I would give the Little French Key a 4 - 5 star rating but the "guided" snorkeling experience gets 1 star. We visited on January 2, 2013 on the Carnival Liberty. We docked at 8:00 a.m. and had to be back on the ship at 2:30 p.m. The reservation process (before vacation) with Little French Key was very smooth. We got off the ship around 8:15 to maximize our short time there and, as promised, they got us to the little island as soon as possible (but it still takes about an hour by the time you shuttle to their restaurant, wait for others to show up and then take the little boat to the island). They told us we should leave by 1:30 to make it back to our boat on time. So, as it was, we only had 4 hours on the island. We have a 4 (almost 5) year old and a 7 year old and wanted to do the "guided" snorkeling trip. We were assured it would be fine for our children. We brought our own snorkel gear. The first problem was that they don't have life vests for children which made it really difficult for our youngest to swim while this huge life vest kept popping off of her.
The second, and main complaint, was that the guides dropped us off in a swarm of small jelly fish. Granted, I realize they don't control what is in the water, but the boat driver told my husband (after everyone was attacked by jellyfish) that the same thing happened the day before at the same location but he thought they would be gone by the next day. Seems to me, given that experience the day before, they should at least have sent the guide in first to check out the area. Instead, a kid in our group went in first and immediately said his skin was on fire. I didn't know the kid and didn't think much of it (sunburn perhaps). The rest of our group and my husband and children went in. When only myself and one other woman were in the boat about to get in the water (the others were all a distance away by that time), the driver told me about the jelly fish and said that if people are getting stung, we should get back in and find a new location. As soon as I got out to the group, everyone was complaining about being stung and my kids were crying. I told everyone what the boat driver had told me. The "guide" was no where to be seen. I think he was still on the boat because he helped us all back in. We went to another location but my kids were traumatized and would not get back in the water. Everyone in our group except for me and my kids reluctantly got back in and had a good snorkeling experience, except, my husband told me that he wasn't even aware of a guide as the "guide" did nothing (I did see him get in the water this time though). For my girls and I, we spent two hours on a snorkel boat, which was half of our time on the island and got nothing out of it other than jelly fish stings and a fear of snorkeling. As we got back to the island, the driver told me he would talk to the owners when he got back but I suspect he never did, or, if he did, I never heard about it.
Other than that, we had an enjoyable time, but for us, it wasn't worth $165 for 2 hours on a beautiful beach (we didn't do the lunch and they kindly comped our 4 year old). I think the owners have a lovely place and are doing a good job but could really improve the tourist operation by offering more training of their staff. For example, the driver who shuttled us to the restaurant (and clearly wanted to be tipped) could really improve the tour by talking to tourists and giving some information about the island. Same with the snorkel guides. It was the only excursion on my vacation where the drivers didn't provide any information about the area. The drivers of the shuttle and the boat, who were our main Little French Key contacts, didn't talk much to the tourists. This attraction has a lot of potential but could be a lot better with increased staff training, in my opinion.
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