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Disney Cruise and Anna Maria Island, Florida report

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This two week trip report is long overdue. Thanks to all the Fodorites that helped me on this trip and so many others. I know this trip report covers both land and sea, so I have already posted it on the land section.

First of all, let me say that I entered the Disney Cruise experience as a skeptic and was converted to a huge fan. Several of our friends raved about the experience, but I just kept wondering how it could be that good and worth that much more than other cruises. Finally, my husband and I decided that our boys are only these ages once (8 and 11) and went for it.

Disney truly creates a magical experience (pun intended). From the moment we were announced onto the ship, watched our children come down the Mickey hand slide into the pool, cuddled up with them on our private balcony, enjoyed marvelous meals (including a few Mommy and Daddy nights at Palo's), laughed hysterically at the comedy shows and treasured the production shows - we were awe struck! My lasting impression is that it was a precious time for our family and we still discuss the many crew members and wonder where they are and how they are. Seriously, where does Disney find these people? Without exception, each crew person we encountered worked incredibly hard, with smiles on their faces and seemed to sincerely care that our family was over-the-top happy at all moments! Wow!

Key West: not my favorite port, but it gave us a great excuse to stay on the ship most of the day!

Grand Cayman: Before departing on our cruise, we arranged the triple snorkeling location tour through Captain Brian's on a catamaran. Thumbs up! It was our children's first snorkeling experience and the crew was very helpful, the waters were gorgeous, and we shared the catamaran with about 6 other people - so we felt like we were on our own private charter!

Cozumel: We went on the Disney arranged excursion which involved playing on the beach all day with huge water toys. The kids loved it!

Castaway Cay: Can you say paradise?! We loved the beach, bicycling around the island - once again the customer service was wonderful and we didn't want to leave!

Our days at sea were full of fun, sun and various activities! I cried the day we left ... my husband said that I was the perfect Disney customer!

I was very sad to leave, but I was also exhausted from the non-stop pace of events. I was very, very glad that we had prearranged to drive immediately to Anna Maria Island (just below Tampa) where we rented a condo for the week. In a previous post (several years ago), I raved about a condo (The Beachfront) that we have enjoyed several times, but it was not available on this trip. We used the same company (www.annamaria.com) and booked the Island Sands. It was just what the doctor ordered. Great views, walk down to the beach and to the pool, beautifully decorated and appointed - this unit is in a complex of a dozen or so condos, so it's never crowded and we witnessed some of the most spectacular sunsets ever from the balcony (not to mention the dolphins in the morning). It was truly luxurious and well-priced for the week.

I love this little remote part of Florida because it's so quiet and far from the frenzy. My biggest decision each day was ... do I sit by the pool or do I sit on the beach (I chose both most days). It was a perfect two week holiday!

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