For our past Disney Cruises we have opted to stay on the boat in Nassau. The littles were, well, little and there was so much to do onboard. This time Sister had a bee in her bonnet that she wanted to swim with the dolphins and, after waffling back and forth and having my FOMO (fear of missing out) get the best of me, we decided to join them!! Boy am I glad we did!!!!
We booked the excursion directly through Disney after exploring all sorts of other options and prices to do it on our own. Our party met up on the boat and exited together with our guide. We booked the 11:45 excursion time, so we had plenty of time for a big brunch on the boat before getting off in the land of non-pre-paid food.
A cute little bus took us through Nassau to Atlantis. Our driver was also an excellent tour guide, pointing out sights and scenes around Nassau while telling us about the history and culture. That felt like an excursion in and of itself!
Arriving in Atlantis was beautiful. The grounds were lush and tropical.
We headed right to Dolphin Cay and waited on our group briefing.
It was a super overcast day, which made for pretty enjoyable weather overall. The littles sat on the shore, played in the sand and watched the dolphins for a good long time while we waited in the lounge chairs. It was nice and relaxing.
I can’t remember exactly what our briefing time was, but they led us to the area with lockers to get changed into wetsuits. Afterwards we met our guide, had a brief presentations about the dolphins and experience, and were divided up into four groups of 10-12 people each.
CeeCee in a wet suit might have been the cutest part of the day.
When it was our turn, we were led to a little cove with our group to meet our dolphin Tamara. She, along with the rest of the dolphin at Atlantis, was rescued after being displaced in hurricane Katrina! She is 30 years old and was an incredibly amazing animal. Our host made the 30-minute interaction extremely educational. We learned about how the dolphin breathes, saw her belly button and ears, talked about how she would nurse and care for her young, got up close and personal with her tail and learned how that is really the fingerprint of the each dolphin, and SO much more!
Mother and Daddy-O took Sister and I to swim with the dolphins in the keys probably 30 years ago, but I was too scared to get in, so Sister and Daddy-O did it. I was scared to do this, but then overwhelmed by just how gentle and sweet Tamara was. I have no doubt that these animals are very well cared for and tremendously loved by their human companions. Not to mention, I doubt they would have had much chance at survival on their own after the hurricane. This up close and personal interaction gave me a brand new appreciation for the dolphin, even having grown up with them right in my back yard my whole childhood. And, it certainly did the same for my littles. This was an incredible experience for them – they are still talking about it – the highlight of their trip and summer. John has since spent a great deal of time researching them on the internet and Whit sleeps with his stuffed “dolphie” souvenir every night.
At the end of our time in the lagoon, the four dolphin meeting guests performed a few incredible tricks together for a magnificent conclusion!!
This excursion also allows you to explore the aquariums at Atlantis. So, after changing clothes, we were off! We meandered around outdoors, finding turtles, sharks and stingrays.
And then indoors there is much more to explore – fish and eels and quite a few scary looking sea creatures :-)
At around 3PM we caught the bus back to the Dream. We spent a little bit of time exploring the straw market before getting back on the boat!
If you go:
- No passports are needed to get off of the Disney boats at Nassau. Only IDs for the adults.
- Consider purchasing bottled water on the boat before you get off. We were so glad we did as it was much cheaper than at Atlantis. $10 for a 6-pack of Evian, I think.
- Pack light and wear sunscreen. There are lockers at Atlantis, but only for use while in the dolphin cay.
- Wear your swimsuit so that you are ready to just slip on the wetsuit over it.
- No jewelry of any kind is allowed so leave it in the safe on the boat.
- No cameras or go pros or any equipment is allowed in the water with the dolphin. You are allowed to take pictures from the shore if someone in your party is not participating, but they have it set up so getting any good ones would be next to impossible. They sell professional photos in the shop afterwards. The thumb drive with ALL of your pictures is $160. GULP. However, if you have a large group in your party, you can purchase one drive with everyone’s pics and split the cost to make it a little more reasonable. You are going to want these pics so plan for it.
- The aquariums are included and are definitely worth exploring. The water slides are not included in the package we did. I was fearful that we would see them and want to do them, but that was a non-issue. We only had a peek at a few and the very long lines and crowds made them much less desirable than we had expected :-)
- The food was expensive so eat before you get off the boat. Atlantis does not take cash, so if you plan to eat have a credit card.
This was truly one of the most incredible things we’ve done! We’ve added the deep water interaction to our bucket list for 3 or 4 years down the road!!