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The coronavirus crisis claims its first U.S.-based cruise line

Aug. 24, 2020
4 min read
The coronavirus crisis claims its first U.S.-based cruise line
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Add Blount Small Ship Adventures to the list of cruise companies shutting down for good due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Warren, Rhode Island-based small-ship cruise specialist has canceled all future sailings and is selling its three vessels, according to shipping publication WorkBoat. The family that owns the brand will continue to operate its boat-building business, Blount Boats.

“It was really just the requirement that all the cruise lines had to shut down for COVID, and at this point we decided not to start again,” Blount Boats president and CFO Marcia Blount told WorkBoat. "What we really decided was to focus on building.”

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Blount Small Ship Adventures is the first North American cruise line to permanently shut down during the coronavirus pandemic.

Four other cruise lines -- all Europe-based -- have announced in recent months that they are going out of business or filing for the equivalent of bankruptcy due to financial troubles related to the coronavirus outbreak. Like Blount Small Ship Adventures, most are very small lines. But the list includes Cruise & Maritime Voyages, the second-largest cruise brand in the UK.

Blount Small Ship Adventures specialized in unusual coastal and inland voyages in North America, including trips on the Great Lakes and through New York state, and it was much-loved by its fans.

Related: Crystal Cruises says it's "not going out of business"

The line operated two small ships -- the 98-passenger Grande Mariner and 100-passenger Grande Caribe -- with unusually low drafts and retractable pilot houses that allowed them to travel routes that were off-limits to other cruise vessels, such as the Erie Canal. The low profile of the ships, notably, allowed them to pass under low bridges on inland waterways.

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The company operated an even smaller ship, the 76-passenger Niagara Prince, that was the only overnight cruise vessel able to navigate the Champlain Canal from the Hudson River to Lake Champlain. It also was the only overnight cruise vessel able to pass through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal connecting the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River via the Illinois and Des Plaines rivers.

Blount vessels were known for an unusual bow design that included a retractable passenger ramp that would allow passengers to walk right off the front.

Like many cruise companies around the world, Blount has not operated cruises since COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic in March. As recently as April, the company was posting videos on Facebook suggesting it eventually would resume sailings. Its last Facebook post was on May 1.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles

Blount Small Ship Cruises has a storied history that dates back to 1966. It was founded by Luther Blount, a small-ship cruising pioneer who also founded the family's shipyard. He created the retractable pilothouse design that allowed Blount vessels to offer unusual itineraries.

The company claims Blount invented the term "small-ship cruising," which now is its own category of cruising with multiple players including UnCruise Adventures and American Cruise Lines.

Blount Small Ship Cruises did not respond to a request for more information about its shutdown plans from The Points Guy.

WorkBoat says Grand Mariner and Grand Caribe are for sale for $6 million and $5.6 million, respectively. Niagara Prince is on offer for $2 million, the publication says.

Details of the three vessels for interested buyers are listed at the Blount Boats website.

Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image by The 100-passenger Blount Small Ship Adventures vessel Grande Caribe. (Photo courtesy of Blount Small Ship Adventures)

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
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Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

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  • Extended warranty protection
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  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.