One of the things that is high on our to do list to bring Dana on a camping trip…Daddy has imagined it to be one where we would pitch a tent, eat BBQ food, sing some camping songs etc…all under the stars. However for reasons that Dana’s still quite young and also for safety, we haven’t quite got around to even planning for one yet. That was until recently when the RWS S.E.A. Aquarium presented the opportunity to experience their Ocean Dreams Programme, which offers a memorable ‘camping-like’ experience for the entire family, all within the air-conditioned comforts of the largest aquarium in the world.
|Orientation games with our friendly facil!|
Ocean Dreams is an overnight programme where families would be brought around the sights and exhibits of the S.E.A. Aquarium by their friendly guides (or ‘Facils’ – short for Facilitators). Starting from our first ‘port of call’ (quite literally) the Maritime Silk route Tour, the Typhoon Theatre and to feeding the colourful fishes at the Rainbow Cove at the Adventure Cove Waterpark, our facil was with us, stopping at strategic points to engage the adults and children with nuggets of educational gems as well as fun hands-on activities. Even though it was our 3rd visit to the S.E.A Aquarium, it was only at Ocean Dreams where we learnt more about the prized ship – the ‘Jewel of Muscat’ – a life-sized replica of an ancient vessel built entirely out of wood (with no metal, screws or bolts) and presented as a gift to Singapore by the Sultan of Oman which now sits regally in the Maritime Museum.
|Interactive tasks made the stories come alive!|
|Quiz time on the boats used by maritime explorers….|
|Kids learning about the importance of spices as commodities…|
|Learning about the navigational tools used by ancient seafarers…|
|One of the great vessels sailed by Admiral Zheng He…|
|Her favourite – the 360° multimedia Typhoon Theatre experience!|
Since the S.E.A. Aquarium opened its doors 2 years ago, the place is swamped with throngs of people every weekend and public/school holidays. The Ocean Dreams Programme, hence provides families the chance to roam the S.E.A. Aquarium freely and feel the aquarium come alive sans crowds! Hearing the kids go ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ excitedly, catching waves of the laughter from families and light-hearted banter from friends as we toured the aquarium after dark in the exclusivity of small, intimate groups was such a rare privilege.
There was greater meaning as we follow the curated tour; greater appreciation as we leisurely admired the intricate details on the beautiful marine creatures and best of all, greater interaction and bonding among family members – which is in essence what family outings ought to be. Gone were the jostling, pushing and long queues at the touch pool. Instead of the manic dash to ‘do this and that first’, we granted the kids’ requests to ‘let’s go back there to take a look again’ – yes, we were able to do that precisely because we had the whole place to ourselves!
|A night of adventure at the Aquarium!|
|Embarking on a private intimate guided tour through the marine habitats…|
|What did you spot?|
|Boys at the touch pool…|
|I caught a (sea) star!|
|The enigmatic Sea Jellies!|
|A unanimous YES when the facil asked if they were having fun!|
|The lone guardian of the sea…|
The programme culminated in an overnight sleepover where we camped in front of the Open Ocean Habitat, all well within the watchful eyes of the majestic rays, goliath groupers, leopard sharks and the other exotic marine life. This was Dana’s (and our family’s) first ever camping experience – complete with sleeping bags, blankets, milo supper and cookies! The kids were literally bursting with joy. Even the adult participants can’t hide our excitement but gazed in awe at the shimmering schools of fish as we drifted into slumber, reluctantly. Before turning in, we were told that there would be ‘lights out’ too for the marine creatures and surprised to discover how their behavior changed after the lights were dimmed. Sleeping under the glow of the Open Ocean Habitat was nothing short of mesmerizing!
|Setting up camp right in front of the Open Ocean Habit!|
|Her first camp at the world’s largest aquarium – awesome!|
|An experience of a lifetime – to sleep with the fishes!|
|Woke up next morning, fresh and recharged!|
|Morning greeting of a different kind!|
The friendly and accommodating facilitators who were attached to each group of families were commendable – these energetic young adults with their boundless energy, zest for life and ability to connect with the kids certainly added a lot of humour and fun to the Ocean Dream experience. We enjoyed listening to them as they dished out info upon info on the weird and wonderful marine wildlife that they have come to love.
|Fuel up for the day!|
|Feeding Frenzy at Rainbow Cove…|
|They are hungry Mommy!|
|Hello there playful Dolphin!|
|Back of the House experience includes a peek into the diet of fishes|
The Ocean Dreams Programme is truly a unique and educational experience that adds a whole new dimension to the typical aquarium visit. For someone who was initially hesitant about camping in an aquarium (or for that matter camping anywhere!), I was surprised I actually enjoyed it so much to deem it as one of the most memorable family outings we’ve had so far. Ocean Dreams is certainly an experience which Dana will remember for a long time to come. What started out as a ‘dream’ for our little ones may eventually be a life changing reality if they should choose to devote themselves to marine life, wildlife or nature conservation, who knows? After all, it’s always good to dream.
|A parting shot with friends|
We think Ocean Dreams at S.E.A. Aquarium is one of Singapore’s best-kept secrets. If you want to plan something special and educational for your school-going kids, ditch the staycation and choose this instead! The next Ocean Dreams is taking place this month, take the plunge and experience it for yourselves!
▸ Set off on an exhilarating maritime learning voyage and be part of a crew experiencing peril on the high seas, in the multi-media extravaganza of Typhoon Theatre
▸ A 90-minute guided tour through S.E.A. Aquarium packed with fascinating information about the many wonders of our blue planet
▸ Discover more about sharks, dolphins, coral reefs and other marine animals and how you can do your part to help conserve and protect our marine habitats
▸ Get an exclusive back-of-house experience in the aquarium
Date: 23 – 24 Apr 2014
Time: 5pm – 11am (Following Day)
|Photo Credit: RWS Singapore|
The fun and educational sleepover at the World’s Largest Aquarium now comes with an egg-ceptional twist! Embark on an Easter-rific Adventure to hunt for elusive golden eggs, undergo an Eggs-treme Makeover where fashion goes eco, and armour up real eggs for an Eggs-treme drop challenge. Also look out for our S.E.A.A Bunny who will be making a special appearance. Come join us for the most egg-citing Ocean Dreams yet!
Disclaimer: We were invited to the Ocean Dreams for the purposes of this review. All opinions and photos are, as usual, ours.