What’s it like to swim with dolphins?
We’ve always wondered what it would be like to get up close and personal with a dolphin.
Although we had seen photos of these majestic animals, we were interested in getting closer to find out what they were really like. What would this creature feel like? What kind of personalities do they have? Would they be friendly or aggressive?
On a recent 7-day Caribbean cruise to Central America on Carnival Cruise Lines’ new Carnival Dream ship, we had the opportunity finding out, when stopping at Port of Mahogany Bay in Roatan, Honduras.
Early in the morning, we hopped onto a comfortable motor coach that travelled along some narrow roadways, through mountainous terrain, past a few small towns, and found ourselves at the shores of Anthony’s Key Resort and the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences. At the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences, dolphins swim freely and guests have the opportunity to interact with them.
We were greeted by a friendly group who led us onto special boats to take us to the dolphins located within an inlet in the mild Caribbean Sea. After changing, we climbed into the water to head towards the dolphins. We all held cameras excitedly: a Canadian gentleman, a lovely lady from Maryland, several family members from West Virginia, a nurse from Connecticut and a teacher from Holland.
A brief encounter with one of nature’s best gifts
My first bit of surprise was to find out that these beautiful creatures are actually mammals – not fish. They can only stay under water for ten minutes and utilize their “blow hole” on top to breathe the same air we all do. In fact, there are many connections between dolphins and humans like us.
We met “Bailey,” a five year “girl” who tops the scales at 250 pounds spread over 7-feet of rubbery skin. This skin actually re-grows and is replaced every 24 hours, just as human skin regenerates. She was very friendly but we’re told, can be moody and rambunctious at times -like some of her human friends.
Our able guide spent some time talking to us about these treasures of the ocean and discussed what to expect. Utilizing a high-pitched whistle to signal the dolphins, our guide introduced us to Bailey, rewarding her with fresh fish (imported from Canada!) when she completed a trick.
Our guide explained that when she is not in the right mood, Bailey will pout and not want to be bothered in any way. Then there are the times she looks for mental and physical stimulation and attention, and will act out in unusual ways to let the trainers know how they are doing. You can feel the energy and excitement they display when they’re around humans.
Then we had the chance to literally “dance with the dolphins.” We positioned ourselves accordingly. We stooped down, carefully approached Bailey, and began a wonderful dance that ended with a friendly dolphin kiss on the cheek!
We watched Bailey jump over 10 feet in the air, swim around in circles, hold out her fin for a friendly handshake and show us how happy she was to be spending time with us. There was no rush to leave and we stayed with her for close to an hour. With 360-degree vision, she always seemed to keep a friendly eye on each of us. There was an apparent glean in her eye as well, and a real smile on her “face.”
It was terrific to get up close and really get to know a dolphin. Bailey showed us what a great connection we humans have with dolphins. This once-in-a-lifetime experience gave us a better understanding of how we partner and relate with other species and plants on this earth, for our mutual benefit.
Tours are bookable through cruise ships for approx $115 USD per person, which includes all transportation, a guide, a small contribution to the Roatan Institute for Marine Sciences, and the swimming with dolphins activity.
For those looking to stay longer, unique “on the water” accommodations for the adventurous, is available at the nearby Anthony’s Key Resort, which is also well-known worldwide for its proximity to beautiful coral reefs and dive expedition opportunities.
There are also a number of places around the world to experience dolphin encounters like ours in Honduras with Bailey and the ability to “dance” with the dolphins.
Visit tripatlas.com/new and click on Trip Builder to find a Travel Agent who can arrange your Carnival Cruise Caribbean Vacation with a stop in Roatan, or who can help find and plan your dream vacation anywhere in the world!