We booked this through a Carnival cruise, and it was really well done and worthwhile. We're a family of 7 with kids from 4-19 and I wanted something we could do that would be fun for all.
The boat ride was quick and fun. We were some of the first people on the island and they recommended we try snorkeling first (it's better viewing in the morning) so we did. Everyone except my two little ones enjoyed that. My 8 year old gave up after 5 minutes and went to the beach to dig in the sand. I had no qualms with letting her do that while we continued to snorkel as I could still see her from the reef. I towed the 4 year old around with me, which he enjoyed. In some spots of the reef we were bit by tiny aquatic creatures (water fleas), but only in certain places so if you changed your locale in the water they went away. Older kids snorkeled for a while. Others came back, grabbed some lounge chairs and spent the rest of the time relaxing and reading on the beach. A very few bugs (sand fleas) bit us briefly but it definitely wasn't an issue and no one needed bug spray or even noticed them.
Yes, the airplanes come zooming overhead every so often but we like planes so it didn't bother us and my 15 year old who fell asleep never noticed a thing. When the kids were tired of snorkeling they checked out the animals and demos and mayan ruins. Basically they could run all over the island wherever they wanted and I didn't worry about it. There isn't anywhere to go. Even when more people came later on it didn't feel crowded.
Our excursion came with lunch which was excellent. My kids are pretty picky but the fresh food with fish sticks (not boxed!) and BBQ chicken was really good and they all ate it happily.
The staff were helpful and friendly, and the variety of programs they have really make this a worthwhile visit. I would happily come back to Maya Key as I didn't get to see or do everything I wanted due to the cruise ship time constraints. This was a great excursion and a wonderful day spent with a family having a wide variety of ages.
Only off note: There are signs explaining to people about reef etiquette, etc, but they DO NOT do a good job of enforcing/explaining to people about how to snorkel without damaging the reef. We saw a lot of damaged reef area and careless people while we snorkeling and no one says anything to them. No one says anything before you get in the water (there are helpers at the end of the pier). Since this is a reserve-type place I would think they would put more effort into conserving this beautiful natural resource.
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