We pulled into the port of Puerto Vallarta this morning. The sky was a bit hazy and it was obvious we were in for another warm day. Not long after we pulled in, I looked out my window to see the Carnival Pride maneuvering into its berth just behind us.
I had been looking forward to this port for quite sometime because I decided to splurge a little on a shore excursion I always wanted to do Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Dolphin Trainer for a Day. Chris has his sights set on the zip-line canopy adventure, so luckily a client and dear friend Ann decided to join me. Her husband George joined Chris, but there is no way they could have had as much fun as we did!
We met the small group of 12 at our meeting spot on board, checked in and disembarked the ship en-route to our transportation. Boarded the bus for our 20 minute ride to our adventure.
The water park is located in a lush up-scale area along side of a marina and very nice waterside villas and condos. We entered the gates and met our guide for the dayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Anna. Our first stop was a quick continental breakfast while she explained what we could expect. But first we had to dress the part. We were give a t-shirt and baseball cap to keep after a long hard day of playing with sea life.
Personally I prefer a more intimate experience on our excursions, and I was happy we had such a small group of 12, but then they divided us further into 2 groups of 6. It really felt like a VIP experience then!
We were given access to free lockers where we are asked to put our bags and yesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ our cameras. They have photographers that that go along with your group and will ask you to put them away if seen in most areas.
Our first task as trainers was to get to know and assist in feeding one of the resident sea lionsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Littibu. We were led to one of several pools where we hopped in the water on a platform that allowed us to be in about waist high. Our trainer then introduced us to Littibu and he joined us in the water. The two of them showed off all kinds of tricks he knew and we had an opportunity to learn about sea lions behavior, diet, etc. Littibu swam in front of us allowing us to touch his back as he passed by. I was surprised that his coat felt more like a wet horse then i had expected.
But we didn’t stop there. Each of us had an opportunity to feed him and then we were in for a big surprise..
Littibu likes to kiss peopleÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ a lot.
and he responds well to commandsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ err requests:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Stick out your tongue!!Ã¢â‚¬Â
What a blast!! We spent about 45 minutes total in our sea-lion encounter and it was a wonderful experience. but wait! There’s more!
From there we were escorted to the veterinarian station where we learned more about the care of the various sea life including the breeding and rescue programs.
It was time to meet the other stars of the showÃ¢â‚¬Â¦the dolphins. We were given life jackets which are a welcome accessory in the deep dolphin tanks. no platform here! We entered the water and met our new friend who spent a few minutes swimming around us to get to know us a but better.
and yesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ dolphins are into hugs and kisses too!
The highlight of this portion of our visit was a ride around the pool. The trainer tells you to wait until she comes up next to you then flips upside down At that point you hold onto her flippers and let her do all the work. it was amazing!
After everyone has an exciting tow around the pool, the 2 groups are reconnected and got a show of the dolphins speed and agility.
After this jaw dropping experience, we were treated to a nice lunch buffet and then returned to the pools to observe two moms and their babies swimming together in a separate area. We weren’t allowed to touch the babies or give then hand signals, but that didn’t stop them from coming up to the edge to check you out.
Afterwards, we were toldÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ the dolphins have worked hard today entertaining people on their swim adventures, and they need some play too. The lead trainer presented us with balls and brushes and told us to spread out around the huge, well over olympic sized poolÃ¢â‚¬Â¦. they let in 8Ã¢â‚¬â€œ12 dolphins and we were all like little kids! We didn’t get in the water with them because these dolphins are serious about their play. It could be a bit dangerous for a rookie.
The pool was so big that it seemed like Ann and I had one whole side to ourselves. I laid down on the deck and brushed the dolphins that were interested in being brushed. I had one that wanted his teeth brushed and wouldn’t really let any others near. Then we switched toys and I go a ball. You toss it out to then and they bat it back with their nose, or bring it to you so you can take it from their mouth to toss again.
We spent about 40 minutes at play and it was THE highlight of the day. The sad part is they didn’t have the photographers documenting this portion and since you weren’t allowed a camera in the area, only the memory lives on.
A DVD of the day was provided as part of the package and of course we are give the opportunity to buy the still pics the photographers had been taking. Most of the pics above were from a package deal where you can get a picture cd of all the pics you are featured in.
If you are considering a dolphin adventure, here is my advice:
~ Spend a little more for a VIP or deluxe trainer experience. You get more time and amenities as well as the free dvd and if its playtime, they may offer a unique experience that you are sure to remember.
~ Bring a credit card with you. If you decide to buy one of the photo packages you wll want to be sure you have what you need to purchase.
~ For the safety of the animals they will ask that you NOT use any sunscreen in the water. However, since you typically do not get your head underwater you can use it on your face. You can jump in with the tshirt one they give you so you can avoid sun burned shoulders that I managed to walk away with. Or a better idea is to come prepared with the long sleeved water shirts that offer a bit of uv protection.
We said goodbye to our new friends knowing we would be back to do that again someday! Then we boarded a scuba boat for our trip back to the ship. We had some pretty good swells on the way Ã¢â‚¬â€œ certainly worthy of an e-ticket!