enchantedhtcFood is critical on a cruise. If you don’t like the choices, you can’t exactly go somewhere else.

The new Disney Fantasy ship has three main dining rooms, Enchanted Garden, Animator’s Palate and Royal Court, each offering a wealth of choices.

And not just for your classic meat-starch-veg eaters. Vegetarians, gluten-free diners and dieters are all considered.

Vegetarians

Vegetarians on the Disney Fantasy have several options on each menu, and fish eaters have even more options.

In fact, the difficulty can be in deciding what NOT to eat. After all, you have to fit into the clothes you brought.

At the Enchanted Garden, a bright room that makes you quickly forget you are on a ship, vegetarians can eat over half the items on the menu.

portobellohtcThere are also light choices like baked salmon, for calorie counters. I had delicious Portobello mushrooms over lentils, not at all what I’d expected to find on a cruise. A light citrus and avocado salad was a wonderful way to start the meal.

Watch your weight

If you are on a diet, note that portions are restrained on the cruise ship. The sit-down meals are 4 course affairs, but you don’t HAVE to eat an appetizer, soup or salad, entrée and dessert. (tip: exercise helps)

You can also skip the bread (it was the weakest part of the meal) though the gluten-free bread, according to my gluten-averse tablemate, was quite good.

Gluten-free

Waiters are attuned to gluten-free requests, and know which entrees and desserts, like a crème brulee, are suitable for those avoiding gluten.

Gluten –free diners have several choices at each meal, and offering special bread is a welcome touch.

Foodwise, Animator’s Palate was a bit of a disappointment. I’d been warned that there was no choice offered for the first two courses, but if you asked, there was a vegetarian option. My server knew nothing about it.

It was surprising that he was confused, since you have the same waiter at every meal and this was our last night. Two of us are vegetarians, and though we eat fish, one part of the appetizer trio included prosciutto. Our waiter said there was no other choice.

scallophtcNo real problem – the tuna with seaweed salad and shrimp over veggies were enough. Still, vegetarians should not feel marginalized.

The  Animator’s Palate popcorn soup sounds weird, but it is stupendous. It is so rich and delicious, I had to restrain from licking the bowl. I did not eat the accompanying popcorn, but the corn bread was moist and still warm.

Animator’s Palate has a magical show that may override any disappointment with the meal. When you sit down, you have a paper placemat and a marker in front of you. You draw a picture and midway through the meal, everyone’s picture comes to life on the walls, interacting with other Disney characters. You even get your name in the credits.

Children’s menus

For all its attention to detail, Disney made a rather major mistake on its children’s menus. The Mickey Mouse ears icon, designed to let kids know which items are ‘Vegetarian/Lighter Note Offering” almost always referred to a meat item. And are Surf & Turf or chicken with gravy (both of which received the icons) really light options?

This would be very confusing to a vegetarian child, particularly one who can’t read.

On the Animator’s Palate and Royal Court kid’s menus, exactly one entrée of seven, the mac &cheese, was vegetarian.

Of course, you can always go to the buffets, but those looking to cut calories often avoid these, with good reason. All that enticing food can lead to overeating.

At least at the Disney buffets, there are no trays so you are not tempted to overload. If you have to keep getting up to get another plate, you might think twice.

Disclaimer: I cruised on the Disney Fantasy as a media guest, part of the TravelingMom retreat. Photos were taken with a loaner HTC Rhyme smartphone.