“Give the captain a hand ladies and gents, we’ve reached 130ft!”. The cabin erupted into whoops and cheers, and as I stared out of the porthole into the deep blue Caribbean Sea I was thankful that this submarine was comfortably air-conditioned. This was my first submarine expedition and I didn’t even need to take a course! Sat with 30 other adults and a gaggle of excited children, we were in our element inside Atlantis Submarines’ Atlantis VI on the coast of Aruba.
Boarding Atlantis Submarines
I ‘checked-in’ at the Atlantis shop at 10am and gripped tightly onto my boarding pass as the passenger boat, named the Sub Seeker, pulled up to the pier. Snapping our photographs as we boarded, the assistant explained we’d be shipped to Atlantis VI in under 15 minutes and be sitting on the seabed in no time. Safety checks were the first priority and we soon sailed along the coast, past beautiful hotel beaches and the airport landing strip, before arriving at the waiting Atlantis submarine. Taking turns to walk over the ramp, everyone climbed down the hatch one-by-one and settled inside the 65ft long, fully air-conditioned submarine.
Journey to the seabed
Starting with another safety talk (which is always welcome under the sea!) the submariner looking after us that morning asked if we’d ever been in a submarine before? Joking that he hadn’t either, which had even the kids giggling, he started to explain what we’d see at certain points on our journey down. The kids were told to look out for Spongebob, which had them staring intently out of the portholes. Each section of seats comes with a Caribbean Sea fish guide, complete with illustrations and names, so you can find out exactly which fish you’ve managed to spot.
As we sailed deeper and deeper, the submariner pointed out specific fish and took pictures for guests as the pilot steered the submarine as close as he could get us to the colourful coral. Kids ooh’ed and ahh’d as the submarine passed schools of brightly-coloured fish, delicately swimming together through the clear blue waters. It wasn’t just the children that were enjoying the experience, however. The adults seemed just as enthralled in the surprises lurking in the reef, and I definitely heard the same gasps from all ages!
In the hope of seeing a turtle make her way to her nest on one of Aruba’s many gorgeous beaches, I pressed my nose against the glass and stared right out into the sea. She never appeared, but I guess that just means I’ll have to return to the island and try again next time.
Coming up for air
After we had passed the Morning Star shipwreck and the submariner pointed out a massive barracuda settling down for a nap on the deck, we touched the bottom of the Caribbean Sea and all cheered for the captain. It was time to return to the surface. The gloriously white sands beneath up shifted, and we began our ascent to the tune of ‘Yellow Submarine’, which had everybody and their granny (literally) singing along.
Climbing up through the hatch, the sun beamed into eyes accustomed to the sea’s shade and warm winds gently rocked the submarine from side to side. Not ready to leave, I walked onto the return boat and wished I could go back down for another try at spotting a turtle.
One of the best family activities there is on Aruba, Atlantis Submarines was a delight for everyone on board. Who were the kids and who were the adults? I couldn’t tell when we were all pressing our faces against the glass to get the best look at sea life.
Tips for a great trip with Atlantis Submarines
Visibility throughout the submarine is great, but to get the best view inside, try to get on the Sub Seeker boat last and sit on the right-hand side so you’ll be first on the submarine. This means that when you climb down the hatch, you can sit right next to the pilot and steal a look through the huge convex window in front.
See the submarine surface from a trip by booking the tour after the first of the day, or any afterwards. As you wait on the Sub Seeker, you’ll see the bubbles appear and the submarine arrive from the seabed with its previous customers.
You can book an expedition with Atlantis Submarines on the De Palm Tours website. Please note: this experience is available for children aged 5 years and up or 37″ tall only.
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