Tidewater Traveler - April 2008



George Sellers

    Atlantis (Greek: “Island of Atlas”) is the name of a mythical, mystical island-city thought to exist in the North Atlantic Ocean. It was the Greek philosopher Plato who first mentioned and described the city. According to Plato, “This island, lying beyond the pillars of Hercules, was a naval power, having conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa. Soon after a failed invasion of Athens, Atlantis sank in the waves in a single day and night of misfortune due to a natural catastrophe which happened 9,000 years (before Plato’s time).”
     For centuries seafarers have unsuccessfully sought to discover the lost City of Atlantis. What was their problem? Why couldn’t they find it? Was it poor navigation? Was it the interference of spirits from the ancient city? No, it was none of these; the seafarers of old just did not use the right travel planning service, because as I lie here feeling the warmth of the sand through the beach towel and squinting toward the cloudless blue sky, I consider just how easy it has been to find the lost city. I turn my head to the left and see the gentle, turquoise waves of the Caribbean kissing the white sandy shore. I turn my head to the right and see the towers of Atlantis reaching into the tropical firmament.
     It’s right there – what’s all the fuss about Atlantis being lost? Just three hours after departing Philadelphia International Airport I got off the airplane at Nassau Airport. The taxi ride to Paradise Island lasted about 30 minutes. I stepped out of the cab and – Voila! Atlantis! Poor Plato - I suppose he is still looking! Like I said - it’s all a matter of choosing the right travel planner!
     Now that I am here I can understand why everyone has been looking for Atlantis for these many years. I am not a gambler, but it is impressive to stroll through Casino Helen, the largest casino in the Bahamas. Ding, ding, ding, flash, flash, flash, the doleful drone of electronic tones, noises and jingles – some are winners – most are losers. I suppose it has to be that way, otherwise casinos would all be out of business. But even the losers are winners when they step out into the tropical, sunny paradise and realize how much awaits them here at Atlantis.
     Rather than gambling, my vice is eating. To appeal to my gastronomic urges Atlantis features thirty-five fabulous restaurants and lounges where one can enjoy everything from New York deli and Bahamian specialties to gourmet seafood. Several of the restaurants have enormous windows, offering up-close or panoramic views of the underwater ruins of Atlantis and its sea creatures.
     When I finally drag my reddened body off the beach I return to the underground tunnels that pass through the largest open-air, man-made, marine habitat in the world – the world’s largest outdoor aquarium. In the tunnels it is cool and relaxing; there are benches where I perch to be entranced by hundreds of colorful fish. In the aquarium and in eleven exhibit lagoons Atlantis is home to more than 50,000 sea critters, including tropical fish, sharks, stingrays, eagle rays, jellyfish, barracuda, large mantaray, giant groupers, piranha, spiny lobster, sawfish, moray eels, turtles, and more!
     Every minute or so I see a swoosh of spray as bodies of swimmers - waterplayers - shoot through a large glass tube passing through the aquarium. To reach the entrance to the tube vacationers have climbed the six-story Mayan Temple where they can experience one of five thrilling water slides; this one passes through shark-filled waters. Within the safety of the glass tube sliders experience the illusion of torpedoing through schools of hungry sharks.
     If the notion of tempting fate while sliding through shark pools in a glass tube sounds like more than you care to handle, consider meeting Dolphins up-close-and-personal. A very popular water activity in recent years involves personal encounters with Dolphins. On this trip I did not engage in this activity, but Atlantis’ Dolphin Cay is a new eleven-acre lagoon where adventuresome tourists can swim and intermingle with dolphins.
     When it is time to play again I have my choice of miles of white sandy beaches, several zero-entry swimming pools punctuated with fountains and waterfalls, and my favorite, a lazy river ride for tubing. Here I just drift for what seems like hours staring up at the canopy of palm fronds. Occasionally my tube bumps someone else’s; occasionally someone bumps mine. We simply exchange insurance information and drift on to the next lazy encounter.
     I enjoy snorkeling – it is peaceful yet fascinating. Atlantis maintains a seven-acre protected snorkeling lagoon. The water is clear making visibility incredible. Fish don’t seem to mind my presence – they swim around me and sometimes try to get a close look at me through the mask. Two tips for first time snorkelers – prepare to be amazed at what you will see, and wear a shirt! The Caribbean sun can do a real number on the bare back of a snorkeler.
     In an area known as The Dig I explore through a labyrinth of interconnected passageways and chambers with archaeological ruins and underwater dwellers depicting Plato’s Lost City of Atlantis. The tunnels and underground rooms are filled with ancient relics and hieroglyphics are carved into the stone walls. It is an opportunity to dig into a lost civilization.
     Atlantis, located on Paradise Island in the Islands of the Bahamas, is a resort with a variety of accommodations available. The Atlantis complex consists of three separate hotel towers — Beach Towers, Coral Towers and the majestic Royal Towers. It is the image of Royal Towers with its connecting bridge that most people associate with Atlantis and Paradise Island. Thousands of ocean view rooms are available, and the hundreds of rooms that do not feature ocean-views, have incredible views of their own. Set slightly apart from the three original towers of Atlantis is the new Cove Atlantis – a six-hundred suite tower, with its own pools and beach club, which overlooks the spectacular Cove and Paradise Island beaches.
     When you decide to begin your quest to discover Atlantis consult any travel planning service. (You might want to avoid Plato Travel – they are still looking!). From DelMarVa if you choose to depart from Salisbury Airport or BWI you will need to change planes at some intermediate point before reaching Nassau. It may be worth the extra few minutes required to drive to Philadelphia Airport in order to board a non-stop flight to reach the island of paradise. There are some connections into the Paradise Island Airport, about five minutes away from Atlantis, but you will find a greater variety of flight choices arriving at the Nassau Airport.
     Looking for a place to relax, discover, unwind, explore, play or be entertained? Start your expedition in search of Atlantis today.
     May all of your travels be happy and safe!

George Sellers and his wife Priscilla are Certified Travel Counselors and Accredited Cruise Counselors who own Travel Selections by Priscilla and George, Inc. and the popular travel Web site www.sellerstravel.com