10 Hacks to make this luxury resort more affordable for your family
In search of the ultimate family vacation, our family of four decided to book at trip to Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas. While it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that included wild waterslides, beautiful beaches, and swimming with dolphins, it was far more expensive than it needed to be.
Learn from my mistakes.
Here are 10 ways to make your Atlantis vacation more enjoyable and more affordable, even if you’re traveling there on a cruise:
1/Be flexible about your dates
Like most resorts, high season for Atlantis is any time kids are out of school. You’ll always save money by booking in the shoulder seasons of late spring and early fall. However, even moving your vacation by a few weeks during the summer can make a big difference. We traveled to the Bahamas in early August. Had we just delayed our trip until the end of August, we would have saved hundreds of dollars.
KidTripster Tip: Keep an eye on the resort’s website for sales, especially last-minute specials that offer steep discounts.
If you're traveling to the Bahamas on a cruise, don’t buy your Atlantis tickets through the cruise line. You’ll be pay a significant upcharge. You can arrange the excursion yourself by purchasing the tickets online, but there’s any even sneakier way to save. Book a room at Comfort Suites Paradise Island; the hotel has full access to Atlantis. You can save money, if you have a family of four (or five, if the fifth child is under the age of 4). While you may not have access to the room (you really won’t need it), you’ll be able to check in and get your Atlantis bracelets. Even when adding in the cost of a quick taxi ride from the pier, it’s still cheaper than using the cruise line services.
3/Plan activities strategically
In order to get the most out of your Atlantis vacation, try to maximize all the free activities that the resort offers. On the day you arrive, head to the kids’ club to look at the schedule for the week. Or check it out online or on your in-room TV. There’s plenty of offerings for your teenagers, as well.
KidTripster Tip: One activity that you won’t see on the schedule is beachcombing for sea glass. It’s free, and the shiny treasures make for great souvenirs.
4/Book extra-fee experiences online
While some activities are included in your stay, others are not. For example, playing with dolphins will set you back $119/person (kids 3 and under are free with paying adult). These types of experiences tend to book quickly, so once you make your resort reservation, make reservations for the extras online, too. Try to get those prime times early in the morning, so you don’t have to cut short other activities during the day.
KidTripster Tip: I’d recommend the dolphin experience. The kids really loved it! Because we were in a small group of eight, we got lots of hands-on time with the dolphin.
5/Ask for the royal treatment
If you miss an animal feeding (which occur daily at various times) at the shark tank or stingray pool, ask a trainer if you can go behind the scenes to the animal hospital. My kids were able to experience the touch tank and witness some remarkable animal survivors, like baby sea turtles who are a protected species in the Bahamas.
6/Bring your own snorkel
Bring your own mask and snorkel from home. Or you can buy one from the gift shop across the street from the property. It’s cheaper than renting one at the park, and you get to keep it.
7/Buy food & drink off the island
Food and drinks are insanely expensive at the resort. For example, a chicken sandwich, fries, and bottled water will set you back $25! The resort charges $7 alone for a 12-ounce bottle of water! Instead walk to the grocery store just off the resort to purchase drinks, snacks, and ingredients for in-room breakfasts and poolside packed lunches. You can literally save hundreds of dollars.
8/Ask for a kids' menu
Make sure to always make dinner reservations in advance, so that you’re not having to deal with kids who are “starving.” And ask for the kids’ menu upfront, but know that not all the restaurants have kid-sized plates, so you may want to share.
9/Don't waste time in lines
Atlantis is a busy resort, especially during high season, so try to minimize your wait times. Get your water slide wristbands early in the morning. And grab inner tubes and rafts for the lazy river at the nearest cabana. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in line waiting for the next available float.
10/Purchase souvenirs off the island
If you want to purchase souvenirs like t-shirts, postcards, keychains, and little tchotchkes, buy them off the resort. There’s a shop literally across from the Atlantis’ main entrance which sells the exact same merchandise for far less. Better yet, just collect that free sea glass!
Jodi Latina is a former television journalist who lives in Connecticut with her two children, ages 11 and 13.