(Sept 22, 2017)
The day after the girls flew in we had planned a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is a fantastic place for those of you who haven’t already been there. It’s a bit expensive but there are ways to get some discounts if you look around.
First, if you can muster up 12 or more people, say the crews of several kid boats, to all go as a group, you can get the group rate which also gets you in the group entrance. We were very close to the 12 minimum with three and possibly four boats talking about visiting the aquarium on the same day, but ultimately we couldn’t get organized enough to guarantee that.
Second, many employers have employee discount programs that you can log in to and search for tickets, electronics, appliances, etc. My old employer participated in one called Perks at Work which I still have access to even though I am no longer employed there. While employed I used the Perks at Work site to order random things I needed or wanted here and there, including flower delivery, electronics, and several notebook computers. Aside from some level of discount on the products you order through the site, there are points (or stars) you earn from the purchases and you can use those points to “pay” for things in the site, like cash. The Lenovo computer purchases, being larger and always having some sort of points multiplier, were particularly lucrative for earning points, which I used for paying for some of the flower orders and the Apple TV. Back to the point, I had some points built up in the system from prior purchases.
I searched the Perks at Work site for Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets and luckily they were in there. The normal price for an adult is approximately $50 and a child is approximately $30, so for a family of four, you are looking at $160 just for tickets to get in the door. The Perks at Work discount had adults at about $33 and children at about $25, for a total of about $116, $44 savings over buying the tickets from the aquarium. Pretty sweet! In addition, since I had quite a few points saved up, I was able to use them to cover almost all the cost of the tickets, paying out under $4 in the end.
Tickets procured and money saved we took the city bus from near the Del Monte Starbucks directly to the aquarium, arriving just about at the same time as the crew from s/v Westy. We checked in at the Corporate Ticket counter, which also saved us time waiting in line and met up with Jason, April, and Aksel from Westy. Morgan had her iPad with the Monterey Bay Aquarium app installed and was determined to lead the tour, with the Penguin feeding her first order of business.
We explored the Kelp Forest, the Open Sea, various touch tanks with shellfish in Splash Zone, plus bat rays, coral, and even a mermaid purse. Outside the Open Sea theater were many tanks of different kinds of jellyfish, plus tanks of sardines and anchovies. The kids stood under the glass water fall for a while ducking when the water rushed down the outside of the glass, and they paused a while to watch the octopus sleep.
After a while we stopped for lunch which was not too bad, and then we sat down for a few short movie presentations, one on sea otters (the “most vicious creatures in the ocean”), one about the sea animals of Baja, another about deep water creatures, and finally about sharks (who are apparently gentle). We were reminded to watch out for those sea otters.
Around this time, s/v Tuwamish crew arrived at the aquarium and we caught up to them briefly, 11 total boat crew members from three boats exploring together.
By 4pm the aquarium was getting close to closing and we were tired. So we retreated to the ice cream shop across the street, devoured a few ice cream cones, and then caught a LYFT back the harbor. The girls were tired but had a great day and we had projects for them to do, writing mini essays about one animal they learned about. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is large, has a lot to see, and is very nice, open, with an airy feel. It’s definitely one of the best aquariums around.