On Monday, May 27, a cruise ship made an overnight stop in Carrabelle.
The layover was part of the 11-day Southern Charms Cruise offered by Blount’s Small Ship Adventures of Warren, Rhode Island.
The cruise ship Grand Caribe, navigated the Mississippi River, Industrial Canal Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Gulf of Mexico and Saint Andrew Bay to reach Carrabelle. In the course of her travels, she had already visited New Orleans, La.; Biloxi, Miss.; Mobile, Ala.; Pensacola and Panama City.
The travelers will finish their journey on Thursday in St. Petersburg.
The ship can carry 96 passengers in her 48 cabins but, this trip, had 49 and a crew of 17.
While in Carrabelle, the cruisers could walk the town on their own or travel by shuttle bus. David Butler gave a lecture on Carrabelle history on Monday night and Lesley Cox, a certified Green Guide led an optional nature tour of Tate’s Hell.
John and Carol Leinhard of Houston Texas said this was their first visit to northern Florida. “Is it always this quiet?” he asked. “When was the last time you had a burglary?”
The couple said their objective for the afternoon was to photograph the town.
Elaine Tucker of Clarksville Texas said she wanted to visit the “World’s Smallest Police Station” at the request of her daughter, a law enforcement officer.
“I’ve taken 10 or 12 of these river cruises,” she said. “I love them. You get a totally different perspective on things and see things you’d never see. Also, with only about 50 people on board, we get to know everybody.”
She said the food on the cruise was excellent but that passengers can opt to dine ashore when in port.
Blount’s Small Ship Adventures, whose motto is “We go where the big ships cannot” was founded by Luther Blount in the 1950s. His family owned E.B. Blount and Sons Oyster Company but after the 1938 hurricane left the Maine oyster beds in a shambles, college educated Luther developed a system for steaming clams that saved the family fortune
By 1947, Luther had become vice president of E.B. Blount and Sons, but the fact his family hadn’t returned to the oyster business weighed on him. He turned to boat building and, after having built numerous craft decided to attempt a small pleasure cruiser.
The rest is history.
Blount’s Small Ship Adventures now has two cruise ships, both built by Blount’s Boats. They are state of the art, sail under an American flag and employ mostly US citizens. The Grand Caribe spends her time in the Americas and her sister, the Grand Mariner, travels the water ways of Europe.
The boats have a draft of less than 7-feet and retractable pilot houses that allow them to pass under low bridges.
The Grand Caribe is 184 feet long with a beam of 41 feet and weighs 94 tons. She was built in 1997 and refurbished in 2009.
Both boats carry kayaks and glass bottomed boats for local touring.
In addition to optional tours and programs ashore at most stops, on many evenings, local entertainers come aboard to perform.
Passengers on the cruise were offered a 2-for-1 special so most paid about $2,000 for the cruise.