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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.

Thought we knew what we were getting into

Grande Mariner Cruise Review by Mary Jaqua

20 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2017
  • Destination: USA
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.
Mary Jaqua’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 81B
See the above comments. All the cabins are extremely small, but some are even smaller than the one we had. At least we had a small dresser and some shelves. Some had only a cabinet over the end of the bed. I think I would opt for the cabins with the shower over the toilet. That way you have more living area. And you only have five gallons of hot water anyway. The showers have a lever you turn at the bottom of the on and off lever that stops the water while you are soaping down. And a button you push in to stop the water completely after your donw showering on the shower head.