Thursday, October 15, 2009

Try Visiting Atlantis Resort when in Nassau!

If you are lucky enough to be on a Disney Cruise with a 3 or 4-night itinerary then Nassau, Bahamas will be your first port of call. This is the capital city of Bahamian New Providence Island, and as such there is no shortage of activities to fill your time ashore with. Some of the many choices of shore excursions that can be booked through Disney Cruise Line include the Nassau Harbor Cruise, the Caribbean Queen Snorkel Tour, the Blue Lagoon Island Dolphin Encounter, the Ardastra Gardens and City Tour, Blackbeard’s Stingray Adventure and Scuba Diving at Stuart Cove. We decided to forgo all of those on our recent sailing aboard the Disney Wonder and spend the day at the iconic Atlantis Resort. With a wealth of activities to choose from, including many upscale shops, restaurants and a full casino, Atlantis promises a day to remember!

If you decide to book your Atlantis shore excursion through DCL, then there are four options for you to choose from. First there is the “Atlantis Aquaventure”. Included with the price of the excursion is transportation to and from the Port and full use of the 140-acre water park that Atlantis is famous for. There are nine thrilling water slides and a mile-long lazy river with underground tunnels, rapids and waterfalls. The minimum height requirement for all of the slides is 48”. Also included with this package is a lunch and towel use. The cost is $160 per adult and $110 for children between the ages of 3 and 9.

The next excursion offered through DCL is the “Atlantis Beach day”. This includes transportation to and from the resort, a reserved spot on the pristine beach just for you, a light lunch, and use of the casino but does not permit use of the water park, pools or aquarium. The cost is $82 per adult and $55 per child.

One of the most popular excursions you can choose is “Dolphin Cay and Aquaventure” combination. In addition to full use of the water park and pools, you will also experience an interactive 2-hour Dolphin encounter where you will play with the Dolphins that call Atlantis home. It is for ages 3 and up and the cost is $295 per adult and $245 per child.

For those who aren’t interested in the sun and surf, the best choice would be the “Discover Atlantis” excursion. It includes round-trip transportation to Atlantis, where guests will receive a guided tour of resort and aquarium. You are then welcome to explore the grounds on your own and return whenever you like, as there are shuttles back to port every half hour. This excursion costs $52 per adult and $35 per child.

If you opt to “go it alone”, as we did, you will be responsible for your own transportation to and from the port. Taxis are readily available and cost $4 per person each way. If you want to do a tour of the aquariums and sea life exhibits you can do so for $25 per day for adults and $19 for children. This gives you all-day access but doesn’t include use of the water park. To secure use of Aquaventure, you must book a room at either the Atlantis resort or nearby Comfort Inn, which supplies bracelets used to gain entry into the water facilities. Atlantis resort is a large compound, with accommodations available in six separate buildings. There are the Royal Towers, Coral Towers, Beach Towers, the Cove, The Reef and Harborside Resort. Because the water park is centrally located in the middle of them all, any one of these accommodations will afford you the opportunity for easy pool and water park access.

We chose to book an ocean suite in Atlantis’s newest addition, the Cove, on our recent visit. It was a beautifully appointed room with an open floor plan and step-down living area. The spacious bathroom, with it’s marble floors and granite vanities was fit for a king. Although we didn’t spend much time in the room, it was nice to come back to for a hot shower and quick bite before heading back to port. Standard rooms at Atlantis start at $269 per night, so booking a room can yield significant savings over booking the excursion if there is more than one person in your travel party. The suites, like the one we booked, start at $399- but at 700 square feet with a kitchen, they are a great value.

There are so many recreational activities available at Atlantis. We tried the snorkeling and fed the sea life. The pools were awesome. The main pool has a great multi-level kids area with lots of bridges and slides for those who don’t meet the height requirement for the larger slides. My daughter wanted to stay there all day! We wanted to try the rock climbing wall, but were so busy with everything else that we didn’t get the chance. They also offer something called “Snuba” which is a hybrid between Scuba and snorkeling that doesn’t require certification. It combines the simplicity of snorkeling with the wonders of breathing underwater. Guests must be eight years old to take part in the Snuba adventure. Since our daughter was trying snorkeling for the first time, we decided to stick to that for the day. But the Snuba sounded like a lot of fun, and we hope to try it on our next trip!
Snacks and drinks at Atlantis can add up quickly, and many people choose to bring some things ashore with them to enjoy throughout the day, which is what we did. It was worth the trouble to bring our lunch off the ship since we didn’t plan to sit down in one of Atlantis’s restaurants. We did splurge on some Starbuck’s though before heading back to port aboard the shuttle. Nothing like a little caffeine to perk you up after a long day of sun and surf!

You can book a room at Atlantis, or one of the many shore excursions offered by DCL through your travel agent or directly through the Atlantis website. It is a great way to spend a day in Nassau and will surely leave you hoping to visit again in the future. With so much to do there, I highly recommend you disembark the ship as soon as you can to allow as much time as possible to enjoy the resort and it’s wonderful amenities.

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