Taking food off for lunch?

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#1
43 Posts
Joined Mar 2012
I read in a post about someone ordering room service and then taking it for lunch in port. This was followed from some disagreement on whether this was allowed or not so I thought I'd start a new post on it. It's sounds like a great idea to save money on shore and also to not waste what we've paid for on the boat but I don't want to be arrested for doing it ...

We'll be porting at Bermuda and Boston... thoughts?
#2
Chicago by way of Boston and NOLA
16,759 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
It has nothing to do with whether or not it is "allowed" - it is ILLEGAL to bring many kinds of fresh foods into most countries. Fines can exceed $10,000 in some countries and you can be detained. You also risk causing massive damage to local agriculture if a foreign pest is introduced to the country from your food. Most countries allow prepackaged, factory sealed food items such as granola bars. Aside from items like that, do not bring food off the ship.
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#3
11,985 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Originally posted by Gonzo70
It has nothing to do with whether or not it is "allowed" - it is ILLEGAL to bring many kinds of fresh foods into most countries. Fines can exceed $10,000 in some countries and you can be detained. You also risk causing massive damage to local agriculture if a foreign pest is introduced to the country from your food. Most countries allow prepackaged, factory sealed food items such as granola bars. Aside from items like that, do not bring food off the ship.

You are absolutely correct. You'd be surprised how many people ignore these rules. Even after they become aware of them.

This also holds true for returning to the US from a foreign country.
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#4
Greenville, SC, USA
51,264 Posts
Joined Apr 2000
Each country makes their own laws, so it is difficult to generalize. Most places prohibit carrying fresh fruit and veggies into their country. Some prohibit meats and many other foods. Most allow packaged foods. As mentioned above the fines can be significant. You can also lose much of your time in ports.

It was not a cruise, but at a US airport, waitiing for baggage and the food sniffing dog got excited about a woman near me. She was asked if she had any fruit, & she said no. The dog again checke and again reacted. She was asked to open her purse and there were two apples on top. She made excuses which did not impress the officer. Last I saw she was being led into an office.
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#5
Fredericksburg, va. USA
80,970 Posts
Joined May 2001
If it's a pre-packages (sealed) food item, it's fine. You can't bring veggies, Not worth the trouble!

There are reasons for this rule...introducing non-indigenous pests is the main reason.

So, bring a sealed box of Cheerios, or chips....but don't make a sandwich and take it ashore. Food is available in every port....after all, folks LIVE and eat there!
#6
Vancouver, BC
1,282 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Originally posted by debrycruise
I read in a post about someone ordering room service and then taking it for lunch in port. This was followed from some disagreement on whether this was allowed or not so I thought I'd start a new post on it. It's sounds like a great idea to save money on shore and also to not waste what we've paid for on the boat but I don't want to be arrested for doing it ...

We'll be porting at Bermuda and Boston... thoughts?
My thought is that I'm surprised you think you'll get different answers on this thread than all of the past threads on this issue.
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#8
Waterbury, CT
656 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
Please do not bring non-prepackaged food off the ship for lunch. Doing so risks ruining the agriculture of the island, because you could introduce pests that upsets the delicate balance of that particular area. This is why it is illegal and heavily fined in many areas.

Still, there will be people who try to do it anyway (and some who get away with it), because they feel that saving themselves a couple dollars is more important than saving the island for future generations. You can always go back onto the ship for lunch and head back to the island afterwards if you want to get your money's worth of onboard food.
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#10
Iowa
739 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Believe the stories! The least they will do when they pull you aside is confiscate all non prepackaged edibles (including sandwiches, salads, fruit, veggies, etc.) and give you a stern talking to. But they can detain and FINE you. I'd rather spend a few bucks onshore than pay thousands of dollars in fines. They are serious as a heart attack about this.
#11
Iowa
6,014 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
Only take off prepackaged food. No meat, cheese, veggies, fruit, etc...

If I'm doing something where food is not provided or available, I'll bring a small box of cereal from room service.
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#12
New Jersey
3,713 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Another way of thinking about this is that trying the local food at your ports of call is a great way to take in the the culture. We like to try things we wouldn't normally be able to find at home. That's part of the fun of traveling
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#13
MD
3 Posts
Joined Apr 2012
I did not realize it would be a problem taking a few snacks off the ship. Maybe I'll pack a few things in my suitcase for the days off ship.
#14
Florida
19,068 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
We take some times for a snack ..
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#15
Iowa
739 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
No snack is worth devastating another country's agricultural or ecological health, period.

I would like to think that most people will check with the crew, read their daily newsletters or do some research before attempting to bring food off the ship.
#16
461 Posts
Joined May 2005
Thanks so much, NoobCruiser.

That is the best explanation I have seen yet on the issue. Doesn't matter if we 'believe' it or not, these particular laws are in place for a reason. It's ridiculous to suggest it's about forcing 'rich tourists' to spend a few dollars on lunch while ashore. If you need a snack, take something pre-packaged. Absolutely, no fruit snack is worth it.

I hope what you've posted helps others to understand better what the risks are.
#17
Philadelphia area
600 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by Laughing Angel
No snack is worth devastating another country's agricultural or ecological health, period.

I would like to think that most people will check with the crew, read their daily newsletters or do some research before attempting to bring food off the ship.
I agree with you that no snack is worth devastating another country's agriculture, but some snacks are bound to be perfectly safe. While I understand that taking ripe fruit off a ship might be a problem because it could transport larvae, just exactly what is the danger of taking a granola bar, chocolate bar, or a can of soda, or a can of beer into another country?

Mitigating the spread of some insects by forbidding certain foods into another country makes sense, but it is impossible to prevent the spread of spores, bacteria, viruses, and othermicrobial species if you are talking about cruiseships. You'd need to disinfect people when they get off the ship, prevent them from leaving anything on shore (such as money, which is probably the most filthiest of all items that a person typically owns), forbid the people from using toilets, etc.

Let's be clear about this. If the cruiselines and local authorities were interested in safeguarding the agriculture of the destination, they would put in restriction about taking off ships certain foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, and raw meat, just like they do in border checks into US, Europe, California, and other jurisdictions, and would allow other foods off the ship.

The total prohibition on taking off food from the ship simply makes people pay twice for food. It is about wringing as much money from the tourists as possible. Agricultural safety is just an excuse.

Can someone point to me a peer-reviewed scientific article that would show that my thinking is wrong? (And yes, I am a PhD scientist)
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#18
Iowa
739 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
Originally posted by pdmlynek
I agree with you that no snack is worth devastating another country's agriculture, but some snacks are bound to be perfectly safe. While I understand that taking ripe fruit off a ship might be a problem because it could transport larvae, just exactly what is the danger of taking a granola bar, chocolate bar, or a can of soda, or a can of beer into another country?

Mitigating the spread of some insects by forbidding certain foods into another country makes sense, but it is impossible to prevent the spread of spores, bacteria, viruses, and othermicrobial species if you are talking about cruiseships. You'd need to disinfect people when they get off the ship, prevent them from leaving anything on shore (such as money, which is probably the most filthiest of all items that a person typically owns), forbid the people from using toilets, etc.

Let's be clear about this. If the cruiselines and local authorities were interested in safeguarding the agriculture of the destination, they would put in restriction about taking off ships certain foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, and raw meat, just like they do in border checks into US, Europe, California, and other jurisdictions, and would allow other foods off the ship.

The total prohibition on taking off food from the ship simply makes people pay twice for food. It is about wringing as much money from the tourists as possible. Agricultural safety is just an excuse.

Can someone point to me a peer-reviewed scientific article that would show that my thinking is wrong? (And yes, I am a PhD scientist)
Yes, Doctor. I understand your point, and I personally agree that prepackaged foods should be okay to bring off the ship. That said...

There's this thing about the LAWS (not rules or suggestions) of a sovereign nation. They kinda insist that visitors follow the law while they are touring the country. Most countries allow prepackaged food. Some do not (I believe it's the ingredients in some of these prepackaged items that may be problematic). There are ports of call where they don't care what you bring in, and some there they are as serious as a heart attack about protecting the agricultural safety of the community (complete with sniffer dogs and armed inspectors). The item or items will be confiscated and you can be fined.

The cruiseline can warn you about taking food off the ship, but they are not in the business of law enforcement. Once you get on land, you (and whatever the authorities consider "contraband" on you) are their concern.

You may be absolutely right about the agricultural safety of the country being an excuse. You may be correct about this being a money grab by a greedy tourism industry, but the law is the law, and visitors don't get to choose which laws they obey.

If the country I am visiting says "Don't bring any food past our border", I will abide by that. They made the law. As a visitor, I choose to follow it.
#19
3,503 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Originally posted by Laughing Angel
Yes, Doctor. I understand your point, and I personally agree that prepackaged foods should be okay to bring off the ship. That said...

There's this thing about the LAWS (not rules or suggestions) of a sovereign nation. They kinda insist that visitors follow the law while they are touring the country. Most countries allow prepackaged food. Some do not (I believe it's the ingredients in some of these prepackaged items that may be problematic). There are ports of call where they don't care what you bring in, and some there they are as serious as a heart attack about protecting the agricultural safety of the community (complete with sniffer dogs and armed inspectors). The item or items will be confiscated and you can be fined.

The cruiseline can warn you about taking food off the ship, but they are not in the business of law enforcement. Once you get on land, you (and whatever the authorities consider "contraband" on you) are their concern.

You may be absolutely right about the agricultural safety of the country being an excuse. You may be correct about this being a money grab by a greedy tourism industry, but the law is the law, and visitors don't get to choose which laws they obey.

If the country I am visiting says "Don't bring any food past our border", I will abide by that. They made the law. As a visitor, I choose to follow it.
Your post should be made a sticky.
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#20
Philadelphia area
600 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by Laughing Angel
Yes, Doctor. I understand your point, and I personally agree that prepackaged foods should be okay to bring off the ship. That said...

There's this thing about the LAWS (not rules or suggestions) of a sovereign nation. They kinda insist that visitors follow the law while they are touring the country. Most countries allow prepackaged food. Some do not (I believe it's the ingredients in some of these prepackaged items that may be problematic). There are ports of call where they don't care what you bring in, and some there they are as serious as a heart attack about protecting the agricultural safety of the community (complete with sniffer dogs and armed inspectors). The item or items will be confiscated and you can be fined.

The cruiseline can warn you about taking food off the ship, but they are not in the business of law enforcement. Once you get on land, you (and whatever the authorities consider "contraband" on you) are their concern.

You may be absolutely right about the agricultural safety of the country being an excuse. You may be correct about this being a money grab by a greedy tourism industry, but the law is the law, and visitors don't get to choose which laws they obey.

If the country I am visiting says "Don't bring any food past our border", I will abide by that. They made the law. As a visitor, I choose to follow it.
Thank you for your thoughtful post.

I am glad that we are in agreement “that prepackaged food should be okay to bring off the ship.” And we have not been able to find any peer-reviewed scientific journal article that would claim that all food should be prohibited from leaving the ship.

As far as laws go, I do not know any country that would prohibit all foods from entering their country. As a matter of fact, most of Caribbean countries that are on cruise stops import vast majority of foodstuff, and First World countries and jurisdictions have lists of prohibited and allowed items.

Can you please provide me with the relevant statutes of these countries that you purport to prohibit the bringing in all foods into their country? Not simply “rules or suggestions” or whatever the cruise line says or prints on their fliers, but actually binding and enforceable laws, i.e., statutes, that would be applicable to passengers on cruiseship? (And yes, I am an attorney.)
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