Atlantis Aquarium Rating:
I was on the NCL Breakaway which docked in Nassau on April 3 and decided to take ship organized excursion to the Atlantis Resort Waterpark. In port were two other vessels – one from Carnival and one from MSC. NCL staggers the Atlantis departure time a bit and I was in the second (departing 9:20 AM) group going to Atlantis. Resort goers assembled next to the ship, received their Atlantis admission wristbands and then were led to the street where many small shuttle buses transported the group to Paradise Island, the home of Atlantis. The bus ride took 15 minutes and the driver gave a nice introduction to the Bahamas.
At Atlantis, an escort led the assembled group from several buses thru the casino to the water park with stops along the way. Some were upset at the slow pace of the escort and went ahead – if you are anxious at maximizing slide time, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to jump ahead. After reaching the pool area, towels were handed out and locker rental was available for $9-$14. Early in the morning hundreds chairs were empty, and even late in the day chairs were easily found. The first week of April seemed to have few school age children on Spring Break this year – Disney crowd calendars showed mild crowds, NCL cruise rates were much lower than later in the month, and in general the NCL Breakaway did not appear to be full of families.
After picking a chair near the rental cabanas, I went into the “lazy river” and boarded one of the large Atlantis tubes for a ride. Tubes are plentiful and free in a single and double rider configuration. The lazy river can be boarded at several locations and the ride around takes about 25 minutes (assuming you don’t go on any of the Tower of Power tube slides). The ride was slow at first, but then I reached the wave generator which made the river more interesting. Other interesting features of the “lazy river” included a rapids area which simulated some “white water rapids” and a conveyor belt which elevated your tube (with you in it) to the high point of the river.
With the completion of a lap around the complex, I went to the Tower of Power and slid down the Abyss slide – the slide features a thrilling drop at the start made more exciting by being in the dark. After the Abyss, I brought a tube up the tower to enjoy the Surge ride. From the Tower of Power, I made my way to the Mayan Temple to enjoy the relatively tame Jungle Slide followed by the more thrilling Challenger Slides. Atlantis’ marquee Leap of Faith was a bit of a disappointment – the vertical drop is quite unsettling to watch but once you get passed the terror of waiting at the top, the extremely short ride makes you question the value of the 15 minutes (if you are lucky) you waited for the ride. You are moving so fast thru the shark tank, that it is hard to see anything. On the other hand, the tube ride on the Mayan Temple, the Serpent Slide was certainly less thrilling but you sort of stop in a passage at the bottom of the tank allowing close up viewing of the sharks.
After enjoying all of the water slides, I got back on a tube in the river and floated into the path that enter the Tower of Power – a conveyor belt takes you (while seated on your tube) up the tower where you have a choice of two different tube rides – The Drop and The Falls. Both are fun rides made better by the fact that you don’t have to get out of your tube. With the moderate crowd at Atlantis that day, it took about 3 hours to completely sample the water park attractions. In addition to the slides and tube rides, large pools for swimming abound as well as a nice beach.
Atlantis’ biggest drawback is the price. NCL charged $159 including transportation for the Atlantis experience. I expected for that price, an experience comparable to Disney’s Blizzard Beach and in my opinion, falls short. The lazy river ride with conveyors taking to you up to the tube slides is really great, but a typical $130 water park admission ticket seems quite high. The other concern I would have is going to Atlantis on a more crowded day – I can’t imagine being happy waiting in long lines for the relatively few marquee attractions. Atlantis is a fun place to visit, but everyone would need to make a value decision for themselves.