High on our list of priorities during our Carnival Breeze Caribbean cruise in March was a day trip to Atlantis during our port of call in Nassau, Bahamas. Ever since watching a Travel Channel episode about the Paradise Island resort — with its massive Aquaventure waterpark and marine habitats and lagoons (aka an outdoor aquarium that’s so much more than “just” an aquarium) — my children have wanted to check it out. Me too; I’ve long been curious about the tropical mega resort.
The property features five distinct accommodations towers and sections (including residential-style The Reef with full kitchens) on 171 acres, which also feature a casino, tween/teen club, kids’ club, multiple restaurants and leisure pools, interactive dolphin experiences, full-service spa, theatre, tennis courts, rock-climbing wall and much more. You definitely need a paper map, or need to refer to signage often, when maneuvering around the property on a day visit. Upon hearing that the resort had 4,000 hotel rooms, my son said, “Whoa. Does it have its own zip code?” (Answer: It likely would if the Bahamas used zip codes.)
We set up shop on a group of lounge chairs in Aquaventure water park — 141 acres of pools, kiddie splash areas, water slides, raft rides and lazy rivers. Surprisingly, even during busy spring break when the entire resort was booked solid, we have no trouble finding a place to stake our claim and store our stuff while we played in the water park.
And play we did! By far, the most entertainment we found was in The Current, a river journey that is nothing but “lazy.” It has four-foot rolling waves and rapids that push you in your innertube along the mile-long “course.” You can shoot off from The Current into The Power Tower, with its adrenaline-charged slides (body slides or inner tube rides) or just choose to go around and around on The Current — which is what my son and I did for at least an hour. My daughter and husband braved the line at The Mayan Temple so they could ride a body slide steeply through the shark lagoon!
Lunch was fast food – burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza, salad, wraps – at one of the many take-out stand on the property. Of course, you can also opt for a more civilized meal at one of the sit-down restaurants, too: there are a total of 21 restaurants and 19 bars/lounges on the property!
My son and I took some time to explore The Dig, which recreates the “Lost City of Atlantis” with mythical artifacts and a bevy of marine life. Various lagoons are filled with sharks, stingrays, sea turtles and more; Atlantis his home to more than 50,000 marine animals.
To my despair, we actually didn’t spend any time on the gorgeous beaches of Atlantis. The white sand and turquoise water combine to make a beautiful setting for rest and relaxation — or playing in the gentle waves.
I, did, however take some time to tour AKA/Atlantis Kids Adventure for ages 3 to 12, as well as CRUSH, the interactive, tech-centric spot for tweens and teens to hang out. (This tour isn’t included in a regular cruise day trip/shore excursion to Atlantis; I’d arranged to visit these sections of the resort for reporting purposes.)
The bottom line: my children would love to return to Atlantis for an overnight stay not only to have a ball hanging out in the video-filled, nightclub-like CRUSH; tweens (9 to 13) have access to the area in the late afternoon, while it’s turned over to the teens (13 to 17) in the evenings.
Indeed, our day visit to Atlantis just whet our appetites for an overnight stay. For families looking for a tropical resort vacation with a lot of bells and whistles — plenty of on-site entertainment and dining options — Atlantis has it.
I’d hate to dissuade anyone from visiting Atlantis on a cruise shore excursion, because the Aquaventure waterpark alone is a ton of fun; combined with the excellent marine habitat and pretty beaches, Atlantis is a lovely place to spend the day during a port of call, for sure. However, it’s not a cheap shore excursion. From the Carnival Breeze, a full day at Atlantis Aquaventure with lunch, transportation and access to the beach and marine habitat, costs $184.99 per adult, and $145.99 per child. (Access to just the beach and the marine habitat, no Aquaventure, is $104.99 per adult and $79.99 per child.)
To be frank, if I hadn’t received discounted admission for our day trip to Atlantis, I’m not sure I would have coughed up that kind of money just for a 7-hour visit. I’d sooner save my pennies and plan for a multi-night vacation at Atlantis to fully enjoy everything the resort has to offer.
I received discounted admission to Atlantis for our day visit during my Carnival Caribbean cruise.