Dolphin Cay got us right into the Bahamas groove. Our dolphin trainer was hilarious and the dolphin interaction will be forever remembered. We laughed at ourselves and each other for not being able to give the dolphin a high five because his fins were too slippery but we all did a pretty good job puckering up for our dolphin smooch.
Infants love water so pools and lagoon beaches are perfect. Atlantis offers lots of shade according to Jennifer Meyerson, who traveled with Lucy who is 9 months old. She said she loved it and even had time for several runs on the Leap of Faith slide.
Carol Cain, (@NYCityMama) traveled to Atlantis with her 13-year-old game-loving son. She recommends a gaming budget (which her son petitioned to increase several times) and said she would definitely bring her teenager back to Atlantis. He loved the thrill-slides and was anxious to check out the teens only Club Rush.
Out of the Water at Atlantis Bahamas
Even the biggest aqua-kids need a break from swimming. Some choices are the pottery studio where you paint and fire your very own masterpiece, and Animal Pals where you create your own stuffed BFF.
I brought my tween daughter who is almost too old for the Atlantis Kids Club and too young for Club Rush. But she is the perfect age to ride the slides over and over again, ham it up on the Performance Stage in AKA, to get her nails done at the Y-spa and to make an Animal Pal to take home.
The best part of her trip was making friends with Skye, the step-daughter of author and free-lance writer, @aliyasking. Skye and Sophia are about the same age and they plotted for days how to sneak in to Club Rush. They were mistakenly told that the club was not open to them and by the time they figured out that there is a pre-teen time at Club Rush, we ran out of time.
Overall, Atlantis lived up to the hype and commercials on television. The water slides and activities were spectacular. The 5-10 y/o kids on this trip loved AKA and the parents loved the crew that operates the club and the relatively low cost to leave their kids there. Parents can gamble, dine gorgeously, shop and spa. This summer, AKA will offer the Lego Kids Fantasy camp, photo and video workshops for tweens and teens and family culinary adventures. For downtime, there is the movie theatre that offers free admission to current movies. We saw Julie & Julia (very apropos as I was traveling with bloggers).
Some trip considerations: That Vegas feeling 24/7 can be exhausting. And paying $15 per person for every meal can become very expensive. The rooms do offer refrigerators but we were told if we even moved the items in it, we would be charged!
The place was clean but not spotless. Lifeguards were plentiful and for the most part attentive – except for the one who was bent over asleep in her chair at the rapids. Luckily there was another lifeguard a few feet downstream. And the pools close at 5 p.m. except during summer months when they stay open til 7ish. My kids love to swim at night so this would be a disappointment to them.
The buffets offered a nice variety, including some healthy choices, however, my vegetarian friends found it lacking in entrée selections. They ate a lot of side dishes. I enjoyed fabulous grilled shrimp, stewed chicken tacos (at Lagoon Bar) and a little too much Ben & Jerry’s. Keep in mind that everything is imported to the Paradise Island, thus, the expense. It is not like some other islands where the tropical fruit and vegetables are indigenous.
This press trip was to introduce the new Kids’ Club so I did not tour the spa or any accommodations other than my room in the Royal Towers. My room was spacious, with a view of the ocean and a long, long way from the elevator (which I requested and later regretted because it was so dang far). The spa menu was typical in options except that it included a youth spa and a fee to use the fitness room and steam/sauna rooms. Yep, you have to pay an extra $20/day to use the gym or the steam room and lounge. And that didn’t include the $5 tax on services.
Suggestions for Atlantis
1. Take a tip from Royal Caribbean and rent site-specific iPhones with GPS trackers to families. Even GPS powered walkie talkies for tweens and teens who crave independence would have helped. Since cellphone service was not available, we had no way to reach our explorer kids.
2. Free wifi in guest rooms (we paid $14.95/day).
3. An empty shelf option in room refrigerators (a bottle of water cost $3.50).
4. Disney-like attention to cleanliness. At the end of the day, the pool’s edge by the lazy river could have been cleaner. I sent a video to the Atlantis team so they could see what I saw.
5. I would like to see Atlantis embrace the local culture more with arts & crafts and pottery that celebrate Junkanoo or culinary treats that are native to the Bahamas like guava duff. While we were there, the kids who won the Junkanoo competition performed a march throughout the lobby and guided us to AKA. It was a welcome taste of local culture in a place that feels very Americanized.
strong>Bottom line: if you like theme parks, you will like Atlantis, although you may be shocked by the prices and being charged for every single thing. There is a meal plan but I was told by one family who was not on the press trip (on their own budget in other words), that they would not opt for that in the future because they were eating to the point of being stuffed every time and their kids (both under 10) didn’t want to sit and eat so often. Click for more tips on how to save money in Atlantis.
Special package: Book the Offer of a Lifetime package before July 4, 2010 for travel now thru December 22, 2010 and you can get 4 days/3nights starting at $299 per person and kids 11 & under are FREE.