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9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
Travelled from NYC up the Hudson River, through the multiple locks on the Erie and Oswego Canals, into Lake Ontario, through more locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway all the way to the Saguenay in September 2014. We stopped at many smaller ... Read More
Travelled from NYC up the Hudson River, through the multiple locks on the Erie and Oswego Canals, into Lake Ontario, through more locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway all the way to the Saguenay in September 2014. We stopped at many smaller cities and towns along the way as well as Montreal and Quebec City. This was a great experience. We had 72 passengers (capacity is 88) with the majority being in the 60-late 80s age range. The staff on the ship were efficient, pleasant and professional. Food was for the most part excellent and always abundant. Fresh fruit, baking, hot and cold beverages available 24/7. We had a pastry chef on board which meant fresh bread and/or baking every meal. With Blount's home port being Rhode Island, seafood was frequently on the menu. Food restrictions were able to be accomodated. Onboard entertainment in the evening included an onboard lecturer, local to the port musicians, movies. Bus and walking tours were available at many ports at an extra cost. Lecturer organized a short stretching session pre-breakfast later in the trip. (Would be awesome to have entire trip!) Cabins are small but efficient. Some folks in top deck rooms commented on their rooms being cramped as they had separate shower stalls and sliding doors onto the deck. Main floor rooms were more spacious depending on location. Avoid main floor rooms at the stern due to noise from engines/generators as well as ones near to doors into the dining room, lounge and deck due to noise. Blount has a BYOB policy as well as complimentary beer and wine at lunch and supper. Blount hosted 3 happy hours with open bar and hors d'oeuvres. My only real complaint was with internet access. First world problems! But if you are someone depending on using your cell to keep in touch with home or work while away, be aware that Wifi was not available most of the time in part because the ship only uses a hot spot and limited number of people could use it at any one time if you did have reception. Once we entered Canada, there was no wifi the entire time as the host of the hot spot didn't have a Canadian data plan or had used up their data plan. Because of the route, there were often times when we couldn't get any cell reception (via 3G). Don't count on there being easy internet access at some of the ports, esp at the smaller ports. I do highly recommend travelling with this line! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2013
The Grande Mariner is old and shows it age; the shower was rusty and mildewed. That said, everything else was acceptable. And the crew kept our cabin and the common areas well vacuumed. Our cabin was adequate with good storage and ... Read More
The Grande Mariner is old and shows it age; the shower was rusty and mildewed. That said, everything else was acceptable. And the crew kept our cabin and the common areas well vacuumed. Our cabin was adequate with good storage and excellent lighting, better than in in many hotel rooms. The food was abundant to the point of wastefulness. Our only complaint was that it was too salty, and the meats were overcooked. There was always a choice of fish or meat. Lunch was formulaic with soup, sandwiches and salad. Breads, cakes, and cookies were baked daily onboard. Fresh fruit, pastries, and beverages were available all day in the dining room. Wine and beer were available at lunch and dinner. Several night local groups provided musical entertainment which was average at best. The cruise director provided games on other night but there didn't appear to be much interest in them. The passengers were similar to what you find on Road Scholar trips: well educated, retired people, interested in many things, good company. The staff was pleasant and helpful. During a bad rain storm, the captain proved his mettle when a medical emergency arose and he coordinated a docking at a small marina and arranged for an ambulance to take the passenger to Albany . The onboard historian was excellent and provided daily lectures. We learned much about the natural and political history of the rivers and canals and towns along the way. Port stops were towns along the way with Quebec City and Montreal at the end of the trip. A day-long excursion to Cooperstown was offered, but it meant missing much of the Erie Canal and the locks. We enjoyed the morning excursion to Hyde Park. A naturalist joined us on the Saguenay River to assist with the whale watching. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2012
Several years ago, I bought a Danube Christmas market cruise on the MS Bolero through Gate 1. When we got on board, we were told the river was high and there was a bridge we could not get under. Bottom line, no cruise, and THEY KNEW ... Read More
Several years ago, I bought a Danube Christmas market cruise on the MS Bolero through Gate 1. When we got on board, we were told the river was high and there was a bridge we could not get under. Bottom line, no cruise, and THEY KNEW BEFORE WE FLEW TO GERMANY THAT THERE WOULD BE NONE. The July 25 departure was my first experience with Blount Small Ship Adventures, on the Grande Mariner. As we sat in the airport, boarding passes in hand, my wife got a cell phone call that the ship had blown an engine and we would not board at Chelsea Piers in NYC as planned, but they would take care of us. My thoughts were, "deja vu all over again". Another disaster. We arrived at Chelsea Piers and were met by the captain. We were bussed about 5 hours to Warren, RI, where the ship was and boarded the ship while they worked on it. We got underway almost two days later, and were still 200 miles or so from the original starting point of NYC. While in Rhode Island, we were given open bar and a no cost tour of Newport, RI. Once we sailed, the captain poured on the coals to make up time. Most of us had flight arrangements out of Toronto on Aug 3. He made up the time, but did it by steaming all night much of the time. The original plan was to steam mostly by day to see the scenery. So, I missed seeing much of the Hudson River since we ran it mostly at night. Much of the Erie Canal was run at night, not the original plan. The company made all optional tours free, and some such as Niagara Falls would have been close to $200 per person. We made all the tours, such as The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, tours of Kingston, Ontario, Toronto, etc. We stopped at Oswego and Ogdensburg NY, but nothing much there. The company also provided free wine with meals, not the usual procedure. The ship holds around 96 passengers, and there were about 65 actually on board. At 70 and 68, we were among the youngest on board. There were walkers, canes, oxygen tanks. About 10 or so were from the NYC area, another 8 or 10 Canadians from around Toronto, and the others from Florida, California, Missouri, South Carolina, Virginia, etc. We represented Texas. But the passengers overall were middle class, very well traveled and educated people, who were a joy to get to know. Meals were informal, family style, NEVER a dress code or assigned seating, and we got to know a lot of them well. They were retired professional people. The food was good, and we always had choices. I gained 6 pounds. The crew were all Americans, mostly young, and the ship flew the US flag. Crossing into Canada was easy. The tour director collected passports, Canadian officials came on board, and she took care of it as we ate dinner. We never saw the customs people. The captain is who made lemonade out of lemons. Captain "Mike" was everywhere doing everything. We ate with him several times, and had informal chats other times. Bottom line: nothing that went wrong was the fault of Blount or the ship's crew. They did all that was humanly possible to undo the damage of a breakdown and get us to our destinations. The ownership must have taken a big loss on this trip what with all the "freebies"they threw in. Give Blount a try. I think you will be glad you did. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2012
My wife and I sailed on the Grande Mariner from June 16th to June 23rd out of Navy Pier in Chicago. The cruise took us to a number of different ports including Mackinaw, Sturgeon Bay and Milwaukee. For a small ship, 69 passengers and 18 ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Grande Mariner from June 16th to June 23rd out of Navy Pier in Chicago. The cruise took us to a number of different ports including Mackinaw, Sturgeon Bay and Milwaukee. For a small ship, 69 passengers and 18 crew, it was well maintained and the food was excellent. The baked goods were consistently some of the best I have ever eaten. Most of the passengers were older than us but we had a great time talking with them. They are all young at heart. Our cabin was in the second to the best tier, room 40B. Small but quite comfortable and perfectly located. The crew was professional, the captain was seasoned, Lisa the cruise director was on top of things and the baker Kristen was friendly and as previously mentioned one of the best bakers I have ever come across. If you are looking for a quiet and relaxing time with great food I would recommend this cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2009
This was our first experience with river cruising. We have done 5 ocean cruises on Regency, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. We were not sure what to expect on such a small ship but we were VERY pleasantly surprised. Our biggest ... Read More
This was our first experience with river cruising. We have done 5 ocean cruises on Regency, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity. We were not sure what to expect on such a small ship but we were VERY pleasantly surprised. Our biggest concern was whether or not we could survive in a cabin that was 8 x 13. It turned out to be a non-problem at all. Yes, the shower was small and yes the cabin was small but we spent so little time there that it was never a problem. The cruise itself was absolutely wonderful!! Mother nature did not always cooperate but that did not deter any of us from having a good time. The ports of call were very interesting and there was a good amount of time allocated for excursions. You did not have a plethora of excursions to choose from but the ones that were there really highlighted the items of interest in the ports we visited. We stopped in Kingston, NY, Troy, NY, Sylvan Beach, NY, Oswego NY, Alexandria Bay, NY, Montreal and Quebec. From our point of view, Quebec was the highlight of the trip. Very interesting city. Will definitely go back there. Our ship had a capacity of 100 and there were 56 of us on board so we were really spoiled from that perspective. Without a doubt, the highlight of the cruise was the food. How the staff could prepare the variety of meals that we were served and the quality of food is a real testament to the chefs on board. Let there be no doubt that we will cruise with ACCL again. The service was friendly, courteous and wonderful. The food was great and the total experience was MUCH better than many we have had on BIG ships. Hooray for ACCL. Read Less
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