At the last minute, I booked brunch at Palo as well for us. While dining there twice seemed a tad overkill, the experiences were supposed to be completely different and I again figured this was our one chance.
Palo charges the same upcharge for brunch but unlike dinner, brunch is only available on sea days – and our seaday happened to be the morning after our Palo dinner.
Ugo, our Palo dinner waiter and my new BFF, recommended going light on breakfast in anticipation of our brunch reservation at 11:30. So, I ordered a bagel and cream cheese + carafe of coffee from room service instead of heading downstairs to Lumiere’s. I grabbed my blanket, Kindle, and room service tray and sat on the verandah for a couple of hours while mom slept.
Then, I decided to wander the ship – since it was sea day, there were a lot more character interactions and special activities going on. Look in the corner of the top pic for Thor and corner of the next level down for Doc McStuffins.
And of course, princesses!
I love the rows of windows throughout the ship – esp on sunny mornings
And in the hallway with the adult after hours venues, the windows have seats!
After a relaxing morning, it was time for our Palo brunch! The restaurant has tons of windows but of course, was dark the night before. So lovely!
We were seated in a booth by the window and this was our view:
At check in, mom requested Ugo and he was excited to see us again. You are first offered a complimentary drink (mimosa, Bellini, champagne) and then given a tour of the buffet by your waiter. Y’all. CHECK THIS OUT.
In addition to gobs of savory dishes such as caviar, bread and cheese, olives, cured meats, smoked salmon, shrimp, crab, scallops, risotto balls, etc., they also had a huge spread of pastries and a second huge spread of desserts.
As if this wasn’t enough, you also get a menu with hot items you can order from the kitchen. While I’d gladly pull my chair right up to the smoked salmon and cheese section of the buffet, y’all knew we had to try some hot dishes, too.
Since we’re at an Italian restaurant, and my BFF Ugo is Italian, the lasagna had to be tasted. Ugo told me it was almost as good as his mom’s – and that’s only because his mom puts love into hers.
If I ever visit Italy, I’m tracking down his mom because this was the best lasagna I’ve ever tasted. That bechamel sauce!
They have a pizza oven so mom ordered a goat cheese and sun-dried tomato pizza. This was actually the only disappointment – she said the crust was a bit soggy and not crispy like she expected. I was too busy face planting into my lasagna to try it.
Ugo also brought one of their most popular dishes for us to try, the chicken Parmesan (delish):
I’m a savory over sweet person so I only tasted 2 of the mini desserts – tiramisu and a cannoli:
All in all, completely worth the second surcharge – it was a wonderful experience.
That afternoon, mom attended a shopping talk and I took a class and then sat on the deck and enjoyed the sun. The sunset from our verandah that day was just beautiful.
The show that night – Tangled – was relatively new. I adore Tangled so I was really excited. Evidently everyone else loves Tangled, too, because it was standing room only. Thankfully, we got seats BUT we had a really, really bad experience with another passenger. It sorta put a damper on things but the show was fantastic.
In between the show and dinner, we popped in to watch “Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer” which was entertaining!
Dinner was at Animator’s Palate, which mom was looking forward to the most. It certainly had the best theming of the restaurants and should not be missed. Interestingly, I thought the food here was the weakest but it was the night after Palo so my expectations may have been too high at this point!
The room starts in black and white with characters being sketched on the screens throughout the room:
I ordered the black truffle pasta purseittes for appetizer, baked potato and cheddar cheese soup for soup course, and the ginger teriyaki beef tenderloin. The soup was disappointing but other dishes were good.
Right before the dessert course, the room begins to change and add color and things come to life. They do a fun screen based show (and music from IllumiNations is worked in – only a Disney nerd would notice it!). And guess who makes an appearance?
It was really fun and unique – I just wish the other 2 restaurants had similar theming and magic interjected into it. Disney does it so well!
Later that night, I went out to one of the adult clubs to see a comedian/magician perform – he was very entertaining!
The next day was Key West day! I went downstairs for breakfast again and my BFF Ugo was working! 🙂 I tried something different this time and it wasn’t near as delicious as the eggs Benedict but it was better than a bagel.
Our first stop in Key West was the Harry S. Truman Little White House:
Photos aren’t allowed inside but if you’re ever in Key West, you must tour! It was fascinating. The tours are led by docents in smaller groups and our docent was very good at his job.
After that, we wandered over to the main “drag”, Duval St.
The street is lined with shops and restaurants and is a lot of fun to wander. We stopped at Caroline’s Cafe for lunch on the patio. Mom ordered conch fritters and I ordered a blackened mahimahi sandwich. We both rejoiced that they had Dr. Pepper – the ship (and Disney in general) is Coke only.
After lunch, we wandered into a beautiful church, St. Paul’s Episcopal. Just lovely!
The stained glass windows on the side opened so the cool breeze could flow through:
After shopping and walking, we swung by Kermit’s to try their famous key lime pie. Yum!!
Key West was new to us both and it’s certainly on my short list of weekend spots to visit with Jason in the future.
Once back on board, I lounged at the pool while mom enjoyed a spa treatment – she just raved about it! The only spa “treatment” I was interested in was a manicure because my polish was chipping. Once learning their manicure was $50 + 18% tip, I decided chipped polish was a-okay.
Since we had the 2nd seating for dinner (8:30pm), we went to the early show (6:15pm). Tonight was Disney Dreams, the show mom was most anticipating. WOW. It was by far my favorite. It had a little bit of several different Disney classics and some fantastic music. It was a great way to end the cruise!
Dinner that night was at Carioca’s, which is where we had lunch on our first day. The menu tonight was more South American inspired and I found it tastier and more unique than the night before at Animator’s Palate.
The bread service that night was my favorite – banana bread with mango-mint mojo sauce.
I ordered the Ahi Tuna and Avocado Tower, Beef Empanada with Red Chimchurri, and the Grilled Rum-Marinated Swordfish.
Both appetizers were good but I found the swordfish to be very dry.
Mom ordered the Cuban Salad, Shrimp Ceviche, and the Roasted Honey BBQ Chicken (served with crushed sweet potatoes, grits, and collards).
For dessert, I ordered the Coconut Tres Leches Cake and mom ordered a sugar free chocolate something or other. Our waiter also brought out the ice cream sundae which had Dulce de Leche ice cream, caramelized apples, and a churro. I mean, if you insist…
After dinner, we decided to check out “Til We Meet Again” just to see what it was all about. The characters are introduced and come down the main stairs for one last time with the guests.
And then all the characters take a spot somewhere in the lobby, they remove the ropes, and it becomes mass chaos. The character handlers did a pretty good job of making lines out of some of the mob but other characters were just hanging out and you could walk right up to them.
From our viewpoint a couple floors up, it was highly amusing.
And this girl in the pink is a mystery. She mostly stood alone (while Rapunzel in the purple had a steady stream of visitors) so clearly we weren’t the only ones confused. She was blonde, with braids pulled up on her head, and not wearing colors/attire that looked like any Disney princess I know. The only person she looked like was Heidi!
The two in ballgowns stood on the stage
It’s interesting to note that this took place at 10:30pm. Bedtimes for children go out the window on a Disney cruise!
Mom and I walked the deck one last time, marveling at the near-full moon and nearly being blow overboard. It was so windy!
Mom headed for bed and I went to a late night family karaoke. Highly amusing and a fun way to end the cruise.
The next morning was a flurry of activity, including a quick breakfast at Carioca’s. Food this morning was pretty mass produced and not very tasty but it kept us full until we made the drive to Orlando. Plus it was already paid for!
After grabbing our bags, getting through customs, and taking the shuttle to the Miami airport to grab a rental, we were on our way to Orlando. Mom was staying a few days there while I had a 6am flight home the next day.
The drive was easy but pricey, thanks to toll roads. Florida loves a toll road. After checking into mom’s Orlando hotel (Wyndham Bonnet Creek), we went to Disney’s Polynesian Hotel for lunch at Captain Cook’s (one of my favorite quick service spots) and to meet Bobby, her boyfriend, to head to the Magic Kingdom.
We first hit the new Muppet’s show in Liberty Square
Rode Peter Pan (I LOVE THE NEW QUEUE!), saw Mickey’s Philharmagic, PeopleMover, and Carousel of Progress (it’s a great big beautiful tomorrow!)
After a little shopping, it was time for the new castle projection show – which blew me away.
Wishes was next, and it’s my favorite fireworks show ever. Unfortunately, it’s leaving in a couple of months and while I’m sure the new show will be even better, I’ll still miss it.
We finished up and took the boat back to the Poly. The Electrical Water Parade was doing it’s thing so we got to sit on the boat and watch it, which was pretty cool. On the way home, we stopped at Perkin’s for a super late dinner and 6 hours later, I was at the airport to head home!
All in all, we had a blast. Is the Disney cruise worth the much higher price tag? Probably not for adults… but for families with kids, it might just be. The kids clubs probably can’t compare with other cruise lines and if the kids are content in the clubs, mom and dad get to enjoy the many adult only amenities. Disney doesn’t forget about their adult customers and really did well on those areas. Their rooms are well laid out, the ship is beautiful and well maintained, and I didn’t miss the casino. The shows were AMAZING, though guest behavior during the show was hit and miss and Disney does not seem to care much about addressing it. I do wish they upped the adult late night entertainment – it was very lacking – and I think the main dining room and poolside food could be improved. The room service food was always excellent.
If you want to do a Disney cruise and take me along, I’m game! 🙂