On Fridays, I highlight products that I think are sweet, in every sense of the meaning–sometimes literally, but not always!
I’m up to Day Four of sharing my cruise on the Disney Fantasy! Here are the first few days if you’ve missed them:
The fourth day of my trip was an exciting one, because we finally reached land again! We arrived on St. Maarten late that morning, so I had time for another leisurely breakfast at Royal Court.
This time, I threw all ideas of fruit plate out the window.
At the recommendation of my server, I began with a “Mango Mountain Hike.” The menu described it as “a fresh blend of mangoes, honey, granola, and low-fat yogurt.” I guess the word “blend” escaped me, because I was expecting a sort of fruit-and-yogurt parfait.
I was surprised to receive this, instead:
The Mango Mountain Hike was actually a chilled smoothie-type beverage, minus the ice. It was creamy, sweet, and full of flavor. I loved it!
For my entrée, I went all out and ordered the Waffle Sandwich. A fluffy mound of dulce de leche was sandwiched between two waffles, sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar, and served with fresh watermelon. I’m pretty confident there was a fair amount of whipped cream in there, too. A decadent way to start the day!
When I returned to my stateroom, I could see that we were getting closer to our destination, and soon we were docked in St. Maarten! We were some of the first to get off the ship, and it was instantly clear that we were in a very touristy area. There wasn’t much to see near the ship that wasn’t a souvenir shop or some type of vendor. I was a bit disappointed to find that we couldn’t really get outside of the market area without paying for some kind of transportation. I thought we’d be able to walk anywhere, but fences blocked everything off, so guests were forced to find a taxi or water taxi in order to go anywhere.
We weren’t willing to shell out the extra money for that, so we decided to return to the ship and take advantage of the empty deck until our excursion–which we’d pre-booked–that afternoon. It turned out perfectly! There weren’t many people hanging out around the ship, so we had no trouble claiming chaise lounges in prime spots, and we also took the opportunity to test out the Aquaduck! Everybody has to at least once! :)
Later that day, we left the ship again for our excursion. There was security to get on and off the ship each time, but it didn’t take very long–just a few minutes.
Snorkeling off the Golden Eagle Catamaran was our chosen Port Adventure on St. Maarten, and it was okay but didn’t quite meet my expectations. The whole thing was pretty commercialized–not the authentic Caribbean snorkeling experience I was looking forward to. I’ve never been snorkeling there before myself, but my mom has, and she felt this excursion was a disappointment compared to what she’d experienced nearby before.
Regardless, it was really nice to get off the ship and into the water! Once we’d snorkeled around the designated area–which consisted of a few man-made objects underwater and just a couple fish–our catamaran took us further around the island to see some of the scenery, and then we anchored near a beach. Those of us who wanted to swim could jump off and swim to the beach, and after about 45 minutes, we got back on the catamaran and were transported back to the ship.
The staff running the Golden Eagle Catamaran were very friendly and relaxed, and lunch–sub sandwiches–was also included with the cost. That said, I wouldn’t repeat this excursion simply because the snorkeling portion was less authentic than I’d hoped.
Dinner that night was the highlight of the cruise for me. My mom and I decided to forgo the “Pirate Night” menu at Animator’s Palate and pay an extra $25 per person to dine at Palo, one of the classy adults-only restaurants. It was the cheaper of the two–Remy breaks the bank at $75 a person–but it was worth the cost! The service on the Disney Fantasy was exceptional overall, but I experienced the best service of all at Palo.
We didn’t ask about reservations until the first day of our cruise, but luckily for us, they were able to squeeze us in! Palo doesn’t serve many guests at a time, but the staff pays very close attention to the ones that they do.
We were seated in a waiting area for about five minutes, and our table was ready shortly.
Our server brought out some delicious antipasto right away, a big plate of paper-thin prosciutto, tender beef, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and marinated vegetables served with three types of carbs–some long, thin breadsticks, a few flat cracker-like flatbreads, and warm-from-the-oven ciabatta. All of it was delicious!
This is our server, Predrag. He was the best! He began the evening by announcing that the answer to any question we asked was “yes,” because we were on vacation. I liked his philosophy.
Seriously–Disney service is unmatched.
Palo serves Northern Italian cuisine, which, as Predrag explained, uses less tomato-based sauces and more cream-based sauces.
For my first course, I chose pesto shrimp with asparagus and tomato sauce. It was delicious and the shrimp were huge!
My mom had a mushroom polenta dish that she thought was fantastic. Confession: she ordered everything our server suggested, while I stubbornly did my own thing. Confession #2: All of my food was incredible, but all of hers was better. Mother knows best. :) Listen to your servers if they make suggestions!
Not that I regretted anything I ate! Here’s what my entrée looked like:
It was a big dish of potato gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce and it tasted as great as it looked!
My mom chose a stuffed chicken dish that was even better. It was creamy and rich–exactly what I like in a meal! :)
Our server insisted from the beginning of the meal that we each try a chocolate soufflé for dessert. He said we could order more desserts if we wanted, but that if we liked chocolate, we had to try the soufflés. No arguments accepted.
Oh, those soufflés!! He was right: they were amazing. The soufflés arrived fresh from the oven in warm ramekins, dusted with powdered sugar and served alongside little pitchers of creamy chocolate sauce, vanilla bean sauce, and vanilla bean ice cream. All three pooled inside the soufflé, oozing out until the whole thing was a warm, melty blend of perfection. My mom declared it the best dessert she’d ever had in her life!
And that’s kind of a big deal. I get my sweet tooth from her.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
Since I was offered double desserts and all (which I never turn down), I also got to try the tiramisu. It was amazing in its own right, though nothing could or would compare to the soufflé! When everyone proclaims the soufflé a must-try, they aren’t kidding.
Our dinner at Palo was excellent, and I would definitely recommend getting a reservation. The extra $25 was more than worth the cost! Everything–the food, service, atmosphere, extra desserts–deserved five stars.
We made it back to the deck just in time for the “Pirates of the Caribbean” party that night. I was surprised to see how many people were really into the whole pirate theme! I’m more of a princess gal myself, but Disney cast members made the night fun, beginning with the only fireworks display at sea and ending with a dance party.
We may have gotten the cheap seats for the fireworks show, but it was really cool to see nonetheless. I’m not sure a single person on the ship missed the big pirate party! From newborns to 90-year-olds, almost every Disney guest went all out with the pirate apparel, head to toe. I was fine with the complimentary bandana and a pair of hoop earrings, but I was in the minority. Disney cruisers take this pirate stuff seriously! Guess I’ll have to up my game next time…
The dance party after the fireworks was a blast. A DJ played everything from “The Cupid Shuffle” to “Gangnam Style” while audience members of all ages danced, toddled, and rolled to the beat. I appreciated that everything was, in true Disney form, clean and family-oriented without sacrificing fun.
Just halfway into my trip, and already I was feeling like I could stay forever. Day Five had several highlights…come back next week to read more about the rest of the adventure!
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. My experiences on the Disney Fantasy, on all excursions, at Palo, and at all restaurants were things I chose to participate in and personally wanted to share.