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Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Review

A deep dive into its performance, value, and missing filters

By Brian Williamson | Written on April 16th, 2024
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Robotic Pool Cleaner

What is the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus?

After running the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus into the test tank for two weeks, we're ready to share what we found. We get asked about this budget model from the Nautilus series often. This model is sold mostly on Amazon, where it attracts Dolphin buyers looking for rock-bottom prices.

Buyers will save a few hundred dollars below Dolphin's mid-priced and premium lineup.

But, there’s a catch.

The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus is missing some important features and offers limited functionality. Notably missing are waterline cleaning and NanoFiltration. Some buyers rush into buying without noticing these missing features in the product description. They soon realize what's missing when they open up the box and drop it in the pool. Today’s buyers fully expect the ability to return products that don’t meet their expectations.

However, buyers of the Nautilus CC Plus often find there is a 20% restocking fee and sometimes even more. For detailed information on the Dolphin Nautilus return policy, don't miss our guide to “Restocking Fees".

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Cleaning
We put the Nautilus CC Plus in our test tank to see how it performs

Test Tank Findings

The Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus does a solid job for basic floor and bottom-of-wall cleaning. But, this model diverges significantly from other Dolphin pool cleaners in three key areas. For starters, there is no waterline cleaning ability. CC Plus will leave this critical part of the pool untouched. Pool owners are left with some manual scrubbing. Consider waterline cleaning a must-have if your pool tends to collect debris at the waterline. For many pool owners, the inability to clean the grime line is a dealbreaker.

There’s also the filtration. The Nautilus CC Plus doesn’t get the newer NanoFiltration technology. The CC Plus includes the older and larger pore mesh screens which are not fine enough to catch the smaller particles. The technical term for these suspended particles is turbidity. You’ll recognize this as cloudy pool water. This results in a clean that's not as thorough as it should be, leaving finer debris to float freely in the pool. Another area where the CC Plus doesn't quite match up is its filtration basket. It doesn’t get the newer and larger MaxBin style filter that is found in the new Max Series Dolphin lineup.

After two weeks in our test pool, we found that while the Nautilus CC Plus reliably cleans the floor and lower wall, it doesn't bring the same level of pool surface coverage you’ll get from a higher-tier model from the Pro Series. We would consider the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus at the top of the entry-level range in the Dolphin lineup. It makes some waves with its low price point but doesn't pull its weight when compared to the later more full-featured models. If you're looking for a pool cleaner that ticks all the boxes, from waterline cleaning to nano-scale filtration, this might not be the model you're looking for.

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Unloading Filters
The Nautilus CC Plus utilizes the 1st Gen Filters

What You Get With Nautilus CC Plus

  • Reliable and Proven Maytronics Dolphin Brand
  • User-Friendly Design: The Nautilus CC Plus prides itself on being straightforward
  • Two standard mesh top-loading filter cartridges
  • Anti-tangle swivel cable
  • Two-hour cleaning cycle
  • Cleans floor and walls (lower wall only) of pools up to 40 feet long
  • 2.5 Year Warranty
  • Dual Scrubbing brushes
  • Affordability: Amazon pricing but comes with a 20% restocking fee should you decide to return it.

What You Won’t Get with Nautilus CC Plus

  • No waterline cleaning ability. It won’t clean your scum line.
  • No NanoFiltration. The CC Plus won’t catch the smaller particles.
  • No larger MaxBin filters like the MaxSeries Dolphin Robots.
  • No 3rd Motor like premium models like Dolphin Sigma.
  • No Multi-Media Filtration which offers Oversized Leaf Bag + Disposable Bags.
  • No Gyroscope like found on the Dolphin Sigma.
  • No 3-Year Warranty (has 2.5 years).
  • No Free Returns (CC Plus has a 20% Restocking Fee).
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Lightweight Design
Ready to go right out of the box

Unboxing the Nautilus CC Plus

Like all Dolphin models, the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus positions itself as plug-and-play, promising a no-fuss setup straight out of the box. This robotic pool cleaner requires no assembly or intricate installation. All it asks for is a standard 115V outlet to plug into, making it a breeze to transition from unboxing to cleaning. We stretched the power cord from the bot to the power supply and then plugged the power supply into an outdoor outlet. One note of caution – make sure your outdoor power outlet is protected by a GFCI before plugging in any robotic pool cleaner.

Testing the Waters: How the Nautilus CC Plus Performed

With CleverClean technology, the Dolphin CC Plus promises to bring some smarts to pool maintenance. It's equipped with scanning software designed to navigate an intelligent path across your pool. In our test pool, the Nautilus CC Plus showed some navigational prowess on the bottom of the pool, but don't expect it to clean all areas.

Reaching and cleaning that tile line is not within the capability of the design. We liked what we saw from the dual scrubbing brushes. Made from durable yet flexible plastic bristles, they add a tangible benefit that’s easy to see. However, I quickly noticed as the Nautilus CC Plus started to scale the pool walls, it fell short of a full ascent. The waterline, that critical intersection of water and tile, remained untouched. In our test tank, the real test is always the pool's waterline – the battleground location of bacteria and biofilm. This is commonly called the scum line for good reason.

Here, the Nautilus CC Plus completely missed the mark. To be fair, it turns out the Dolphin CC Plus is not designed to clean the waterline. This is in contrast to the more premium offerings from Dolphin, like the ProLine and Max-Series, which don’t just climb the lower wall but scale and scrub the entire height of the pool walls. If you would like to see a pool robot almost magically defy gravity, see the Dolphin Premier.

The Dolphin Premier's Waterline cleaning attacks the dirtiest part of your pool

Filtration is King: Where Nautilus CC Plus Falls Short

The filtration system of a robotic cleaner is where the magic happens – or doesn't. In the case of the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus, I found a bit of a throwback scenario. Its filtration setup is a nod to the older style, featuring two top-loading cartridges. Look beneath the surface and another shortcoming emerges: the filtration media. The CC Plus uses what’s called a standard “fine filter," but don’t let the name fool you. This filter’s larger mesh gaps are more similar to a loosely woven net, letting small particles slip right through. The filters just aren't fine enough to trap the smaller particles that cause turbidity. This leads to a cleaning experience that's more surface-level than deep-clean.

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Filter Cleaning
The Nautilus CC Plus only has the standard filters

An effective pool cleaner lies not just in its ability to navigate the pool but in its power to purify – to capture everything from leaves and bugs down to the finest of particulates. And it's here that the Nautilus CC Plus's filtration system shows its limitations. This omission is especially obvious when some lower-priced models like the Dolphin Cayman have the NanoFilter included.

NanoFilters vs Standard Filters
NanoFilters (left & not included) vs Standard Filters (right)

Contrast this with the Dolphin ProLine which boasts NanoFiltration technology. NanoFiltration is the difference between a pool that looks clean from 30 feet away and one that truly is clean. These advanced filters use a tightly woven mesh that's capable of capturing particles that are microns in size. It’s like comparing a fishing net to a fine sieve – where the ProLine captures everything, the Nautilus CC Plus lets the smaller particles slip through the mesh.

NanoFilters™ are the elite troops of the filter world, crafted from fine polyester pleated material that forms a tight mesh. This mesh is so intricate that, under a high-powered microscope, it resembles a microscopic web, ensnaring particles as small as a few microns. Their pleated design increases the surface area, allowing for more extensive particle capture without sacrificing water flow. As an added bonus, these filters have an affinity for oil – a major benefit for pools that often fall victim to sunscreen-induced oil slicks and scum lines. When these oils get trapped, they’re enveloped in a sheath over the debris, making the cleanup act both effective and satisfying.

Read more about NanoFiltration →

Dolphin NanoFilters clean deeper than the standard filters

This isn’t just a minor inconvenience. The difference is plainly visible, especially if your pool is a hotspot for fine debris. After using any robot with a standard filter, the water doesn’t have the same crystal-clear appearance that you’d get with a cleaner equipped with NanoFiltration. This shortfall means more work for the pool owner – more chemicals, more fuss. In a world where clean is king, settling for less can feel like a false economy once you’ve lived with it for a few months.

So, where does this leave the pool owner? If your pool maintenance motto is “clean enough,” the Nautilus CC Plus might suffice. But for those who envision their pool with the clarity of drinking water, the shortcomings of its filtration system might be a deal-breaker.

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Wall Climbing
The Nautilus CC Plus cleans the floor and partial wall, not the waterline

Waterline Challenges

It’s that part of your pool where the water touches the air, and it's a tough spot for any pool robot to scrub clean. It’s understandable. The robot has to rise out of the water and cling to the side of the wall…while scrubbing the surface…a feat that appears to defy gravity. Here comes the Nautilus CC Plus trying to compete with the big boys. Unfortunately, it misses the mark on waterline cleaning.

Keeping the waterline clean is super important. It's not just about making the pool look good. If you don't scrub that line well, you're basically inviting all sorts of yucky stuff like algae and bacteria to set up shop there. And the Nautilus CC Plus? Well, the Nautilus CC Plus drops the ball when it comes to the waterline. It’s like it doesn’t have the right tools for the job. It’s not technically capable.

The ProLine's Dolphin Sigma cleaning the waterline, an area the CC Plus misses

Now let's contrast this with the Dolphin ProLine. Here's a machine that understands the assignment. The ProLine ensures that every inch of your pool, right up to the very top of the water is scrubbed. It’s like having a meticulous house cleaner who dusts every nook and cranny of your house. When complete, no surface is untouched.

The real-world difference in performance is striking. While the Nautilus CC Plus leaves you stuck manually scrubbing the waterline, the ProLine models handle this chore with ease. For folks who dream of a pool that’s not just vacuumed but spotless, the Nautilus might be a letdown. It does an okay job on the rest of the pool but that waterline is a biggie. You might end up having to do some scrubbing. Isn’t the whole point of a robotic cleaner to avoid that hassle?

While the Nautilus CC Plus might work for someone who’s okay with just okay. But if you really want your pool to shine, it might not be the robot for you. It’s a bummer, especially when you think about the $799 you’re shelling out. You might want something that does the job right.

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Poolside
Avoid the hidden restocking fees

The Hidden Cost of Restocking Fees

When you're shopping for a robotic pool cleaner, pay close attention to the Restocking Fees. This is a hidden cost that can sneak up on you. With the Nautilus CC Plus, restocking fees can hit hard. Imagine having to pay 20% to 50% of your initial payment if you decide the cleaner isn't right for your pool. That's a significant chunk of change. These hefty fees on the Dolphin CC Plus raise some questions. Why so much just to return a product? Are they trying to make sure they don’t get returned? Does it show they're less confident in this particular model?

Now meet the Dolphin ProLine. It's pretty much the opposite. Known for its waterline-cleaning ability and filtration performance, the ProLine also wins with customer-friendly policies. There are no restocking fees on the ProLine. It's a clear signal that they trust their product and care about keeping customers happy. Removing that fee makes it easier for people to decide to buy.

Explore all ProLine robots →

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Swivel
Some sellers of the CC Plus have a 20-50% restocking fee

But back to the Nautilus CC Plus. Charging such high restocking fees could be a caution sign. It feels like a risk. What if you're not happy and have to pay a big fee? It might stop people from choosing this cleaner especially if they're not ready to commit a lot of money without the ability to try on their pool and easily return if it doesn’t work out. In today's shopping world where returning items is usually easy, a big restocking fee seems out of step. It makes the Nautilus CC Plus seem like a risk that hits harder than its sticker price.

In contrast, the ProLine's approach feels right for today. It tells buyers, "We believe in our product and we're not worried about returns." This builds trust and confidence. So what should you keep in mind? Look beyond the initial cost. Think about other possible fees, like those hefty restocking charges. In the end, the choice between the Nautilus CC Plus and another Dolphin model could come down to more than just what they can do in the pool. It's also about whether you want to take on some extra risk.

Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Lifestyle
Avoid the hidden restocking fees

Is the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus worth it?

When looking at the Dolphin CC Plus, your expectations should be considered. The CC Plus is a solid choice if you want basic floor cleaning at the lowest possible price. However, the Nautilus CC Plus might seem a bit old-fashioned. It's cheaper because it's aimed at Amazon shoppers who love a good deal. But with newer and more advanced models out there, you might want to look at other Maytronics products. If you have a large pool or want the latest features and advanced filtration, the CC Plus might not cut it.

Targeting those who are careful with money, it skips the high-tech features like waterline ability and NanoFiltration to keep the price low. This Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus falls behind, especially compared to the newer units in the Maytronics lineup. For those who need advanced cleaning ability—like superior filtration, complete wall coverage, and waterline cleaning—the Nautilus CC Plus won’t be at the top of your list. You’ll want to check out other lines, like the Dolphin ProLine or Max-Series, where innovation and performance are at the forefront.

Alternative Robots

When searching for the best robotic pool cleaner, here are some robots that may be at the top of your list and improve upon the Nautilus CC Plus.

Dolphin Premier Robotic Pool Cleaner
Rated the Best Robotic Pool Cleaner by USA Today

Dolphin Premier

Rated the best robotic pool cleaner of the year by USA Today, the Dolphin Premier stands as the frontrunner as the top Dolphin robotic pool cleaner. Expanding upon the CC Plus, the Dolphin Premier is a major upgrade. With waterline cleaning, Media-Alert™, Multi-Media, NanoFilters, Commercial-Grade Motors, and a 3-year warranty, there is a lot to be excited about. Built on the commercial-motors, the Premier is more powerful and more advanced with SmartNav 2.0™.

It's an easy upgrade. With the longer warranty, more filters, and better performance, the Dolphin Premier excels in all areas.

Read more about the Dolphin Premier in my review →

Dolphin Sigma Robotic Pool Cleaner

Dolphin Sigma

The most advanced Dolphin robotic pool cleaner, the Dolphin Sigma stands out as a part of the ProLine. Utilizing a gyroscope, myDolphin Plus App, NanoFilters, and a 3-year warranty, the Sigma takes the crown as the king of the Dolphins. With more control and features than on the standard CC Plus Wi-Fi model, you unlock the full capability of a robotic pool cleaner in your pool.

Read the Dolphin Sigma Review →

Dolphin Cayman Robotic Pool Cleaner

Dolphin Cayman

There isn't a better value than the Dolphin Cayman. A part of the Dolphin Max-Series, it uses the Gen-2 MaxBin and can even upgrade it with NanoFilter panels. the basket is 50% larger than the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus. At only $819, you don't only save significantly but also get the upgraded Gen-2 MaxBin.

Shop the Dolphin Cayman →

Dolphin Quantum Robotic Pool Cleaner
Apart of the new Dolphin ProLine™, the Quantum is an all-in-one pool cleaning solution

Dolphin Quantum

The Dolphin Quantum bridges the gap between the Max-Series and ProLine. Utilizes the powerful performance and XXL MaxBin, the Quantum's filter basket is 225% larger than the Nautilus CC Plus' filter cartridge. With included NanoFilters, Waterline Cleaning, and more, the Quantum expands upon the CC Plus and makes it better in every way.

Read the Dolphin Quantum Review →