5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Wanted to see scenic, interesting destinations that would also be accessible to travel with brother who has somewhat limited mobility. Small-ship cruising is ideal, especially to explore America, so that we can continue to explore, ... Read More
Wanted to see scenic, interesting destinations that would also be accessible to travel with brother who has somewhat limited mobility. Small-ship cruising is ideal, especially to explore America, so that we can continue to explore, discover, have marvelous travel experiences, without the concern or hassle of long-distance air travel, packing/unpacking, driving, checking in/out of hotels. The itinerary - which they changed around on the spot because of bad weather at sea - brought us from Warren RI, to Bristol, Newport, New Bedford, Martha's Vineyard (where we stayed an extra day), Nantucket before returning to Warren. Each port is fabulous to visit and the ability to return to the ship when one got fatigued was great. Small ship cruising means we get to dock (except for Nantucket), and simply walk on/off. The days pass so pleasantly: there is an early bird breakfast put out at 6:30 am (coffee and freshly baked goods), breakfast at 8 am. Touring and exploring. Lunch at 12:30 pm (if you want to return to the ship). 5:30 cocktails (it’s BYOB except for welcome and farewell cocktail parties with an open bar and delicious hors d’oeurves); 6:30 dinner; then an evening activity at 8:30 pm– a movie, live performance (we had a trio on one night and a Martha’s Vineyard native, folksinger Mark Alan Lovewell, doing sea chanties before we came to Nantucket), and one night when we played a rollicking game of “LCR” (everyone puts up three $1 bills, rolls dice, and at the end, whoever still has a bill, wins the pot). The food on board is excellent and the menus, which reflect the region and use locally sourced comestibles, feature New England classics: a lobster bake with clams & mussels was a definite highlight; New England clam chowder; lobster bisque). The baked goods including fresh breads and scones, are outstanding. Three meals are provided daily. There are beverages and snacks available all day. Dietary restrictions are accommodated. We are encouraged to Bring Your Own Beverages aboard which we can put in a cooler or at a bar, and each evening there is a 5:30 cocktail hour when all the fixings are provided (house wine and beer are provided at no charge at lunch and dinner), but there is also a welcome aboard and farewell cocktail party with an open bar and delectable hors d’oeurves. The ship is modest, unpretentious, but is very comfortable, very clean and well maintained (it was refurbished in 2009), and has everything you need. There is a pleasant lounge ringed with windows; an expansive dining room (also with windows along the walls on both sides) an open sitting area (with fitness machines) on the back deck, and an open air top deck with lounge chairs and a canvas cover for rain and sun. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We (3) went on this cruise because it was an expanded version of the same cruise we took last year. Spent several hours at the Warren dock before departure because the low tide was unexpected? I thought tide tables were published in ... Read More
We (3) went on this cruise because it was an expanded version of the same cruise we took last year. Spent several hours at the Warren dock before departure because the low tide was unexpected? I thought tide tables were published in advance. Unfortunately, just like last year, we spent the first night in an unplanned destination (Bristol, RI), and then did not go to Cuttyhunk, MA as planned. Overall, the food, served family style, was very good. It was the best part of the trip. Tours were okay, although the tour director lost one passenger on the 12 meter sailboat cruise. She was just not paying attention. Also, the Block Island visit was a bust because there was no transportation available into town. Again, the cruise director could have done a better job just by communicating was was and what was not available. I think she needs a lot of additional training. All the stops were enjoyable, but I liked Nantucket and Newport the best. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
We were looking for a tour in the United States as we had traveled in France on the Canal du Midi last year. We were interested in seeing parts of the country we had never visited and enjoyed traveling the Great Lakes, Erie Canal and ... Read More
We were looking for a tour in the United States as we had traveled in France on the Canal du Midi last year. We were interested in seeing parts of the country we had never visited and enjoyed traveling the Great Lakes, Erie Canal and Hudson River. The boat while not luxury was very comfortable. The food was EXCELLENT as well as the servers and chefs. Snacks were always available although meals were plentiful. It was exciting to experience going through the locks and having others tend them. (We did it ourselves on the Canal du Midi). The tours we attended were excellent and well organized. We met fun and interesting people. The logistics of the trip including lowering and raising the pilot house were well planned and executed. We enjoyed visiting with the captain at the final dinner on board. He was so knowledgeable about the areas we visited and shared this information as we traveled. I would recommend this trip highly. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This trip was taken with a group of 11 early-mid 70's age friends from California who are all very experienced travelers. ( By the way, it was a VERY old crowd and we were younger and more active than most. Youngest couple was ... Read More
This trip was taken with a group of 11 early-mid 70's age friends from California who are all very experienced travelers. ( By the way, it was a VERY old crowd and we were younger and more active than most. Youngest couple was mid-50's and oldest mid-90s). We were attracted by the itinerary from NYC to Chicago by transiting, canals, rivers and the Great Lakes. Most people are not aware you can do such a thing! We also liked the idea seeing small and large towns and experiencing navigating 40 locks as well as the casual no dress code and BYOB policy. We enjoyed this trip very much, but are not sure we will be repeat customers. The boat is small, clean, but showing age, and holds 80 passengers and we were 73 so it felt very full. Had we not experienced excellent weather and smooth sailing conditions I think we all would have been miserable. We thoroughly enjoyed spending time on upper deck which gave us a lot of moving around space and great views. However when the deck was closed for 2 1/2 days because the pilot house had to be lowered for us to get under the smaller bridges, or when there were too many bugs or a bit too much humidity, we felt very confined. The main lounge was crowded and there was always the dining room for cardplayers, but the two remaining outdoor areas on the main deck had limited seating and there was engine noise. Cabins were too small to spend time in. Windows were sticky and hard to open when we needed some fresh air. We would not pick an itinerary on this type of boat where weather is certain to be an issue. It just wasn't big enough. The crew was friendly and hard working and it seemed like everyone had two or three jobs. The dining room wait staff set up and served the meals, then cleaned our rooms. Two wait staff quit the first week and replacements came on board days later. The tour director, Jasmine was also very friendly, but unlike our other trips, there were no port briefings from her and most of her time seemed to be spent organizing the paid shore excursions, which were very good and affordable. Jasmine did not seem to have a deep knowledge of our ports and we were left mostly to rely on what she put on the bulletin board and maps she had available. We are not sure if this sort of "hands off" policy is Blount's or was a result of this run being fairly new to her. The crew and captain were accessible and friendly. The captain did a masterful job of keeping away from the negative weather and gave excellent navigation briefings each day along with good narrative as we traveled in the more scenic smaller areas. Very informative. Food was excellent and what we all characterized as upscale home cooking.....the kind of thing you would want to serve to company. Baked goods were exceptional down to homemade hamburger buns! Breakfast was partial buffet with fruits, hot and cold cereals, yogurts, juices and pasties. Hot items were brought to the table and were passed family style. Lunch was also family style and started with a delicious soup, then sandwiches or salad, always potato chips and pickles, ending with a tray of brownies or homemade cookies. Dinner was plated and there were generally two choices of main dish and desserts (including homemade ice cream.) We were asked to give our dinner choices at breakfast so the chef had an idea of quantity but you were not held to it. For those that needed substitutions at any meal, it could be obtained if you asked, however choices were limited. This was not announced fromally but the servers were helpful and cheerful about it and often offered. It was not easy to try to keep our group together for meals as tables cannot be reserved. We managed through trial and error. The entertainment was hit and miss and consisted of local musicians coming on board, a movie (usually themed to one of our stops) or a lecture. Some were good, others fair but it was something to do. Unlike other river and ocean cruises we've taken, the lectures by Stuart were unorganized and boring and not at all up to what we have become used to. However Stuart was great one-on-one and if asked, had lots of ideas and knowledge about the stops. He was helpful when cruise director didn't know or wasn't around. All in all, it was a good trip, we saw we wanted to see and came away a few pounds heavier, however the restricted size was an issue and would have been more so had the weather not been so cooperative. Who can count on that when you have to plan months ahead? Small ship adventures are unique and interesting but not necessarily for everyone. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
This was one of the most expensive cruises we had been on. We had the worst cabin of all time, 73 sq ft. The cruise director must be new. She did not provide sufficient entertainment on board. Example, we had a good lecturer and he was ... Read More
This was one of the most expensive cruises we had been on. We had the worst cabin of all time, 73 sq ft. The cruise director must be new. She did not provide sufficient entertainment on board. Example, we had a good lecturer and he was given a time slot of 8:30PM and never during the long cruise days. He was helpful with the guests but not permitted to provide additional information. We only had a couple movies in the same time slot. Very little planned activity during the day. Only one TV on board and not able to use during cruising. Considering we had many days cruising. Tours were marginal at best and considering the average age on the tour was 75, many times long walks to the buses. If you wanted WIFI connection, you could not get it most of the time (Hard to believe in this day and age.). The ship looked like it needed new carpeting and an overhaul. On a positive note, the food was excellent and ample. The crew were very nice, accommodating, and worked very hard!! (Big turn over during trip.) The Captain was very good at planning for good seas and he was an excellent communicator. If you want to relax, read and eat then this cruise might be for you. Read Less
7 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 ... 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, ... 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
10 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
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 ... 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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We have river and ocean cruised several times. This was totally unlike those. Tiny cabins because the size of the boat. Very tight quarters but you know that if you read the brochures first. The ship is this size so it can fit into ... Read More
We have river and ocean cruised several times. This was totally unlike those. Tiny cabins because the size of the boat. Very tight quarters but you know that if you read the brochures first. The ship is this size so it can fit into the locks on the Erie Canal. We went up the Hudson River, Erie Canal , Lake Ontario, and St Lawrence Seaway. We hit the fall color perfectly and what a gorges way to see the colors. Each stop had something to see and learn. The bar is BYOB of all things. Mark your bottle and the honor system really worked. Least expensive bar tab ever on a cruise. We found the food outstanding. Lunch was soup and sandwiches. Dinner was usually 2 choices with wine and beer served with lunch and dinner. The food wasn't necessarily fancy but was very nice. The service staff cleaned your room and then fed you! Only 88 people and you really get to know them! All were world travelers and enjoyed meeting others. Folks from Europe, Australia, Canada and the US. My wife and I were 70 and probably the middle of the pack age wise. Definitely a mature group an this cruise. I won't compare it to the big cruise lines. It is too different. We just really enjoyed our 2 weeks and hated to leave. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Background have long said I have 2 favorite cruise lines which are polar opposites, Blount and Crystal. The line is not for everybody, but does have a very loyal following which I consider myself part of. Ship info: Luther Blount was ... Read More
Background have long said I have 2 favorite cruise lines which are polar opposites, Blount and Crystal. The line is not for everybody, but does have a very loyal following which I consider myself part of. Ship info: Luther Blount was involved in many businesses. He started in the Oyster business and branched out into shipbuilding. His entry into cruising came from taking family and friends on his personal yacht and the demand grew until he expanded into building and sailing small cruise ships. His signature journey was through New York’s Erie Canal and he designed his ships with that journey in mind with shallow drafts and a pilot house that retracted to allow the ship to pass under the canal’s 17-foot bridges. Other trips went to the Caribbean and he added a patented bow ramp which allows the ships to ground on a beach and the ramp to run either to shore or to shallow water for snorkeling. A Captain once quoted one of Luther Blount’s mottos, “Give them everything they need and nothing they don’t”. When I first sailed with the line in 1996 I described the creature comforts as “somewhere between basic and spartan”. The current generation of ships is a bit bigger and better equipped and following Mr. Blount’s 2006 death daughter Nancy has added some woman’s touches bringing things closer to the upper end of that scale. I don’t think the vertical restrictions required for passing through the Erie Canal would permit having the machinery required for an elevator, but the current ships all have stair chair lifts on the main stairways. Dining: Meals are served in a single dining room on the lower deck of the ship. Meal times are set, usually 8AM, 12:30PM, and 6:30PM although there may be a slight variation to fit into port and activity times. There is a daily set menu which is posted each evening right outside the dining room door. If something on the menu does not work for a passenger, a quick word with the chef will result in a substitution. A number of passengers were gluten free and were very well taken care of. Seating is first come first served and over the course of a cruise one can share a meal with virtually everyone else on the ship. Breakfast begins with a buffet table with hot and cold cereal, fresh fruit, toast, milk, and juice. Breakfast entrees are served family style at each table. Lunch is also served family style (without the buffet table) but the stewardess individually serve the dinner entrees. Until recently there was a single dinner entree each day but in the last few years there has been a choice (usually a meat option and a seafood option) as well as a special desert of ice cream. Passengers are asked to select their dinner choices at breakfast. I think everybody meeting in the dining room 3 times a day enhances the bonding of passengers Blount generally does not sell alcohol. The basic policy is BYOB, but within the last few years wine or beer have been included with lunch and dinner, and there is an open bar one night at the beginning and end of each cruise. There is a cooler in the lounge where passengers can keep their bottles chilled. Self service coffee, tea, cappuccino (new since my last visit), and soda as well as granola, fresh fruit, and baked goods are available in the dining room 24 hours per day as well as a second soda machine in the lounge and morning coffee in the lounge. Activities and entertainment: This was a port intensive cruise and there were not a lot of onboard activities. We had a photographer who gave presentations on how to take good pictures (no, he does not hound you for pictures in the dining room or at ports like happens on some ships; he does sell a CD with photos of the trip for a nominal price), and a naturalist who gave talks on wildlife, fisheries, and local history. The small crew does not include entertainers as such, several local groups came on various evenings and performed, where we had neither local entertainers nor a naturalist presentation a movie would be shown. Where there are “sea days” the Cruise Director will organize some games in either the lounge or the dining room. Fitness: There are not a lot of facilities but they are improving somewhat. A walkway circles the deck with the lounge. It is narrow and short, something like 15-20 laps per mile, but it is available. The lowered pilot house prohibits walking around this deck on the Erie Canal, but then there are ample opportunities to walk on shore. There are also bicycles available to rent and a new addition, 2 stationary bikes aft. Children: Blount is really an adult oriented operation and children are not encouraged. A minimum age of 14 is the usual rule although children may be accepted on a case by case basis. Service and Crew: This is one area where the “Everything you need, nothing you don’t” has it’s greatest impact. Our crew of 15 was pretty typical, We had 3 officers, a chef, cruise director 5 stewardesses (occasionally, as here, one of the stewardesses who is experienced and outstanding gets the title of hotel director), and 5 deckhands. There is a lot of self service, such as the coffee bar between meals, and rooms are made up only once per day. The emphasis is on quality of service rather than quantity. Blount has several American flag competitors. I have not sailed them but others I talked to on the voyage have. The consensus was that while the others have more upscale facilities, Blount stands head and shoulders above the others in quality of service. All the staff are engaging and friendly and will do anything that they can fit into their limited duty time. It may be the New England work ethic but the staff are truly outstanding. In times of rough seas anybody, officially on duty or not, is ready to help anyone who needs it with a steadying hand. Disembarkation: Disembarkation is pretty straight forward. The extra cost services are very limited (shore excursions, logo clothing, and transfers is about it). All of that is handled by one person, the cruise director. Midway through the cruise she will collect disembarkation plans and credit card numbers. There is typically a bus hired for passengers headed for the airport, and plans will be made to secure other transfers as appropriate. Bills will be processed the day before disembarkation. Bags are left outside rooms before breakfast on the morning of disembarkation, and following a leisurely breakfast people will be called as their transportation is ready. Summary: Blount is not for everyone. If you need “luxury” and pampering, Broadway style shows, and an array of specialty restaurants you will need to go elsewhere. For good, well prepared food, friendly service, and a family atmosphere you have a home here. Read Less
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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
Background: Blount Small Ship Adventures truly marches to a different drummer in the cruise industry. A family owned company, the term family will come up often, and I typically use the term in the way real families actually work, not some ... Read More
Background: Blount Small Ship Adventures truly marches to a different drummer in the cruise industry. A family owned company, the term family will come up often, and I typically use the term in the way real families actually work, not some stylized version of the term. Founder Luther Blount was the company's guiding influence for 40 years, leaving his mark right up to his death in 2006. His daughter Nancy is now President and has added some woman's touches but the family tradition still continues. Despite the company's minuscule size (it's 2 ships have a TOTAL capacity of 190 passengers), there are almost 2 distinct companies, and most passengers are fiercely loyal to one or the other with little intermixing. The Caribbean side centers on water activities, primarily swimming and snorkeling, while the North American itineraries center on scenic cruising and history. For those who have sailed with Blount (formerly ACCL) in the past, changes from recent years are that wine is included with lunch and dinner and there are now choices for both dinner entrees and deserts. Embarkation: The ship was docked at the North end of the Port of New Orleans beyond the bridges and near the Port Administration Building and Mardi Gras World. As I approached the gangway a deck hand took my bags and headed for my cabin. Check-in is handled in the lounge where I gave a crew member my ticket and my choices for dinner and picked up a name tag. Normally one of the stewardesses will escort a passenger to the cabin and point out the features; Im pretty much a Blount regular and that wasnt deemed necessary. Ship info: All of Blount's ships are designed to cruise New York's Erie Canal, which has several bridges with about 17 foot vertical clearance. They have a retractable pilot house which normally sits on the topmost deck but can be lowered to the deck below. One unfortunate consequence of the design for low bridges is that the ceilings are low (approximately 6'3") which would be a consideration for people over that height. The Grande Caribe, and near twin Grande Mariner, have 2 ½ inside decks, with 6 cabins and crew areas on the lowest deck, and cabins and dining room on the middle deck, and cabins and lounge on the upper deck. There is a walk around the outside of the upper deck, about 15 laps per mile, although walking is really better done ashore. An open upper deck is on top, except when transiting the Erie Canal. Staterooms: The cabins are tiny, basic, and functional. Most are approximately 80 square feet, and have a small sink and toilet. The space between the sink and toilet serves as the shower, with the shower head mounted on the wall, and a curtain which comes into place on the other 3 sides containing the spray in the shower space. It's very nontraditional but quite functional. A few cabins now have separate showers. There are generally 2 beds sitting at right angles, cabinet space and a writing desk. One thing that may surprise newcomers is that the cabin doors do not lock from the outside. With the small, family atmosphere I've never heard of this causing a problem, but it is certainly unusual. Most of the Niagara Prince cabin doors face interior hallways and are sliding fabric, much like sliding room dividers. Each cabin has an individual heat-ac unit, much like a room air conditioner. Rooms are not equipped with television or phones. Crew: Since these are US flag ships, the crew is all American, and generally young. We had a crew of 16: Captain, First officer, Engineer, Cruise Director, Hotel Director, Chef and assistant, 5 Stewardess and 4 deck hands. The entire crew from Captain on down is closely engaged with the passengers and will all typically address the passengers by name. We are much more on our own than on a typical cruise ship (for example, if we want a mid-afternoon cup of coffee we pretty much need to pour it ourselves), but the service is very personal and professional. Dining: All meals are served in the dining room. In the tradition of real family dining, there are set meal times, generally 8am, noon, and 6pm. Also, as with real families, the chef sets the menu of the day, with a choice usually of a meat or seafood and 2 deserts for dinner. The menu is posted the night before in the dining room. People who see something on the menu they don't like will speak to the chef a meal in advance and a substitution will be offered. The tables are for 6 or 8, and at the appointed time we pick a vacant seat. In the course of the cruise I shared a table at least once with nearly every other passenger. Breakfast starts with a buffet line for fruit, milk, juice, and hot and cold cereal. Cooked entrees are served family style (large platters are passed around the tables). Lunch is also served family style, while dinner is served traditionally. Between meals there are snacks available in the lounge and dining room, self service soft drinks in the lounge and a coffee station in the dining room. Blount serves drinks on the Captains welcome aboard and farewell nights and wine with dinner. At other times the policy is BYOB. There is storage space, including a refrigerator, for passenger liquor in the lounge and drink setups are always furnished. Activities and entertainment: Formal entertainment is fairly limited. The Cruise Director organizes a couple of games each day but the emphasis is on either ports or scenic cruising. An onboard naturalist gave presentations on environmental topics, and was out on deck pointing out wildlife. In the evening there is either a movie in the lounge or a local entertainer when in port. There is no casino and very little shopping. The ship's store with Blount items is opened once each cruise. Other shopping needs will have to be met on shore, and the cruise director will help find the right places at each port. Children: Children are generally not encouraged. The policy is a minimum age of 14 years although I have seen younger mature children on a case-by-case basis. Disembarkation: A breeze. Since there are few onboard expenses, we settled our bills the day before arrival in St. Petersburg, and the cruise director collected our departure information and arranged taxis/shuttles as appropriate. Luggage went outside our doors the morning we disembarked. After breakfast it was arranged in the lounge sorted by departure time. When we were ready we simply walked off the ship. I had a taxi to meet my Amtrak departure. It arrived a few minutes ahead of the reservation. I was paged, walked off the ship, and found the crew had already loaded my luggage in the taxi. Summary: Blount is not for everybody. People who want a big menu of activities, those who want to be pampered in luxury and those who have a preset idea of what a cruise should be are likely to be disappointed. Those who are open to a new and intimate experience can have a wonderful time. Prices tend to be on the high side reflecting the lack of economy of scale and the fact that the crew is earning American wages. Ports: Shore tours are not included in the fare, but are moderately priced. On this cruise they ranged from $29 to $85 with an average of about $60. New Orleans: Blount sometimes allows embarkation a day early, and I was able to board a day ahead of time with dinner and breakfast included. There were no ship activities on the general embarkation day and I went for a cruise on the Natchez, a steam paddlewheel riverboat. It was very enjoyable with views of the waterfront, French Quarter, Algiers, and sites from the War of 1812 and Civil War. I did not partake but a lunch was available which looked quite nice. The next day the ship offered 2 shore excursions. The morning tour was a city and Katrina tour where we visited cemeteries, various styles of architecture and toured the canal system and areas where the system failed. We had a refreshment stop at the Art Museum park. The afternoon tour was an airboat tour on the bayous where we saw lots of wildlife including closeup views of alligators and bayou cabins. It was excellent. A local R&B group entertained in the evening. We were supposed to leave New Orleans at 7 the next morning but our departure was delayed until 8:45, probably because we had to pass through a flood control gate that would be closed until noon. I had time for a morning walk where I found excellent internet at a Starbucks near the most downstream cruise terminal. Biloxi: We docked with yachts at a marina which may have been attached to a casino. We had a train tour which visited the main sites and stopped at the final home of Jefferson Davis. A highlight was the Katrina Sculpture Park where a chainsaw artist used some trees destroyed by Katrina to create beautiful sculptures of birds and sea life. The evening we docked a local historian told Stories of Biloxi. Mobile: Our visit here was just a morning. The ships tour went to Bellingrath Gardens and Home, although I skipped it in favor of a visit to a local Laundromat. We docked behind the Convention center, right in the midst of the downtown area. A free shuttle hits the major downtown sites about every 15 minutes. Most Blount stops in Mobile spend the day there and a great option is the USS Arizona Battleship. That visit requires a taxi. Pensacola: We docked at the Plaza de Luna, staying from about 9PM for a full day and overnight, leaving early the 2nd morning. We were greeted by a welcoming party of drummers in period costumes. The location was convenient to the center of town and museums. There were again morning and afternoon tours. I skipped the morning tour which toured the sites and museum complex. The afternoon tour visited the National Naval Aviation Museum, an astounding collection of historic military aircraft spread over 2 huge hangers. We also visited Fort Barrancas, one of several forts which protected the harbor entrance, and the Pensacola light house, where 177 steps provided a superb view of the area. A local music group performed that evening and we left early the next morning. Pensacola was a real gem. There are not facilities for large cruise ships but I think it would be a great alternative to Key West for ships like Silversea, Seabourn, or Azamara. Panama City: This was essentially a rest stop for the officers as the crew size does not work well with multiple overnight cruises. We docked at the local marina around dinner time. Panama City appeared to be a nice, quaint small town, but it was pretty much closed up on a Sunday evening. A local blues singer came aboard to perform. Carabelle: A first call for Blount, Carabelle was a bit of a disappointment. A tour was planned for a nature experience at Tates Hell State Forest, but the tour operator ended up with a capacity of only 4. A local historian gave an evening presentation, and offered his van for the afternoon to escort people to th local museums and shopping places. Tampa: We docked at the Westin Harbor Island. I passed on the morning tour to the H.B. Plant Museum. In the afternoon there was a shuttle to local attractions on the waterfront, Tampa History Center, Florida Aquarium, or the American Victory. I visited the American Victory. Victory ships are a WWII upgrade of the Liberty Ship and was a very interesting ship. These attractions are all very close to the Tampa Cruise Port. We had an evening performance by violinist Leah Rothe who played mostly classical music but sampled several styles. St. Petersburg: Our disembarkation stop was just a stones throw from Tampa. We docked at the port of Tampa and were all given day passes for the looper trolley. Points of interest there were the Dali Museum, the city pier (about to be demolished), Fine Arts Museum, Holocaust Museum, and a unique open air post office.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2012
Very friendly staff (everyone) the captain and all passengers the food was good the fruit and bread always freshly baked and top notch there was always plenty of food 24 hours a day complimentary soda,juices and snacks 24 hours a day being ... Read More
Very friendly staff (everyone) the captain and all passengers the food was good the fruit and bread always freshly baked and top notch there was always plenty of food 24 hours a day complimentary soda,juices and snacks 24 hours a day being a small boat we were able to get into the ports and just walk off all of them except Nantucket. The ports were great and the Captain was always available to answer ALL of our questions. The passengers for from as far away as France to local Dedham and Watertown MA I highly recommend Blount to anyone looking for great food and different ports that the big ships can not get into. WE had a larger cabin 54B which had plenty of room and a large window. You bring your own liquor so you save alot of money and you just put a label on it keep it in the shared refrigerator and no one ever touches yours . Having cruised over 95 times I am amazed that I have missed such an incredible gem, BLOUNT small ships I have no negatives just remember it is not luxury if you are looking for great ports and DO NOT want to get dressed up even at dinner than this is the line for you we LOVRD it and can not wait to go to Belize in February and all the towns from Boston to Florida and enjoy all the destinations no other ship goes to in 2013 with lunch and dinner you will get complimentary beer and wine with lunch and dinner. Look at there website and then call your travel agent to book a great vacation with Blount it will be a great adventure whichever one you decide I can not wait to experience them all and they are owned by a local family. Being a small ship they have many advantages and can stay later in ports and almost do whatever they need to keep the passengers like us VERY HAPPY I hop[e to sail real soon. LOVED BLOUNT!!!!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2010
I can't say enough about the food YUM!! My husband and I are 52 and almost 50 we were young here. We met the greatest people and had the best time!! The food was GREAT! They serve family style 8am, noon, and 5 or 6 with cocktail hour ... Read More
I can't say enough about the food YUM!! My husband and I are 52 and almost 50 we were young here. We met the greatest people and had the best time!! The food was GREAT! They serve family style 8am, noon, and 5 or 6 with cocktail hour before. Everyone wears their name tags and you get to know them and make new friends. The cabins are small but ours was comfortable. We were on the sun deck by the lounge (very handy) We had room for everything. Very casual dressing. The shower was separate from the toilet. The beds were comfortable. We were in the hallway by the stairs and the lounge and it was quiet, once in awhile we could hear people in the next room but every one goes to bed early. The air conditioner is a bit noisy but by the second day I never noticed it. You can lock your door from the inside but not the outside this was no problem. The crew were great, everyone was nice as can be and helpful This is a very relaxed and laid back cruise to small towns with interesting history. We had a photographer on board that gave talks about taking pictures and photography, he was great about giving tips and private talks to anyone. There was an historian on board that gave Civil War talks. Also some other interesting folks came aboard for talks and demos one was a low country boil YUM! Loved the byob policy! There was really only one negative for us and that was my fault for not researching the towns before the cruise- We would have liked to have more choices of things to do but we are maybe a little more active than the typical passenger. That was a very minor negative! Also we didn't stay in port very long on a couple of stops. The cruising was mostly done during the day. This cruise was on the spendy side but worth it for the no worries relaxation and good company! All in all we just unwinded and really enjoyed our vacation!!!! I would take another cruise with this company. 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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2006
ACCL_Grande Caribe 12 day Erie Canal trip Mostly older crowd -- 55+. Our cruise started out badly due to Mother Nature The trip was revised due to the damage in the locks of the Erie Canal. Most of the ports had been changed. We had ... Read More
ACCL_Grande Caribe 12 day Erie Canal trip Mostly older crowd -- 55+. Our cruise started out badly due to Mother Nature The trip was revised due to the damage in the locks of the Erie Canal. Most of the ports had been changed. We had booked the 40s cabin -- behind the dining room. At the time of booking the reservation agent told me they were good cabins only to find out when we boarded they were over the engine room and a compressor or some machinery that cycled on/off every 10 minutes. The A/C was so noisy we could not talk to each other unless standing side by side. The cabins are small, consisting of 2 twin beds, metal hanging cupboard and a metal set of drawers. The door to the cabin is a folding door with no lock from the outside & a hook lock from the inside. The premium cabins have a chair and small writing table. The head is small but functional, no door and had to use the shower curtain as the door. To shower you need to have the shower curtain in front of toilet and around in front of doorway. Only bar soap, toilet tissue and tissues supplied so need to bring shampoo etc. The staff did not seem to clean the room and the toilet area very well.. After a few days we noticed odors from around the toilet area and the shower curtain was soiled. Towels are changed every other day & sheets half way through the cruise. The blankets were badly worn. The lounge was in the bow and had ample seating with sofas & tub chairs with additional seating on the sides in the form of bench style seats & the upholstery could use a good clean. There was a large T.V. for watching movies, no TV. Stations or radio...if in port they would buy the newspaper. The bar was B.Y.O.B. and snacks were in the bar area, goldfish, nuts and snack mix. Sodas were free from the pop dispenser. There was a games cupboard and a small choice of books to read, plus magazines on the coffee tables. We had a 3 piece jazz group come on one night & a lady from the local Pioneer village dressed in period costume. Other nights they played older movies or nothing. The staff (16) was good during working hours but when they finished their duties you could never find anyone. Thank goodness no emergencies occurred when they were off duty. Seems the ships personnel is off at the same time. The dining: The food was very good and they always had goodies in the cupboard, there was a coffee machine and tea selections as well as ice tea. Andy the cook & his assistant Leah were the best -- very good selections of menus through the cruise & very accommodating for those that had special dietary needs or did not like the meal offered that day. The first night of the cruise we never slept at all because of the noise from the A/C & engine. We spoke to the purser about being moved. The ship has room for 100 PAX but we had 29 PAX surely they could move us up 1 deck. She could not do anything -- we next spoke with the 2nd Captain (they have 2) he said yes this is a small ship & there is noise you will get use to it. WHAT??? We paid almost $6000. Why should we have to get use to it! Next we called H.O. & they have no manager on duty and they have no authority to do anything. So we were stuck with a cruise that didnt resemble anything we booked, a noisy cabin that we could not sleep in. Another older lady spent the first night up in lounge because she could not sleep in her cabin located in the same area. There were 4 cabins booked in this area and the purser told one lady if I move you then I have to move everyone SO WHAT!! There were several cabins open on the deck above they could have made several people more comfortable. We found we could be moved for the pricey sum of $200. PP. So we were stuck for 12 days with lack of sleep and ports of call that had little or anything to do. The tours were not well organized or the information on taxis or things to do in the Port was very sketchy. BOTTOM LINE I would avoid this cruise line if you have ever cruised before, if you have never cruised before you may find it acceptable & buy into their small ships make sounds tale. There are other nicer cruise lines that deliver better service for the money. Read Less
Grande Caribe Ratings
Category Editor Member
Dining N/A 4.3
Entertainment N/A 3.1
Family N/A 2.1
Rates N/A 3.6

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