19 Blount Small Ship Adventures Grande Mariner Cruise Reviews

We traveled the Great Lakes from Chicago to NYC via the Welland Canal, 4 Great Lakes, Erie Canal, Lake Sinclair. Only Lake Huron was a bit rough for a day. Our cabin was basic 8 by 10. Separate shower and stool, 2 drawers and about 15 ... Read More
We traveled the Great Lakes from Chicago to NYC via the Welland Canal, 4 Great Lakes, Erie Canal, Lake Sinclair. Only Lake Huron was a bit rough for a day. Our cabin was basic 8 by 10. Separate shower and stool, 2 drawers and about 15 hangars. Next time I would upgrade to the 10 by 13. Food was outstanding. Yogurts, rolls, fruit, hot cereal and then 2 warm dishes either, waffles, French toast, eggs, sausage, bacon etc. Lunch was a soup and a sandwich and a huge cookie. Dinner was always 2 choices meat or seafood. Tuna, Mahi mahi, scallops, catfish, NY strip, prime rib, chicken, pork etc. Beer and wine were offered for dinner and lunch. Soda all day. On board lecturer did about 5 lectures, some evenings a movie, a dice game. One morning a bloody mary bingo. We had 65 passengers so there was always room in the lounge to sit and read, socialize. Passengers were very well traveled. It is a BYOB policy for happy hour with the ship hosting two happy hours. We never felt claustrophobic as there was room. Shore excursions were in addition and well attended. Jasmine was our cruise director and she was excellent. The ladies who were the wait staff and the room attendants were very accommodating. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to travel the Erie Canal, meet like minded people who do not expect a cruise liner atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was my first small cruise, determined not to go on a ship with a thousand other people. Overall I found it relaxing. However, though I had anticipated a small single cabin as not being very large, to call it small would be an ... Read More
This was my first small cruise, determined not to go on a ship with a thousand other people. Overall I found it relaxing. However, though I had anticipated a small single cabin as not being very large, to call it small would be an understatement. What was particularly galling was the ship I was told, was designed for 80 persons and many of the double cabins were empty, as there were only 38 passengers on board. I could easily have been upgraded along with the other singletons to a larger cabin. The Ac was very noisy and erratic. My sleep was constantly disturbed. For this reasons regarding the cabin I would not go on another Blount cruise. Furnishings in the room were a bit shabby. Most of the other passenger were pleasant and friendly, except for one or two who expressed their right-wing opinions loudly. One could sit with different people at meals. Food was served plated and there was always two choices, including fish,for dinner. We had fresh lobster twice. The kitchen was always willing to make accommodations for me as I am pescatarian. Over all the food was very good. One could bring your own tipple on board and wine and beer were served at lunch and dinner at no extra cost. Excursions were very overpriced. All in all, was a bit expensive for what was provided cabin wise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this river cruise because of the itinerary up the Hudson to the Erie Canal and onto the St. Lawrence Seaway. We knew the cabins would be small but my wife and I were still surprised at the bathrooms (think airline size) and the ... Read More
We chose this river cruise because of the itinerary up the Hudson to the Erie Canal and onto the St. Lawrence Seaway. We knew the cabins would be small but my wife and I were still surprised at the bathrooms (think airline size) and the shower with 5 gallons of hot water at a time. The ship was older and appeared as such. The captain and staff were very nice. The tours, however, left a lot to be desired. We bought the full package and regretted that decision. It is best to look into each one individually. We even received a refund on one tour that was ridiculous. The ship director was new to her job. She was a very nice person that was way over her head in the job. It is inconceivable why the company put her into that position without better training. Unfortunately, the norovirus broke out on the ship, which required the Canadian Health Officials to board our ship in Quebec City for an inspection. We know that viruses can breakout on any ship, but we felt the company and crew were not trained in handling the emergency. We were lucky not to have contracted the illness, but I think about a third of the passengers and crew got it. To top things off, the company's response regarding this cruise was underwhelming to say the least. Their basic response was: "These things happen" and then offered a 20% discount on a 2019 cruise. However, this was nothing more than we had already received on our 2018 cruise. We have done several river cruises in Europe and thought they were fantastic. Our experience with the Blount cruise has us questioning whether we will do another river cruise in the US. Read Less
Sail Date September 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 ... 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 June 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
Sail Date April 2018
The cruise was absolutely fantastic and my husband and I got to relax and unwind in paradise! The service was above and beyond, the food is always fresh and phenomenal (the dessert was my personal highlight!), and the sightseeing was just ... Read More
The cruise was absolutely fantastic and my husband and I got to relax and unwind in paradise! The service was above and beyond, the food is always fresh and phenomenal (the dessert was my personal highlight!), and the sightseeing was just wonderful! I would never go on a large cruise ship. Blount small ship adventures ships are exactly the right size, and the right amount of people! I would never go on a large, overcrowded cruise ship for several reasons. Blount small ship adventures ships are exactly the right size, and the right amount of people! The other gifts were from all over the world, and from different backgrounds, which made very interesting conversations and we left with many new friends. The ships are neat and incredibly smart and unique in their construction. Thank you Blount small ship adventures for this amazing experience! We will be back on board soon for sure! Read Less
Sail Date December 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
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 ... 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
Sail Date August 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
Sail Date May 2017
I had sailed with Blount before on one of their Erie Canal trips. I loved the smaller ship and the terrific crew. Several of the passengers told me about their experiences during their Caribbean cruise on Blount, and I booked the trip when ... Read More
I had sailed with Blount before on one of their Erie Canal trips. I loved the smaller ship and the terrific crew. Several of the passengers told me about their experiences during their Caribbean cruise on Blount, and I booked the trip when I got home. Flying into Belize City was very easy. Staff was there to greet us and help us to our shuttles. The usual tourist port had been damaged by a hurricane a couple of months before, so we were out on the edge of the commercial ships. Normally we would have been close to shopping and exploring on our own. The staff arranged a shuttle to take us from our remote location to points of interest. Lux Hunter, the naturalist, along with two guides, Victoria and Capi, made sure we had opportunities to see a variety of marine life, birds, and animals. I never felt rushed. When any of us lagged behind, they would reassure us that we had time. They explained activities, like a cleaning station with a parrot fish being serviced that I would have completely missed. The food was always excellent. Always prepared from scratch that day. Breakfast was served buffet style with a choice of cold cereals, a hot cereal, yogurt, fruit, an egg dish, and fresh scones or other bakery items. It was nice to come back from a morning of snorkeling to a delicious lunch of a hot soup, warm toasted sandwiches, chips, a salad or two, and yummy fresh baked cookies. Dinner had a choice of two entrees, with usually a fresh baked treat. The chef was always willing to make accommodations for any dietary restrictions. Dining is casual. Most of the tables seat eight, so plenty of opportunities to get to talk with fellow passangers. The cabins are small when compared to the big oceanliners. However, they are roomy enough with comfortable beds. Some of the cabins have wetbaths, but still are plenty roomy for taking a shower. There are a handful of cabins that are for the solo traveler who does not want to share. Blount will also pair you with another solo traveler, if their single cabins are full. The lounge is very comfortable for reading, playing games, or putting together a puzzle with fellow passengers. On top is the Sun Deck to watch the world go by, with a canopy if it is too sunny. It is also a great place for evening cocktails and entertainment from local performers. On the Belize-Guatamala trip we did a lot of snorkeling, went to a nature preserve, climbed some Mayan ruins, went to an organic Cacao Plantation (nothing like I had imagined, my favorite activity right after snorkling), visits to coastal towns, and a visit to the Belize Zoo. Due to adverse weather, we had change a couple of the dive locations and had to cancel one snorkeling day completely. The staff was able to make arrangements for other excursions. I cannot say enough good things about the staff. Every member seemed happy to be there, were always helpful, and answered questions about their jobs or suggestions of what to do. I am a retired female solo traveler with some mobility issues. I never felt rushed, left out, or awkward. They made sure I was supported getting in and out of the skiff and knew how the chair lift worked. A fellow traveler had some medical dietary restrictions; the chef would come out at the end of breakfast and discuss that day's menu with the passanger and together they would decide on any modifications. I feel very safe and well taken care of by the crew. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Blount Small Ship Adventures is just that, a small ship with adventures aplenty. Hubby and I have cruised with Blount many times over the past few years, but the cruise that I enjoyed most and I enjoyed twice was the Bahamian Out Islands. ... Read More
Blount Small Ship Adventures is just that, a small ship with adventures aplenty. Hubby and I have cruised with Blount many times over the past few years, but the cruise that I enjoyed most and I enjoyed twice was the Bahamian Out Islands. I always thought of the Bahamas as Nassau, well I soon learned that the Bahamas consists of 700 islands 30 of which are inhabited. Nassau was just our embarkation point. Our ship, The Grande Mariner, is a small but well equipped small ship. Our cabin was also small, but it had two twin beds with a night stand between, it was clean, it had adequate drawer, shelf, closet area and a large mirror and it had a window to open if you so desired. The room had A/C. Our cabin also had a small, clean, well lit and well-appointed toilet and sink room and a separate shower stall. No television was also a plus for us. Our cabin had everything we needed. This was a very laid-back and fun cruise. All the staff and crew were friendly and very accessible. Being able to visit the Captain as he sails the ship makes for a casual and relaxed atmosphere. The food is plentiful and delicious. With about 80 passengers on board, it felt like cruising on a friend's yacht. The cruise also had on-board very knowledgeable and friendly naturalists. They gave lectures in the evening about the day's activities and also presented a very informative snorkeling "how to" for us beginners. The naturalists were always available to answer questions and point out interesting facts. The ship comes equipped with kayaks and snorkeling gear for your use. No extra charge, by the way. Feeling comfortable with the crew and fellow passengers made me enjoy my trip even more. The bow landings were amazing. There's nothing like having your cruise ship only steps away while you're swimming, snorkeling or just sunning. Casual open seating meals is a nice way to meet new friends. Lots of fun activities are offered every day...hiking, sight-seeing, snorkeling, botanical garden walks, even swimming with pigs and swimming with sharks. Participation was your choice. Sometimes it's just fun to sit on the top deck in the sun and snooze. A BBQ on the top deck was fun. Visiting places like Spanish Wells where the people use only golf carts to get around and visiting some islands where there are no people at all was interesting. Get off the beaten path and go where the big ships cannot. We enjoyed our Bahamian Out Island cruise so much that we took the cruise again a couple of years later. It was still an amazing, fun and educational trip the second time. I guess that answers the question, "Would you do it again?"...Yes! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I went to the Bahamian Out Islands with Blount it was the best vacation I have ever taken. We boarded in Nassau and cruised past 4 HUGE cruise ships. We went to the outer islands that big ships will never reach. Spanish Wells, Harbour ... Read More
I went to the Bahamian Out Islands with Blount it was the best vacation I have ever taken. We boarded in Nassau and cruised past 4 HUGE cruise ships. We went to the outer islands that big ships will never reach. Spanish Wells, Harbour Island and Compass Cay to name a few. We had complete access to remote beaches and small towns inaccessible by usual tourists. We were docking with yachts and sailboats the entire time, even running into a few celebrities. The optional excursions were fantastic as well - my favorite is the ride in a glass bottomed boat with the Naturalist Luz who lectured us on fish and coral below the surface. The crew on these boats are absolutely phenomenal. Beginning on day 1, they will know you by name. If you need ANYTHING, just ask! Fantastic service. I also enjoyed the food onboard greatly. One of my favorite meals was a fun cookout on the top deck during Caribbean night where the captain made his famous punch and handed out delicious grilled shrimp. Blount is the type of cruise you take if you want to do something different and meet great people in the process. You bond with both passengers and crew greatly over the duration of your trip since they sail with less than 83 passengers. The ships are not luxurious by any means. It's truly about cruising in comfort and enjoying your experiences with people who make you feel as if, you are cruising on a friend's yacht! Blount also does trips from New York or Boston to Montreal, wish I am hoping to do one day, especially during fall foliage. I would highly recommend you put a trip with this cruise line on your travel bucket list!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
There is not much to choose from if you like to cruise small ships and wish to remain in or near the U.S. Blount Cruises offers wonderful itineraries on Eastern U.S. Lakes and rivers and coastlines. Advantages include a small passenger ... Read More
There is not much to choose from if you like to cruise small ships and wish to remain in or near the U.S. Blount Cruises offers wonderful itineraries on Eastern U.S. Lakes and rivers and coastlines. Advantages include a small passenger list, great ports to locations you might never take the time to see otherwise, and good food served at the table for all three meals. Wine, beer and soft drinks are free and you can BYOB. There are disadvantages. The cabins are excruciatingly small. We upgraded and received only 68 square feet of cabin space, not including a toilet/shower combo. UPGRADE as much as possible if you want to breathe, don't like engine noise, don't like air conditioning/heating noise or do like fresh air. Almost ALL the excursions cost extra. There is little to do in each port if you don't accept the optional excursion and pay for it. Some ports are eliminated due to inclement weather. Some ports are added to refuel or maintain the boat (nothing to see there at all). There is no social director. The person who manages guest services on the boat is obviously overworked, because she was not very social. The few activities planned were juvenile (bingo and paper folding). Movies were shown in the only lounge several evenings leaving no other place to read or play cards or even talk to other passengers in a lighted room. There was a guest lecturer on board presenting slides of vistas and marine history we did not visit, except for one on the Erie Canal in the entire 16 days. Very disappointing. We expected information on our ports, which included the home of FDR, West Point, Chicago, Cleveland, Mackinac Island, Niagara Falls etc. We did not enjoy lectures on the one Great Lake we did not visit, Lake Superior, or on shipwrecks and copper mining in that same region. Lectures were also held in the only lounge, which precluded any other social activity. The top open deck is closed during the canal transit. Prepare to spend a lot of time in your tiny room when the top deck is closed, or when there are activities in the only lounge you don't like. The boat goes SLOW...12 miles an hour for 1600 miles. This trip was relatively expensive, totaling over $15 K for two people. Lastly, the average age of the 83 passengers was 77. There was a stair lift. We were the youngest aboard (both eligible for Medicare), and threw off the curve. All were mobile, mostly friendly, well educated, well traveled, agreeable, and overwhelmingly politically conservative. Beware. Would we take this cruise line again? No. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We, a couple in our 50s, have sailed many times with Blount (formerly ACCL - American Canadian Caribbean Line) and absolutely love it. Here's the deal: The cabins are small, efficient, clean and comfortable. Public space is abundant: ... Read More
We, a couple in our 50s, have sailed many times with Blount (formerly ACCL - American Canadian Caribbean Line) and absolutely love it. Here's the deal: The cabins are small, efficient, clean and comfortable. Public space is abundant: top and aft outdoor decks, a large lounge and dining room. The crew is very friendly and accessible creating a relaxed family atmosphere. They are caring and real - no put-ons. The food is healthy and delicious with choices at every meal. Everything is homemade and tastes it. Even all the baking is done onboard which is tough on the waistline. Beer and wine is served with lunch and dinner if desired and the BYOB policy is great. The ship supplies mixers, condiments and soft drinks. Most of the cruisers are in their 60s, 70s and 80s but surprisingly spry and adventurous. Many are experienced boaters/yachters who are happy to let someone else take the helm for a change. There are bikes and kayaks available on some itineraries and, at least in the Caribbean, almost daily opportunities for swimming and snorkeling. Because of the unique design of the ships, they have access to small isolated ports. The other ships in port are usually private yachts. Also, when visiting a port we feel we are not "invading" the towns since there are only 50-80 of us onboard. We don't change the ports - the ports change us. We get to visit incognito or, if the town is really small, we are treated as appreciated visitors. It is close to private charter cruising - more like independent travel than a tour or a big cruise ship. That being said, it is so nice to have your cabin and the welcoming ship and crew to return to and not have to pack/unpack or find a restaurant or negotiate a busy hotel/resort/cruise crowd. Cruising with Blount is nothing like the big cruise ship experience. It is so much more real, personable, lower impact, rewarding and feels like true travel. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
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
Sail Date September 2013
We had heard wonderful things about this cruise line. The idea of a smaller more intimate cruise held a lot of appeal. Unfortunately, the idea was better than reality. The rooms are tiny and continually had a sour smell. The food was ample ... Read More
We had heard wonderful things about this cruise line. The idea of a smaller more intimate cruise held a lot of appeal. Unfortunately, the idea was better than reality. The rooms are tiny and continually had a sour smell. The food was ample but not much better than what you get at the home of a not very good cook. They advertise serving wine with lunch and dinner but wine out of a box should be reserved for camping. The staff was pleasant but the cleaning system definitely needed an overhaul. It took a really long time for staff to make up the cabins! The worst thing about the trip was that more than half of the trip was scrubbed due to weather. Chicago is a beautiful city but we didn't anticipate having to spend four days moored at the Navy Pier. The two days we actually sailed and the one port we visited was enjoyable. We fully appreciate that you get what you pay for and we were very grateful that we had taken advantage of the two for one option. However, others on the Cruise paid the full price. While, anyone can understand that weather is a factor it should have been made clearer in the information that with a small ship on a big lake it doesn't take much of a wind to keep you in port! We were very disappointed that the cruise line made no effort to compensate the passengers for the cruise that wasn't! It was insulting to be offered 20% off our next cruise when it is almost always possible to book at the two for one rate. The other passengers were a great bunch of people and those who stayed to complete the trip made every effort to make the best out of the experience. We knew that most of the passengers would be retirement age but we were surprised how elderly most of the passengers were. We are in the hospitality business and appreciate that it is difficult to always please the consumer. We would much prefer to be giving this cruise a glowing recommendation as we really thought that it would be a great experience...never again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
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
Sail Date July 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
Sail Date June 2012
Just found the reviews for Blount on CC and want to praise them. Loved our Magical Lake Michigan trip in 2011 on the (now retired) Niagara Prince. Easy and comfortable way to see a part of the USA that would take way too much driving for ... Read More
Just found the reviews for Blount on CC and want to praise them. Loved our Magical Lake Michigan trip in 2011 on the (now retired) Niagara Prince. Easy and comfortable way to see a part of the USA that would take way too much driving for us. Small enough to make you feel at home, just with extra spoiling by everyone. Local entertainment some nights, optional tours arranged. No glitz or frills, just a great way to visit beautiful areas of our country for those who don't require a casino, spa, theaters or bright lights! Nice to be able to sit up on top deck and see the stars so clearly and not worry about noise. The clientele tends to be older and I think no children under 14 were allowed (don't remember exact age requirement). The food was excellent, Chef Donovan prepared special request just to our liking. Meals were always fresh and I loved all the fruit offerings. Cruise director Jennifer was amazing - a Jill of all trades, always with grace and a smile! First time we've ever hugged a cruise director good-bye and some passengers were tearful at having to leave! Wonderful captain and crew and we happily anticipate several of them will be on the 2013 Lake Superior voyage on Grand Mariner this year. Biggest drawback is the small size of cabin but it's cozy and comfortable even if not fancy and certainly easy to understand on this size ship. That's part of the charm. If you're tired of being of being one of the herd on the big traditional cruise ships, recommend you check Blount and get a taste of being treated like one of the family. Hope to be able to go with Blount again in 2014. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Grande Mariner Ratings
Category Editor Member
Family 3.0 2.6
Rates 3.0 4.7

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