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Review: Cabanas on the Disney Dream Cruise Ship

On the Disney Dream Cruise Ship, Disney Cruise Line’s newest vessel, Cabanas is the breezy buffet that’s accessible to guests all day long. Stop here for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack no matter what schedule you’re on!

Atmosphere

Guests enter the restaurant through a striped canvas bedecked foyer — just like you’re entering your very own cabana!

Entrance

You might even see a few of your favorite friends from Finding Nemo here! Check out these gorgeous mosaic tile murals that decorate the space. And watch out for these guys…

Mine! Mine!

Cabanas availability offers a great opportunity for dining (especially if you happen to miss your set dinner time or would like an early breakfast), and offers some gorgeous seating areas both inside and outside.

Seating area

Round Table

Indoor and Outdoor Seating

Eats

Once you get inside, the buffet starts immediately!

Buffet begins here!

When I was there, Cabanas cast members kept telling us that service was free-form, and that guests should refrain from “lining up” and simply cut in and get the food they want. While logical (the buffet is huge, and walking the whole span of the thing could easily take half an hour!), this seemed like a pretty difficult instruction to adhere to. Hundreds of guests were already lined up with the idea that “I was here first.” (Disney fans are pretty used to waiting their turn at buffets, so it seems strange to have this “free-for-all” approach.)

Needless to say, there were plenty of ticked off diners when other guests were simply trying to follow the rules they were being given by the cast members. Yeah…large groups of hungry people — not so good at learning to do things the “new” way right away. I’m sure this is a great plan during the less-busy times, when guests are filtering in and out regularly; but to have this be the strategy at heavy mealtimes just seems off the mark. Just my opinion, of course.

Anyway, food choices were plentiful and varied. Menu items were grouped together into pods; here are a few of the different pod options:

The open kitchen behind the buffet offered a peek at the hard-working CMs creating our meals:

Cabanas Chef

Chef at Pizza Oven

Pizza fresh from the oven!

Pizza

The buffet continued with salads and toppings:

Baby spinach, chopped romaine, cherry tomato, Kalama Olives, Red onions, Catalonian Chicken Salad

Toppings

salad bar toppings

A kids’ food area with chicken tenders, mac and cheese, and different pastas:

Chicken Tenders

Next up — veggies and meats. I was impressed with the variety of options and the interesting ways they were presented. It felt like there were hundreds of choices! I had no trouble filling up two plates and heading back for more.

Mixed Vegetables; Grilled Corn, Bok Choy, Chestnuts, leeks and red bell pepper; Grilled Swordfish

Honey Glazed Carrots and Snow Peas; Ham Wrapped Salmon

Chicken with Pico de Gallo; Scalloped Smashed Baked Potato with Jack Cheese

Buttered Asparagus; Griddled Lamb Chops with Chermoula

Potatoes, Asparagus

Steak Fries

Griddled Rib-eye Steak

Pork with Garlic Ginger Sauce

Rice

Carving Station

Carving Station

Of course, who could forget the seafood! Get your claw cracker ready!!

Seafood Crackers

Seafood Display

Jonas Crew Claws, Lemon, Shrimp, Cocktail Sauce, Clams

Clams

Claws

For those who’d prefer a lighter meal, there were plenty of wraps, sandwiches, soups, and fresh fruit available.

Selection of Wraps

Turkey Wrap with Chipotle

Tomato and Mozzarella Ciabatta

Slice Prosciutto, Slice Alpine Ham, Blue Cheese Crumbles,

Chicken Noodle Soup

Leek and Potato Soup

Bread Station

Bread Choices

Fresh Fruit

Here’s my first “modest” buffet plate (a kids’ plate, ’cause it’s cuter…and just as big).

Buffet Plate

For dessert, you can treat yourself to one (or more!) of plenty of choices, from Key Lime Pie to cheesecake to strawberry tarts and more.

Key Lime Pie, Coffee Mascarpone Roulade, NY Cheesecake, Chocolate Marquisa

New York Cheesecake

Key Lime Pie

Beverage options abound as well. Coffees, teas, soft drinks, juice, and more are always available on the ship.

Hot Beverages

Beverage Station: Coffee, Tea, Minute Maid OJ, Minute Maid Apple Juice

Tea, Hot Cocoa, Stirrers, Sugar and more!

Self-serve beverages

I loved the little Mickey Mouse heads on the glasses!

Beverage

And a full bar is available at Cabanas as well.

Bar

Overall

While the food is standard buffet fare, it is plentiful and varied! There’s something for everyone here. Personally, I could have headed back to that dessert station over and over again!

The option to sit outside gives guests a fun, breezy mealtime; and the fact that Cabanas is pretty much always open means that you aren’t constrained to eating at particular mealtimes — perfect if you’re trying to avoid crowds!

See more from our excursion on the Disney Dream over on our Disney Dream Dine-Around page!

Have you dined at Cabanas? Tell us your favorite dish in the comments below!

This two-night cruise was complimentary as part of a Disney-produced media event, which brought news, radio, internet, and television media together to see the new ship (disclosure policy). The opinions here are my own, and I’m never obligated to provide a positive review of any meal or restaurant.

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19 Comments

  1. James says:

    Although I only ate there for breakfast and lunch, I was extremely impressed by the variety offered at Cabanas. I thought the food quality was a good measure above average, especially for a buffet, and I would have loved to have dinner there had my cruise been longer than 4 nights. I also want to point out that the chefs and the wait staff were extremely friendly and helpful, even by Disney standards.

  2. Sasha says:

    Looks great but I’ve been wondering how it works exactly? Can you just walk in and, say, grab a wrap and walk out? And can you come in more than once per day? Sorry if it sounds odd, but I don’t know much about cruises at all :)

  3. Christina says:

    Is Cabanas a 24-hour a day dining option or certain set times?

  4. Paul says:

    Cabanas was wonderful. There were so many different food options, it was a struggle to convince myself not to overeat. I ate both breakfast and lunch there most of my 4 days, and definitely never got bored with the food. There was also basically no wait at all for a table – which is also a great thing, that there are hosts there to seat you, rather than making the dining area a free-for-all. Everything was very well organized. I didn’t encounter any of the “but I was in line first” confusion you referred to, but maybe that’s because I only did breakfast & lunch there, not dinner?

    Also, I didn’t see the sushi mentioned! :-) The sushi plate is small, just three pieces per plate, but of course you can get as many plates as you like!

  5. Brenda says:

    maybe we will give it a try in October … but I doubt it. Jay and I have a strict no-buffet policy on cruises – too many hands in the food. It does look like a nice area, though; and much more spacious than Topsiders on the Magic.

  6. Kevin Devine says:

    While I was able to enjoy the buffet twice, I found the breakfast rush to be very difficult to navigate due to the “open” style that encourages people to cut in front of you. This becomes a BIG problem if you have small kids as they will reach over the toddlers head because there is a “space”… I had some difficulty controlling two plates and protecting my kids from people getting to what they want… The line would be easiest to navigate as a single adult person, but the other difference from the Magic/Wonder is that the buffet now lack TRAYS… Meaning that I can no longer get a meal for each of the 4 members of my family, I can do, perhaps, two at a time… Cabana’s food was adequate and I liked the variety, but the irritation of the line led me to only go twice on a 5-day cruise.

  7. Kevin Devine says:

    @Christina, Cabana’s is not 24-hour, and has set hours for each meal, closed in-between. The only 24-hour option on the Dream is Room Service. Even the quick service places close at midnight (most at 11pm).

  8. Shelley says:

    Tho we usually avoid buffets on the classic Disney ships we LOVED cabanas and ate there often. We did not notice it open all the time-there are definitely times when it is not serving and people should check their navigators. We did notice the angry lined up cruisers the first couple days but by day 3 people were getting the hang of it and there weren’t any lines. We found both the quality and variety of options to be outstanding!

  9. Alan says:

    Wow AJ – My wife (the picky eater) looked at your plate and said she would try everything on your plate except the lamb. For someone who basically only likes the desserts this is a big breakthrough. Now if I can only get her to stop being afraid of ships.

  10. Paul says:

    @Sasha – all the food on the cruise is all-you-can-eat. You can enter Cabanas as often as you want, and take whatever you’d like.

  11. Emma says:

    thank you for this review and all the photos – we’ll be onboard the Dream in just 8 days time, still can’t believe it! :)

  12. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve never been on a Disney cruise before so I am wondering if the soda is always freely available? On other cruises I’ve been on, it was an additional cost and had to be requested.

  13. AJ says:

    Elizabeth — I believe the soda is free on Disney cruises.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the reply! Yea Disney!

  15. Kim says:

    The pod-type serving area reminds me of breakfast at Tusker House or even Boma. At Tusker House guests are very confused about the “no line” concept however it seems to work better at Boma where I’ve never stood in a buffet line. I think in a smaller venue such as Cabanas that the space is a bit too confining to allow for free-form grazing.

    Free sodas are available at the buffet locations on all of the Disney ships as well as in the buffet locations (Topsiders, Cabanas and Beach Blanket), dining rooms and on Castaway Cay. If you order a soda via Room Service or in a bar/lounge, then it’ll cost you.

    I’ve gotta save up for a Disney Dream cruise!

  16. Gretchen says:

    Just to add a note here, I recently read a trip report in which the author explained he & his family enjoyed dinner at Cabana’s as well. He stated that the sunset views from the restaurant & the outside deck were spectacular, and that the food was generally close to or the same as that being served in the main dining rooms.
    Just a thought for some of you sailing on the Dream soon…l

  17. Tyrone says:

    We went in aug of 2011. The food at cabanas was amazing. I’ve been searching for some
    Of the recipes and had no luck. Everyday we had breakfast and lunch there. I wish they served dinner also. I look forward to going back this summer. This was our first cruise and not the last. It was well worth the money. We were on a five day cruise and I gained ten pounds. If you like to eat cabanas is the place. And remember it’s a buffet so all you can eat and they had everything from wraps to steak, shrimp,ribs,roasts, special chef prepared meals, I mean you ,,,,mmm. All I can say is you have to go there.

  18. AJ says:

    Gretchen — Thanks for the info!!

    Tyrone — Awesome! Can’t wait to hear about more of your cruises!!

  19. Wayne says:

    Thanks for all the comments. They were exrtremly helpful. My girlfriend and I are going the end of august(5day). Let me know if any of you all are going. We’re going to wing it w/out kids since all of ours are grown. Thanks again. ;~))

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