1. Welcome to VegasMessageBoard
    It appears you are visiting our community as a guest.
    In order to view full-size images, participate in discussions, vote in polls, etc, you will need to Log in or Register.

Atlantis/Paradise Island Family Trip Report (Plus Universal Orlando)

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by JFO, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    315
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20

    My Trip Report

    Greetings! On this trip we took our family to the Atlantis / Paradise Island on the CET promotion, as well as an additional stop at Universal Orlando on our way back. I am planning to write this trip report for readers who know little to nothing about the Bahamas or Paradise Island, so for any readers familiar with these areas, please feel free to chime in, agree, disagree, or comment on any of my rants or praises. But if you are just interested the trip report, feel free to just skip this entry, as I wrote up a lot more background than I expected I would...

    About the Commonwealth of the Bahamas: The Commonwealth of the Bahamas, or simply "The Bahamas", represents over 700 islands in the Atlantic/Caribbean, east of the Florida Keys and north of Cuba. Only 31 of the islands are inhabited by people. On Columbus's first voyage, historians believe he first arrived on the Bahamian island that the native people called Guanahani (now San Salvador) although no one knows for sure where he landed because Columbus's navigational records were incomprehensible, and Columbus himself argued until his death that he actually landed somewhere in India. On his arrival day, Columbus wrote how friendly and peaceful the native people were, and how easy it would be to convert them all into servants. Columbus would return to the Bahamas on subsequent visits with soldiers who would kill or capture all of the native Bahamian islanders, using military dogs to track down and capture anyone trying to escape to the centers of the islands, where the majority of captured native Bahamians would be used as slaves for gold mining and cotton collecting on the non-Bahamian island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic.)

    The Bahamas Post Columbus: For over a hundred years after Columbus, the Bahamas would remain uninhabited. In the 1600s, Caribbean pirates would make the Bahamas their home between sabotaging trading ships. The British would take the islands from the pirates and convert them into a British Crown Colony. The islands would become a haven for rescued slaves from illegal slave ships and escaped slaves from the American continent. In 1973 Britain would make the Bahamas a "Commonwealth Realm" (which is the same as Canada, although with no disrespect intended for our dear Canadian friends, I never really understood if Canada is really a country either.)

    The Bahamas Tourism: Bahamas tourism exploded in the 1960s after the US embargo of Cuba, as the previous top destination for US vacationers who wanted to travel to Caribbean islands was taken out of play. Today tourism (specifically US tourism) from both cruise ships and hotel visitors completely drives the Bahamas economy. Since the Bahamas started printing the Bahamian Dollar in 1966, they have maintained a 1-to-1 trade with the US Dollar for over 50 years. In other words, they are truly able to print their own money. The Bahamas has the 3rd highest GDP per capita in the Americas (behind the USA and Canada,) even though the country produces almost nothing, and imports almost everything including the souvenirs they sell to tourists.

    Bahamian law does not permit their citizens to engage in gambling, but the Bahamas still has casinos in a number of their hotels, and allows tourists as young as 18 to both gamble and buy drinks. The hotels with casinos also offer free classes to teach tourists how to play the casino games their citizens are forbidden from playing.

    About Paradise Island: Paradise Island was formerly a hog farm known as Hog Island, sitting across Nassau Harbor from New Providence Island where is the Bahamian Capital of Nassau is. In the 1960s, Huntington Hartford bought Hog Island, got rid of the pigs, started building hotels and golf courses, obtained a gambling license, and renamed the island to Paradise Island. Merv Griffin bought the island in the 1980s, and Sol Kerzner, the current owner, bought the island in 1994. Since being renamed, two street bridges have been built connecting New Providence Island to Paradise Island.

    About the Atlantis Resort: Kerzner would refurbish two of the old existing hotels and rename them to the Beach Tower and the Coral Tower, and then build two more towers that would be called the Royal Towers connected by a Bridge Suite. He would name his hotels and surrounding areas The Atlantis Resort. Two additional hotels would be added to the resort, The Reef consisting of condos, and The Cove. These hotels are NOT all-inclusive, and food at this resort is very expensive by all standards.

    The Bridge Suite, also called The Michael Jackson Suite, that connects the two Royal Towers is the most expensive hotel suite in the world at $25K/night, includes 10 bedrooms and 7 private butlers.

    The main casino is connected to the East Royal Tower where the main lobby is. A water park they call Aquaventure surrounds the West Royal Tower which includes pools, slides, fountains, a rapid river, an underground aquarium, and various marine habitats with sharks, rays, turtles, swordfish, and other marine wildlife. Visitors must have a water park wristband or room key to leave the east tower through any of the west tower exits, water park exits, or the underground aquarium tunnel. All Atlantis Resort guests get the wristband with their room, but visitors from other hotels and the cruise ships can purchase a wristband for a day.

    About the CET Atlantis Promotion: While the Atlantis Resort is a very popular destination, they do run promotions (like $99/night for the Beach tower on a lot of TV commercials) but with all the promotions, you will need to read the fine print very carefully, as promotional rates usually do not include many mandatory fees. At the beginning of the year, I started this thread discussing the details of the 2019 CET promotion here:

    https://www.vegasmessageboard.com/forums/index.php?threads/cet-atlantis-paradise-island-2019.158527/

    With links to other VMB Atlantis trip reports, and other members have supported the information exchange.

    About us: Our family has always looked into any strategies to stretch vacation dollars, including but not limited to internet specials, airline miles, hotel points, casino comps, and all kinds of credit card perks. I brought the family to Las Vegas last summer, where I wrote my first ever trip report:

    https://vegasmessageboard.com/forums/index.php?threads/everything-i-never-wanted-to-do-in-vegas-family-trip-report.155321/

    And then to Lake Tahoe during Spring Break this year, as this promo was blacked out:

    https://www.vegasmessageboard.com/forums/index.php?threads/family-spring-break-to-lake-tahoe-trip-report-plus-reno-and-seattle.161772/

    Now that our kids are getting older, these might be some of our last family vacations before our oldest finishes high school. Having never been to the Bahamas before, this CET offer was looking like a great candidate. I still remember very well last year, when our family was discussing places we could go for vacations, after asking the kids if they might want to go to the Atlantis on Paradise Island, and got a loud enthusiastic “YES!” from both of them. Apparently, they had seen the commercials for the place.

    I have basic CET Diamond status. The “free room” for basic Diamonds for 4 nights would cost us a total of $264 in resort fees, mandatory gratuities, and taxes for the 4 nights. Then for every person after the first two in the room, we would need to pay an additional $50/person/night (+mandatory gratuities and taxes), which would have been an additional almost +$500 to have all 4 of us in a single room on this special. So, last year we made sure we could make my wife CET Diamond also. As two Diamond members, we could get a 2nd room for another $264 (with another $100 in free slot play) so the 4 of us could have 2 rooms and not pay any extra person fees. I have read a lot of report where couples will combine their CET offers to have 1 room for 8 consecutive nights, but for a family of 4, 2 rooms for 4 nights at a $528 total room bill would be just fine for us. Also, on the way back we would tag on 3 additional nights in Universal Orlando (as our daughter had become a Harry Potter super-fan and had been wanting to go since finishing reading all the books), and with the Bahamas so close to Florida, we believed we could make this work out well.

    --

    OK, thanks for reading to all of you who followed all that, and apologies if that was background overload! I will try to get the actual report out soon. As always, please feel free to comment or ask any questions on this thread!
     
    • Like Like x 6
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    20,618
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    22
    Hope to read a great time!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Happygirl21

    Happygirl21 VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,253
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    I just recently booked this promotion, so I'll certainly be following along. Hope you guys have a great time!
     
    Son's 21st! ( I know, it's a little early to plan but..)
    Hope my job is as excited about my time off as I am. If not, oh well!
    • Like Like x 1
  4. nancyf

    nancyf High-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2017
    Messages:
    684
    Location:
    Daytona Beach, Florida
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    12
    following along..
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    315
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    When do you all go? I trust you saw the info thread we are putting together in the "Non Vegas Hotels" forum? Last week I camera dumped a lot of menus in the thread...
     
  6. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    315
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    OK, now getting going with the actual trip report:

    --

    DAY 1


    Flight: We flew in on American Airlines using Avios. For the saver awards, the one-way flights into NAS/Nassau run about 15K AA miles per person, or 10K Avios (a one world partner) per person, and we were able to find a flight with 4 saver award seats around the middle of the day. Lately AA has only been making saver award seats available on popular routes for very early or very late flights, and it was nice not having to wake everyone up early to catch our flight. One hiccup we had was we could not print our boarding passes either on the app or at the kiosk, with the kiosk telling us we need to get in line and talk to an agent. There was just a short line at the airport, and the agent told us they needed our return to USA info which was on a different airline (Bahamas Air), and apparently Bahamas Air hadn’t forwarded them our return info, which is something US based airlines apparently do. Regardless, we got our boarding passes quickly after we showed we did in fact have flight plans to return.

    Arrival: After touching down in Nassau, passengers were sent down a closed hallway to a migration center. There was a special line for US citizens. We gave them our passports and declaration paperwork that we filled out on the airplane, and we were quickly processed and approved to visit. We went through to another room to pick up our luggage. From the room we picked up our luggage, through a hallway, to the airport exit, we did not see any customs agents whatsoever checking anyone’s luggage or making random checks to see if anyone was smuggling in illegal food, snacks, or drinks. YMMV.

    Transportation to Atlantis: There is no Uber or Lyft on the Bahamas. Based on the Bahamas travel website, I was expecting the taxi fare for the 4 of us and our luggage to be $36, and was a bit uncomfortable when the taxi driver quoted us $54. There was a uniformed official at the airport taxi stand with the official rates, and our driver did in fact quote us correctly, and the Bahamas travel website simply hadn’t updated their rates. While I was chatting with the airport official, a honeymooning couple showed up also needing a ride to Paradise Island (but to the Riu Resort), they would ride with us saving all of us money, bringing the total fare only up to $62. They would give the driver $30 and we would give the driver $45. The Taxi was a well air-conditioned mini-bus that could comfortably fit 1 driver + 6 passengers and luggage.

    Renting a car would have been $80 per day + taxes + insurance (US auto insurance extends only to domestic rentals.). Glad I didn’t rent one here, because the British influence taught these people to drive on the wrong side of the road, which I would be too old to learn. Our taxi driver explained that In the Bahamas, driving on the left side is the right side, and driving on the right side is suicide.

    Many people staying at Paradise Island will stop at a grocery store in New Providence Island to stock up on affordable groceries, the standard taxi charge for this is $10 for up to 20 minutes. We opted against this on our initial trip, partially because we were sharing the ride, but mainly because we felt very uncomfortable leaving our luggage in a taxi to go into a store.

    I would talk to our driver, Kevin, the entire trip, and he was very happy to talk all about things to do on the Island. I wish I could remember half of them… I do remember he recommended downtown Nassau, and eating at the Fish Fry at Arawak Cay, which he passed as we were driving. We got his card before we left.

    Check-in: Casino guests in the Royal Tower are given whatever is available at check-in, up to the 16th floor of the 24-story buildings. The views are “Ocean View” on the Atlantic Ocean side, “Harbor View” on the Nassau Harbor side, and “Terrace View” down on the ground level. We were given the 2 closest rooms they could find together, a “Terrace View” on the 2nd floor of the far end of the West Tower. They told us if we wanted to change rooms, we just needed to come by 11:00 AM the following day and they could see what is available.

    The hotel also produces a daily 2 sided paper called The Atlantean with resort activities information. Here is a sample copy:

    ATL1.jpg

    ATL2.jpg

    First Room: It was a good walk from the lobby through the east tower to the west exit. Then outside, under the bridge suite, into west tower, up the elevator one level, and another good walk all the way to the end of the long hallway. Our rooms were neither connected, nor even adjacent. Our “Terrace View” we couldn’t see past trees (I didn’t take any photos.) We all agreed we should try to get a different room. We dropped our luggage and decided on a place for dinner.

    The Green Parrot: To get here, we had to return all the way to the lobby, through the casino, outside the resort on the harbor side, through the marina village, off the resort, and then across the street and behind an off-resort Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville. My wife and daughter both got burgers:

    GP1.jpeg

    My son got their “Manwhich”

    GP2.jpeg

    And I would get their version of the Philly Cheese Steak:

    GP3.jpeg

    I guess any meal where the bill comes to less than $100 for the 4 of us means we did well.

    GP4.jpeg

    Mandatory Gratuities: There are really no words I can say about this practice that wouldn’t be offensive to someone somewhere. But I will say that I very frequently pay more than 20-25% in tips for good service, but when a mandatory gratuity is put on my check, I just can’t add any additional voluntary tip no matter how good the service was. If anyone disagrees with me on this, please feel free to chime in.
    End of Rant / Back to Trip Report

    The Atlantis Casino: We walked through the casino again on the way back to our room. When we got back to our room, I asked the wife if she wanted to start our playing, but she declined because she was too tired. The kids wanted to check out an arcade that they found. So, I would head to the casino and start scouting it out.

    I had heard several reports that the Casino at the Atlantis was tiny, but I didn’t find it tiny at all. I learned later that the Atlantis actually has 2 casinos, a very small one at The Cove where table games had limited hours, and another one on the ground level connecting The East Royal Tower to The Coral Tower which was much larger, and had lots of tables running 24/7. I only visited the larger one, and I would not consider this tiny by any standard.

    I went through most of the VP machines checking pay tables, and it was pretty bad. For dollars, I found 15/9 DW44 (or UD / Ugly Ducks), 9/6 DDB, and 9/5 jacks. Most of the machines had max credits at 10 coins, but there is a bank of 6 where max credits were 5 coins. However, in that bank of 6, one machine had a broken card reader, one machine had all the buttons stuck including on the screen, and one machine was in a state of “error please call attendant” as long as we were there, but 3 of the machines in the bank were playable. Of the 3 playable machines, two had 8/5 jacks for quarters, but one actually had 8/6 jacks for quarters (still not great, but an unexpected find.) There were plenty of bars around the casino, but no VP bars.

    For table games, the best game I found was 3:2 Blackjack with 6 decks, Dealer stands on all 17s, Double After Split and Re-split Aces permitted, but no surrender. There were plenty of tables with this game, but all of the tables had either $500 or $100 bet minimums. I spoke to one of the dealers at one of the $100 tables, and he told me you can sometimes ask the pit to lower the minimums. I did see one the first night lowered to $50. I would plan when I returned with my wife to see if they could lower one of the tables with these rules to $25.

    There were also many additional 3:2 Blackjack games with minimums of $15 and $25 similar to the above game, except with 8 decks and dealer hitting soft 17s. All of these blackjack games were hand shuffled, and cut deep. There were also a lot of $15 craps tables and baccarat tables. There were also 2 carnival pits with $15 games including single deck 6:5 blackjack, Spanish 21, Mississippi Stud, Let It Ride, Ultimate Texas Holdem, and maybe some others. There was no table poker.

    The Diamond Atlantis offer comes with $100 free slot play, and the Atlantis had this special offer for new Atlantis Casino players:

    Slot1.jpg Slot2.jpg

    So, the question became what is required to make one of their “points”? I asked a couple players club reps which was a total waste of time, so I just needed to run some experiments. Both VP and slot machines would show session points, and had very cryptic digital countdown timers that I am sure very few people ever look at. I calculated it took a little over $50 in coin-in through Ugly Ducks to earn a point, making this promo pretty horrible. I thought about it a little, and decided to run some money through a Double Diamond slot machine to see what I get. It was $29 coin-in per point... Oh well.

    END OF DAY 1

    Thanks again for reading. Let me know if anyone has any questions or comments on anything here or anything related.
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Love Love x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. Dr Nostron

    Dr Nostron High-Roller

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2014
    Messages:
    646
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    10
    Best of luck - I really enjoy the casino there!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. VegasSchemer

    VegasSchemer VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2014
    Messages:
    1,048
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    21

    Great report so far! If you haven’t yet, check out the daily slot tournaments. You can do it once a week (so maybe twice if you did it already) and it’s a sure $10 each for you and your wife. Some tournament sessions only have a handful of folks and you may easily win the $100, $50 or $25 prizes for a top 3 finish. There were eight in my group earlier this year, so my SO and I had a great shot at it.

    Good luck and keep it coming!
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
    • Like Like x 1
  9. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    315
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    Thanks! That was something I completely forgot to mention!

    We have already returned (I am unable to do a live trip report, but I really admire those who can....) But the hours of the tournaments (and our lack of awareness of them to plan for them) made it too difficult for us to catch any of them.

    But I did get tips from numerous other players while I was there that there are MUCH fewer players in the morning tournaments than the evening tournaments, and just like you said, fewer players mean a much better chance of getting the bigger free play payouts!!!
     
  10. Syringe Monkey

    Syringe Monkey Hero of the Baggage Carousel...

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2018
    Messages:
    772
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    6
    I believe the Bridge Suite has a 5 or 7 night minimum stay, as well. The ferry pilot told us this when we sailed past on our way to Pearl Island (Also awesome).
     
    IPMS USA National Convention
    • Like Like x 1
  11. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    315
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    I forgot to mention in Day 1 that at hotel registration, they gave us coupon books for 2 bottles of water per room per night, so we had coupons a total of 16 bottles of water over our stay.

    DAY 2

    I got up around 8:30 AM, and took a quick trip to the lobby to ask about changing rooms, but the morning hotel agents confirmed they would not know their available rooms until 11:00 AM. So I would return to the rooms, using my coupons to pick up some cold bottled waters on the way. My wife had some pound cake slices in sealed wrappers, and with one bottle of water we would make coffee in the hotel coffee machine for a cheap breakfast. We would head back down to the lobby to pick up the daily Atlantean. The back half of the large Royal Tower lobby has an overlook to the aquarium level below it and a staircase down. On the aquarium level there is an underwater tunnel, displaying marine life with the “Lost City of Atlantis” theme that we would walk through. Here is a small sample:

    11973.jpeg 11974.jpeg
    11981.jpeg 11993.jpeg
    11983.jpeg
    11997.jpeg

    The tunnel would also have an underground gift shop, and would empty in the Aquaventure water park. We would walk around the water park some, observing just about all the chairs were claimed with towels. We would pick up our wrist bands as well as check out some of the marine habitats and feedings before returning to the lobby at just about 11:00 AM. Finally the lobby agent finds 2 rooms in the East Tower near each other on the 12th floor with a Water View, and we agreed to take them. They tell us to pile our entire luggage in our existing rooms and they will move it all to our new room when it comes available, so we returned to our West Tower room and did exactly that.

    Nassau: We decided today would be our best day to visit Nassau, and maybe check out a local grocery store on the affordable side of the bridge. The Wi-Fi service was horrible in the West Tower (it was good when it worked, but would shut off for extended periods.) We would need to go to the East Tower lobby before the Wi-Fi was stable enough that I could call Kevin (our friendly cab driver who brought us from the airport.) He told us it would take him some time to get here, and Nassau was so close we should just go with a driver there. We went to the front of the hotel, and learned we could take a cab to Nassau for $20 each way, or take a ferry ride for $8 per person round trip. We could have saved a little money had we taken the ferry, but we were already at the front of the hotel where the cabs were waiting, so we just decided to just take a cab. We just told the cab driver Nassau without much recollection of where we should go, and he took is to the harbor where the cruise ships dock and catch taxis, so he could easily find his next customer. This was probably not the best stop, as this first street on the harbor has all tourist trap stores, overpriced even for the Bahamas and many not any better than Paradise Island. We did find the Nassau Straw Market with a lot of family owned businesses all crunched together, and they were much more reasonable. In the straw market, there was an area where locals made ornaments carved from wood, and my wife bought some items there. One of the salesladies we purchased from allowed us to photo her fancy braided hair:

    Hair.jpeg

    As we went a block back from the harbor into Nassau, stores were a lot more reasonably priced. We were able to find stores where we could get sunglasses, sandles, hats, and other accessories at reasonable prices. We asked around about places to eat in Nassau, and all the merchants told us the same thing Kevin told us, that the best local food could be found at Fish Fry at Arawak Cay. They also showed us where the public bus stop was to get there.

    Local Bus Ride: We arrived at the street where public buses pick up and drop off, found the bus to Fish Fry, and I would sit in the front row and talk to the very friendly bus driver. The bus fare was $1.25 per person, or $5.00 for all 4 of us (dirt cheap.) While we were waiting for people to load, I asked the driver where in Fish Fry he would recommend to eat, and he swore by a place called Twin Brothers, telling us exactly what foods he recommended we get (mango lemonade, conch fritters, and their snapper.) He sounded quite sincere. The driver was an older man who grew up in the Bahamas. He was the first to tell me that Paradise Island used to be Hog Island, and he told me he observed the entire transformation. He also told me what it was like sailing boats between the islands when he was younger, telling me it could take between 2 and 7 days depending on winds and tides that they never knew ahead of time. The bus would fill up with a mix of tourists and locals. We started driving, and we passed the Bahamas Government House, where I observed this statue in front of it:

    Columbus.jpg

    I gently asked the driver about the statue, and he went on a very friendly tirade. He told me that in 2013, the Bahamas renamed Discovery Day to Hero’s Day (which in the USA was Columbus Day) telling me “Because how can someone discover a place when people already live there?” He told me that while no one in the Bahamas likes the historical figure any more, his statue doesn’t seem to be bothering anyone. The kids still get a day off school with the new holiday. Honestly, if the name wasn’t carved into the pedestal of the statue, I don’t think anyone would have a clue who the sculptor was trying to portray, as no one knows what this famous voyager even looked like.

    Fish Fry at Arawak Cay: Important Note: The USA State Department Travel Advisory for The Bahamas specifically names “Fish Fry at Arawak Cay” as a place to exercise caution, especially at night. This should be true of anywhere outside the tourist areas. What the bus driver did when we arrived at the Fish Fry was unusual. He came off the main road onto the side road where all the Fish Fry restaurants were. He then passed a few restaurants until he would stop at Twin Brothers. Then he would stop the bus, where there would be a very kind older Bahamian gentleman with a Hawaiian style shirt, a straw hat, and a big smile on his face (I guess he was the maître d of the place?) who would greet my family off the bus and lead them straight into the restaurant. I followed and I could tell this was an obvious coordinated effort. I was hoping to look at a few menus before deciding on a place, but when we walked in, the place was large, air-conditioned, and there were lots of tables filled with both local Bahamians and tourists and they all seemed to be eating and having a good time. Seeing this place looked legitimate and my family was hungry, I just followed along and took a seat at the table they brought us to.

    Twin Brothers at the Fish Fry: OK, so while not as expensive as Paradise Island, this was a nice place. The mango lemonade really was near perfect, not to sweet:

    Twins05.jpeg

    These are Bahamian Conch Fritters. Note that the order comes with 6, but the boy snagged one before I could take the snapshot:

    Twin01.jpeg

    These taste a lot like hush puppies but with conch inside. The sauce is a special island mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise, and hot sauce. My wife and I would split the snapper as recommended by the bus driver, with Bahamian Rice, plantains, and baked macaroni and cheese:

    Twins02.jpeg
    Twins04.jpeg

    Our daughter would get the fried chicken, and our son fish fingers. Here was the bill:

    Twins06.jpeg

    Our waitress was very nice and did a great job, but again they added gratuity and asked for an extra tip, just something I couldn’t do. While we haven’t tried any other places here, we really thought this place was very good.

    We would then take a bus going the other way back to Nassau harbor where we would look for a cab back to Paradise Island. I expected the cab fare to be $20 for the 4 of us, +$10 for an up to 20 minute stop at a grocery store, for $30. I found a cab driver at Nassau harbor and asked how much for a ride to Paradise Island with a stop at the grocery store, and he quotes me $60. I told him no thanks and walked past him, and he followed me and asked me what was wrong. I turned around and told him what we understood the rate should have been, and he quickly agreed to $30, but I had already decided I wanted to look around more. I saw a bus dropping off some tourists at the harbor, and decided to talk to the bus driver. He told me he was returning cruise passengers from Paradise Island to the cruise ships and was going our way anyway to pick up more cruise passengers, and agreed to take us for whatever we wanted to give him. He took us back to the lobby of our hotel, and we gave him $15. We didn’t stop at a grocery store.

    When we got back to the lobby, they gave us the keys to our new room. We got to our rooms and all of our luggage was there. I thought this was a nice hotel view:

    View01.jpeg

    Closer to the window:
    View02.jpeg

    There is where our old room was, down at the bottom in the trees at the end of the West tower:
    View03_OldRoom.jpeg

    I had to come off the balcony to take this picture of the bridge suite. I would have killed myself had I tried to take a selfie:

    View04.jpeg

    Straight down habitat for turtles and swordfish:
    View05.jpeg


    To the left, the Power Tower and The Mayan Temple in the Aquaventure park:

    View06.jpeg


    And to the right, the Coral Tower and the Lagoon Bar:
    View07.jpeg

    Rooms with these types of views run around $400+fees per night this time of year, and we got 2 of these rooms for 3 more nights. The Terrace View rooms run around $300/night. We were all pretty happy with the new rooms we got. Thank you CET.

    Atlantis Movie Theater: After we got refreshed in our rooms, the family wanted to head to the Atlantis Movie Theater and see the free movie. Took was the movie theater about 15 minutes before the movie would start:

    Movie1.jpeg

    But by the time the movie started, it was completely full. Here were the prices at the concession stand:

    Movie02.jpeg


    Atlantis Casino 2.0: After the movie, the kids just wanted to go to the room and my wife would come with me to the casino. My wife doesn’t care much for casino games, but she understood this was part of the CET promotion. We decided to play a variety of games. We approached several of the 6 deck 3:2 S17 blackjack tables to see if they might lower the limits but had no success. We decided to just play a $15 8 deck 3:2 H17 game. We had one very good very talkative dealer, but most of the other dealers were stiff and quiet. None of the dealers would deal me my double down card face down as I always request "face down please" every time I push my second bet forward. I guess it is against the rules in the Bahamas, although that’s how double downs used to always be done. All of the blackjack games were hand shuffled without machines, which make for nice breaks to run to the bathroom, talk to the dealer and other players, or just stare at the dealer as he tries to shuffle 8 decks. The tourists we observed at the blackjack tables were absolutely awful. I know this is argued by a lot of people, but I firmly believe that when playing basic blackjack strategy, bad players at the table have a "net zero" long term effect on other players, so they don’t bother me a single bit and I am happy to play with them. But if this place had a poker room with these types of tourist players, I would be coming here several times a year.

    We observed they dropped the limit to $10 on one of the Let it Ride tables in the carnival pit. I decided I would introduce my wife to a new game. We joined the table with other people playing, and starting out it didn’t bother anyone that I was helping my wife with the game. However, after a while, the other players wandered off, and it would be just my wife and I against the dealer. In one hand, my wife was dealt a queen high trash hand, and correctly scratched the table to pull her first bet. Then the first community card would be a queen, and she was about to scratch the table again to pull her second bet, and I let out a quick “No!!!” The dealer than told me I was not allowed to help my wife if I was in the hand, but she did still allow her 2nd bet with her pair of queens ride. The dealer would subsequently allow me to help her as long as we alternated hands, which was fine for us, as the strategy impact of seeing one extra hand of cards in this game is so close to nothing it was a surprise to me that they would care, and we were both still being rated as if we were playing every hand.

    But I think our most interesting story came from the craps table. We found a crowded $15 table without anyone smoking, with players placing bets all over the board, and we decided we could kill some time there just acting like drunks and high fiving other players when points are hit. (Well, maybe that was just me....) We got to playing, and it got to be a pretty spirited game. I passed on rolling the first several times the dice came around as I usually do, but encouraged my wife to roll even though she didn't want to either. However, at one point the dice came back around to us, and for whatever reasons the tourists wanted me to roll. So I gave into the pressure. I made my first point, a 6. My next point would be a 9, and the other players would put out all kinds of money everywhere and then the dice were pushed to me. After the dice were pushed to me, I observed several uneven stacks for odds (a $25 and several $15) and knowing those stacks wouldn’t get paid right if I hit, I started to point at one of the stacks, but before I could say anything, the boxman (who was a heavy lady) made a real ugly face and yells at me “ROLL”. The stickman and the dealers remain completely silent. Never anywhere in the US have I ever known a craps crew that didn’t want to help players who place odds that won’t get paid in full when it is brought up, so I continue to say to the player “hey, do you know your...” and then the boxman lady interrupts with an even uglier face and yells at me even louder “ROLL!”. I was actually laughing on the inside that a casino this large would penny pinch over something this small, and was thinking of ways I could play with the pit in this situation, I mean this place does try to teach tourists how to gamble? But then the first tourist who I was first trying to help says “go ahead, roll em” and I see that I am really embarrassing my wife, so I pick up the dice, throw them against the back wall hit my 9, the other players all start cheering with no idea how absolutely ridiculous I was finding this place.

    END OF DAY 2

    I will be working on writing up day 3....
     

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 4
  12. CheeseHog

    CheeseHog Low-Roller

    Joined:
    May 18, 2016
    Messages:
    303
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    56
    Thanks for the great informative post... We are about 90 days away from our Diamond Atlantis experience and Baha Mar experience. The "tune-up" you are giving us is Excellent!!!

    Jeff
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. miniwhale

    miniwhale High-Roller

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    669
    Location:
    GA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    30
    As far as the adding gratuity to the bill...I am not thrilled about it either. I am guessing, though, that the servers get a minimal portion of this amount. If we have a server that goes above and beyond we will put some cash as an extra tip, as I would hope they would get all of that. Some servers just make minimal effort. I like to reward the ones that go above. It's not the server's fault the tip is added in. We have had some that despite it being crazy busy, and dealing with some aholes, they are still incredilbly helpful and nice to us. They deserve a little more.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    315
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    The Baha Mar is on Providence Island closer to the airport, and I was not able to make it out there on this trip. I was hoping it would have been closer so I could at least visit the casino. That resort is only 4 years old, and is very well advertised all over the island. Its too bad they are partnered with Boyd, as my status with Boyd is now several tiers below homeless person... I would be very interested in the casino conditions over there!
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    315
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    I believe these servers are making salaries that do not depend on discretionary tips as US servers do. So unless we hand the server the tip and tell her to keep it, if we leave the tip on the table or on the credit card, the restaurant might also keep it? (I have actually heard of foreign family owned restaurants in the US who would hire students on student visas and keep their tips.) But I agree with you, even if we are only going to a place once in our lives, if we have a good time, we should leave a nice tip.

    And also a 10% tip after a 15% gratuity would be cheap, while a 25% tip is very generous.

    As I think about it more, my suggestion to local Bahamian restaurants would be to tell all US residents on tourist Visas they are removing the mandatory gratuity just for them. I would bet they would net more long term this way than they would with mandatory 15% alone. But if people are leaving tips on top of gratuities, there would be not motivation for them to do this!


    .
     
  16. JFO

    JFO Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2018
    Messages:
    315
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    Before I continue, I want to mention that the morning after we got our new room; maids were cleaning the rooms across the hall from us, and allowed me to take some pictures of Harbor View window, where we could see Nassau Harbor and New Providence Island:
    01_Harbor01.jpg

    Over to the left are the Harborside Resort and the bridges to the main Island:
    01_Harbor02.jpg

    While over to the right are the cruise ship dock and the visiting ships:
    01_Harbor03.jpg

    What I found interesting about this, is from our recent Lake Tahoe trip report I ranted a little about how Harrahs and Harveys did a Photoshop job to make them look like they were adjacent to the lake. The Atlantis did something very similar; with this Photoshop job on their home page making them look like they are on an island of their own:
    01_The_AtlantisAd.jpg


    DAY 3

    The rest of our trip would be focused around the Aquaventure water park. I will mention that I have some friends in the poker community who aren’t members of VMB, but who read my trip reports, and several of them have very colorful opinions on things contained in the water at family water parks. I would certainly like to invite them to join the VMB boards and post their descriptions on this thread. As new members, the moderators might review such posts and edit some of the colorful descriptions if they are described in the manner you have described them to me at the tables, but this deep into a thread the moderators also might let it slide. I have been taking my kids to water parks since they were babies, and I guess I have never been germaphobe enough to worry about it.

    Aquaventure Water Park: My son and I would get up a bit after 8, and head down to lay some towels on some chairs before the pools would open, but most of the chairs would be already claimed when we got there. We would grab some Starbucks for breakfast, and the Starbucks at the resort really aren’t that much more expensive than the ones in the states. The pools would open first, but the slides wouldn’t open until around 10 AM. The Mayan Temple had several slides that would finish through a see-through tunnel that went through a pool of sharks. None of us felt like doing the slide called The Leap of Faith, however there was a much gentler Serpent Slide, which twisted around the inside of the Mayan Temple, and would dump out through the shark tube, where the waves would gently push the rafts through. We hung around there long enough to catch some pictures of shark feedings. The man feeding the sharks is in front of The Leap of Faith, while the Serpent Slide tube is underwater to his right:

    02_SharkAA.jpg
    02_SharkBB.jpg
    02_SharkCC.jpg
    02_SharkX2.jpg
    02_SharkXX.jpg

    There was also the Power Tower, which had a number of raft and inner tube rides that all dumped out into the Rapid River. The Rapid River is similar to a lazy river you might find in most water parks, except it also had rapids and you must be in a tube or raft. Everyone in the family enjoyed the Rapid River except for me. I was a bit too “American sized” for those small inner tubes they had, and had trouble keeping my center of gravity over the middle of my tube in the rapids, and kept getting dumped over in the rapid waters. I saw this happening to other larger uncoordinated men like myself, but the ride seemed quite safe for kids and adults of healthier size. When we got to the end of the river the first time, my son didn’t realize how many times I spilled over, and when I asked him to help pull me to the stairs to exit the pool, he helped me by dumping me over again… We used to do this stuff to each other when he was younger, so I guess I should have expected it from him. But let’s just say he wouldn’t do it again this trip.

    We would walk around the park and the beach. Here is a place my wife and I sat down and relaxed a bit:

    03_WaterSpot.jpeg

    We had lunch at the Lagoon Bar. My wife and I would split a Tuna Sandwich, and let the kids get what they wanted. It was not nearly as expensive as the restaurants in the hotel:

    04_LagoonBar.JPG

    Note that the souvenir cup we purchased had unlimited soda refills at the water park, so we could fill it with ice and bring it to our glasses, and then fill it with soda and divide it among us. The drink cup was kind of cheap, and the ink started running before we even got home:

    05_Cup.jpg

    So there is eco-friendly for you… A souvenir plastic reusable cup made so cheap everyone will trash it after they get home. The cup does allow free refills of soda in the Aquaventure water park, making it a decent deal if you like soda and will be at the water park a few days, but they will not refill it anywhere else in the hotels or resort.

    --

    Atlantis Casino Day 3: We decided we would come here late afternoon, before the place would get too smoky. We would play mostly video poker, and through asking the players club it appeared they counted time at slots as time spent in the casino, regardless of what we were playing or how fast we played. The only hand of interest I recall was with my wife playing 8/6 jacks for quarters full coin ($1.25/deal), she was dealt a Flush with 4 to a Royal, and the machine beeped for a dealt Flush. She asked me if she should keep the Flush while she pressed hold on all the cards, and my OCD went into panic mode as I went into a nerdy rant of the Flush being just 6x ($7.50) versus a 1 in 47 chance of getting 800x ($1000.00) which would be much better. She made an annoyed look at me and released her 5th flush card, pushed draw, and hit her Straight but wrong suit for 4x ($6.00). I actually felt relieved she didn’t completely brick the draw as I just about always do with 4-Royals, because she would have probably gotten mad at me if she did.

    Atlantis Casino Drink Service: There are CWs at the Atlantis, and drinks are free for casino players. At the tables the drink service was very frequent, but at the VP bank that we spent most our time at, the drink service was almost non-existent, and sometimes we would need to call CWs from other parts of the casino to come over. They will bring small bottles of water, wine, small glasses of beer, or smaller glasses of mixed drinks. It seemed they didn’t know how to make many of the mixed drinks VMB members are used to ordering, and there were no frozen drinks. The most common drinks I saw tourists getting were Bahama mamas, Pina Coladas, and Margaritas, but none of them frozen. At one point I decided to take some snapshots of the drinks they had on the drink menus from the bars inside the casino, so I could ask for some of these. The CWs checked for me, and came back responding that those drinks were too expensive and can’t be comped. Which kind of made me wonder what they were putting in the drinks they did comp... Well, here are some of the drinks that can NOT be comped:

    05_Drinks2.jpeg
    05_Drinks1R.jpg

    Marina Village: In the evening we decided to head to the Marina village, and eat at the Burger Shack to get some basic burgers, fries, and rings:

    06_BurgerShack.jpeg

    Coming back through the Marina Village, there was a band playing at Frankie Gone Bananas at Bimini Road, the singer was a young Bahamian woman with an amazing voice, and they were playing 60s and 70s era rock songs. We would stop and sit at the pier for a while and listen to the band, the other guests near my age also enjoyed the band very much, but it completely embarrassed our kids that we enjoy a band playing this music. They finally took a break and we would head back to our room.

    END OF DAY 3

    Thanks again to all of you keeping up. As always if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to post.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2019
    • Like Like x 5
    • Informative Informative x 1
  17. MCann

    MCann VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2019
    Messages:
    1,401
    Location:
    Tallahassee, FL
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    6
    I'm loving all the details. And receipts. Such a great report! Thanks so much for sharing with us!
     
    Pitter Patter!
    Legendary Independence Day Fashion Porn!
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  18. john1516inny

    john1516inny Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    474
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    100
    Really well done report. My wife loves the Harbor view room more than the ocean view so that's what we always get. Never knew about the souvenir cup, always just refilled the daily paper ones but they typically they only last one day. How much was the cup. Always found the same problem with the cws until we tipped $2 then they came back regularly. I agree the real problem is the food prices. Like how you got the 2 rooms with each ones diamond card, we are thinking of going in January and may do the same thing, thanks.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  19. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    20,618
    Location:
    Chicagoland
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    22
    Nice report so far! But you sounded disappointed in the VP paytables they offered. I would have been pleased with dollar Airport Deuces, 9/6 DDB, and especially quarter 8/6 Jacks considering where you were. I never expect places like these to offer competitive video poker.

    And re: mandatory gratuity. Yeah that's annoying, especially at the burger place! Was that even a full-survice restaurant? But I probably still add a little for good service. I wonder how many people don't read and leave their normal tip plus the mandated one...
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. nancyf

    nancyf High-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2017
    Messages:
    684
    Location:
    Daytona Beach, Florida
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    12
    really love this report!
     
    • Like Like x 1