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Michelle1959 January 9th, 2010 04:54 PM

Bring food off the ship to eat while in Mexico?
If you have done excursions anywhere in Mexico, do you eat the local food or bring your own off the ship?

My mom and I are cruising in about 10 weeks on Imagination. She lives in Florida but I'm in the Chicago area so I can't wait to get away to anywhere warmer than here! Brrr!

She's been to Mexico once - an NCL cruise to KeyWest/Cozumel with her now deceased hubby a few years ago but they didn't eat in port and this will be my first time stepping foot in Mexico.

For our afternoon/evening in Cozumel, we are considering the Playa de Maya beach resort excursion.

Neither of us wants to eat any food or drink any water from Mexico so we're thinking about either ordering room service sandsiches, fruit, etc. from either room service and/or the deli) and bringing a collapsible small cooller, pack some quart ziplocs with ice and bring our own food and Carnival bottled water to eat while we're on the beach. Even getting a salad in their restaurant or buffet means it might hgave been washed/cleaned with tap water.

If we don't do this, we'll probably just walk around Cozumel and hope there's something more interesting than stores and restaurants (i.e. some muerums or art galleries???) after lunch on the ship and head back by dinner. None of the other excursions appeal to us. We want something relaxing and I don't want to be stuck on a tour bus.

I'd appreciate the thoughts of those who have done both.


ready123go January 9th, 2010 07:05 PM

Hi Michelle,
You can't import/export food from one country to another. Which translates as- you can't take food off the ship or bring it back on to the ship. That is against Customs & Border regs. Here's a link

The cruise ship has a huge rubbish bin located on the way out and every cruise we take many, many people have to dispose of their would-be lunches. Bottled water should be fine. Because it is a tourist city, you should be able to buy it at any shop in port, assuming Cozumel is similar to other ports.

We have been to Mexico a couple of times. Two weeks in Vallarta with a relative. Salad rinsed in tap water, drank tap water, etc. I have the world's WORST digestion and I had no problems. If in doubt, I might suggest finding nicer place and eat cooked food. There should be a couple of chains from which to choose. Eating at a chain might be somewhat dull, but it might the lesser of two evils...

Michelle1959 January 9th, 2010 07:33 PM

I thought I have seen postings where people have done that in the past. or perhaps that was before food was stopped from being taken off the ship?

Darn! I guess the trick will be to eat lunch on board, then get to the beach on our own, and get a cab back after a few hours.

We're supposed to dock in Cozumel at 1:00, so I guess we can just eat lunch around 11:30 or so, and then do the beach break excursion that does NOT include the buffet.

As long as we can get bottled water at Playa del Maya, we should be fine.

Anyone who has done this excursion, they do have bottled water you can buy, right?

Fern January 9th, 2010 08:29 PM

Michelle, that sounds like a plan :) ! However, if you decide you want a snack or a drink, the food and water (including ice) at any major tourist attraction (beach, restaurant, bar) should be quite safe. They don't want anyone to get sick and ruin their business :shock: !

Have a wonderful cruise,

david30101 January 9th, 2010 10:04 PM

They usually dont check (ive never been checked) when leaving the ship in port..Only when going back on ship they check. My sister and I always took snacks from the buffet and never been stopped. Cerial boxes etc and some fruit, yogurt. Not saying its right to do. But ive done it a few times with no issues. When ashore if I need other drinks, I just buy a canned soda or somthing in a can or bottle.

zydecocruiser January 9th, 2010 10:24 PM

People, in fact, do bring food off the ships all the time. I don't know about packing an ice chest full, but it is done. Nobody checks in the ports you mentioned.

Anywhere you are likely to go will use purified water for everything from washing foodstuffs, to making ice, to serving you water in a restaurant.

If you drink tap water from a garden hose, you can expect a visitor.

Luanne Russo January 9th, 2010 10:24 PM

Facts you might not know. Cozumel has it's own purification system.

Panchos Back yard is a wonderful place to eat and drink, and shop all in one place. The beaches have great places to eat, that are perfectly safe.

Years ago food and veggies were brought into Florida, and now because of that the state spends millions of dollars a year to get rid of what was on those things.

Rules are set up to protect the country that you are visiting.

zydecocruiser January 9th, 2010 10:35 PM

Cozumel is not known for its agriculture - the soil is too poor to produce much. There is no blanket ban on food importation and NAFTA has reduced some barriers.

zydecocruiser January 9th, 2010 10:37 PM


Originally Posted by Luanne Russo (Post 1267104)
Facts you might not know. Cozumel has it's own purification system.

Cozumel does chlorinate the water to some extent, but you should never trust the tap water in Cozumel or anywhere in the Yucatan.

AKcruiser January 10th, 2010 02:20 AM

Hi Michelle,

I agree with LuAnne. We always make time to eat at Pancho's Back Yard in Cozumel. I believe their water is purified because we had sodas with ice and we wouldn't have if the water wasn't purified. They have great taquitos with fact my hubby says it's the best guacomole he's ever had!


Michelle1959 January 10th, 2010 10:29 AM

Thanks for your feedback everyone, not having been to Mexico yet I had no clue as to what the facts were, obviously! :) Ian and I didn't take anything off the ship in the Bahamas as we left were back on Sensation for lunch.

We'll keep that all in mind but will most likely eat lunch on the ship before we debark for the beach in Cozumel, since the timing will be right for that. But it's good to know that if we do want to spend a few dollars on a snack while there, that it is safe to do so.

Of course, I really avoid buffets anyway - at home or away - with people breathing, coughing and sneezing on or near them.

Mike M January 10th, 2010 12:24 PM

My personal experience and personal belief is that people make too much of the "Montezuma's Revenge" part of travel.

If you follow a few basic rules your chances of having G.I. problems will be no greater than eating the food in a major U.S. city. (Yes: different water in different parts of the U.S. can give you problems. It's what you're used to.)

Don't drink tap water. Drink bottled water, soda or beer. If you have a mixed or blended drink only do so at a major bar. Straight shots of tequila are a great way to kill the germs. ;):D

Eat at restaurants but make sure your food is cooked and not raw. This includes salads and vegetables.

I have a major G.I. problem where I am very susceptible to "problems" but I eat local food in almost every location from Mexico, China, Egypt and other parts of the world and the only time I've had a major problem, while traveling, was a seafood dinner in Fort Lauderdale.

While it is against the rules to take food off the ship, you can. They won't search you on the way out but make sure you don't wait too long before you eat it. The hot temperatures and a hot backpack will make some foods, like sandwiches with toppings far more dangerous than drinking from a Mexican garden hose.

Take care,

Ro January 10th, 2010 04:54 PM

This pass July 4th we came back from Mexico. We have been there before and never had a problem eating or drinking anything. We went to Playa Mia for five hours with a group of five on the Carnival bus tour. We highly recommend it. We all ate their buffet food which I must say I found delicious and drank their drinks with ice cubes in it and never once did any of us have a problem.

lhp January 10th, 2010 05:09 PM

We have a child with Autism that has a very limited number of things he will eat.

What we do is plan our day around his needs.

If we are going to Cozumel and have an early port arrival...we eat a big breakfast ....get off the ship around 9AM and then are back on the ship around 1pm to eat lunch.

We have been cruising for years.....and while every country has their own restrictions and their own consequences for breaking those restrictions....

we have found that most ports do not allow "raw" foods. (sandwiches, fruit etc) For example, Cozumel does not because they are trying to stop the Red Palm Mite from getting on their island. Now I don't know what a Red Palm Mite is....but as a guest in their country, I certainly want to behave accordingly and not do anything that may cause damage to their country. And while a lot of it gets caught and taken from the passengers before they get off the ship....a lot makes it through. But honestly, it just isn't something that people with class do.

BUT .... all of them DO ALLOW PREPACKAGED FOODS!!!! That is the key to our traveling with our son. We bring prepackaged nabs like peanut butter crackers, chips, candy bars...there are a whole host of prepackaged foods available.

Now about the water....all the major restaurants in Cozumel use purified water. We go to Cozumel about 5 times a year and I have had more than I share of drinks and food there without an issue. So the drinks and ICE are FINE!!!

Just do not drink from public water fountains and I would not eat salads or fruits from there.

AND you do not have to worry about your food spoiling or hauling ice chests.....

Hope you have a great day in Cozumel....

colorcrazie January 11th, 2010 04:21 PM

You have gotten some good info here and I do as you are thinking of, and that is eating a large meal on board the ship before getting off in the port. The one thing I carry with me in my port bag is a protein bar. They do allow that and I have something if I need it. But, I have also eaten in Mexican restaraunts with no problems. BUT, only if it was on a tour through the cruise line, as they are concerned that if passengers get sick, it's bad for the line. Or, if I did decide to eat on my own, I would choose either an American based chain or a restaraunt that is air conditioned. If the owners can afford A/C, they probably have refridgeration as well. And no water from their tap systems. Bottled everything. By the way, Mexico produces CocaCola with sugar and, while the not the original, drug based recipe, it is the one that was changed several decades ago here. Tastes like childhood...yummy. And I don't drink soda's.
Last, a chef that I knew who worked the cruise lines said the safest thing to eat if you are really stuck is fish, because if it goes bad, it smells bad. Beef and pork take a longer time to go back, but the riskiest is chicken, as it can be bad and still smell and taste fine.
Last, but not least, a few years ago, I almost died from a form of food poisoning that dissolves your intestines. Got it from a Mexican in Florida! :evil:

Snoozeman January 11th, 2010 06:51 PM

So from what I have read if your careful you'll be fine eating Mexican food in Cozumel, but be very careful eating Mexican food in Florida.;) I actually agree with that.:) I've never ever had a problem in Cozumel and I think I have eaten everywhere there.

Your not supposed to take food off the ship, but I'm sure some people do it anyway.

Have a good cruise and don't worry about the food in Cozumel.

Michelle1959 January 11th, 2010 08:44 PM

Thanks for the aqdditional suggestions & comments fromSnoozeman,. Marty, Ro, hlp, Mike M and AKcruiser zydecocruiser, Luanne, david and Fern!

I definitely had some old information stuck in my head.

I like the idea of eatiing a good lunch on board and marty's idea about the protein bars - I was thinking of bringing some south beach bars on the cruise and one will easily take care of any hunger pains between lunch and dinner. I fly to FLL on march 20th and we don't sail out of Miami till the 22nd so I have time to stop and bring some snacks aboard.

We don't plan to go to any restaurants other than enjoying the buffet includes at Playa Mia... we will eat dinner back on the ship that night. We probably won't eat a lot at the buffet but will definitely refrain from any fresh fruits or veggies that are on it.

I really don't like to schlep food - even in a small lunch bag with ice, in that heat, it could spoil - and protein bars or breath mints are all I like to carry on me.

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