The well-publicized Dolphin Quest Experience, at the Bermuda Maritime Museum in the Royal Naval Dockyard (tel. 441/234-4464; www.dolphinquest.org), offers in-the-water encounters with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Seven dolphins are kept in a holding pen that's 1 to 3.5m (3 1/4-11 ft.) deep and separated from the open sea with underwater netting. Typically, up to 10 swimmers, wearing bathing suits in summer and wet suits in winter (Nov-May), cavort in the water with the dolphins. The price for 45 minutes is $245. Other packages are available, with prices varying by time spent in the water; call or check the website for details. In winter, it's easy to get a slot, but in summer, there's a much heavier demand.
Is all this cruel to the dolphins? The staff is rigorous about protecting and caring for them; the overall atmosphere is playful and lighthearted; and the dolphins have a fairly large area to swim in. But we can't help worrying that continued contact with hordes of people and separation from their natural habitat must have something of a traumatizing effect on these beautiful animals. For more (mostly troubling) information, check out the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society's website at www.wdcs.org. For more information about responsible travel in general, check out these websites: Tread Lightly (www.treadlightly.org) and the International Ecotourism Society (www.ecotourism.org).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.