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Old 09-04-2012, 03:23 PM   #1
Clotho
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Food Disappointment BIG Time...

Just got off the Wonder yesterday, and had a great time. Staff was amazing, the ship was gorgeous, and we are already looking forward to a future cruise. But with who...? Because we love good food and frankly, we didn't have much--hubby loved his lamb dish at Palo, and we both enjoyed brunch there, mostly eating the buffet items, but that's it.

I swear I am not as picky as this sounds, but I didn't have one single meal that I fully enjoyed on the ship. Bland, overcooked, lukewarm, over-salted, tasted like frozen food or school lunches. Even Palo overcooked my shrimp and steak (and the waiter failed to bring an entire course we had ordered, which only contributed to my disappointment).

Is this normal? What was your experience? I would love some perspective, because this is actually one of the sticking points in deciding if we want to cruise with Disney again or try another line. We love our Disney vacations for the decor, theming, and service; and we have read about people actually liking the food on Disney, so I had to wonder if somehow we got a bad kitchen experience on this cruise? Or if our idea of good food is vastly different from the reviewers we have read. For instance Red Lobster is NOT "good food" in our book, but we would eat there and find a thing or two that would satisfy. If our cruise on the Wonder were a restaurant, we would never go back.

So question for y'all who have cruised Disney before: tell me of your food experiences, good and bad. And for reference, what kinds of foods do you enjoy eating at home? For instance, if you regularly eat at McDonald's and Long John Silvers, and if you use that as a basis for comparison for "good food" then I have an idea of your personal 1-to-10 scale, know what I mean? It is not my intention to judge anyone's food choices and I hope that this thread will stay on topic without any personal barbs. I just want to gauge why I read so many good reviews of Disney food when my one experience was SO BAD--is this an isolated incident, or is it a case of taste/preference/perspective?
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:31 PM   #2
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My experience is that the food quality on DCL has decreased markedly over the years. Some of our favorite menu items have been eliminated, and we were not thrilled with the quality on our last few cruises. As you said--great service, super entertainment, but food quality was not the best. In fact, we cruised a different line in August and found MUCH better food.

OK, there are exceptions....if you eat dinner in the pool deck restaurant, you lose the "experience" of the main dining room, but we found the food to be better--even though it is the same stuff as on the main menu.

I don't think the issue is in the menu selections on DCL so much as I think it is the preparation/serving system that is decreasing the quality....but that's just me. I'm basing that on having the same item 2 nights in a row--once in a MDR, once at Topsiders. The food at Topsiders was MUCH better.

We have 2013 booked on 2 different lines. It looks like we will be on DCL, but the family agrees that the food is better on the other. THey just feel that the entertainment on DCL outweighs the food quality.
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:41 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by pdwimmer View Post
We are going again next week on the Dream and will have late dining. I'll take pics and post a review then. But honestly, how much can you expect when you pack that many people into a dining service? I take it all with a grain of salt, literally :-) I just try to eat the non-processed, cooked foods. Don't get my started on Cookies on Cast Away Cay. How can they possibly call that bar-b-que? I am from the midwest and we take bar-b-que quite seriously.
Yes, I know what you mean but I think they mean BBQ in that it's a gas grill, not electric. They are not allowed to use gas for cooking on the ship but they can on CC. I'm sure folks from down south wouldn't call that BBQ either.

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My experience is that the food quality on DCL has decreased markedly over the years. Some of our favorite menu items have been eliminated, and we were not thrilled with the quality on our last few cruises. As you said--great service, super entertainment, but food quality was not the best. In fact, we cruised a different line in August and found MUCH better food.

OK, there are exceptions....if you eat dinner in the pool deck restaurant, you lose the "experience" of the main dining room, but we found the food to be better--even though it is the same stuff as on the main menu.

I don't think the issue is in the menu selections on DCL so much as I think it is the preparation/serving system that is decreasing the quality....but that's just me. I'm basing that on having the same item 2 nights in a row--once in a MDR, once at Topsiders. The food at Topsiders was MUCH better.

We have 2013 booked on 2 different lines. It looks like we will be on DCL, but the family agrees that the food is better on the other. THey just feel that the entertainment on DCL outweighs the food quality.
I agree. Each line has its pros & cons whether it's food, ship style, price, entertainment, itinerary, etc. Also there's the "little things" like having a casino, focus on smoking/drinking, having to sign pool towels in & out, etc.

For us DCL has the most pros and fewest cons or at least the cons are not of high priority factors. Do I love every meal? no. If food were at the top of my priority list, I'd probably be on a line that doesn't offer DCL's kind of entertainment.
We had better food on Carnival but I'd rather go to work than watch a hairy chest contest or see that my 9 yr old's upcoming activity that night is a "Coke-tail" party.
We were on the Wonder in August/Sept and recalled the food on the Dream (April) to be much better.
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:39 PM   #4
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Everything tastes like gravy in our opinion. Terribly bland, but to be honest, we feel the same way about the food on two other cruise lines.

I know this will shock, but we do not cruise for the food. We tend to choose the less prepared foods because they taste the best.
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Old 09-05-2012, 07:41 AM   #5
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I would not call it "so bad," but it's cruise food. Palo and Remy notwithstanding. You can do much better there.

We tend to bring along hot sauce. DCL will not provide hot sauce (there was a question and answer session on the Hawaii cruise in which they confirmed they don't want to serve spicy food to guests). And yes, the dining room food can be bland. On the Wonder to Hawaii there actually appeared to be someone in the kitchen who could cook fish, the fish was uniformly good. Or maybe they just had better fish in the Pacific.

And Ive done nine cruises on DCL and while there were clunkers here and there I cannot say that every meal I had every time was uniformly bad.
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Old 09-05-2012, 12:56 PM   #6
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I would not call it "so bad," but it's cruise food. Palo and Remy notwithstanding. You can do much better there.

We tend to bring along hot sauce. DCL will not provide hot sauce (there was a question and answer session on the Hawaii cruise in which they confirmed they don't want to serve spicy food to guests). And yes, the dining room food can be bland. On the Wonder to Hawaii there actually appeared to be someone in the kitchen who could cook fish, the fish was uniformly good. Or maybe they just had better fish in the Pacific.

And Ive done nine cruises on DCL and while there were clunkers here and there I cannot say that every meal I had every time was uniformly bad.
My friend got a small bottle of tobasco each meal....
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:04 PM   #7
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I also agree that the food is not as good as the other ships (Magic, Dream). I wonder if it has to do with where we were positioned. For example, for Pirate night, they had the shrimp/scallop seafood pasta. When we were on the Dream in March 2011, the scallops were much bigger and of a different texture. On this cruise, it was a completely different kind of scallop, smaller and more mushy.
Overall, the food didn't bother me as much as the service of the servers during lunch time dining in the dining rooms. We tried lunch at Triton twice, both times the servers were super slow and looked like they would rather have us some place else.
We then thought we would try Parrot Cay...not much better. Really slow to bring drinks.
I think expectations probably had something to do with how I feel about the experience overall.
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:51 PM   #8
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My friend got a small bottle of tobasco each meal....
They woudn't even give us Tabasco. Although I don't really count Tabasco.

Goofy's on the Wonder will make the sandwiches for you. I've asked them to make them without mayonnaise. It just takes longer, so if you were looking for something quick you're out of luck.

And DCL still has the best chicken fingers. I don't touch the burgers.

As far as the OP's statements, she appears to be saying that every single meal was terrible. That hasn't been my experience, although it's still cruise food.
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcashner
I don't think the issue is in the menu selections on DCL so much as I think it is the preparation/serving system that is decreasing the quality....but that's just me. I'm basing that on having the same item 2 nights in a row--once in a MDR, once at Topsiders. The food at Topsiders was MUCH better.
Having served in the Navy at various sized commands, I can tell you this can indeed be the case. All Galleys in the Navy use the exact same recipe cards, yet ingredient sources and quantity being prepared can have have a huge influence on how a particular dish tastes.

Another factor can be when you eat. If you're eating at the busiest times, you can virtually assure that your meal will suffer from some form of inattention.

Unfortunately, I can't help the OP with the specific question, as I've never been on any cruise before. However, nearly 7 years in the Navy taught me how to get the best food possible out of just about any mediocre restaurant. In a realm of Applebee's and Chilies, it's a skill that has served me well.
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:08 PM   #10
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Some Disney fanatics think that criticizing anything Disney is blasphemy, but it is what it is. I thought the food on the Wonder a year ago January was much better than it was four months ago. We had main dining last year and late seating this year, so perhaps that had something to do with it.

I heard a rumor that the Fantasy "pirated" away the head chef from the Wonder. Anybuddy know if that's true?

The last evening of our May cruise the chefs came out to take their customary bow. I was surprised when they introduced the head chef -- he was the guy who cremated my steak at the deck party. When the coals start flaming several inches high, it's time to move the meat. hullo!

I have had worse food on another line (NCL Hawaii) but have had much better food on Celebrity.
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:16 PM   #11
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We are going again next week on the Dream and will have late dining. I'll take pics and post a review then. But honestly, how much can you expect when you pack that many people into a dining service? I take it all with a grain of salt, literally :-) I just try to eat the non-processed, cooked foods. Don't get my started on Cookies on Cast Away Cay. How can they possibly call that bar-b-que? I am from the midwest and we take bar-b-que quite seriously.
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:56 PM   #12
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Having only cruised twice (Monarch of the Seas, Aug. 2008 & Magic Dec. 2010) I can only speak to those cruises. The food was okay, both times.

On Disney - Main Dining (2nd seating) was good but in a wedding/mass amounts type of way. During Lobster night the Lobster was overcooked and tuff. Could I find something to eat, sure, but it wasn't memorable. Palo was better, but only because the food was cooked to order so it was made closer to serving it. Even still were about to get on board the Wonder and only booked Palo brunch as Dinner was not that good.

I've been around and eaten at some great restaurants, so I'm not going to say the food was bad, but we don't go on a Disney Cruise for the food.(I wouldn't expect to get good food on any cruise, too many mouths to feed all at once)

We have the first seating on the Wonder next week maybe that will make a difference. I'll post about that trip.
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Old 09-04-2012, 05:18 PM   #13
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I have been on 1/2 dozen cruises over the last 20 years. (Carnival - 1, Celebrity - 3 and Disney-2). Celebrity by far has the best food out of the cruise lines that I have been on. However, even with them, I have noticed a decline in the food quality. I believe like all industries, they are trying to cut costs and staffing, which causes the food experience to take a hit.

If I was to pick a cruise based on cuisine, Disney would not be in the running. I have read about passengers who travel without children (their own or within a group that has children) and often wonder "Why?" I love Disney for my kids and this is the where we are in our lives, but there are so many cruise lines out there that have better food, better itineraries, are more catered towards adults and are the same or the less price then Disney. Of course, you, wouldn't have the Disney experience. (I also would not go to Disney World/land for an "adult vacation," either.)

And for reference, I love Legal Seafoods, now that is REAL seafood (it is expensive, so don't get to go there that often). I have only been to Red Lobster once, and never will I go back again.
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Old 09-04-2012, 05:30 PM   #14
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I have cruised Disney many times and feel the food is just OK. Palo is good, Palo Brunch is very good.

But if you read these boards much you will see many people comment that they feel the food is too fancy. To me it is very plain and not much flavor. The appetizers are usually better than the meals.

When we go out to dinner we like Bone Fish Grill and Brio. Never go to Red Lobster or Oliver Garden YUCK!!
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:36 PM   #15
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If I was to pick a cruise based on cuisine, Disney would not be in the running. I have read about passengers who travel without children (their own or within a group that has children) and often wonder "Why?" I love Disney for my kids and this is the where we are in our lives, but there are so many cruise lines out there that have better food, better itineraries, are more catered towards adults and are the same or the less price then Disney. Of course, you, wouldn't have the Disney experience. (I also would not go to Disney World/land for an "adult vacation," either.)
This is exactly why adults book a vacation of any kind with Disney—for the "Disney Experience." We don't have any kids yet, but manage to get to Disney World about once a year. I understand it's not for everyone, I totally get that. And yeah, my husband and I do enjoy our non-Disney, adults-only vacations.

But in some regards, Disney is in a class of its own, and it's those qualities—the distinct level of service, uniqueness of atmosphere, and overall attention to detail—that keeps us coming back. When we start a Disney vacation, it's like stepping into a whole different world. It makes us feel like two very special, but very overgrown children.

My husband and I have cruised a few times before, but this will be our first with Disney. While I'm disappointed to hear some of the negative reviews on food and service in the MDR (another active thread), they sound about par for the course based on our previous experiences with Carnival and Holland. Our hope is that the overall experience is the magical one we have come to expect from Disney!
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