Freeport Dolphin Swim & Encounter Excursion Reviews
Wonderful Port, Grab a taxi and explore paradise. Snorkle the day away
It was incredible! We had a good long time with our dolphin. My wife and I got to interact with the dolphin together, which was nice. You could tell the trainers were very kind to the dolphins and they were incredibly knowledgeable. I loved the shuttle ride to the dolphin encounter, because the driver talked constantly about life in the Bahamas. It was a very positive experience. Freeport had a small-town atmosphere, and I really enjoyed it.
This was our only excursion but it was a pricey one. Having said that I must say that it was worth every penny, I would do it again. Audra agrees. We met our tour group leader outside the gates at the port area where all the other tour groups were meeting as well. We boarded the bus at 9 am for the UNEXSO facility. Our bus driver was annoying however, he did give out some interesting facts about the area. Once we arrived at the UNEXSO facility we received our wrist bands and free tote bag with scratch off discount coupon for use in the gift shop. The dolphin encounter group road with us on the two boats to Sanctuary Bay. Then they split off to go do their excursion once we arrived. The boat ride over was beautiful through the bay area. The driver was cool and did not try to give us "tour talk" which was nice. He did point out an old pirate ship that had "GHOST" on the side when we passed it. Once we arrive at Sanctuary Bay they give you instructions on what will happen next, what not to do etc,, There are only twelve people in our group. Only six allowed in the water at a time. If you can not swim or if you are not a good swimmer you can use life jackets provided. Everyone must use the flippers. If you can swim in ten feet of water I do recommend that you bring a snorkel mask and skip the life jacket so that you can dive under the water. While the first group of six were in the water we took photos for them on the dock area. The trainers were very friendly, patient and informative. Three female dolphins were in the water in our area, Proballa, Coral and Cayla. Proballa was 8 months pregnant and weighed 600 lbs. Note: she does not like the color red. Two men in our group wore red t-shirts and she did not want to hug or kiss them. Cayla wanted the fish the trainers were rewarding the other two with so she would try to swim with the people in the water when it was not her turn. I thought this was too cute. She popped out of the water twice unexpectedly and surprised (scared) both Audra and I as well...we loved it. When it was our groups turn to enter the water for our free swim, Audra swam with Proballa and I swam with Coral. Only two people do the free swim at a time. The trainers told us that the dolphins enjoy diving. I dove under the water five times with Coral. Each time she swam right beside me within arms length distance and followed me back up to the surface. I could hear her making clicking noises underwater as well. This was just incredible to me. I forgot to mention "swimming with the dolphins" was on my bucket list and something I have been wanting to do for over 20 years. We were told to rub their sides to let them know they were doing well, while swimming next to them. They followed us around in a big circle right beside us the whole time. After our free swim, the six of us lined up a cross in a line. We patted the water in pairs to send the dolphins over to us and the trainers gave us a signal to give the dolphin to perform a trick. (talk, turn in circles, wave or splash). The second time we were able to pick our favorite trick when the dolphin came over. I picked talk because it was so cute to hear them talk. Audra picked splash. After the tricks we all took photos with the dolphins. One with the two of us swimming beside the dolphins together, one individually hugging the dolphin and one kissing the dolphin. When it was my turn to kiss the dolphin Coral was sent over to give me the kiss but Cayla (who is Coral's mom) decided to join her. I have a photo with both dolphins kissing me. This of course just put the icing on the cake for me (so to speak). After the photo session we got out of the water for our own little private dolphin show. All three dolphins flipped and did big tricks in the water together. Once that ended we were able to walk around the bay area to see the large Cockatoos and Parrots. A man brought two birds over to us and placed one on Audra's head and her arm. Then he moved the bird to my arm. They were beautiful birds. He said they could talk but they did not talk to us. Bathrooms and small snack bar area are available here if you need to purchase chips, hot dogs or bottled drinks etc., The boat ride back to the UNEXSO was outside the bay in the open water passing the beaches etc., Beautiful scenery. Once back at the UNEXSO facility you have the opportunity to shop in the gift shop and view & purchase your photos. I found the gift shop to be a little pricey but I did purchase a magnet which was $6 but I was able to use a 15 percent off coupon (the scratch off coupon they gave us). We were hungry by this time and decided to eat the Dive-In Marina Bar & Restaurant at UNEXSO. I ordered the conch fritters and Audra ordered a grilled chicken flat bread. They were both good. We also ordered a fruity beverage for $6.50 which was strong and relaxing. I did not think we were going to be able to walk very far afterward because we were about to fall asleep after that drink. (it was funny). we had told the bus driver we would not be returning to the ship with our group because we wanted to go to the beach. Someone told us where we could find the public access to the beach across from the police station. Well... we walked forever it seemed. I stopped to buy a straw fan that had "Bahamas" on it, as it was HOT! Then Audra and I got into a discussion about what time it was and what time we needed to be back at the ship. Long story short even though I knew we had two and half hours left before we needed to be back at the ship, we turned around and walked back to UNEXSO to find the bus driver. He had not left yet to take the second group back to port. We rode the bus back to port (as it was a free ride) and shopped around a bit in the port area. There was a shop that had $1 key chains and $1.99 shot glasses which I was looking for. Back on the boat after that because we were tired. I was disappointed we missed the beach in Freeport but, we still had Nassau left for that. We were very glad we made it back to the ship on time.
AMAZING READ REVIEW
This was simply amazing. We took a cab from the port to Unexso. From there, we took a leisurely ride by boat to the Dolphin area. The dolphin trainers were fantastic. We pet dolphins and had a private dolphin show. The boat was late picking us up, so we had no time back at the port for shopping. I would have liked an hour buffer so we could have done some more shopping in Lucaya.
Our family took the excursion to Unexso for the dolphin encounter. (2 adults, 3 children ages 5,8,10) We were greeted by a friendly tour bus driver who provided us with some facts and history about the Bahamas. The ride was comfortable and gave us a glimpse of the island. We were taken to the Unexso resort where we entered through a gift shop and were given a cute t-shirt and the passes to get on the boat that would take us to the dolphin retreat. Once again we were welcomed by the boat captains who were quite entertaining. The boat ride to the retreat was smooth, relaxing and absolutely beautiful. The boat captain also kept us entertained with stories and facts about the island. Once we arrived at the retreat, we were taken directly to the dolphin area to receive information and instructions regarding our experience. The trainers were so patient and knowledgeable which was great considering most visitors were families with young children. I will be honest, I was skeptical about this experience partly because of the price and also because I'm not a huge fan of sea life, however, it was spectacular. Everyone had the opportunity to get in the waist deep water and truly have a close encounter with the dolphins by petting and hugging them. Despite my hesitation, I felt very safe and had no problem with my kids being in the water with the dolphins. There is also a photographer who captured each of us getting "kissed" by the dolphins. The pictures were fabulous and cost less than $10 each but well worth it for a once in a lifetime opportunity. In addition to the dolphins, the retreat has exotic birds that freely fly around. We were also able to have the birds put on our arms to hold, which I took pictures of myself. The return trip back to the ship was just as enjoyable. My husband and kids agreed that this was the highlight of our entire trip!