Author: Andrea MacEachern
Date of Trip: December 2014
I’ve always wanted to go snorkeling or scuba diving. Everyone I know who’s been down south has tried it and they come back with stories of how peaceful and beautiful it is beneath the sea’s surface. But, unfortunately for me being blind as a bat as I am, I wear glasses that carry a strong prescription and can’t see a bloody thing without them! I wore contacts for years but after dealing with an infection caused by over-wearing them (and sometimes even sleeping with them and having to peel them off my eyes the next morning), my doctor told me I had to stop wearing them or risk losing my eyesight altogether. That meant I would be wearing glasses for the rest of my life and glasses do not fit under the masks used for snorkeling and scuba diving. I heard you can get masks with a prescription lens built into them but that would cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars and I was not prepared to shell out that kind of money. While I was searching through my in-room brochures one evening, I came across an interesting alternative that would allow me to see what it’s like underwater; a trip to the great depths of Bridgetown Harbour in a real submarine.
The cost of this submarine trip was a little steep at $100.00 (CAN) but several people recommended it and said it was well worth it. After the usual morning routine, I again found myself waiting for a bus to pick me up at the gate (transfers to and from Atlantis Submarines in Bridgetown were included so that was a plus). After some stops at some of the resorts along the way to pick up other passengers, we arrived at the docks in Bridgetown. The last tour hadn’t returned yet so we were asked to wait in the Atlantis Submarines main office building until the boat that would take us to the submarine returned to port. As I browsed the gift shop, a conversation caught my attention. “There was an earthquake? Here?” I asked. “Well, no not really. It was closer to the nearby islands of Trinidad and St. Lucia but some people in Barbados claim they felt the ground shake a little bit”. This was a little disappointing to me. Not that I would want a destructive earthquake to occur anywhere but, just once, I would like to experience a little tremor just to see what it feels like.
As I was eyeing some neat-looking keychains to buy as souvenirs for people back home, a commotion started by the main doors. A youngish, very good-looking man was being cornered by a group of women. They were taking pictures and fawning over him like he was someone famous. Well, apparently he was someone famous. I heard of the show The Walking Dead but never watched an episode of it in my life. It seems this man was a leading character on the show’s third season. Some Vincent someone (I didn’t catch his last name) but die-hard fans of the show certainly knew who he was. I watched this spectacle from afar. I never really did get the fuss people make over famous people. They are, after all, just people like you and me.
A few minutes later, we were boarding a small ferry that would take us to the waiting submarine. It took about twenty minutes to reach Atlantis and during that short ride, we listened to some safety instructions and watched the city get smaller and smaller as we sailed out to deeper waters. When we reached our destination, the engines stopped and we waited. There was no submarine in sight. A few minutes later, it broke the surface.
With the help of a gangway and some very steep stairs, one by one, we boarded Atlantis, took our seats on front of some little round windows and sunk below the surface. I was expecting my ears to pop or my head to feel like it was going to explode as we went deeper and deeper below the surface but no such thing happened. It didn’t feel any different from sailing on a boat except we were underwater. We dropped to just a few meters above the ocean floor to a depth of 150 feet and watched turtles, barracuda and thousands of colorful fish float by in that strange underwater world. There were tons of strange marine plant life and a few shipwrecks too. I was a little disappointed to learn that the shipwrecks were planned shipwrecks authorized by the government for recreational divers. It would have been so much cooler if we were looking at sunken pirate ships but it was pretty cool anyway. We went around a couple of reefs and went a little deeper for a while and before I knew it, the hour was up and we headed back to the surface…after the crew graced us with their rendition of My Heart Will go on from the movie Titanic. I enjoyed the tour. Would I do it again? Probably not. In the future, if I think I will be spending a lot of time down south, I may just spring for one of those prescription masks. Atlantis gave me the opportunity to see what it was like underwater but it didn’t give me the opportunity to feel what it is like and to be one with that strange world under the sea.