Careful vacation planning plays an important role in any successful vacation budget. One of the most popular vacation excursions today is doing a dolphin encounter or doing a swim with dolphins. These are offered in many tourist destinations all over the Caribbean and Mexico. You can even do them in Florida and Hawaii so they are not limited to exotic places. They are an extremely popular choice and for good reason. They are really memorable but they are not cheap so you want to be sure to choose a good tour operator on your vacation. A popular tourist destination and cruise port is Nassau Bahamas. There are two very reputable dolphin excursions in Nassau Bahamas to choose from if you are planning a trip to the Bahamas. One is located at Atlantis Bahamas and the other is called Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island. Here are some of the things to consider when choosing between these two tour operators.
Things You'll Need
- Internet for researching
- Credit Card to book excursion in advance
First, both the Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon and the Atlantis Bahamas tours offer "encounters" and "swims" so make sure you compare the same type of excursions to each other. The encounters are always cheaper than the swim with dolphins and are good for younger kids or people who are not comfortable in deep water. The swim with dolphins offers a longer, more personal experience but they do require that you spend most of the time in deep water (about 30 ft.). Although it is in a controlled environment and you will be wearing life vests some people are still nervous about the idea of going in the deeper water with these beautiful creatures so this is just something else to consider in your decision.
Let's talk about the dolphin encounters first. At either place the "encounters" are always held in shallow, waist deep water, usually on a platform. They tend to be a little less personal than the swim with dolphins because the groups are usually a little bigger for these. On an encounter you get to pet the dolphins and see them perform a few tricks & such up close. The dolphins will swim right up to you as you stand on the platform so that you can pet them and interact.
Now let's cover the swim with dolphins. The swims are always held in deep water, and they last a little longer than the encounters. They are done in smaller groups so that each person has more one-on-one time with the dolphins. Because they are held in smaller groups they also book up faster so you should reserve well ahead of time. On a swim with dolphins you spend about an hour in the water with the dolphins, swimming, petting, feeding, dancing & getting kisses. Both Dolphin Encounters and Atlantis Bahamas finish their swims with a "foot push" which is where the dolphins push you through the water with their noses on the bottoms your feet. It's a very cool experience. At Atlantis Bahamas they also use an underwater hand scooter on the swim so you must be a good swimmer to participate in this one.
Consider the ages of everyone in your party. At Atlantis Bahamas there is no minimum age for the dolphin encounter while their minimum age is 10 for their swim with dolphins. In comparison, Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island has a minimum age of 3 for their dolphin encounter (free until age 4). The minimum age for their swim with dolphins is 6 at Blue Lagoon Island.
Atlantis Bahamas is located right in Nassau so you can get there quickly by taxi from just about anywhere on the island. You have to take a catamaran from the Ferry Terminal to Blue Lagoon Island so the excursions there last a total of 3 - 3 1/2 hours including the trip over to the island and back to the terminal. (You will need to take a taxi to the Ferry Terminal to catch the ferry.) The Blue Lagoon price includes the catamaran transportation to the island and back to Nassau but not your taxi to the terminal.
The Atlantis Bahamas charges different rates during different "seasons" while Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon is one price all year long. The Atlantis price in April 2010 for example is $105 for the encounter and $167 for the swim. In July, 2010 their price is $140 for the encounter and $184 for the swim. You can book your dolphin excursion at Atlantis Bahamas by telephone toll-free at 888-877-7525. Dolphin Encounters on Blue Lagoon Island has a convenient website that you can use to book your own excursion (see link in the Resources Section below). Their current prices (as of September 2009) are $98 for the encounter and $185 for their swim with dolphins. After detailed instructions, the allotted time for the encounter is about 30 min. in the water and about an hour for the swim.
Both of these dolphin tour operators will charge your credit card in full at the time the reservations are made. The encounters and swims are held rain or shine and are only cancelled if the weather is bad enough to be considered unsafe to be in the water.
Tips & Warnings
- Many cruise ships offer both tours as a choice for shore excursions. If you book through your cruise line, the ferry will pick your group up at the port and will then go to the Ferry Terminal to pick up the people who have booked independently. Most cruise lines will mark up the excursion a little so it may be cheaper to book on your own. It would be in your best interest to do your own investigation and price comparison before choosing which to book.
- Note that if you book Blue Lagoon on your own when doing a cruise that on the return trip you can just stay on the ferry and ride it all the way back to the port. You do not have to disembark at the terminal unless you are staying at a resort somewhere on the island.
- Taxis are plentiful on Nassau and all of the taxi drivers have a set fee per person to go to either Atlantis or to the Ferry Terminal. Negotiate an arranged price before accepting a ride with the driver. Ask them if the price includes any tolls on the way to your destination. If you do not clear this with them first they will likely ask you for more money to pay the toll while while you are en route to your destination.
- You can read about the rules and restrictions on the websites prior to booking if you have any questions.
- Use the links in the Resources Section below to read my other travel related articles.
- If you are booking an independent excursion from a cruise you should be sure to check your ships embarkation and debarkation times for the port so that you can allow appropriate travel time before and after your excursion.
- Photo Credit Self and MSN Clip Art
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