Miami Seaquarium- BUYER BEWARE!!!!

Miami Seaquarium- BUYER BEWARE!

August Kissing Dolphin

It is not often that I post something negative, but this story has to be told.

Recently, our daughter, son-in-law and grandson came to visit us. I decided that for Pedro’s holiday gift, I would pay for he and our grandson to have an encounter with the dolphins. For this “encounter”, I paid just over $300.00 for both of them.

At the time of purchase, which I did on-line, I was given the option of also purchasing observer tickets. The cost of these tickets were $53.00 each. Since there were 3 additional adults, these observer tickets cost us an additional $175.00 with taxes. It was explained to me that unless we paid for the observer tickets, we would have absolutely no way to view the encounter, as it was in an isolated area with limited viewing. It made little sense to allow Pedro and our grandson to do this without us being able to vicariously enjoy the experience. It was also made clear that the only way for us to take pictures was to pay the “observer” ticket price.


In total, I paid about $500.00 for all of us for the day. This included the admission price for the park as well. It seemed like a very pricey day, but I figured you can’t put a price on a once in a lifetime experience, so I went with it. When in Rome, right?

I was smart when I booked this encounter. I booked it for 2:30pm. I figured we would all enjoy the shows and exhibits, and see the dolphins at the end of the day before we went home. That is exactly what we did.

Entering the park was like entering a 1970’s scene. In fact, I highly doubt that most of what we saw was build any more recently. I was there about 20 years ago, and I was able to navigate the property with no issues at all. It was like visiting a very old friend. VERY OLD! However, we went to the exhibits, saw the features, watched the shows, then it was time for the big event. The dolphin encounter.

We showed up at the correct time, were given admittance to the special isolated back area, and Pedro and our grandson were put in wet suits to meet the dolphin.  They entered the water, and the trainer had  the group immediately face her in the water. This put the class’s backs toward us. Already, I sensed that taking pictures was going to be a huge challenge. I was right.

Pedro and August's Backs Dolphis

The trainer and the class went through different interventions, each time with either their sides toward the viewing area, or their backs. Here’s the thing…..The photographer from the Seaquarium was right there, in front of the class, snapping away. When I realized WHY we were never in position to get clear pictures, I screamed at Pedro to make sure they looked at us, behind them, so we could try to document the experience on our cameras. I was lucky….I got a couple of “decent” pictures, but not without taking about 100 pictures that were useless.

August shaking hands with Dolphin

You can clearly see in the pictures I am posting where the staff photographer was….right in FRONT of the action. The class was NEVER given the opportunity to look where the viewers were. At this point, I was just mad. I paid $500. to NOT be able to get a clear picture? Well, yes. That’s exactly what I did. Don’t get me wrong. Watching the two of them interact with the dolphins was really cute. On the other hand, who doesn’t love a grandfather with his grandson- not to mention the fact that our grandson is just gorgeous!

After the encounter, which lasted about 1/2 hour in the water, Pedro and our grandson changed and we went out of the enclosure. It should be noted that the enclosure was enormous, and could have easily held all of the family and friends of the participants. The explanation of “limited viewing space” was just another ploy to take our money.

The way out of the enclosure leads your right through the gift shop, of course. Here, we got to see the pictures that the professional photographer took. Let me just say this: Props to them. The photos were magnificent. We could see the drops of water off our grandson’s eyelashes. At this point, we were tempted. After all, shouldn’t we have some really great pictures? We were leaning in that direction, when I became lucid. The price for one picture was $43.00. To have the whole book of pictures, including access to all of the proofs, it was about $178.00, if I recall clearly. Of course, each participant had their own set, and we couldn’t mix and match photos. Yes, this is when I became lucid. I decided that the pictures we took would have to be good enough.

Well, that is the end of my tale of woe. All in all, I have to say that I feel like I was monetarily raped. Honestly, I felt lucky that I caught on when I did, so at least I have SOME photographs of the encounter, which you are seeing here. In the future, I hope that enough people complain about this so it is a BIT more fair to the families who are paying a small fortune for the experience. I am not saying that they should not be in this to make money. I am well aware of the fact that they are running a business, but for goodness sake….Please allow the participants to turn toward their families so we can have lasting memories without spending a mortgage payment.

In Health and Fairness,

Shereen Rios  BAS, CPT for Focus and Form Fitness

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