A very Salty experience

Trip Start Nov 17, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Monday, November 29, 2010

Today was the day for a bit of swimming with dolphins action down at discovery cove. We have been excited about this since booking our tickets and realizing that if we did the swim we could save 100 by buying the rest of the theme park tickets through them. If that isn't a bargain i don't know what is.
We left the hotel reasonably early in search of the shuttle that left from seaworld. We were unsure exactly how this worked but though considering how close it was we would figure something out. When we got there we saw a phone box which stated that it was to be used to call for the shuttle. We originally thought this was a joke as there was no number but realised though Nicky's cleverness, that a number was not needed we simply had to pick up the phone for it to ring. So shuttle order we sat back and waited and waited and waited until a guy offering a shuttle to Aquatica offered to take us and we agreed.
We got there safe and sound and signed in getting our photo I.D passes. We were assigned our dolphin swim at 2:50. So we headed down into the cove, greeted on the way by staff taking pictures of us and telling us where to go. As it was 10:40 and our swim wasn't till later we sat on the rocks by the dolphin pool watching as other people took part in this amazing experience. We also gained abit of knowledge what to expect from our swim and was pleased to notice it wasn't as regimented as we thought it would be.
After watching the dolphins for about an hour we headed off to get ourselves some free food and drink from the restaurant which was extremely nice, Salmon with potatoes and veg with red cake (don't know what it was called but it was so nice i thought it was worth a mention). We wanted to get the food part other with before we got ready to discover discovery cove.
Watching people in the water me and Nicky had already decided that today was a day for wet suits. The sun was not properly out and the water not particularly warm. So we were very amused when we were greeted and ask "vests ladies?" vests...vests...no mate today is a wet suit day, can i have a vest on under? obviously i was only thinking this what i actually said was "erm...think i might go with wet suit thank you".
So...wet suit on, goggles and snorkel at the ready, time to explore. First stop was a the coral reef. Seeing kids on there happy swimming and snorkeling around we dived right in ( well not literally) but was soon shocked by the sight of a huge sting ray floating right passed us. This made me abit more wary, but fixed with the knowledge that they wouldn't put any thing in there what could harm us. I set about trying out my underwater camera, which by the way isn't the best i have used, i would say i get one in focus in every five. Better than having none though.
We took a while exploring, viewing different species of fish and keeping our eye on the massive stingrays lurking on the bottom before we headed to the ray lagoon. I don't know why it seemed like a good idea to get into a pool full of stingray, but we soon settled in and before long were even feeding them shrimp, which was a wee bit gross but fun all the same. We got to touch them too and they do not feel how i expected. I thought they would feel rubbery but they felt really slimy.
After befriending a school of Rays we headed to the other side of the cove to a large poof, which seemed to be just for swimming in so decided to give it ago. Once we stepped in we were in heaven the water was lovely and warm. So we stayed in there for along time snorkeling around in a big circle around the whole park through a series of waterfall and under bridges. It looked beautiful under the water especially as the sun was now shinning.
Coming up to our dolphin swim time, we stopped buy the restaurant for more drink and yet another sneaky piece of cake. Getting really excited now we stuffed all our stuff away in the lockers and headed for the starfish cabana for our briefing. We watched a short film here and had a short talk from one of the trainers on the dolphins there at the cove.
Now was the time to head out to the pool. We were put in group A for the swim with six people from New Jersey, who were all really nice. On getting to the pool we were introduced to Cindy, who we later found out played Sandy in Jaws 3. She i think was the oldest dolphin in the park at 40 years old. I can't believe how much interaction we got to have with the Cindy. We got to stroke her back, her belly and got to feel her powerful tail. After the first trick i got to fed her too. It was weird as she just swallowed the fish whole.
This first big interaction moment we got was a kiss, right on the dolphins nose. We had to hold out our hands hold her nose up and kiss her for the camera's. I got to do this twice as the trainer didn't realize the photographer that captured the moment. If you have ever wondered what it is like...Its salty. I hung around Cindy for abit after stocking her back and hugging her. It was great having one to one time with a dolphin. She seemed so playful, i just couldn't help but smile.
One of my best experiences of the day was being riding across the lagoon holding on to the dorsal and front fin. This was so much fun. I was so glad when everyone in our group decided to give it ago after original choosing to opt out. The look on there faces were priceless after. We were also shown a few tricks and jumps at the end of the encounter. Cindy couldn't help show off at this point by jumping more than any of the other dolphins.
I was sad when the session came to an end it was an amazing experience. We waved goodbye to Cindy and she waved back on we went on our way to see our photos. I was really pleased with how they came out. We met Van our photographer and spoke to him for a while about or travels and about his to Africa.
Feeling alittle lost after such a great day, we sat down with a beer to reflect on what we had just done. The day had some how seemed not real, i had to keep reminding my self what i had done as we looked out at the dolphins still swimming around happily.
Before the park closed we had a quick swim around the pool and then bought the photos and DVD of our experience so we would never forget this wonderful day.
Leaving the park though was not entirely successful. At first we were lucky there was a shuttle to take us back to seaworld right outside and left as soon as we got on. step one complete. Next get on i-ride to hotel. 1st attempt missed the bus as we didn't get up early enough. We assumed everyone else was going to be getting on before us turned out we were wrong. Everyone stayed seated and we got up to late. 2nd attempt would have been completely successful if we had got the bus heading in the right direction. 3rd attempt got on right bus heading south, back to square one (Seaworld) and stuck in traffic there after.
Giving up on our plans to head back to the hotel and change we got off in search of a restaurant we had noticed on the map. This took some finding but when we did we were happy to be sitting, eating and drinking.
Now i am in bed have been feed watered, and showered. Gonna head to Florida Mall tomorrow we think, which should be fun. Might possibility be getting a free hair cut to. So i will let you know how that goes in due course. Off to sleep now to dream about my new best mate Cindy (sorry Nicky).

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