Everything is subjective, but perhaps few things as much so as food. Food is also a big focus on ships, so let’s look at the differences between Disney Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruise Line when it comes to the dining experience and food, as well as my personal preferences.
Main Dining Room
Disney’s rotational dining is a unique concept. Most cruise lines have one or more main dining rooms which are complementary – but you don’t necessarily rotate through them.
Most Celebrity ships have one or two main dining rooms (which are essentially identical in terms of menu and quality) as well as a variety of specialty restaurants. On Edge (and Apex), there are four distinct main dining rooms, with menus and cocktails unique to each. You can be assigned to one but make reservations at others – or just show up to whichever you’d like on any given evening. We love flexibility, so this arrangement on Edge class is great for us. Across all of the Celebrity fleet, dining when you want, with whomever you want, is an option that they call “Select Dining”.
Food comes out hot (a common issue I’ve faced on DCL), and there is a good variety of quality options. Have a special request? No problem. Don’t worry about bringing a tuxedo by the way, as Celebrity has two evening dress guidelines, “Smart Casual” and “Evening Chic”, the latter of which is intended to be less dressy than traditional formalwear, though of course if you’re so inclined, you can join some other guests in dressing things up a bit whenever you’d like.
I’ll admit, I think DCL’s Palo and Remy are spectacular, and the various meals, such as dinner, brunch, dessert, etc. are really nice so you can mix it up. Celebrity ships have many specialty options as well, depending on the ship and itinerary, there can be as many as seven options, including a raw bar, steak house, French cuisine, and more. Some specialty dining options also include a show, Le Petite Chef, which I mentioned in part 2.
Another option worth calling out is Eden Restaurant on Edge class, which offers not only delicious and creative cuisine, but you get a whole different perspective on the amazing shows going on in Eden Lounge. Explaining this space would take a while, which is why I’ve written about it multiple times over on CruiseHabit.com. Just know you’ve never seen a show or had a meal like this. Like all the restaurants in Celebrity, service is superb, and in fact on our last meal there our server remembered what we enjoyed on a previous sailing and had the chef prepare an extra course of that dish.
I actually feel like on Celebrity, compared to not just Disney, but several other lines, I get to enjoy the variety of dining options more because while the food is plentiful, it doesn’t tend to be over-salted or just ‘too much’. If you’re inclined to enjoy specialty dining (as we often do – but not always), there ways to save too, like pre-booking, dining packages, or just using some of the onboard credit available in some of the Celebrity ‘perks’ packages, where you can build in drinks, WiFi, gratuities, and more.
Other Places to Eat on Celebrity
Of course there are other options like room service, poolside bars, smoothies/juices, sandwiches, and of course…buffets. Cabanas (the buffet on DCL ships) has a fun atmosphere – but in terms of variety and quality, they’ve got nothing on Oceanview Cafe aboard Celebrity ships.
Each meal, in addition to featured items and themes, there are multiple stations with different types of cuisine, such as Indian, Italian, sandwich stations, and pan-Asian. Desserts are markedly better than any non-luxury line (though I’ll give an honorable mention to Holland America Line here for making sugar-free and NSA desserts that are no compromise at all). While I see Cabanas as a convenient option, Oceanview Cafe is something I look forward to. On some sailings we’ve eaten there more than any other venue.
In Summary: Where We Landed Between DCL and Celebrity
Loyalty doesn’t pay – at least not in picking cruise lines. To this day I don’t have a single “favorite” line, and I don’t think there is a “best” cruise line, because it’s just too subjective, and there are too many considerations. If we’re going on a cruise with friends that have kids, we might sail based on their preferences, or if we’re looking for a specific itinerary, that might drive us. This is why we’ll keep sailing Disney Cruise Line, and Holland America, MSC, Oceania, Royal Caribbean, NCL, Celebrity, and others. In fact, I can rattle off which lines I think have the best food, music, activities, and more (just ask, and know once I get started I don’t easily stop) – but it’s a balance, and for more and more of our trips, Celebrity strikes that balance. The experienced and awesome folks at TouringPlans travel are great about understanding your vacation goals, so you can strike that balance, too.
Cruising in and of itself can be so wonderful, and many of us will enjoy any line we sail, so it’s easy to forget that there are other lines than the one you’re enjoying now. Whatever your preference, just know there is a whole world of cruising options out there – and they all have something to offer. My worst day at sea is better than my best day on land, and some of the best days at sea have been spent on cruises I’d never have taken if I didn’t try other lines and get a new fantastic point of view.
Considering a Celebrity Cruise? Thinking of sticking with Disney Cruise Line? The TouringPlans Travel Agency can help you get wherever you want to go. Get a free quote today at touringplans.com/travel.
Billy Hirsch is the creator of CruiseHabit.com where he shares tips, insights, and reviews of various cruises and related activities. He’s a Disney nerd, a cruise nut, a tech junky, and a former travel agent. Having started cruising as a baby, Billy has been fortunate enough to have taken over 60 cruises on various lines in different parts of the world. He has had a lifelong obsession with cruising, both as a leisure activity and the inner workings of the industry itself. You can frequently find him as CruiseHabit on Twitter and Facebook answering cruise questions or broadcasting live from ship and shore.