Group of seven – 4 adults and 3 kids between 11 and 13. Had a two bedroom “lockout” at the Haborside which is essentially a two bedroom apartment adjoined with a one bedroom apartment, so there were two kitchens, two fridges, two microwaves, etc. No complaints at all about the décor, linens, furnishings, and kitchen supplies. All were fine. We had a fourth floor unit which is a bonus for me because I hate the sound of people walking above me! We had the master suite in the back bedroom which had a very comfortable king size bed. I did notice the front bedrooms could be VERY noisy when people are walking by so if you have a travel sound machine bring it!
We took AIRTRAN down which charges $25 per checked suitcase. We filled a large suitcase with non-perishable food which was well worth the $25 charge since it saved us a lot of money and time by being able to eat a quick breakfast of bagels or cereal and milk before heading out for the day. Among other things, we brought bags of bagels, can of coffee, coffee filters, cereal, snack chips, powdered drink mixes. Upon arriving at the airport we grabbed a taxi van which held all seven of us and our suitcases, and had the driver stop at the supermarket and wait for us. There we grabbed sodas, frozen waffles, butter, milk, bottles of water, etc. They do not sell beer or wine in the market though. That would be a separate stop. The taxi ride including the stop at the market was $70. Well worth it for 7 people and to stop at the store!
Check in was fine. It’s never quick enough when you’ve been traveling all day. Adults each got a room key card and this card is important for charging anything you buy at the resort to your room – the restaurants and gift shops etc throughout Atlantis are all cashless. At the towel hut by the pool is where you obtain your Atlantis wristband. They swipe your room card and give you and the kids dated wristbands which allow you entrance to the water activities at Atlantis. You only need to get the wristband once for your stay but if you lose it or decide to cut if off due to discomfort, you can go back for a new one.
The best way to describe the resort is that it is a big open waterpark surrounded by different hotels and time share resorts, all connected by free shuttle buses. Each hotel has a pool or two associated with it, and the entire resort, including the water park, has open access with monitors at key intersections making sure you have a wristband. The Atlantis and Cove Beaches are right off the water park and you can go back and forth between them as often as your heart desires. It is not like a typical theme park with entrances and turnstiles.
When we were riding the water slides, we didn’t trust just leaving our bags on chairs so we always had one adult stationed at our “home base” to keep an eye on our things. There are lockers you can pay for, however, and they come in three different sizes. The longest we waited for a slide was maybe 30 minutes, and we found that the later you go to the water park the less crowded it seemed. One afternoon they closed all the slides and pools for an hour due to thunderstorms in the area, and by the time they reopened at 6 pm (an hour before the park closes at 7) the slides had little to no wait times!
Speaking of the 7 pm closing time, ALL THE WATER FACILITIES, INCLUDING HOTEL POOLS CLOSE AT 7! Being that we arrived at around 6:00 on our first day, this was very disappointing to us and especially the kids. We suppose Atlantis wants everyone spending money on meals and gambling and not horsing around in the pools, but this still seemed ridiculous to us. Nevertheless, on the days when we spent all day between the beach and the pool, we were tired of the water by 7 anyway! We tried several different pools during our stay and I don’t believe any were deeper than 4 or 5 feet, and most were pretty warm due to the hot sun blazing all day.
The shuttle service between the hotels was excellent. I don’t think we ever waited more than 10 minutes. Because of the waterways in between some of the Atlantis properties, you need to take a shuttle from one point to another even though it looks like your destination is about 50 yards away! Some walking bridges would be nice.
WiFi costs $21.99 a day and allows up to four unique devices. We only used ours in our room at the Harborside and the signal and speed were very good. At the Harborside main lobby there are two internet terminals for use and for some reason they “close” at 7:30 pm. Not sure why. We only used it to check our flight status on our departure date.
There is a strip mall of stores out side the Atlantis property and I timed it to be a 10 minute walk from our room at Harborside. There is a liquor store there and we were able to stock our room with cans of beer and bottles of wine. You can buy drinks all over the park and by the hotel pools, but you will pay $7-8 for a beer and even more for a mixed drink. A can of Sands beer, which I was told tastes similar to Coors or Miller, can be bought at the store for $2 a can. They do have US beers there but I didn’t pay close attention to the prices. There is also a convenience store in this strip mall which isn’t as expansive as a supermarket but you can buy some staples there.
As for beaches, we spent time at both the Atlantis Beach and the Cove Beach. The Cove beach was nicer, probably because it is not open to anyone but Atlantis vacationers. There are no locals hawking their wares while you try to relax. Bring snorkel gear if you are inclined because there is plenty to see in the ocean there! We had no problem getting beach chairs any of the times we went to either beach, and some of them have a canopy attachment. On Atlantis beach a vendor will rent you an umbrella for $20 a day.
As for meals, yes Atlantis is expensive. We ate breakfasts at home, and for one lunch we picked on leftovers from the night before’s dinner. The food shacks near the ocean and by the pools and water parks were pretty reasonable for a good wrap or a burger with fries, so no complaints there. We did dinner twice at The Point which is the outdoor restaurant on the harbor at Harborside. The food there is very good and not too bad pricewise. A delicious Mahi-mahi sandwich with fries was something like $22.00. We did Virgils barbeque one night for dinner, and reviews were mixed. It is family style so we got ribs chicken and some sides. It was theme park expensive and not that great. We needed plenty of extra sauce to get the dry ribs down. We had pizza one night at Marina Pizza, and what a zoo that place is! It’s takeout only but there are tables outside, and a large plain will cost you $31 and it purely assembly line pizza they put in a moving conveyor oven. When we went it was very crowded and we waited about 30 minutes in a queue and the pizza is just so-so.
I don’t have anything to report on the casinos or the more expensive swanky restaurants since we didn’t sample either.
Well I think that about summarizes our trip. I hope this helps future travelers as much as some of your reports helped me when I was planning our getaway!