If you hang around the DISboards long enough, you will eventually hear of the restaurant Palo, which has a residence on each ship currently in the Disney Cruise Line fleet. Palo’s brunch offerings are the stuff of legend. They’re made even more legendary by the fact that brunch seatings are traditionally only offered on itineraries with sea days, which furthers the feeling of exclusivity and fosters that “I gotta have it” mentality. Most cruisers are undeterred by the up-charge (currently $30, per person), as the rumor is that Palo is just that good! Perhaps adding to the appeal, is the fact that it’s a nice excuse for an escape from the kids. The restaurant is adults only.
My husband and I have cruised with Disney many times, but we have always avoided Palo for one reason or another. We have wanted the full experience of the main dining rooms and rotational dining during dinner, and the thought of paying $60 (plus gratuity) for the two of us to eat on a food-inclusive cruise simply has not interested us in the past. Beyond that, who wants to dress up in the middle of the day?
On our past cruise, we put all those thoughts aside. We were celebrating Valentine’s Day, cruising without kids, and my birthday; this felt like the perfect time to test out the famed restaurant we’d heard so much about. We budgeted a bit of extra money, packed some fancy clothes, and booked that reservation.
We had the earliest reservation available, and entered a quiet receiving area. We were greeted warmly and introduced to our server, Andrew, who guided us to our picturesque table near the window. It was lovely to be able to overlook the calm sea from the back of the Disney Magic.
In no time, Andrew served our drinks and was gracious enough to offer us sparkling cider in place of the alcoholic beverages that were included. Then, he explained how Palo’s brunch works. Basically, the meal consists of both a buffet portion, as well as a menu from which to order. The menu would please anyone, with offerings like gourmet waffles, chicken parmesan, and pennette pasta. He gave us his recommendations, then led us to the buffet.
As we took our tour of the items displayed, I began to fully realize the appeal of this specialty restaurant. The food was beautifully presented, and in small enough portions that we could sample most of it. For a home-cook from the Midwest, it was a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds. We found the sticky buns (Andrew’s recommendation) to be our favorite sweet bite, but thoroughly enjoyed all of the choices presented to us.
After enjoying both our buffet items and our orders from the kitchen (the aforementioned chicken parmesan and pennette pasta), we were stuffed beyond belief. Everything we had eaten had been exquisite. Our meal was not yet over, however, as I was treated to a lovely display plate celebrating my birthday. Thankfully, no singing was involved with the presentation, but the gesture was touching, nonetheless.
As we left the restaurant, our conversation lingered over the wonderful time we had. When asked if we should book again on our next cruise, the answer from both of us was an unequivocal “YES!” We enjoyed our time at Palo greatly, and hope to return again soon. As strange as it sounds, I worried that we wouldn't be impressed by the experience after four days of eating the other yummy food on board. I found those fears were totally unwarranted, and our expectations were completely surpassed by the excellent service and quality of the food.
As much as we loved it, however, neither of us had any regrets that it took us so long to try it out. It simply made the experience that much sweeter. So, here is my recommendation: try Palo if you get the chance. But if you don’t snag that reservation, there is no need to stress. You’ll just have to book another cruise to try again, and more Disney Cruises are never a bad thing!
A few of the dessert selections offered while dining at Palo for brunch