Blount Small Ship Adventures has operated the 88-passenger Grande Mariner along North America’s east coast, on the St. Lawrence River, and in the Great Lakes since 1998. The ship (and the line's similar Grande Caribe) is nimble enough to travel the Intracoastal Waterway, Erie Canal, and shallow waters around Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, taking you places other cruise ships can't reach. This also means that space on board is tight, and the tiny cabins require a bit of getting used to for first-timers.
What We Love
Docking Close to Town: The boat can pull into docking spaces adjacent to the city center in ports such as Savannah, Georgia; New Bedford, Massachusetts; Boston; Baltimore, and Montreal, where it’s a short walk to where you want to be.
Fresh Food: With access to so many different ports, fresh produce and seafood are nearly always available. Another reason: The Blount family has been in the New England fish and shellfish trade for several generations.
Best Known For
Unusual Itineraries: The Grand Mariner can go to places where larger vessels cannot, such as the full length of the Intracoastal Waterway between Philadelphia and Jacksonville, Florida, and along the Erie Canal, thanks to the shallow draft and low overhead.
Social Life: With like-minded passengers of a similar age, the camaraderie begins at the first meal and continues in the cozy lounge and up on the sundeck.
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Who It's Best For
Cruisers of a Certain Age: It’s definitely an older crowd, and someone under 55 would be seen as a kid. Some passengers are still quite active while others make use of a stair lift between the dining room, lounge, and main cabin deck.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Tight Quarters: In addition to compact cabins, the single lounge may seem claustrophobic after successive bad weather days.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.
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Grande Mariner at a Glance
- Line: Blount Small Ship Adventures
- Class: Grande Class
- Number of Passengers: 88
- Ship Size: Small
- Launch Date: 1998
- Refurbish Date: 2010