This post is the seventh in a series from my Caribbean Cruise in February 2015. You can read a review of Ventura, the P&O Cruise Ship I was on, here and find links to the rest of the posts here.
Tortola in the British Virgin Islands was one of the islands that I knew the least about when I saw it on our Cruise Itinerary, and to be honest, I still don’t know much about it! This was one location that we really didn’t explore at all because we were too busy ticking something off of my bucket list…. Swimming with Dolphins!
I honestly can’t describe how excited I was about the idea of swimming with dolphins; I have wanted to do this for as long as I can remember and was always devastated when I didn’t get picked at Seaworld shows and I am happy to say that this day totally lived up to my expectations.
The place that we went to was called Dolphin Discovery and they have a few different locations in Mexico and the Caribbean. We arrived a bit early for our time slot so we got a chance to watch another group in the pool before we got in which was really good because it gave us a chance to see what we were in for. We were in a large group (me and my friend, her parents, her brother and five of his friends who also work on the ship) so that meant that we were the only people in the pool with the instructor and the two dolphins. I really liked that because it meant we could just have a laugh and we all enjoyed seeing each other trying to do the tricks… some were more successful than others! Another great thing about the place we went to was that there was a professional photographer on hand to take lots of pictures of our experience (we were not allowed to take any cameras into the pool with us) so all of the pictures that you see in this post of me in the pool were taken by her.
First of all we all got a kiss and a high five from the dolphin, and to hold its flippers while it danced in the water. After we had all done that we got to “hug” the dolphin which basically meant putting your arms out in front of you so the dolphin could swim over and rest on your arms. The instructor warned us not to try and lift the dolphin or take its weight at all because they can weigh up to 500lb! The dolphins were super friendly and seemed to love being around people – the girl especially loved us and was constantly swimming past to get her belly rubbed. Their skin was much softer and less slimy than I had imagined.
Next we got to try a couple of tricks with the dolphins, which were much harder than I had anticipated. The first one I did was called the Dorsal Tow, which means that the two dolphins pull you along in the water. I had some issues with this because the boy went much faster than the girl so I was kind of being pulled in different directions. It was not graceful!
The final trick I did was definitely the hardest and was called the Foot Push, which basically means that the dolphins put their noses on your feet and push you through the water. I think that at the point you get to a standing position you are supposed to do some sort of graceful/exciting dismount… that is the part I struggled with! My dismount was more of a belly flop than anything else… the picture below was chosen tactically because it was taken about 1 second before it all went badly wrong. I don’t think I will be making a career change to be a dolphin trainer any time soon!
I would highly recommend swimming with dolphins to anyone and there seemed to be a lot of people of different ages and physical abilities there as part of different groups so I think it could definitely be fun for families as well as friends. We did a variation of the Royal Swim package – we did all of the activities from that package but we didn’t get lunch and paid a bit less than the advertised price. We got this variation by contacting them in advance so if you’re going in a large group like we were or if you just want some more information I’m sure they would be happy to help – my friend’s brother did all of the organisation for our group so I can’t really tell you much about the service in that regard but when we got there the staff were very welcoming and helpful so I guess it would be the same at the planning stages.