Then, you’ll be able to bypass the expensive concession stand outside the theatre.

At bedtime, have Room Service deliver cookies and milk (yes, you can even get the cookies warm!) and the kids will think they’ve sailed to Neverland!

5. Miss Dinner?: If you have a family member that is unable to make dinner due to an illness, wardrobe mishap, etc., ask your server for a meal to bring back to your stateroom. The Wait Staff will go out of their way to accommodate your dining needs whenever possible.

Tea on the Disney Dream

6. Always Ask: Mickey ice cream bars (not always available on European cruises) are not on the Room Service menu but if you request one, it’ll be delivered to your stateroom. Need a PB&J Uncrustable for a picky eater? Just ask! These are also available at the dining rooms by request.

7. Tea Time: At table-service restaurants there will be some herbal tea available, while the self-serve Beverage Station’s selection is quite small. For your tea fix, visit the spa. There’s always a selection of complimentary tasty teas set out for patrons and you don’t need an appointment to enter the fitness center hallway on the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Likewise, you can get some tea in the relaxation room aboard the Dream! Stop in for your spot of tea or take a tea bag (or two) with you.

8. Don’t Forget the Vino!: Pre-purchase a wine package. Each night at dinner, you’ll be able to pair a wine with your meal. The bottle can be enjoyed throughout your meal. Any remaining wine can be sent to your stateroom!

9. Sweets For the Grown-Ups: While relaxing in the adults-only Cove area, stop in to the Cove Cafe for complimentary baked goods.

Cove Baked Goods

10. Mix and Match!: You can mix and match menu items. At dinner, try two appetizers. Have a soup and salad, then two desserts. Don’t feel obligated to have every course. And don’t feel shy about adding an extra portion of your favorite dish.

Did you enjoy the entree on your previous night so much that you are craving it again? Ask your server if they could kindly get it for you!

OK — your turn!! What are YOUR top tips for dining on the Disney Cruise Line? Let us know in the comments section below!

Read our Disney Dream Cruise dining reviews here!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

77 Comments

  1. Sue says:

    We love everything about the food and the service on DCL. My daughter especially loves the pool side counter service options. When we got hungry in the late afternoon and still had a few hours until dinner, she would make a snack run up to Pluto’s Dog House and pick up some chicken nuggets and pizza. Then she’d go back up for the drinks! She loved this bit of freedom and responsibility – she was 10 at the time! We can’t wait to check out the Dream in 2012!

  2. We’re going on our first disney cruise in October, and I’m actually really nervous about the food. I’m soy intolerant, and I’ve had a few restaurants at WDW that don’t see to know how to handle that. So hopefully the Dream (which I notified in advance) will be able to.

  3. Erin says:

    AWESOME post. We’re going on a Disney cruise this summer and just about all the tips you mentioned were new to me. I’m printing this one out and bringing it with us.

  4. Oh man I wanna go on a Disney Cruise soooooooo bad :)

  5. Paul says:

    Wow! I had NO idea about many of these tips, including the cake of the day and cheese platters. Thank you so much for that! I will absolutely use these tips on my next cruise on the Dream this August.

    My only tip is that there is a miniature late-night buffet outside the District every night, from something like 11pm to midnight. It’s great for a late-night snack of mini-sandwiches, wings, desserts, etc. (I assume there is one at the Magic & Wonder’s adult-areas as well…)

  6. Marci says:

    Great Tips!!! I’m not sure about #2…Isn’t it illegal at most ports to bring opened food off the ship?

  7. Steph says:

    Great tips! We will remember these for our cruise next year!!! Wish we’d have thought of them on our last Disney Cruise!

  8. Mark D. says:

    Fantastic post. We are contemplating a cruise in early 2012 and you may have just pushed me over the edge.

  9. Stu K says:

    TRY SOMETHING YOU WOULD NOT NORMALLY ORDER.
    If you don’t like it you can get something else.
    Best way to learn about new foods!

  10. I’m a somewhat picky eater and on certain nights, I didn’t feel like a lot of fancy food with unusual sauces, veggies, textures, etc. In addition to the tip above that you can skip courses you don’t care for, you (as an adult) can also ask for a kids’ menu and order something off that.

  11. Kim says:

    Paul- mini buffets are available on the other ships inside the adults only district! Sail on Super Bowl Sunday for an amazing array of evening tailgate food!

  12. Kim says:

    Marci,

    Regulations differ in every port. Typically fruits/veggies are a no-no. Room service can provide packaged items such as uncrustables for picky kids. Packaged crackers are a good choice too!

  13. Kim says:

    Feel free to submit tour DCL dining questions and I’ll get back to y’all asap. Currently driving through Wyoming with spotty Internet service.

    Erin- you are going to have a magical cruise in the Med!! It’s a fab vacation!!

  14. Jeanine says:

    I have asked for chocolate-covered strawberries at dinner in the past, and been told that they only have them available at the late-night buffets. So I guess it depends on availability.

  15. Madoka says:

    Great post! Thanks for the tips! :) Two questions if you please: They will allow sandwiches and other hot foods brought into the show theaters? And please tell us more about the secret pre-dinner seafood platter! :D

  16. Madoka says:

    Also, does the Cake of the Day from Room Service correspond to something served in the dining rooms that day or is it a completely different and independent offering? Is it more of a generic birthday cake with frosting/icing type item or something fancier?

  17. Tracy says:

    Great information but so that new cruisers don’t get on the ship demanding what isn’t the norm:

    #2. You are not suppose to take food off or on the ship unless it is completely prepackaged and sealed due to regulations. You can get away with it but it is frowned upon. Pick packaged cereal or Uncrustables from room service (asked for them to remained sealed, sometimes they open them for you).

    #3 While you CAN do this, if everyone did this it would throw the servers off, especially on the Dream where they are already running. They aren’t on the menu so not prepared in the kitchen. They have to go out of the norm to get the special request. You can order a cheese platter from room service to enjoy while you get ready if this is a must.

    #4 Unless you are in a concierge suite, don’t expect to get your dinner service meal in your room. It may be done, but it is far from the norm. You have a better chance finding a seat at 2nd seating or ordering from the room service menu.

    One additional tip, if you need coffee as soon as you wake up, order a pot from room service the night before. It will be hot and waiting for you when you wake up.

  18. Heather Sievers says:

    #1 & #2 are my favorite! Cake of the Day? Yes please. AND never would have thought of bringing lunch on excursions. Do you order the night before? Lots of the excursions leave early. Can’t wait for our Med Cruise. Only 5 more weeks!!!

  19. Heidi says:

    I have tried to bring food into the theaters on the Wonder and was told “absolutely not”. I had some sandwiches and a plate of fries that I thought me and my friends could munch on while watching the evening show but was told that I would have to eat all the food outside the theater. I thought it was odd because you can bring candy and popcorn in but no luck for me!

    I also love to order the “all hands on deck” cheese platter for room service right when we arrive. It makes for a nice “sail away” snack!

    I had the wine package on the Dream and did not even open one of the bottles so I was able to take that with me when we disembarked. I tried to give it to our assistant waiter but he said he was not allowed to accept that kind of gift:(

  20. Kim says:

    Jeanine- maybe I’ve sailed during strawberry season! At any rate, cruisers should at least ask for the strawberries. I love the ones coated in white chocolate. VIP guests do get these as “daily” amenities so they are on the ship!

    Everyone – I’m sure there is more leniency with meals being sent to rooms, etc. on off-season cruises, etc. I typically sail in January although our Med cruise was in May. I have never heard of anyone being denied their meal in their room on any of the cruises that I’ve been on. Of course your meal is only going to be sent on a platter, you won’t get white-gloved service in your cabin. ;-) I’ve sat with guests that weren’t feeling well (ya know how it is that first night out of Port Canaveral) and their meals were sent to their cabins. Of course, suite staterooms get this service automatically! I had the pleasure of interviewing many of the officers, kitchen staff, etc during my Moms Panel cruise training trip in addition to my own personal sailings and everyone on the Disney cruise is very accommodating!

    I’ve never eaten in the theater but my son has munched on cookies, etc during the shows. We’ve never been turned away. Of course, I’ve never entered with a full plate of Pluto’s offerings! I was thinking more in the line of a snack rather than a meal. I just love hearing of all of your own personal experiences! And the best part of working for the Moms Panel, etc is the continued learning experience! Let’s share the magic! Details about cake, etc. coming soon. I’m at a Dude Ranch in Wyoming. Yee-haw!

  21. Sue S. says:

    Thanks so much for these tips. They are very helpful. The cheese tray is a great idea for my family because my hubby has to watch his carbs. This is a great alternative to the bread course for him.

  22. Mic Anderson says:

    This has already been mentioned but I did try to get dinner off that nights menu in my room on the EBTA last month and was told absolutely not. My table mates were nice enough to bring it up for me.

    As well, bringing any food, even sealed into ports, it is my understanding it is a big no no. DCL does not like it but will most likely not say anything, the ports themselves have very strict rules on this. Alaska will not allow any food brought into ports, and that is not a foreign country for most of us.

    And like Tracy mentioned, while the waiters will NEVER ever let on, any special request like the cheese platter does add to their work load. While we do not see it, things really do run on a fast paced system in the back and anything out of the norm takes extra effort on their part. So it could probably be done if you had good waitstaff, but I do not think I personally would put that on them.

  23. Tara says:

    HI!
    Thanks so much for the tips! We had the pleasure of sailing on the Wonder in the Walt Disney Suite and can’t wait to try the Dream. Some thoughts on all of the posts: Suite guests have all of the restaurants menus in the room and can have them delivered. I’m told, by the concierge team, that it’s a suite perk, but I am sure someone who missed their seating or as ill would also be able to do so. It has been said, repeatedly, here that servers frown on, Disney doesn’t like, etc etc about asking for things out of the norm. The fact is, is that Disney is very customer service oriented. A Cruise line that caters to kids has to be. While the most out of the ordinary item we asked for was plain pasta that wasn’t on the menu, for our kids, I”m sure we could have had anything we needed. Incidentaly, our server offered to bring us a cheese platter one night at dinner, (Wasn’t on the menu), with no prompting from us. When it arrived we found it to be totally different from the one served through room service. I’m an easy client so I wouldn’t run my server ragged but if you ask for extras remember two things: 1. They may say no, or it’s not something they can do. and 2. Remember all those extras when it ccomes time to tip you waitstaff!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Chris S says:

    Omg! I am a seasoned cruiser (9 so far) and am taking my first Disney cruise on Dream this February. Your tips are amazing! I am happy to see some interesting fun advice such A’s”cake of the day” via room service and chocolate covered strawberries A’s an alternative at dinner! My mouth is watering already! Also, I am a tea drinker, sp the heads up on selection is great! Keep up the good work ;), it is truly appreciated! PS. My 6 year old figured out the cookie and milk bedtime treat last February when we cruised Carnival. She will be thrilled to know Disney can handle her “order” ( my Hubby will be thrilled too )!

  25. AJ says:

    Sue S — No kidding! I love that idea!

    Mic — Thanks for this perspective and your experience about dinner from that night’s menu! Very helpful!

    Tara — The Walt Disney Suite! Awesome!! Thanks for the info and your feedback about your experiences.

    Chris — Awesome! Have SO much fun!!!

  26. Rebecca says:

    We have cruised on the Magic 5 times, soon to sail on the Fantasy in Jan 2013 and we have ALWAYS taken food into the movies. My kids will run up to Pluto’s or Pinocchio’s and grab some pizza or chicken strips and bring them in with no problems ever. Typically there is a Cast Member standing at the door and they tease my boys and try to take a slice off of their plates.

    One tip that we do is assign one family member to run up to the breakfast buffet and fill up a tray with various goodies…bacon, eggs, bagels, etc….then bring the tray back to our cabin and enjoy breakfast on our balcony. Also our kids will run up and grab a glass of milk and a packet of hot coco and make their own chocolate milk. On the Magic at Pluto’s Dog House there is a condiment bar and they have several raw veggie item’s available… giant green and black olives, celery, tomato’s, etc…and ranch is available upon request. Lastly later in the evening Pinocchio’s will make any special pizza that you request and give you the whole pie to take back to your room. Now granted this last tip is not guaranteed and would never be able to happen on Pirate’s night but it is what we have experienced on our past cruises. Enjoy!!

  27. AJ says:

    Thanks Rebecca!!

  28. Amanda says:

    If you aren’t sure what you want to order, ask your server what they recommend. On our first cruise on the Magic, our server was spot-on every night! When we weren’t sure but went ahead and went with his recommendation he did bring us our other choice to sample. I was SO glad to have listened to Andre! He never led me wrong!

  29. GF says:

    I’m a big Mocha drinker (Love Starbucks), I think I saw that they offer specialty after dining but is it readily avaialable somewhere on the ship throughout the day? Sailing on the Fantasy later this year.

  30. Robert says:

    You can order dishes from Palo in the main dining rooms as long as you do so in advance (for the following night). Not sure if the same can be said for Remy though.

  31. Katie says:

    Thanks for the tips! I cant wait to try them out especially the room service ones!

  32. gretchen says:

    Our first ever cruise of any kind is coming up Feb 2013 on the Magic. I have read on the moms panel some people get to be seated at the center table with Mickey. Is this a purchase or a request or just luck of the draw?

  33. AJ says:

    Gretchen — Here’s the word from Kim, our editor and cruise expert:

    Guests can call Disney Cruise Line at 800-951-3532 to request the center table. You’ll want to mention the special occasion that your family is celebrating. Please note…I do not think that Mickey actually sits or visits the table except when Mickey does his show in Animator’s Palate.

  34. Lorena says:

    Great Post!!! Thanks for the info :) So excited and looking forward to taking my girls to there dream vacation…

  35. Kristen says:

    What a great post! I sailed Disney way back when it was the Big Red Boat, so this Feb will be my first sailing on their new line. Fun to learn these tips! Visions of cake of the day, choc covered strawberries and cheese trays are dancing in my head! I’ve been on several cruises and have yet to order room service just because we are so stuffed most of the time from the meals and daily grazing! lol. I do have to say, I’m starting to think maybe, just maybe I might put in that order. lol
    Hey Gretchen, maybe I’ll see ya if you’re on the 9 Feb sailing! :)

  36. Tianna Love says:

    Hi! This is going to be our FIRST cruise ever, for myself, husband & kids, & we are actually taking our daughter for her 5th birthday. My question is, is there anything special that we can do at dinner one night to celebrate her birthday such as order a cake or have balloons at the table? Or can someone tell me more about sitting by Mickey? Any tips or ideas are appreciated! Thank you in advance!

  37. Kristen says:

    Tianna, if you booked through a travel agent, give them a call and they might be able to arrange something for your daughter. My son’s birthday is about a week before the cruise and I didn’t even ask and she told me that since it was so close, she arranged to have them do something special for him at dinner the second night. :)
    If you go to the Disney Cruise Line site and put in your reservation, you can also go to a section where you can select gifts. In this section there is a place you can purchase a birthday package for $49. They’ll put a banner on your door and something in your room and other fun stuff.
    Cruising is awesome! Have a great time!!!!

  38. Kristen says:

    WOW! Here is something cool I just read about! Disney has a Dine and Play program! It is for families in the second seating with kids between 3 and 12. You tell your server that you want your kid to participate in Dine and Play and they bring your kids their meals first while the adults get to eat at a more leisurely pace. Then about 45 minutes after seating begins, Youth Counselors arrive at the dining room and sign in the kids to the Disney Oceaneer Club and escort them up so the adults can sit back and enjoy the full dining experience! What an awesome idea! I’ve been on a number of cruises and kids can absolutely get ants in pants if they have to sit through the full dinner time. Maybe that’s why the dining room tends to lose some people. They find it easier to go to the buffets with their kids than to try to corral them for a 1 1/2 to 2 hour dining experience nightly.

  39. Kim LaPaglia says:

    Robert – WOW. I had no idea that a dish could be ordered from Palo to eat in the main dining room. I love learning these new tidbits from cruisers.

    Kristen – We used Dine and Play when our son was younger. It was fabulous. FAB-U-LOUS! The kids meal was served quickly, our son still had to practice good table manners, and then he went off to play while we enjoyed a wonderful meal!

  40. Jennifer says:

    Booked a 6 night on the magic out of galveston in February. We are thinking we would like to book at least one night in the Palo restaurant. Do you have a recommendation on what night to miss in the main restaurant? Thanks!

  41. AJ says:

    Jennifer — My suggestion would be to do Palo on one of your sea days if possible — that way you can relax all day in prep for your yummy meal! Also, I like to do Palo on one of the last nights so that you can experience all of the other restaurants first.

  42. Kristi says:

    Bring your own booze! They won’t confiscate it!!! im not a huge drinker, but brought mini bottles of coconut rum aboard to mix with coke when lounging by the pool. Of course pack plastic.

  43. judi davis says:

    Old Folks sailing in February (sans grandchildren) on the Magic.

    Is it true that you can order from the PALO menu the nite before in your main dining area?

    Thanks,
    Judi

  44. Trish says:

    Regarding #2 and the subsequent comments above, I don’t think the author was advocating ordering a sandwich and then taking it ashore.

    The author probably meant – order a sandwich to eat on board while you’re getting ready to go ashore, and then you won’t need to eat while you’re off the ship. And then time your return to co-incide with a proper meal service.

  45. Mary says:

    Just returned from a cruise on the disney magic. Our food was great unfortunately our server was not. He did not listen to our orders and whenever you would tell him that he got it wrong he would blame the person ordering. It got real old, very fast. Our big mistake is that we did not bring it up to disney guest services. We were disappointed, but we did not want someone to get fired because of us, but that is a mistake. We kept on giving him chances but we ended up suffering. Mealtime is a large part of the cruising experience. Why should the next set of cruisers get bad service also. I think the person must have already been fired, how could someone be such a horrible server on the disney cruise line. It was like he did not want to be there at all. This was my second cruise with disney and there was a 100 percent difference with this server and the last one. The kids still remember the last servers name.

  46. Kristen says:

    Mary, it is never to late to let Disney know! If he was that bad, I want him off the ship so I don’t get him next week! lol. Make sure you do give them his name or if you can’t remember, I’m sure they can find out through their records. There are to many good servers out there that would give their eye teeth to have that job than to leave someone who is floundering in his duties there. It isn’t good for the company to have employees who represent them in a negative light. Plus, if you let them know how disappointed you are, they may throw a perk your way to get you back, especially since you have sailed with them in the past!

  47. Katie says:

    There are specialty coffees available from Cove Cafe for a fee. The yummy treats they serve, however, are free! They typically have a selection of pastries during the early period of the day and olives, cheese, and fruits later in the day. One thing they ALWAYS have is chocolate covered strawberries! They also have delicious brownies and cakes but I inevitably end up with the strawberries. :)

    Also, you can bring as much alcohol onto the ship as you can fit in your carry on (only people over 21). The carry on must be standard size (the dimensions are on the dcl website) and there is a corking fee if you bring wine to dinner (but you can!). No opened bottles may be taken off the ship so don’t bring more than you can drink during your cruise!

    Also, I typically ask for some of everything for dessert. The waiters will happily bring you as many as you want. For those of you talking about the extra work required to accommodate special requests, I haven’t met a server yet who wasn’t willing to work harder if you tipped him/her well. We always tip above the recommended amount if we make special requests and our servers give us hugs on the way out! ;)

  48. Steven says:

    (chocolate covered strawberries / cove cafe)

    - Sorry, they are not always available … in fact … I rarely see them in Cove Cafe (Wonder, Magic & Fantasy).

  49. Alexa says:

    Hello! I just came back from a crusie on the Disney Fantasy. It was BEAUTIFUL!!! The dining
    and food and enertainment, its was just amazing. The edge was so awesome! It has notebook computors, a light-up dance floor, two BIG 100+ t.v.’s, and the AWESOMEST consoulers!
    My favorite consoulers were KP and Edson. They are the best!! There is also Joy and Brian.
    Brian was really funny, and Joy was sweet, but KP and Edson were the BEST. In dining we had Claire and Bubelani. They are so nice and were the best! When i looked on m=this website at the reveiws, some people said they had terrible waitstaff. And i thought to myself
    “Oh wow! We are going to get stuck with the bad waitstaff.” But we didnt. There was a slight problem in the Animators Palette when my drawing didnt wasnt in the show and then they said “Come back at the 8:30P.M. seating and we will show yours again. So we came back, and again, they didnt show it. I started crying but they fixed the problem quickly. They gave me a mickey/pluto stuffed animal and did a private show of just MY drawing! Its was awesome! When you get back from your room order some milk and cookies from roomservice.
    They are good for the little ones ( And for 10 year olds like me!) Its come between 5-15 mins and they come in with

  50. Alexa Marcy says:

    BIG chocolate chip cookies and cartons of milk. Me and my brother ate them all XD. We went on the AquaDuck and it was very cool. I was scared to go on at first but my dad went with me and i didnt get scared. It isnt VERY fast but its reasonably fast. Like, a 5 year old could go on and wont get scared. When you first get on the ship, get some lunch at Cabana’s on deck 11. They have a variety of foods and even chicken fingers and mac-n-cheese for picky eaters.
    In room service the cheese platter is DEL-ICI-OUS! They have yummy cheeses! My favorites
    are the chedder, bree, and the little cheese wheel thing. I eat all the crackers before my mom has a chance to grab one for her cheese! And i eat all the grapes. We usally ordered this before dinner. (My favortie spot was Animators Palatte!)
    Katie- You asked for EVERYTHING? Lol. I would totally too. The desserts were YUMMY I had the Mickey pop 3 nights!

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *