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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We wanted a small ship that was within driving distance and found Blount. They have two older very small ships that are identical. We knew it was a small boat but weren't prepared for just how spartan that meant. It's a very seniors ... Read More
We wanted a small ship that was within driving distance and found Blount. They have two older very small ships that are identical. We knew it was a small boat but weren't prepared for just how spartan that meant. It's a very seniors oriented setup, max of 84 passengers in 40 cabins. The others on the boat were all born in the 1940's. The ship has no real amenities to speak of. It was very clean but badly in need of refurbishment. The dining room is downstairs and the living room is on main deck. The cabins are on either of those two decks. Living room has uncomfortable chairs and a large TV which showed a movie on one evening. A local author spoke on another night. Nothing else in way of entertainment is offered. Bring your own books. Or load movies on the iPad first. The young crew is very sweet and helpful. You can walk the outside of ship and sit on top deck. The excursions are reasonably priced at each stop. Usually just a bus tour except for Newport where you visit a mansion. The wifi is abysmal at port and nonexistent at sea. Your phone gets better service than ship's system. Yes it's free and they assume the seniors don't need internet connection. Food is very typical buffet quality. The big night is lobster bake, other nights are choice of fish or meat/ chicken. The real issue is that this isn't a very cheap cruise. For the ship you are on, the value just isn't there. I had researched American Cruise line and others seemed to like them better. Or just go with a larger cruise line unless number of passengers is really your priority. Yet over half of the passengers were repeats! Why? I think it's simply due to the very small number of passengers and non-intimidating small ship. People want small and pokey since it's very simple and easy to deal with. Less confusion all around. They ring a bell and you head downstairs to dinner, not complicated at all. Don't expect to sleep late. Breakfast is 800am and it's all gone by 830. Lunch is 1230 and dinner is 630. No assigned seating used. I won't be returning but please investigate all other options before buying this trip. Compare the price per day per person and especially consider the lack of a real cabin here, plus zero entertainment / amenities. See my details on the room below. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
I wanted a small ship experience with lots of intracoastal sailing opportunities. We truly were able to "go where the big ships cannot!" My most enjoyable moments were on the various canals we traveled through - lots of neat ... Read More
I wanted a small ship experience with lots of intracoastal sailing opportunities. We truly were able to "go where the big ships cannot!" My most enjoyable moments were on the various canals we traveled through - lots of neat wildlife and landscapes to see! I particularly liked the guest lecturer on board - he was very knowledgeable and entertaining. Blount offered a cruise where we were able to explore many historical areas while sailing up the East Coast, and the lecturer was a renowned historian who added great information to our locations. The chef and his assistant both get an A+ for their meals and fresh-baked pastries, and the crew was professional and accommodating. My favorite was either the steak and lobster or seared tuna, and plenty of great dessert options were available. The Captain was a courteous, professional mariner and his crew members were incredibly accommodating. I enjoyed interacting with them and the other passengers on Grande Mariner. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We have always wanted to go to Lake Mackinac and were delighted with all you can see and do on this island including The Grand Hotel which was awesome. Payment to enter is waived for all Blount customers. All the ports were certainly ... Read More
We have always wanted to go to Lake Mackinac and were delighted with all you can see and do on this island including The Grand Hotel which was awesome. Payment to enter is waived for all Blount customers. All the ports were certainly worth seeing and all of the tour stops were great. The Captain took pains to steer around any rough weather spots on this cruise and kept us informed regularly. The staff and all of them were simply outstanding, most helpful and took great care of the passengers. We had 66 folks on board from all over the U.S. We got to know each other fairly quickly and quite a few friendships were formed. The ship brought in entertainment in the evenings which was enjoyable. The boat has an outstanding chef and the food was well prepared and well presented. Wine and beer are served with lunch and dinner. Fresh homemade Snacks were available throughout the day. While on this short cruise we had TWO open bars with outstanding appetizers. The tours were excellent. Some were free and some had a modest charge. The Grand Mariner is NOT a large river boat such as we have taken in Europe. The cabins were small and with large windows allowing you to see Lake Michigan as we cruised. To its credit, photographs were shown on the brochures of each level of cabins Our Tour Director, Lisa, was simply great. She made suggestions on what to see for each stop as well as being most helpful answering questions or solving any issues that may arise. Transportation to the airport was handled with precision and making sure you arrived at the airport with time to spare. We will certainly travel with Blount in the future. Richard and Diane Graham Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Chose this cruise for the ports we were stopping at. Knew ahead of time that the ship was old and rooms would be small, but older and smaller than expected. Limited water usage made washing hands/shower difficult. It is at the Captain's ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the ports we were stopping at. Knew ahead of time that the ship was old and rooms would be small, but older and smaller than expected. Limited water usage made washing hands/shower difficult. It is at the Captain's discretion if the itinerary changes due to "weather" and we missed one of our stops. Also cancelled one of our tours at one of the major ports, then promised there would be something else "nice" to replace it, but no there wasn't. Internet access is a joke and there are no TVs anywhere on the ship. No real entertainment, just a lecturer and photographer. Very boring evenings and long days. On the positive side, staff was great, helpful and hard working. Food was good and enough at each meal. Chef baked fresh breads and deserts which was something to look forward to. Our stop at Mackinac Island was delightful. However, Sturgeon Bay (cancelled tour), Beaver Island (didn't stop weather), St. Ignace nothing there, Manitowoc, same thing. We booked our own tours in Chicago and that helped to salvage an otherwise disappointing cruise. Do not think I would cruise with Blount again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
I chose for the destinations: Newport, RI, Nantucket and New Bedford and Martha's Vineyard, plus Block Island and a brief overnight on Cuttyhunk. I knew it would not entail cruise ship luxury, and was okay with and expected that. What I ... Read More
I chose for the destinations: Newport, RI, Nantucket and New Bedford and Martha's Vineyard, plus Block Island and a brief overnight on Cuttyhunk. I knew it would not entail cruise ship luxury, and was okay with and expected that. What I did not expect was so little organized activity options, mold in our shower, and beds worthy of a kids' camp cabin. To suggest that this was an "adventure" cruise is ludicrous, unless you count one chance to kayak and one to go on a sailboat, both for an extra charge. Be aware that no activities are included in your base price, except for a few shuttles. This is not like a European river cruise, where at least one outing a day in included. To be fair, their tours offered are inexpensive except for the sail. The brochure and website suggest there will be lecturers on history, wildlife, etc--but this week there were none. The website and even a sign on our boat talk about bikes and kayaks being onboard "on some trips." We had none, despite being in locations where access to both would have been helpful. The food was good, with both a seafood option and another meat for dinner each night, and they accommodated passenger allergies nicely. We did have lobster every day as advertised, including a nice "lobster bake" dinner. One day it was in an omelette for breakfast, another in a bisque for lunch. Once it was in a sauce over cod. The homemade breads and pastries at every meal were wonderful! Red and white wines and beer were offered free at both lunch and dinner. This would not be a good trip for vegetarians! Cocktails were offered free on two nights. Until the last two nights when pleasant singers came onboard, the only evening entertainment was an old movie on the one TV onboard, in the lounge. We met people who had been on as many as 16 previous Blount cruises, and frankly, we just do not understand why. Probably the Caribbean snorkel cruises attract a younger and more active crowd. We enjoyed our meals, our destinations and had plenty of time to nap and read--but in other ways this just did not measure up to our expectations. We have been on a number of smaller ship cruises before in Europe and the US and Canada, and have been pleased with two river cruise companies over several trips in Europe, so I do not consider ourselves to normally be critical people. We will not be repeat customers with Blount. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
I chose this trip as an opportunity of leaving from near my home and visiting the N. E. Islands - Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Cuttyhunk, Block Is, plus Newport RI. I had never been on a "small ship" before. Grande Caribe, and ... Read More
I chose this trip as an opportunity of leaving from near my home and visiting the N. E. Islands - Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Cuttyhunk, Block Is, plus Newport RI. I had never been on a "small ship" before. Grande Caribe, and her "sister", Grande Mariner are, I am told, similar to many river cruise ships. Limited passenger numbers - max here 84, on this trip 54, small cabins, limited menus and entertainment. We left from Warren RI, Blount's "home". There was basically no "security", no hassles, no invasive X Ray machines etc. as we left from, and were only going to American ports on an American flagged and crewed vessel. At the end no Immigration, CDP, etc. just walk off, pick up your luggage arranged alongside the ship and onto your onwards transportation, which for many was a bus to Providence RI (TF Green) airport. For me, I had left my car at Blount's, the attendant brought my car up, loaded my luggage and I drove away.-how nice! Cabins are quite small - I was in the largest size category and it was only 10'8" by 8' including the small bath and separate shower compartment. Showering reminded me of my Navy Shower days - get wet, turn off water, soap up, then rinse. Why, because each cabin has its own tiny hot water heater that only can make 4 gallons at a time. Room contained two twin beds - which could be combined into a double - a small closet, drawer space and a side table - no chair. Rooms are serviced in the morning and towels replaced as desired.There ae really only three "public spaces" aboard - the Lounge, Dining Room, and top deck "Sundeck" (partially covered by an awning. Food was good I thought but with limited choices. Unfortunately meats/fish were frequently overcooked, vegetables TOO al dente for many, and served lukewarm. Problem is that the Galley is only the size of a small bedroom and so preparing and serving for 80+ at one time is taxing for the limited space available.Breakfast began with a fruit and cereal buffet, eggs etc. and a meat were placed on tables of 8 Family Style. Lunch was a Soup and Sandwich affair. At breakfast you were asked to select your dinner choice - one meat, one seafood choice available. Lobster was served in one form or another each day, and one night there was a "Lobster Bake". The ship, being as small as she is, was able to dock in every port except Nantucket where we anchored out and transferred by water taxi. A Water Taxi was also used in Newport to transfer pax from our berth at Ft Adams to downtown. Blount offered additional cost tours in each port. Evenings aboard there were either local lecturers/entertainers or a movie in the lounge. Blount has a BYOB policy during the day providing mixers, soft drinks, snacks etc,and serves beer/wine at all lunches/dinners - all complimentary. Unfortunately as Blount has a All America crew and is registered here, her fares are in the same rather expensive category of other American flag vessels, and thus are 100-150% higher than comparable "main stream" foreign flagged vessels, e.g. Carnival, RCI, NCL etc. At 77 I was perhaps the youngest passenger, most being in their 80's and some in their 90's. Children are not allowed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2017
We had looked forward to this cruise Great American Waterways sailing from Chicago through the Great Lakes, Erie Canal Hudson River to New York finally to Rhode Island. We recently returned home after taking the above cruise with Blount ... Read More
We had looked forward to this cruise Great American Waterways sailing from Chicago through the Great Lakes, Erie Canal Hudson River to New York finally to Rhode Island. We recently returned home after taking the above cruise with Blount Small Ship Adventures on the Grande Caribe. .When I received our travel documents I called the Blount office in Warren to make reservations for some of the “optional excursions” offered.The agent booked the tours and my credit card was charged and I was told I would receive a confirmation email and vouchers for the excursions by mail. I did not receive confirmation I called Blount. The agent was extremely rude and told me as I had not made my original cruise booking directly with Blount she could or would not help and that I needed to contact my agent. When I asked why in fact the company had charged my card I was told “that’s not my problem"This certainly was not a good beginning and certainly not good customer service from the company representative. Our travel documents included the address and directions where the ship was docked in Chicago which we gave to the driver met us at O’Hare. What these instructions failed to mention was we needed to pass through three security barriers to reach the ship!!! We could see the ship but it was a long walk with luggage to carry. Eventually a member of the crew came on a bicycle and opened up each of the gates. The Grande Caribe certainly could do with some refurbishment. We did find the lounge became overcrowded when all the passengers were on board with not enough seating for everyone and when the occasional lectures or entertainment were held that we did not wish to attend the only place to go was our cabin. Service in the restaurant was often slow and the cooked breakfast served family style was often cold by the time passengers were ready to eat. Four crew members left the ship during our cruise which made service even slower and eventually two replacements arrived from the office in Warren!!! Our Cruise Director was certainly “in over her head” when dealing with passengers who were asking for information. Her daily briefings were minimal and she was only concerned with the passengers who had booked “the optional tours.” Those of us who opted out of these excursions where left to our own devices and when my husband asked for suggestions or maps was told “Blount did not provide me with any information” or when I asked for a map she told me to “take the map from the notice board saying she was in a hurry to go and buy flowers!!” The map on the board was useless!! On all the many river cruises I have taken there was always one tour included and the Cruise/Tour director always held a daily briefing before dinner each evening. We had a recurring problem of a flooded floor in the bathroom in our cabin 52B. On three occasions the bathroom floor flooded. We were told the problem was “a leaking water valve” which was supposedly replaced during the first repair!! Another leak occurred a few days later and once again the cabinet beneath the sink which contained the water heater was flooded as well as the bathroom floor. Both were drained of standing water. Over the next few days I watched the water build up again and the day before we left the ship we again asked for this leak to be fixed as we had over an inch of water on the bathroom floor. No one came and I don’t feel that the cause of the problem was ever corrected. We spent the last 24 hours of the cruise soaking up the water with towels. The water in the shower never drained away so that also was a problem. We have taken many river cruises so we expected a certain standard and have always enjoyed our experience. This is the most expensive cruise we have ever taken. We have never had to pay port charges (always included). There has always been one tour included in the price. All tours ashore are an extra charge to an already expensive cruise. We are not normally critical but this cruise certainly did not leave us feeling that we would want to take another cruise this company We have returned home very disappointed. One good thing did occur on this cruise. We met a great group of people who when talking expressed the same feelings of disappointment. I have delayed writing comments about our experience with this cruise company because since returning in August I have tried to contact Blount both by letters sent by Priority Mail and by email and phone on several occasions to try and get some answers to the problem which occurred..Two months later I am still waiting for a response!!. I certainly could not recommend a company that ls so lacking in good customer service. It makes me wonder why Blount Small Ship Adventures has such a strong following of repeat customers!! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
My wife and I have been on many cruises over the years, both on major ocean liners and small ships, including catamarans. We have certain expectations, base on these prior experiences. Unfortunately this cruise did not meet those ... Read More
My wife and I have been on many cruises over the years, both on major ocean liners and small ships, including catamarans. We have certain expectations, base on these prior experiences. Unfortunately this cruise did not meet those expectations in many cases. We'll start with the food. The breakfasts were served family style, which we knew up front. However the way they do this is to put the food on the tables before guests arrive in the dining room. So the food is ice cold when you get there. Lunches were again family style and uninspired. We just skipped it one day and ate at a restaurant on land. Dinner was served smorgasbord style, you took your plate and went up to a table where they scoop the food onto your plate. Again, nothing exciting there. Overall the food was uninspiring and in some cases, barely edible. Then there's the cabins. Ours was exceptionally cramped and uncomfortable for the two of us. We were on a Viking River cruise in Europe last year, so we know what is possible on small ships, and this just didn't come close to matching up. The cruise director was very nice but totally inexperienced. Clearly they did not train her properly, she tried to direct us to things to do and see on the shore but she really didn't know much about the attractions. Fortunately we checked on the internet ourselves and figured it out. She also generally was not prepared with maps of the area. This is not the fault of the cruise line, but at times the water was very rough and caused my wife to get seasick. In hindsight we would have been better off going on our own, taking ferries to the various locations and staying at inns. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We knew the cabin would be small - around 90 square feet. What we did NOT know was that you could not walk around the double bed. You could not tell this from the cabin drawings. And we were in one of the expensive rooms! There was ... Read More
We knew the cabin would be small - around 90 square feet. What we did NOT know was that you could not walk around the double bed. You could not tell this from the cabin drawings. And we were in one of the expensive rooms! There was only an area about 4' long where you could access the bed, so I had to crawl over my husband to get into or out of bed. The bed was the only place to sit, and the top of the bed hit me at mid-thigh (I'm 5'3' so not terribly short) so sitting on the bed was not an option. It would have been more leaning on the bed. A lot of the rooms were made up as two single beds, and I think it was done so you could at least have an open area where you could walk and two people could access the beds. The heating and air conditioning duct was right over the bed, and was so noisy that when we went to bed we would cool the room down, turn off the air conditoning, and wake up at 12 or 1, turn the air conditioning back on for half an hour so it would cool down, and then go back to sleep. The one good thing - our cabin was near the front of the ship. Those cabins in the the back half of the ship were INCREDIBLY noisy when the ship was cruising. I have no idea how the people slept back there. Ear plugs, but I don't know if those would have worked either. A lot of the reviews state that you don't spend much time in your cabin. How could you? There's no where to sit. Next, shore excursions. These were quite good, and very reasonably priced. We went to the Norfolk Navy base and had an entertaining tour led by a young officer, and the Breakers, a huge house built by the Vanderbilts in the early 1900s. Also a panoramic tour of NYC. In those ports where Blount offered a walking tour, we just did our own walking tour. Saw some Victorian houses, a WWII destroyer at the Nautilus Maritime museum, the ship Constellation, as well as two ships in Providence. Next, food. Dinner was served at either 6:30 or 7:00. There were only two entrees, but five nights we went down at dinner time, ate our salad, and then waited an hour for the entrees. It was like the chef didn't start cooking until we got to the dining room. Two nights the beef was so tough I couldn't eat it. They served wild rice three nights, rice three nights, some weird sweet potato concoction one night, and regular potatoes only twice. Oh yes - coucous two nights. One night it was totally unseasoned, and the other it was undercooked. Forget the el dente excuse - if a macaroni product still tastes like flour, it is undercooked. The last night it was a mixture of sweet potatoes and idaho potatoes, which would not have been my choice. For breakfast, since the hot dishes were put right on the table, and you lined up for cold items (cereal, fruit) we just sat at the first table that had hot dishes already on them, and went back later for fruit, or whatever. The staff were fantastic. Very helpful, especially there was only a crew of 19 total for 66 passengers. One thing - it appears they were sometimes TOO accommodating. One night at dinner one of the people at our table asked for a baked sweet potato, which they agreed to. Well, we had to wait while it was baked. By the time we got our food most of the other passengers were already on their dessert course. As to the demographics, at 69 I was one of the five youngest people on board. Another large group was in their mid-70s, some in their mid to late 80s, and some, from the looks of them, in their 90s. Everyone, with only a few exceptions, did not have mobility issues, which was in itself amazing. I have NEVER been on a cruise with such an old group of travelers. And we've been on 21 Road Scholar/Elderhostel tours. Most people were very pleasant. We shared tables at dinner and in the lounge with almost everyone. The lecturer was scatter-shot in his approach, and read all the time from his notes. If you know your stuff, you don't need to read from a sheet of paper. And he would sometimes talk for over an hour (1.5 hours once, 1.25 hours another), which I felt was overkill. Only attended one of the musical nights. Entertaining, but sort of a community center feel to it. To summarize, these cruises are actually fairly cheap for such a small ship and for a 12 day cruise. Personally, I will pay more in the future for more amenities and a larger cabin. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
The itinerary was wonderful. The only issues were cleanliness of the bathroom, trying to board the ship from a dock in Chicago and the meals. Chef was terrible; can't express how awful...people not eating some nights because food was cold ... Read More
The itinerary was wonderful. The only issues were cleanliness of the bathroom, trying to board the ship from a dock in Chicago and the meals. Chef was terrible; can't express how awful...people not eating some nights because food was cold and they ordered peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!The baked goods were outstanding. Owner did not like any negative feedback...thought we were not a good match! Been on many, many cruises and never had to complain! So sad because we loved the trip. If the food had been decent, the bathroom floor clean and a way to board without waiting for someone to get us from dock J to S ...we would have been delighted with the trip. Enjoyed the staff in the dining room. Tried to cover up for the terrible meals. Have no idea how they were not complaining. The Captain told us the Chef was new and he was working with him..at our expense. Can't believe that they put a new Chef on a trip without first having him on board with a Chef that they knew was great. Read Less
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