FAQ: Dining at Palo on Disney Cruise Line

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Every current Disney Cruise Line (DCL) ship has a restaurant called Palo, an adult-only venue with food that’s a step above the meals served in the main dining rooms. Here is everything you need to know about the Palo dining experience.

Palo table on the Fantasy

Who can dine at Palo?

Palo is a Disney Cruise Line venue that for guests ages 18 and up.

Can my well-behaved younger teen come with me to Palo?

Sorry, no.

Unlike the Disney theme parks, where cast members might sometimes bend the age rules for certain activities (or where you might fudge by not being entirely forthcoming about a child’s age), age-related rules regarding activities on Disney Cruise Line are strictly enforced. DCL has seen legal documentation about the ages of everyone in your party (passport or birth certificate) before you get on board, so fudging isn’t possible.

I once traveled on a DCL ship when my oldest daughter was less than a month away from turning 18. She had graduated high school and is better behaved and better dressed that I could ever hope to be. She was not allowed to dine at Palo. (We very politely tried all the things one might try in this situation, none of them worked.)

On the plus side, if your child turns 18 during your trip, they may eat at Palo, but only on or after their birthday.

Palo on the Magic

I have little kids, does that mean I can’t eat at Palo?

You can’t bring your kids to Palo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go. Disney has FANTASTIC kids’ clubs where you can leave your youngsters for an hour (or two or three) while you enjoy a leisurely meal. If you’re kids are age three or older (and potty trained), you can leave them at the Oceaneer Club or Lab, Edge, or Vibe with no reservation and no charge. If you have younger kids, you can leave them at the It’s A Small World Nursery. Reservations are required for the nursery and there is a fee for sitting there.

If you’re worried about your children being happy in the kids’ clubs, plan to eat at Palo on one of the last days of your trip. That way you have time to cancel the Palo reservation on the off chance that your children don’t want to stay in the clubs.

How will my kids eat if I’m eating dinner at Palo?

There are lots of options:

  • Kids can eat dinner in the clubs.
  • You can feed you children in your room via the (mostly) free room service.
  • You can feed your kids before your Palo dinner from the burgers/pizza/sandwiches/etc. available at the quick-service venues on the pool deck.
  • They can eat in the main dining room on their own. This probably wouldn’t work for a child younger than 8 or 9, but an older child might feel super special eating in the dining room with just her siblings/cousins. If you plan to do this, but sure to tell your server in case they have questions.
  • If you time your Palo reservation, you could sit with the kids in the main dining room while they eat and then head off to Palo.
Place setting on the Dream

Are there any differences between the Palo experiences on the various Disney ships?

The size of the dining rooms is a bit different on the smaller ships (Magic/Wonder) than the larger ships (Dream/Fantasy). And there are some decor elements that vary slightly, but for the most part Palo is identical on all four of the current Disney Cruise Line ships. The menus are the same and the service is fabulous throughout the line.

How much does it cost to dine at Palo?

The current fee to dine at Palo is $40 per person, plus alcohol, and gratuities.

The $40 fee will be waived for everyone traveling in a stateroom with a Platinum level Castaway Club cruiser. (Platinum guests have completed at least 10 DCL sailings.) The fee waiver only applies to guests in the Platinum cruiser’s own stateroom.

How do I physically pay at Palo? Do I need to have my credit card with me? Do they take cash?

Palo dinner antipasto cart

At the end of the meal, your server will bring you a bill, just like at a typical table service restaurant on land. The only way to settle this is by using your Key to the World card and having the fee added to your total onboard bill for the sailing. You can’t pay with a credit/debit card or cash in the actual restaurant, but of course you can pay your overall DCL onboard bill in a number of ways, including credit and debit cards, cash, Disney gift cards, and others.

Do I need reservations to eat at Palo?

Yes!

How do I get reservations to Palo?

Once you’ve paid in full for your cruise, you can make reservations online in the “My Plans” section of the Disney Cruise Line website, according to your Castaway Club level.

Palo dinner appetizer: Potato gnocchi

Platinum Castaway Club members (completed at least 10 DCL sailings) may make reservations 120 days in advance. Gold Castaway Club members (completed at least 5 DCL sailings) may make reservations 105 days in advance. Silver Castaway Club members (completed at least 1 DCL sailing) may make reservations 90 days in advance. New DCL cruisers may make reservations 75 days in advance.

If you’re sailing in a concierge level stateroom, regardless of how many DCL you’ve previously completed, you may make reservations 120 days in advance. You should work with your shore-side concierge prior to the 120 day mark to get their assistance with booking.

What time can I make my Palo reservation?

The reservation window opens at midnight Eastern (US) Time. If you’re in a different zone, be sure to keep an eye on time differences. If you’ve booked your cruise via a travel agent, she may offer to be up at midnight for you.

If I’m new to Disney Cruise Line, is there any hope of getting a Palo reservation?

You might not get the exact day or time you want if you’re a new Disney cruiser, but if you try to make reservations as soon as your booking window opens, it’s quite likely that you will be able to get at least something. Regardless of what Castaway Club level you have, if you arrange your cruise last minute, it is possible that you’ll be shut out of advance reservations.

Is there any hope of eating at Palo if I don’t get a reservation in advance?

Palo dinner appetizer: Caprese salad

Keep trying! People cancel cruises. People cancel meals.

If you still don’t have a reservation upon embarkation, look at the first day Personal Navigator (cruise newsletter and schedule) or stop by guest services to find out where to inquire about adding adult dining reservations. There will usually be a table set up in one of the main dining rooms for several hours where guests can try to add Palo reservations, make changes to existing reservations, or similar updates to their dining situation.

If you go to this dining change desk early on embarkation day, there is a real possibility that you will be able to get a reservation.

Even during your sailing, you may want to check by calling or stopping by Palo or Guest Services periodically. Again, people do cancel meal reservations. I have been able to get Palo reservations mid-cruise on several occasions.

Can I eat at Palo more than once during my sailing?

Guest are limited to advance booking of one Palo dinner AND one Palo brunch for each sailing, pending availability.

Palo dinner: Osso bucco

On some sailings, guest may be able to make two Palo dinner reservations in advance IF one of the reservations is one the first night of the sailing. Check the Disney Cruise Line website “My Plans” sections for the specifics of your sailing.

If there happens to be availability, the staff at Palo may allow you have more than one non-first-day dinner, but this would need to be arranged onboard.

What happens if I don’t show up to my Palo reservation?

You can cancel Palo reservations up to 24 hours in advance with no penalty. Same-day cancelations and no-shows will be charged the full $40 per person fee for the meal.

My party is scattered into several different staterooms, can we dine together?

Sure.

My young adult children often sail in a different stateroom than I do. We’re always able to sit together at Palo (now that they’re all older than 18).

Palo dinner: Dover sole filleted tableside

On one recent cruise I ate at Palo with friends staying in three other staterooms. We linked our reservations on the DCL website and had both a Palo brunch and a Palo dinner together.

My party has different Castaway Club status levels. How will this impact our ability to dine at Palo?

This could make booking slightly tricky. Although you can link the reservations of several staterooms, each stateroom can only make adult dining reservations according the highest Castaway Club level of someone booked into that room.

That means that if your travel party consists of a cabin with a Platinum cruiser, a cabin with a Gold cruiser, and a cabin with a Silver cruiser, then you won’t all be able to make reservations on the same day. Given that situation, it’s quite likely that you won’t all end up with the same reservation time.

Don’t worry.

Once every stateroom has some sort of Palo reservation, then call DCL and explain the situation – you want to dine together, but weren’t all able to get the same reservation time. If you end up a good DCL agent, they may be able to tweak this over the phone. If you have a less proficient agent, call back or try to work it out once you’re onboard (at that first day dining remediation desk). There is a very good chance that they’ll work it out for you.

Palo dinner: Palette cleanser between courses

I’ve heard there is a dress code? What’s that like?

Yes. There is a dress code. This is the specific dress code language from the DCL website:

“So that we may provide an enjoyable and refined dining experience for all Guests, please be advised that tank tops, swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, shorts, hats, cut-offs, torn clothing, t-shirts with offensive language and/or graphics, flip-flops or tennis shoes are not permitted at Palo or Remy. We thank you for your understanding and your cooperation with the following dress requirements

At Palo Dinner and Brunch: The elegant northern Italian-inspired dining venue aboard all 4 ships.

  • Men: dress pants or slacks and collared shirt; jacket is optional
  • Women: dress, skirt or pants with a blouse
  • Jeans may be worn if in good condition (no holes)

 

Do they really enforce the dress code?

Yes. But in sometimes inscrutable ways.

Palo brunch: Eggs Benedict with salmon

The “tank top” thing confuses lots of women. Can I wear a sleeveless dress? Can I wear dress slacks with an elegant silk sleeveless top? The answer to this is, “It depends on the discretion of the staff on hand during your meal.” But, I’ve never heard of a woman with what might be described as a tank top in dress fabric turned away from Palo. A man in a tank top almost certainly would be turned away.

The shoe issue is another area of judgment call. I was once dining at Palo with a male friend who arrived wearing expensive men’s leather sandals. These were not flip-flops and they covered most of his feet. He was asked to take off his sandals and instead wear a pair of dress shoes from the ship’s loaner closet. Later in this sailing, the same man arrived for a different Palo meal wear solid black athletic shoes. They were dark, but they were definitely sneakers. No one even noticed his shoes this time. Women wear strappy leather or fabric dress sandals to Palo all the time, and I’ve never seen a woman asked to change because of this.

Try your best and hope for the best. Be aware that you may be asked to change if the staff on hand happens to think you’re not following code.

Palo brunch: Chicken parm

Does this dress code mean that I need to pack differently?

Just bring at least one outfit that would scan as “cruise casual” – khakis or even jeans with a polo shirt works for men. A medium nice sundress works for women. You’re probably packing something like this anyway.

What’s the difference between Palo and Remy?

Remy is a second adult’s only restaurant that exists on the Dream and the Fantasy only.

Remy is priced significantly higher than Palo. For example, the Remy dinner surcharge is $125 per person rather than $40 per person. Remy has fancier food, a more limited menu, and a longer dining time. If you’re a real gourmand, Remy may be for you. If you just like good Italian-inspired food, try Palo.

Can I eat at both Palo and Remy on the same sailing?

Palo brunch: Artichoke ravioli

Yep. If your waistline and wallet can handle it, feel free to try to make reservations at both.

What is the food like at Palo dinner?

Dinner usually starts with a selection of antipasto served from a cart: Italian cheeses, cured meats, dressed artichokes and peppers, all topped with a generous glug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The appetizer course includes offerings such as a tomato and mozzarella caprese salad, potato gnocchi, fried calamari, green salad, and seafood or white bean soup.

Main courses are available in pasta, vegetable, fish, or meat versions, with selections including wild mushroom risotto, penne pasta with garlic shrimp, grilled portobello mushrooms with spinach and polenta, sea scallops, osso bucco, rack of lamb, and my favorite a Dover sole that is filleted tableside.

The famous Palo dessert is a souffle, available in chocolate, almond, or orange versions. Other options include lemon tarts, tiramisu, panna cotta, gelato, and a selection of coffees and teas.

You are not limited in the number of items you may select. If you want an appetizer, a pasta, a fish, and three desserts, feel free to dig in. This is all included in the set fee.

Palo brunch buffet

Is the brunch food different?

Oh. Em. Gee.

Palo brunch. Palo brunch. Palo brunch.

Ahhhh. Palo brunch.

There are two components of Palo brunch: menu-based items and a gargantuan buffet. Both are included with your meal. Most people have some (or a lot) of both.

The menu items are lovely versions of brunch food. On side of the menu has breakfasty fare like waffles, pancakes, and eggs prepared many ways. The other side of the menu has lunchy items like handmade pizzas, pasta, chicken parmesan, red snapper, ravioli, and grilled steak. Order one of everything if you like. My family typically gets a goat cheese pizza and an artichoke ravioli “for the table” and then we each get our own menu item as well.

And then there’s the buffet. The buffet includes a breakfast breads and fruit station, a salad station, a cold fish station, an antipasto station, and a dessert station. IT IS GLORIOUS.

I have no idea why I order any thing from the menu because I could go back to the buffet half a dozen times and still find more yumminess to sample.

And then sometimes, after you are literally weeping because you’re so full (I’m not joking, toward the end of Palo brunch on my most recent DCL sailing, my oldest daughter started crying with a combination of delight and sheer awe about how much she had eaten), then they bring you a surprise chocolate lava cake.

We hugged our waiter.

Palo brunch buffet

I’m a fussy eater, will I be OK at Palo?

If you like Italian food, you’re probably going to be OK here. Many of the items are familiar and some can be prepared without sauces or other embellishments.

If you are a truly fussy eater, I might tell you skip dining at Remy (more on that below), but Palo seems to have a universal appeal.

Do you prefer brunch or dinner at Palo?

They’re both terrific. I slightly prefer dinner, but everyone else in my family is head over heals for brunch. Like they’d marry Palo brunch if they could.

I tend to agree that the food at brunch is crazy awesome, but that is why I like dinner. The embarrassment of deliciousness at brunch is so overwhelming to me that I always end up gorging myself to the point of discomfort. Dinner is large, but human-sized portions that I find more manageable.

But like I said, everyone else in my family has a strong preference for brunch.

Other than the food, are there other reasons why I might want to prioritize Palo brunch over dinner?

If you’re traveling with kids and want to have dinner with them every night, or if you really love the atmosphere of the main dining rooms, then you might want to focus on Palo brunch.

Palo brunch buffet

Are brunch and dinner offered every day?

Dinner is usually offered every evening. Brunch is typically offered only on days at sea, when all guests are onboard rather than on shore enjoying excursions.

DCL does sometimes tinker with its offerings. DCL has offered Palo brunch on Nassau, Bahamas port days, because a fairly large contingent of guests either stays on the ship or only disembarks for a few hours.

How will I know what’s available?

The days that you can book Palo will be noted on the DCL website in the “My Plans” section, after you’ve paid in full and are at your Castaway Club booking date.

Will I regret missing the fun in the main dining rooms if I eat dinner at Palo?

Maybe. However, some of the dining rooms are more fun than others.

There is entertainment in Animator’s Palate (all ships), Tiana’s (wonder), and Rapunzel’s Royal Table (Magic). There’s not much going on (other than eating) at most of the other DCL main dining rooms. If you don’t want to miss out on the action, then schedule your Palo meal for an evening you’re dining at the Royal Court (for example).

How do I know which main dining room I’ll be in each night?

You, or your travel agent, can call DCL and request a specific dining rotation.

It’s my first Disney cruise, should I try to eat at Palo?

It depends.

If your first cruise is a three night sailing on the Dream, then I’d say that you should save dining at Palo for your next DCL vacation. Three nights is barely enough time to figure out where everything is onboard.

If your first DCL cruise is a 14-night transatlantic crossing, then by all means book one or more Palo meals.

Will I miss the main stage entertainment if I eat dinner at Palo?

Palo brunch buffet

Maybe. It depends on what time your Palo reservation is for. The main stage programming is typically performed at about 6:15 or 6:30 and at about 8:15 or 8:30. Most of the live theater performances last a bit over an hour. So if, for example, you make your Palo dinner reservation at 8:00, you’ll be able to catch the early show in the theater. If you get a 7:00 Palo reservation, then you’ll miss both shows.

On some sailings, there are additional performance of the main shows during the afternoon. Or you might not care about missing a random ventriloquist that happens to be performing.

Is there a particular place you recommend sitting at Palo?

During brunch, I like sitting by the window, if possible. Sometimes you can ask the host/hostess for a specific spot, but it may not be available due to the size of your party or a number of other factors.

During dinner in the winter, I don’t think it matters at all where you sit because it’s so dark out that you can’t see the ocean anyway.

I have food allergies, can I eat at Palo?

Palo brunch buffet

Many food allergies can be accommodated. Gluten free pasta is likely available and they make many meals without dairy, eggs, nuts, or other common allergens. Rarer allergies may also be accommodated, with notice.

Be sure to read the “Special Dietary Requests” page on the DCL website and fill out the DCL “Special Services Request” form prior to your trip, if warranted.

In all situations with food allergies, be sure to inform your server of your needs and request to speak with a chef if you have nuanced concerns.

I’m a vegetarian/vegan, can I eat at Palo?

Vegans may find some aspects of DCL dining challenging, but vegetarians are easily accommodated. There are plant-based meals available at Palo, but some contain eggs or dairy. Speak with your server and they can point out which items are most appropriate for you.

Can I get a private dining room at Palo?

Pending availability, yes. From the DCL website:

For an even more memorable dining experience, Palo invites you to dine in a private room where you can enjoy:

A unique à la carte menu. Elegant, Italian inspired décor with seating for larger parties. 8 to 14 Guests on the Disney Magic or Disney Wonder. 10 to 14 Guests on the Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy. To request a reservation, please download the private dining request form (link on the Palo page of the DCL website), fill it out and attach it in an email to DCL.Cruise.Activities@disney.com.

Please note that early reservations should be submitted, but cannot be confirmed until 30 days prior to sailing. Notice of cancellation is required 24 hours before the reservation time to avoid being charged in full for the dining experience selected.

Palo brunch buffet

Why would I want a private dining room?

If you’re hosting a larger party for a wedding, family reunion, big birthday, or other substantial occasion, then a private dining area can make the event feel even more special.

How much does alcohol cost at Palo?

First things first, I have typically received a complimentary glass of sparkling wine at brunch and a post-meal sip of lemoncello at dinner. If that’s all you want in the way of alcohol at your meal, then you won’t have any additional fees.

Palo offers a wine pairing version of dinner where, for an additional $59 per person, they will give you a selection of wines to complement each course.

Additionally, there is a full bar and an extensive list of wines available by the bottle or the glass. Prices can obviously change, but expect cocktails to be about $10-18, wine by glass is about $10-30, and there are bottles from about $60 on up to several hundred dollars. If you’re in the mood to indulge, they’ve got you covered. If you don’t want to drink, that’s cool too.

So a tip is not included? How much should I tip my server?

There is a 15% gratuity automatically added to the price of any alcohol you purchase at Palo.

There is no specific amount you’re required to tip for food. That said, at a bare minimum you should tip at least 20% for the food bill. If you’re a Platinum cruiser and are getting your food comped, you should still tip at least 20% of what your food cost would have been.

My opinion only – you do you – I don’t think that bare minimum level of tipping is adequate for the impeccable service you’re getting. You can never go wrong by tipping more.

Is dining at Palo worth it?

I almost always hesitate to tell people whether something is worth it unless I know them personally. But in this situation I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes. Yes, dining at Palo is absolutely worth it. The food and service are terrific. The price is far less than what you’d pay for a similar meal on land. Plus, you’re on vacation. Splurge a little.

I’ve talked to hundreds of DCL guests and read hundreds more surveys about DCL and I think there’s fewer than a handful that didn’t think Palo was worth every penny.

Bon appetit!

Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel at DisneyWorldMoms.com, a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater. Erin can be reached on Twitter @MsErinFoster.

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