Travel & Leisure

Palo Be Our Chef Cooking Class on the Disney Fantasy

One of the onboard activities Sean and I did on the Disney Fantasy was the Palo Be Our Chef Cooking Class. This unique culinary experience is one of the highlights of our trip.

At a Glance

  • $279 per person
  • Max of 8 participants
  • Only available on the Disney Fantasy
  • 11 am – 2 pm (For our cruise, it was when the ship docked at Falmouth, Jamaica)
  • Must wear closed-toe shoes, long pants, and long hair must be pulled back

Whoa, $279 per person?! Was it worth it?! Read on to see why we loved it.

To be honest, we rarely do any Port Adventures (aka excursions). We love staying onboard to enjoy the ship while everyone is on shore. There’s still a lot to see and do on the ship. Port days are my favorite because the spa is empty, all the common areas are nice and quiet (perfect for photo ops), and you don’t have to wait in a long line for the AquaDuck (haha). Okay, back on track. I mention this because since we didn’t spend money on port adventures, we decided to YOLO and splurge on taking this class.

We found these packages on our bed the day before class. I am a sucker for nice packaging, and these were presented nicely. Included were our invitations, our name tags, and our costumes (chef’s jacket, apron, hat). We tried them on to make sure they fit properly. They were a little big and we probably could have sized down a size, but we decided to just keep them.

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Our Palo Be Our Chef invitations, costumes, and name tags

The next day we put on our costumes and headed to Palo. Our room was located forward and the restaurant is located aft (aka the back). Since it was windy outside we decided to walk through below deck. It was very interesting walking through wearing our costumes… Everyone thought we worked for Disney Cruise Line, even a few cast members. Cast members typically acknowledge you quickly when you make eye contact and they say, “hello” or some other pleasantry with a smile. When cast members saw us it was a quick nod instead.

We got to Palo about 15 minutes before our class started and filled out a health form. We sat and waited in the Meridian Lounge. There were 3 other attendees and 1 was actually a cast member that normally floated between Disney Wonder and Disney Dream. She was there to experience activities that those ships don’t offer. Wait, what?! I want a job that’ll let me do “travel homework!” Hahaha.

We were then escorted into Palo. It was really awesome to see the restaurant “show ready” without any guests inside. I took this rare opportunity to snap a few pictures. I love this restaurant with all of my heart on all 4 of the ships, especially when I dine there for brunch. Quick Disney Cruise history – Palo specializes in Italian fare. The classic ships (Disney Magic and Disney Wonder) were built in Italy. All 4 ships have this restaurant as a nod to Italy. Palo means “pole” as in the pole that gondoliers use in Venice. You can see glimpses of the theme in the pictures below.

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Palo on the Disney Fantasy
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Look at that beautiful view. I love the floor to ceiling windows.
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Do you notice the gondolas in the artwork?
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Palo is so beautiful

We met our chef, Chef Davide. A special guest swung by for pictures, can you guess who it was? None other than Mickey Mouse himself adorned in a chef uniform! We took pictures with Mickey Mouse and also with Chef Davide. I thought it was really cool that the pictures showed up in our photo package folio that we pre-purchased.

Chef Davide led us into Palo’s kitchen. It was really neat to go “backstage!” I have never seen a kitchen cleaner than Palo. The ship is 6 years old now and everything looked brand new! I am sure all of the galleys are just as clean. After a brief tour of the galley we all meticulously washed our hands and slipped on gloves.

Chef Davide demonstrated how to make Margherita Pizza and then we practiced at our stations. All the ingredients were pre-measured and ready to go. The dough was already premixed for us so all we had to do was flatten it and put the toppings on. There were other chefs there to help us along the way.

Chef Davide snapped a few pictures of our cooking class.

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Me making Margherita Pizza
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We look like official cast members, huh?!

After we were done with the Margherita Pizza we washed our hands again and slipped on new gloves. He demonstrated how to make Butternut Agnolotti Ravioli. Again, all the ingredients were pre-measured and ready to go and the noodles were already made. I’ve never used molds before so using them for the first time was kind of cool.

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I laugh at this picture because my raviolis aren’t placed perfectly, but Sean’s are (he’s the analytical one in the relationship. Can you tell?)!

After we were done with the Butternut Agnolotti Ravioli, we washed our hands again and put on new gloves. Chef Carmine, the executive pastry chef, took over and demonstrated how to make Limoncello Tart. There was a lot of “Disney magic” for this dessert. We practiced putting the pastry for the crust into the mold. After the chef reviewed our work, a baked crust “magically appeared.” Haha. Then we added the filling on top.

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Chef Carmine is the executive pastry chef on the Disney Fantasy

I know some may be a little disappointed that they don’t get to actually make the dough, noodles, or pastry. The group I was with didn’t seem to mind. I for one liked that those were already pre-made and that everything else was already pre-measured. Not only due to time constraints, but because it also helps non chefs (like myself) feel like I conquered the kitchen. Hahaha.

We went back to the restaurant and sat at a big table. We took off our costumes and got to keep our name tags. We were then presented with “goody bags.” Included was a brand new costume (chef’s jacket, apron, and hat), a packet with recipe cards (full instructions too! So even though we didn’t get to make the doughs, noodles, or pastry – all the information is provided on the recipe cards), and a sweet folder that had our pictures.

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Chef Lin & Chef Mickey!
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Chef Davide & Chef Lin
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Our lunch menu and recipe cards

We had a glass of bubbly and dined on delicious food. It was the perfect ending to our culinary adventure. Yay for good food and good conversations!

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Our appetizer
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Margherita Pizza
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I love my name tag!
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Butternut Agnolotti Ravioli
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Limoncello Tart
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Gelato Trio

Sean and I thoroughly enjoyed the food adventure. It would be really awesome if the other ships offered something similar OR if Remy had a version of this class. We’d be so down to sign up! To sum it up all up, YES – the $279 per person fee was worth it to us. We got to go behind the scenes, we got to learn how to make something new, we got to talk with cast members, we got to take pictures with Mickey, we got to eat good food, and we got to take home some cool swag.

With Love

Travel & Leisure

Disney’s Castaway Cay Cabanas

Castaway Cay is pure paradise. If heaven was a place on earth, we are sure that it is Castaway Cay! It’s Disney Cruise Line’s private island and all of the Bahamian and Caribbean sailings include it as a stop on the itinerary. Some sailings even make 2 stops there. We haven’t enjoyed that type of itinerary… yet. 🙂

We’ll write another post about Castaway Cay itself later, but our very first post for our blog is dedicated to the highly coveted cabanas. Castaway Cay is an amazing experience on its own, but having a cabana elevates your experience to a completely different level.

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The Cabanas can be very hard to get… There are only 25 cabanas on the island. 21 are on the Family Beach and 4 are on the Serenity Bay Beach (adults only). Often times they are snatched up by Platinum Castaway Club or Concierge tiers before they are available to other cruisers. This table indicates when you’re eligible for Activity Planning Access:

First Time Cruisers Silver Castaway Club Gold Castaway Club Platinum Castaway Club & Concierge
Begins after your 1st completed cruise Begins after your 5th  completed cruise Begins after your 10th completed cruise
75 Days
prior to sailing
90 Days
prior to sailing
105 Days
prior to sailing
120 Days
prior to sailing

See Disney Cruise Line to view all the benefits of the Castaway Club.

We are currently Silver members, so we can book online activities/port adventures (aka excursions) 90 days prior to sailing. We were always curious about the cabanas, but we were put off by the high prices, which does not include taxes:

 

Family Beach Cabana Grand Family
Beach Cabana
Serenity Bay
Beach Cabana
(Adults Only)
$549 $899 $399
Includes 6 Guests Includes 10 Guests Includes 4 Guests
Additional Guest $50
per person
Additional Guest $50
per person
Additional Guest $50
per person
10 Guests maximum
per Cabana
16 Guests maximum
per  Grand Cabana
10 Guests maximum
per Cabana

We wanted to make our January 2017 trip extra memorable – I was turning 30 years old and we were about to fulfill our Disney Goal of sailing on all 4 DCL ships. We also wanted to see if it was worth the hype and premium price.

So 91 days prior to our sailing, we logged into the Disney Cruise Line portal at 7:55 pm (Alaska is 4 hours behind Eastern time, which is the timezone the website operates on) and I kept refreshing the Internet page like a maniac. THEN IT HAPPENED. OMG – CABANA #9 IS AVAILABLE! I didn’t even waste any extra brain power to see if other cabanas were open – I don’t think I ever clicked so quickly in my life to secure something. I felt so relieved and incredibly lucky that we got one! I imagine that this is the feeling shoe collectors get when they get to buy the design and size they want, haha.

I was stoked about having a cabana on the Family Beach, even though we weren’t traveling with any kids. You get a lovely view of the ship (you can’t see it from Serenity Bay) and it’s near the hustle and bustle of everything.

There are 3 reasons why we think we were able to get the cabana:

  1. Our sail date was in January, aka an off-peak season.
  2. We sailed on a smaller ship, the Disney Magic. It’s smaller than the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream ships, so we had less people to compete with.
  3. We have incredible planning skills! We logged in RIGHT when our booking window opened.

If getting a cabana is high on your priority list and you’re not sailing Concierge or a Platinum Castaway Club member, our best advice is to follow the 3 steps above. If you aren’t able to get one, we suggest to check from time to time since people change plans. If you still can’t get one, don’t fret – you’ll still have a great time on Castaway Cay!

What is Included?

  • Private Beach Retreat – you have your own strip of the beach!
  • Comfortable and ample seating
  • Fresh water shower
  • Towels – you don’t have to grab one as you disembark the ship, there are plenty in your cabana
  • Chilled towels – so refreshing to use on a hot day
  • Hammock
  • Unlimited bottled water and soda
  • Fresh fruit and snacks
  • Coppertone SPF products
  • Snorkel Equipment (Family Beach)
  • Floats and Tubes
  • Bike Rental (1 hour) – 1 hour seems short, but it was plenty of time for us to ride around and bike to the lookout tower
  • Sand Toys (Family Beach)
  • Safe – an extra level of security to store important belongings
  • Power outlet – so convenient to be able to recharge your camera and other electronic devices
  • Fan inside the cabana – perfect when it’s too toasty
  • Privacy – the cabanas may look like they’re close together, however they are angled perfectly so you feel like you’re there by yourself

 

Castaway Cay
This was hanging on our stateroom door the evening before Castaway Cay. Inside was a pamphlet about what was included with the Cabana as well as information about the island. The envelope also enclosed our wristbands.
On the morning of our big day, we ate breakfast and then disembarked the Disney Magic. We walked to the Cabana check in kiosk and a golf cart whisked us away to our sanctuary. Our cabana hosts were warm and welcoming and gave us a tour of our little slice of paradise.
Our view was so magical! I was stunned by how post card perfect our view of the ship was. It felt unreal to be able to experience it. Our time spent there is definitely one of our most cherished memories together.

 

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The entrance to Disney’s Cabanas at Castaway Cay.
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Our fridge was well stoked with chilled towels, bottled water, Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and a lovely plate of fruit.
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I think the presentation would have been better if these snacks were in a smaller basket.
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Sorry guys, drinks are an additional cost. They also have drink packages available. With a press of a button, your cabana host will come to take your order.
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Cookies BBQ on Castaway Cay is only a short stroll away.
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We brought our lunches back to our cabana. Look at that view of the Disney Magic!
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A nice supply of tubes and floats ready for your use.
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Such a MAGICal view! See what I did there?
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These chaise lounges were so comfortable.
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Remember to use sunscreen!
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The private beach for the cabanas.
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The Family Beach/non cabana side!
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Sean and I’s thrones. Lol!
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Another view from the hammock.
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Enjoyed a lovely nap on the hammock.
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The view from the Observation Tower.
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1 hour was plenty of time to see around the island.
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I wish I took more pictures of the inside of our cabana! There is also a curtain on the right, so you can have privacy to change into/out of swimwear. Another thing to note – there is no bathroom in the cabana. The restrooms are just a short stroll to get to though.
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Look who we found!
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Jenn took this awesome picture of us!

Was it Worth it?

From a value standpoint, no. $549 for just the 3 of us, not including taxes, was a hard bullet to bite. The cabana rental was incredibly convenient, but it isn’t necessary to have a great time at Castaway Cay.

From a WORK HARD, PLAY HARD, RELAX HARD standpoint, we scream that it’s ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT!

 

With Love