Saturday morning, Mrs. Cutter and I headed to Reagan National Airport to begin our trip to Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. We were flying the Whores of the Air (aka US Airways) – they actually no longer charge for soft drinks on board, so I’m slightly impressed, yet they still make the flight attendants try to get you to sign up for a credit card – and would have to transfer in Philadelphia. Yes, to get to the Bahamas from DC, we went to Philly. Go figure. During the stopover, I was able to purchase a Philadelphia Daily News to read on the plane, so that was a positive.
Our flight down to Nassau was relatively empty which meant we could stretch out. It also meant we could hear every word from the very loud woman seated a few rows in front of us. Once we landed in Nassau, we quickly made it through customs and took a taxi to Atlantis. For those who don’t know, Atlantis is an enormous resort near Nassau that includes several hotels, a variety of pools, a water park, a casino, and multiple tanks and lagoons filled with sea life. It’s designed so that visitors never have to leave the resort. And we didn’t.
While Atlantis is beautiful, it also isn’t cheap. While we got a pretty good deal by going in the offseason, it’s still somewhat pricey. Trying to offset this, we purchased their casual dining plan which allowed us to have breakfast and dinner at a few of the restaurants deemed to be casual dining. We’re still not sure if the meal plan was cost effective. Keep in mind that all restaurants at Atlantis cost a fortune. For example, the dinner buffet we went to would have cost $53 per person. It was a good buffet, but I have yet to find a buffet worth $53.
Unexpectedly, we got upgraded from the Coral Towers hotel which we had booked to the Royal Towers which is nicer. This unfortunately meant we had to walk quite a distance with our bags. It also resulted in us getting two double beds rather than the king we had requested. So Mrs. Cutter and I spent most of the nights sleeping separately. Which is probably a good thing since I was snoring one night.
After we got settled, we headed down to one of the pool areas. The pools in Atlantis are amazing, although sadly there are no diving boards. The water park area is comparable to anything you’d find in an amusement park. One of the highlights is “The Current,” which is sort of like a lazy river, only it has waves and rapids. You get tossed around a bit while riding it, which led to Mrs. Cutter kicking me in the head a couple of times. There are also several water slides. The most notable slide is the Leap of Faith which starts at the top of a replica Mayan temple. At the top, the slide is almost vertical, which sends you down pretty quickly. At the end of the slide, you travel through a tube located inside of a shark tank. You don’t really get to enjoy the view as you’re travelling especially fast, and water kicks back at you so strongly that it’s hard to keep your eyes open. I went down it a number of times. Mrs. Cutter, being pregnant, wasn’t able to do it though.
There was another slide in the temple that was a bit tamer. You rode down on an inner tube, and at the end, you drifted slowly through a tunnel in the shark tank. There were also racing slides in which you could compete against someone and see who got down faster. These slides gave you a huge wedgie when going down them.
One thing that was somewhat surprising about Atlantis is that they don’t have a lot of evening activities available. After our cruising experiences, we figured they would have similar entertainment at night. There’s a dance club and comedy show on the weekends, but aside from that and some movies, there wasn’t all that much to do. We were thinking about going to the comedy show on Saturday night, but we were kind of tired, so we just walked around the grounds and the outside shopping village for awhile. Honestly, we tired ourselves out so much during the day that we really didn’t have that much energy at night anyway.
If I was going to draw up an ideal day, it might include a breakfast buffet, water slides, and a big Eagles win, so Sunday was a very good day for me. In the morning, we got up early and ate at one of their breakfast buffets. Decent buffet, but I’ve had much better. We then wandered around outside some more, looking at the various lagoons containing sharks and other animals. I made a point to stop by the devil ray tank and taunt them about the 2008 World Series. There was also a manmade lagoon you could swim in containing small fish and hermit crabs. After a little while, Mrs. Cutter decided that this was too much nature for her, so we headed back to the regular pools and the water park.
There is another section of the water park called the Power Tower which contains four different water slides. One is called the Abyss where you drop straight down into darkness until you’re finally deposited into a cave with some fish tanks. The others were winding tubes where you rode on inner tubes and they took you into and out of darkness, before depositing you into The Current where you could continue on to the rapids, or get out and do the slides some more.
At 1, I retreated back into our room to watch some of the Eagles game. The hotel had the NFL package, so all games were available to watch. I was able to open our balcony door and sit outside while I watched the game which was pretty nice. Near halftime, I headed back down to the pool for more swimming, and then it was back upstairs to watch the second half. Late in the third quarter, the Eagles pulled away, so I headed back downstairs, assured of victory.
Late in the day, most of the slides had short or no line, so I was able to ride the slides several times each. I may have overdone it, as at the end of the day, my butt felt pretty bruised from so many trips down. After dinner that night, we happened upon Atlantis’ “The Dig” exhibit. This is a series of caves containing giant water tanks that are supposed to look like the sunken continent of Atlantis. Very cool to see, except maybe for the freaky green eels that were in one of the tanks. Those things were really creepy looking. We also learned that Atlantis was actually only a mythical place, and didn’t really exist. So all of the architecture really just came from someone’s imagination.
On Monday, with our booking package, we got to interact with either dolphins, sea lions, or rays. We had done a dolphin encounter before, and Mrs. Cutter had seen rays, so we opted for sea lions. Dressed in our wet suits, they took us around the feeding and veterinary centers, and then took us into a tank where they brought a couple of sea lions in. We did the standard animal encounter activities where the sea lions did some tricks and then hugged and kissed us. I did not kick the sea lions, however, because apparently that is frowned upon. Afterwards, they offer you a photo package of the encounter for a low, low price of $60. We passed on it.
We had access to the exclusive Ultrapool area, which is the resort’s “high end” pool. They have casino tables set up there, and the lounge chairs have cushions on them. The Ultrapool might seem nice at first, but they play music a bit too loudly, the wait staff was slow, and the area is pretty much blocked off from the sun by the nearby hotel. We only stayed for a short while until we headed to a nearby beach, where we went into the ocean for a bit. We concluded the day by heading back to the pools and riding on some more slides.
That night, we went around to various restuarants and bars where we got free drinks thanks to our vacation package. We got to enjoy some saki and sushi, and then I tried to down a margarita, but I once again remembered how much I hate tequila. Finally, once we had gotten all of the free stuff entitled to us, we had dinner at Atlantis’ version of a Jewish deli. The food was OK, but authentic places wouldn’t serve matzoh ball soup with noodles in it.
A little bit of post-dinner walking pretty much concluded our trip. We learned a few things: Atlantis really caters to young couples. After our cruises, I expected to get a heavy dose of senior citizens, but that wasn’t the case at all. Most of the people seemed to be in the 30-60 year range, and there were many families there with young children. I guess it makes sense since the resort does offer a lot of activities for kids. I probably would have loved to have gone there as a child. Atlantis also has better looking customers than many vacation spots. While Disney World is overrun by the unattractive and overweight (and I won’t even begin to get into some of the specimens you might see at Six Flags America), Atlantis’ clientele was pretty decent looking overall.
We also learned that the offseason is the time to go to Atlantis. While the place wasn’t deserted, it also wasn’t especially crowded, and wait times for the water slides and restaurants was minimal. And one final thing: When flying back from the Bahamas in the offseason, and someone tells you to get to the airport early, do not believe them. It took us all of five minutes to get through customs. So we were waiting around the airport for awhile.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a tropical resort, and have some money to blow, I would definitely recommend Atlantis. But like I said, make sure to go during the offseason.