We took a last minute trip to Atlantis, booking our flight and hotel on a Saturday and arriving there on Tuesday after Labor Day. The flight on Jet Blue is direct from NYC so you don't waste an entire day traveling. The weather was wonderful and it wasn't as crowded as it was when we last went which was in February 2010. We stayed at the Royal Towers and since our last trip, the place could use a little updating. I understand we arrived at the end of a busy summer, but the carpets were dirty and the furniture a bit banged up. For the amount of money you pay for accommodations, I would expect more attention to these details. We also found many of the on site restaurants closed, something that should have been mentioned on the website or by the Atlantis representative which helped us make our plans. The restaurants are all way overpriced and the food is not good. We took a taxi offsite to a local restaurant which was reasonable and good.
As for our experience at the water park , we had an amazing time. My favorite was the mile long rapid river, not the lazy river, that you float on in tubes. There are just enough rough waves to make it fun while it is still relaxing. My 13 year old boy didn't stop sliding down the awesome slides for the 4 days we were there except for the 11 minutes he got to "walk with the sharks". That's right, I said 11 minutes. This was my Big negative. We booked the "Walk with the Sharks" Adventure there in Atlantis which we were told would be at least a 20 minute guided walk on the bottom of the shark tank in which you would be able to see and touch sea life such as starfish while sharks were swimming all around. My son was extremely excited to do this walk and film it with his underwater camera. He started his video the moment he started his descent on the ladder and didn't stop until he emerged at the end of the "walk". The entire video was 11 minutes, not the 20 he expected and there was no interaction with sea life other than the sharks and a couple of other fish swimming around which he could have seen through the tank with out having to spend $110 for the 11 minutes. The guide did absolutely nothing other than wave at a couple of onlookers. The preparation video shows people holding starfish and examining sea urchins among other things. This didn't happen...maybe because he was only down for 11 minutes. Definitely not worth it.
Do try however the off site snorkeling. We went with the Flying Cloud to a reef about an hour from Paradise Island and saw beautiful fish and stingrays at a very reasonable price. I highly recommend.
I guess this is a mixed review of negatives and positives. If 3.5 stars were an option, that is where I would have rated our experience. It is definitely above "average", but falls a little short of "very good." I guess I expect a little more for the money you end up spending while you are down there.
We will most likely go back again but knowing what to expect.
Oh yeah, one other thing. Be prepared for long lines when the cruise ships dock. Apparently there are different cruise ships arriving everyday that are allowed to use Atlantis. If you don't want to be a part of a crowd, you will need go out early or late either before or after the boats dock.
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