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Arthur Levine

Disney Fantasy Meets New York Reality

By March 1, 2012

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While park fans enjoyed One More Disney Day marathon ride-fests at Disneyland and Disney World's Magic Kingdom yesterday, I spent Leap Day aboard the Disney Fantasy. The newest Disney Cruise Line ship is docked in New York City where it will be christened this evening during a gala ceremony. The magnificent 4,000-passenger ship, which is identical in size to the Disney Dream that launched last year, but about double the size of Disney's original ships, the Magic and the Wonder, is quite a sight to behold amid New York City's skyline.

During a dining tour yesterday, I got to see some of the restaurants and sample some of the cuisine served aboard the Fantasy. While there are buffets available, the Disney ships take typical cruise line fare to the next level -- and beyond. Many of the dishes, such as lobster ravioli and pan-seared sea bass with fava beans and pea risotto, were quite elegant and delicious. And the whimsical settings, including a royal ballroom and an animation studio, meld dining and theater in grand fashion.

But the adults-only restaurants, Palo and Remy, belie the conventional wisdom that Disney Cruises are exclusively about families and children. Don't get me wrong; there are plenty of delightful and uniquely Disney kid-centric activities aboard the Fantasy. But the meal I had at Remy (the understated theme is Pixar's wonderful foodie film, Ratatouille, featuring the titular chef who happens to be a rat) was as sophisticated and inspired as I've ever enjoyed at any land-based restaurant. Suffice it to say that there were no chicken tenders or all-you-can-eat crab legs on the seven-course tasting menu co-crafted by France-based, Michelin-star chef Arnaud Lallement and the chef at Disney World's upscale Victoria & Albert's, Scott Hunnel. There was roasted vermont quail with to-die-for pear sauce, gnocchi with black truffle, and...not a fidgety kid in sight. I'll be sharing more about the Disney Fantasy, but for now I'm savoring its incredible food.

Photo: Arthur Levine, 2012. Licensed to About.com.

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