Palo is an adults-only fine dining restaurant available to book for a premium aboard the Disney Cruise Line ships. This review details our brunch at Palo on the Disney Magic. Located on the topmost aft deck on all 4 of Disney’s cruise ships, Palo offers an upscale environment and picturesque ocean views from virtually everywhere in the restaurant.
The Champagne brunch at Palo is typically offered on days at sea, and features made-to-order entrees (such as pizza, waffles, and signature Northern Italian dishes) and a buffet with seafood, cheeses, pastries, and desserts. Oh, and Champagne and mimosas, of course.
As an optional restaurant, there is surcharge if guests dine at Palo ($30/person when we did it–don’t be surprised if it increases again in the near future). This cost includes 1 glass of Champagne, and all the food you can eat, as is the case with every other Disney Cruise Line restaurant. We like brunch as an alternative to dinner, as doing brunch means you aren’t missing out on any of your rotational dining options. Instead, it’s like a “bonus” meal in the place of a mediocre breakfast buffet…
The Palo brunch made waves among Disney Cruise Line fans last fall when its presentation changed from displaying a la carte options to featuring them via menu and text descriptions. There were also some tweaks at this point, with some fan-favorite items going off-menu.
We’ve done back to back meals at Palo (dinner followed by brunch the next day) and it’s interesting to see what a different vibe it has between the meals.
At night, it’s dimly-lit, moody, and romantic. For brunch, the natural light coming in from the windows all around give the restaurant a light and airy feel.
For us, the seafood is the highlight of the brunch. There are a lot of options on the buffet, and these are far more ambitious–and higher quality–than what you’d find on any typical buffet.
Normally, “buffet seafood” are words used when shaking your fist cursing as you find yourself plagued by food poisoning.
…At least, speaking from personal experience. I’ve succumbed to the temptation of buffet seafood time and time again, with predictable results far too many times.
Palo’s brunch is totally different. This is exceptionally high-grade and freshly-prepared seafood. It’s actually a bit shocking to see some of these items on a buffet.
The table of pastries reminds me of the scene in Impressions de France when the two kids gaze at the shelves of desserts.
While we prefer to focus on ‘high value’ items like the seafood, the pastries at the Palo brunch are (thankfully) not ordinary, mass-produced Disney options.
When you factor in the value of the Champagne (relative to other drinks on Disney Cruise Line), it makes the cost sting even less…
Ditto the selection of international cheeses. One plate of high-dollar seafood and cheese, and you’ve ‘recouped’ the surcharge for the Palo brunch…
Actually, from a cost perspective, the Palo brunch is easy for us to justify. I’d say the regular breakfast on Disney Cruise Line is slightly below an average Walt Disney World buffet.
Calling it on par with Cape May Cafe would be charitable towards Disney Cruise Line.
By contrast, the Palo brunch seems like it would be about on par with the California Grill brunch. We’ve yet to experience the California Grill brunch, but based upon the rave reviews and photos we’ve seen, if anything, that brunch is perhaps even slightly better than Palo’s brunch (unlimited drinks and sushi certainly helps).
The cost difference between breakfast at Cape May Cafe and California Grill’s brunch is approximately $45. Even without using the Walt Disney World restaurants as a baseline, we think Palo’s brunch offers $30/person in value over the typical breakfast offerings aboard Disney Cruise Line. Your mileage may vary on that, though.
Overall, the Palo brunch was an excellent experience. In our Palo Dinner Review, we described it as “the best Disney restaurant at which we’ve dined outside of Victoria & Albert’s.” (For what it’s worth, we still have not done Remy. We need to fix that soon.) We wouldn’t go so far with the brunch, which was an excellent meal and experience, but not the same caliber of fine dining. However, we still really loved the brunch–and might actually prefer it. The meal is undoubtedly more laid back, less romantic, and not as high-end, but it’s still exceptional and an excellent way to spend a couple of hours on a day at sea.
By contrast with a standard Palo dinner, you’re missing a rotational restaurant, most of which are very good (in our opinion) and also allocating evening entertainment time to the meal. It really comes down to the nature of the experience you’re looking to have, but we’d probably revisit Palo brunch before doing dinner again. Either way you go with Palo, you’re getting a level of unparalleled service, lovely atmosphere, and an excellent meal. Aside from the surcharge, a meal at Palo is pretty much a no-lose experience.
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Have you done the Champagne brunch at Palo? On which Disney Cruise Line ship did you experience the Palo brunch? What did you think of the meal? Did you think it was worth the extra cost? Would you do the brunch again? If you have any questions or thoughts to share, please post them in the comments. We love hearing from readers!