Built at Blount’s shipyard in Warren, Rhode Island, in 1997, the 88-passenger Grande Caribe is almost an exact sister to the line's Grande Mariner. The two vessels represent cozy cruising, a truly small ship experience enjoyed by like-minded travelers who want to visit the U.S. and Canadian east coast and the Great Lakes. As the name suggests, the Grande Caribe also travels to the Caribbean, where it's the antithesis of the mega ships traveling around the islands. And that's exactly why many of the older cruisers choose this boat over all the others.
What We Love
Docking Everywhere: Not many ships can tie up right in Bar Harbor, Maine; Newport, Rhode Island; Vineyard Haven, Martha’s Vineyard, and the Inner Harbor at Baltimore. Docking is even more impressive in the Caribbean islands, where a ramp folds right out of the bow to access beaches.
Fascinating Lecturers: Most trips have someone with special knowledge of the area — Great Lakes, New England, Intracoastal Waterway towns — accompany the cruise from start to finish. Local historians and musicians also come aboard in some ports.
Best Known For
Unique Itineraries: No other ships can cruise New York state’s canals and tie together a New England/Hudson River itinerary with the St. Lawrence Valley and Montreal and Quebec.
An American Experience: You'll be traveling some of the U.S.'s iconic waterways, stopping in major cities as well as port towns that shaped the country. Most of the passengers are American as well, with a few Canadians, Brits, and Aussies.
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Who It's Best For
Older Folks: The agile will like being able to explore on foot, while those taking it easy will enjoy how much can be seen while relaxing on the boat, because you are rarely, if ever, out of sight of land.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Tiny Cabins: The largest cabins would be considered small on most other ships, while some are downright tiny and can feel claustrophobic. The bathrooms are also closet-size.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.
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Grande Caribe at a Glance
- Line: Blount Small Ship Adventures
- Class: Grande Class
- Number of Passengers: 88
- Ship Size: Small
- Launch Date: 1997
- Refurbish Date: 2009