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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.

Great Lakes and Erie Canal

Grande Mariner Cruise Review by Faithila

26 people found this helpful
Trip Details
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.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 41
Small. Window does not open. Bedding was old and worn. Double bed very small. AC was noisy. Engine noise very noticeable. Little storage.

Above the window was a panel that could be used to seal it off in bad weather. It was filthy.

Towels were thin and smelled musty.

Cabin attendant was very nice and accommodating, cleaning everything well when asked.