Thursday, April 24, 2014

S. E. A. Aquarium

Was there last weekend with the whole family. Very impressed. Here're some takeaways.

1) Truly World Class
This was my first time there and by golly it really was very impressive. From the opening Shipwreck tank, to the famous underwater observatory in all of Southeast Asia at the halfway mark, to the sheer size, variety and amount of living exhibits, and then the general layout of the aquarium. All too impressive. I generally left the place feeling proud of this being situated in Singapore.

2) Underwater Observatory
This was supposedly one of the largest in the world and true enough, it was impressive. With a huge variety of underwater creatures including barracuda, manta rays and sharks, this alone has become a must-see when coming to Singapore. So big it has it's own Aqua Dome for further viewing, it is indeed something to take time out to marvel at. I think it's called the Open Ocean exhibit.

3) The Little Things
With very impressive living creature exhibits arrange by the different Seas, there came a myriad of sea creatures that looked different even if they were of similar species. There were many interactive stops like touchpools, children arts and crafts stations, video presentations and various information decks to cater to different types of visitors from tourists, couples, locals, families, et al. There was also a typhoon or hurricane simulator which RWSInvites members go in for free with up to 5 guests. Amenities were adequate, staff were friendly, walkways were wide, and had appropriate stairs and ramps for prams.

4) Stacking Up I
From a local perspective, the only competitor the SEA Aquarium has is the Sentosa Underwater World. Before I visited, I had always wondered firstly, what the point was to have two supposedly huge-ass aquariums as tourist destinations in Singapore, much less on Sentosa Island. This was some form of cannibalization wasn't it? Secondly, having visited the Underwater World multiple times since it first opened to much fanfare in the 90s, I didn't think the SEAA could have been far better. Boy I couldn't have been more wrong.

Firstly, the SEAA is far, far, really far, better than the Underwater World. See point 3. Also based on layout and exhibits, the SEAA trumphs its competitor very comprehensively. Secondly, the Underwater World is old. Really. And it looks like it's going out of business, being unable to stand up to the SEAA's competition.

5) Stacking Up II
From a more global or regional perspective, I've been to New Zealand's Kelly Tartan's Underwater World, Australia's Seaworld, Hong Kong's. And I can firmly say that the SEAA stands on its own here. Not because it is definitely the best of the lot, since the other places offer slightly different things as well but it is the most impressive by far in terms of entertainment value.

I will definitely recommend anyone to make a trip down.

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