Although you are not supposed to do this I know that many people do still do it to save some $$ and to make it so that they don't have to eat food that may make them ill in rare cases. Personally we buy snack foods in our embarkation port that is prepackaged and we use this to bridge the gap on islands where we choose not to take the risk with local foods. With kids it is nice to have rice krispie squares and granola and snack bars. For the most part we feel that we should eat on the islands just to leave a few extra dollars in the local economies so if we can't make it back to the ship for lunch we don't stress. We have lunch in a local spot.
We've seen a lot of folks who have packed foods (especially fruits) in the knapsacks and they've had no problems. I just prefer to follow the rules as much as humanly possible.
I have taken the little boxes of cereal (cheerios) off the ship to feed to the fishies when in the water. I don't want to lug stuff around, otherwise, I don't see a problem with taking a snack or a bite to eat off the ship, especially if you have small ones. There is nothing worst than your child getting ill from eating something on the island. Better you stash a few cookies/crackers and a fruit or two than to have your cruise ruined because your toddler ate something bad.
(cruzin' solo by design)
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I think that there is a poster at the bottom of the stairs by the gangway that says that you are not permitted to take food off the ship. Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, I think it says food but it may only say fruit and vegetables. Like I said, I'm all for taking snacks for the kids and stuff and I know that I normally start the week with a whole bag full and end up taking that same bag home filled with souveniers. Like you I certainly would not want my kids to get sick on the islands but we've been careful and we've had no issues so far.
I could be wrong, but I think that they would really frown on taking whole fruit and/or vegetables off the ship for agricultural reasons. Never know what bug you might be bringing to an island. Same reason why you can't bring the stuff back into the U.S.
Renee - The better half of RobRen :-)
Carnival - Spirit: Alaska (August 8, 2007)
Carnival - Miracle: Exotic Western Caribbean (April 9, 2006)
Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas: Eastern Caribbean (January 2005)