Last week my mum, the children and I took a trip to The Deep in Hull. I have only been to Hull a couple of times before, however that was when I lived in Yorkshire and it was only a 45 minute ride away, this time it took us just over two hours! Fortunately the children were great and I planned ahead and brought a few books and the dvd played, which definitely helped.
We arrived at 11.30am and the first thing I noticed was that they charged £3 for parking. I thought this was a bit cheeky as you don’t have much choice but to park in their car park and as people are paying to enter as well I didn’t really see the need for this. Once I had bought my parking ticket we head to the pre-ticket section inside the aquarium. Thank goodness we did as, despite the fact the kids had just gone back to school and it was only a weekday, the queue was quite big. It is obviously a popular place. Given that the entry is so much cheaper than any other aquarium I have been to – £10.75 for an adult and £8.75 for a child over three – maybe that was why. We were sent through to the entrance, however we decided to feed the children first so as not to have two grumpy-bums whilst we walked around.
I was quite impressed with the selection on offer. There wasn’t a huge choice of hot food, however the sandwiches on offer were quite a range, and the kids meals had some different choices than you would normally see, including sausage rolls, fruit pots and milkshakes. Lunch for two adults and two children cost us £15 – pretty cheap compared to many places.
The Deep is the world’s only submarium and you are gradually taken down 10 metres, via 3,500 fish, sharks and stingrays. It sits on the edge of the Humber Estuary in a dramatic building designed by Sir Terry Farrell. It all sounded quite impressive to me so I was looking forward to seeing it all.
We first were taken on a tour of 4 billion years of history. For this part we followed a ramp taking us down a level, where there were interactive sections and fossils on display. The children were a little young for the interactive bits, but were quite overawed by the huge shark and turtle bones jutting out from the wall above us.
We then arrived at the Tropical Lagoon where there was a lady giving out lots of information on all the creatures. There were so many fish and rays in there it was incredible and J had a chance to get out of the buggy and look around, which he loved.
The next and most impressive part was the Endless Ocean Tank, which features at several points throughout the day as it can be seen from all levels. Filled with 2.5 million litres of waters it is absolutely huge and the size of the animals in there takes your breath away.
There were huge stingrays, which seemed to be H’s favourite, and she informed me she she didn’t like the catfish. We even spotted a large sawshark swimming above our heads.
We then walked through the Kingdom of Ice, where the children could touch real ice walls. This was a different element, although we didn’t get much chance to look as J hurtled through a full pelt and down the next ramp, with me chasing behind him!
The children definitely loved the freedom they had at the aquarium. The walkways were wide so there was plenty of room for them to run about and we weren’t queueing all the way round as people ahead of us looked at the displays, as I have experienced in other aquariums. J was in his element running from tank to tank pointing at all the fish and it was a pleasure to watch their faces light up. H was excited to spot several ‘Nemos’ swiming around in one tank and for the older children there were plenty of things to interact with and learn about.
One of the great features is the soft play area as you get towards the end of the visit. It isn’t a huge area and I can imagine at busy times it being jam-packed, but there were only a few children in and it was perfectly safe for both H and J to play in with minimal supervision (J does have a tendancy to try and walk down slides so often needs catching as he flips down them).
The only problem we found is that H needed the toilet and there was nobody around to ask, so I ended up carrying her as fast as I could up eleven flights of steps back to the start! When I returned my mum had asked somebody and there were some slightly closer, however I think children’s toilets and changing facilities are a must near a play area where they are likely to spend a good amount of time in and should at least be signposted!
After the children had run off some steam, it was time to exit. I did like the added element of rising up through the 10 metre tank as you head back to the surface, giving the children one last chance to see all the fish before we left.
All in all we had a great day at The Deep. There were a few little niggles that I think could make it a bit better, but on the whole it is one of the best aquariums I have visited, especially for younger children. We were relaxed and happy as we walked through and didn’t feel rushed or shoved about. It is good value for money and there is a lot of different things to see and do, you could easily spend a few hours here.
*We visited the aquarium for free, however all opinions are my own.