When it comes to keeping children happy, Disney has cornered the market. However, you might be surprised to find that Disney Cruise Line (DCL) also knows how to turn a practically perfect dining experience into a perfect one! After missing Palo during our cruise on the Disney Dream due to sleepy kids, my husband and I had the opportunity to dine at Palo on the Disney Fantasy. Palo is one of two adults-only restaurants on the Fantasy. For a mere $30.00 charge per person we experienced a tranquil, delicious, adults-only dinner with some of the best service we have ever enjoyed. Now of course we love our children, but a peaceful dining experience was something we craved. Trust me, your little Simba and Nala will be thrilled to hang out at Disney’s Oceaneer Club while you enjoy some grown-up time.
On-line reservations for Palo begin 120 days prior to cruising for Concierge Guests. Repeat cruisers, part of the Castaway Club, can book early according to status: Platinum at 120 days, Gold at 105 and Silver at 90 days prior to sailing. Newbies to DCL can book 75 days out. Now don’t panic if you can’t grab a reservation prior to sailing. You can likely reserve a table once on board.
We were immediately escorted to and seated at our table. The view is the ocean through expansive windows, the setting is romantic and tranquil. The palate of burgundy, green and gold throughout the restaurant welcomed and relaxed us. Within moments our server, Krasimir, introduced himself. He explained that Palo was named for the long poles used to propel gondolas in Venice. The restaurant was named Palo as a tribute to Italy, where the first Disney ships (Magic and Wonder) were constructed.
Palo is billed as Northern Italian cuisine and the food was plentiful. Our service was impeccable. And the atmosphere was magical. The restaurant was only about half full as we dined. We felt like we were alone aside from some lively conversation with our server. It was a date night to remember … perfect in every way!
But who can talk about Palo without focusing on the food? Where do I start? Our dinner began with an assortment of fresh bread and an antipasti platter. Before I go on, let me say that all of the food we had at Palo was excellent. My husband tried the Mozzarella and Plum Tomatoes Salad and is still raving about it. I enjoyed Sicilian Pesto Marinated Grilled Shrimp for my appetizer. Our server suggested we sample half orders of pasta before our main course. Favorites were the Chianti Braised Beef Ravioli (savory comfort food) and Penne Arrabbiatta, which has a bit of a spicy kick to it. An unexpected surprise was the lemon sorbet with fresh blueberries served as a palate cleanser between courses. My husband adores fish and swears that the grilled tuna entrée was the best he has ever tasted. Do not even think of skipping dessert. You can’t leave Palo without indulging in the blissful Chocolate Soufflé with Vanilla Gelato and Chocolate and Vanilla Sauces. My husband does not really like chocolate (wish I had this problem!), but he practically licked the plate clean! There are no words for this ultimate in dessert.
DIStracted Tip: Don’t eat lunch! Or at very least, eat lunch very early in the day. You absolutely must save your appetite so you can sample the delicious food. Like Remy from Ratatouille is fond of saying, “If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.” Palo is definitely “the good stuff!”
DIStracted Tip: Palo also hosts an amazing brunch for $30.00 per person on cruises of four days or longer. For dinner or brunch, the official dress code does not permit jeans, shorts, Capri pants, flip flops or tennis shoes. That being said, we did witness several people who were seated even without adhering to the dress code, especially at brunch. For us, we enjoy dressing up as part of the experience, so it was not an issue. My issue is packing too many dress clothes for a cruise, but that is a story for another time!
We are not foodies. We are simply parents who had a chance to be just husband and wife again in a gorgeous, romantic setting with amazing food and impeccable service. Palo is an unexpected oasis in the middle of the ocean, an experience that, for us, is worth well beyond $60.00 plus a well-earned gratuity.