Blount Boats is selling its three small overnight cruise ships and putting all its emphasis on the family shipbuilding business, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” said Marcia Blount, president and CFO of the Warren, R.I., company. “What we really decided was to focus on building.”
Now known as Blount Small Ship Adventures, the cruise business was started in 1966 by company patriarch and small ship pioneer Capt. Luther H. Blount, who founded the yard in 1949. An engineer and innovator, Blount, who died in 2006, received patents for a number of designs including retractable pilothouses, bow ramps, adjustable pitch props and water conserving marine toilets. The retractable pilothouse design enabled them to cruise under low bridges where others might not be able to go.
The 98-passenger, 183’x39’10’x6’6” Grande Mariner is listed for $6 million, the 100-passenger sister ship Grande Caribe for $5.6 million, and the 76-passenger, 177’3”x39’2”x6’3” Niagara Prince for $2 million. Built by Blount in the 1990s and renovated in 2009 and 2010, the U.S.-flag vessels are at Blount’s docks.
Since they started advertising the vessels a week ago, they’ve gotten inquiries from both the U.S. and abroad. The ships will not necessarily be sold as a package.
Marcia Blount said she thought her dad would understand the decision. “He would definitely support the family,” she said. “The shipyard is the core business. We’re healthy with some great contracts.”
Most recently Blount Boats was awarded a $9.1 million contract to build a 90’x26’x10’ icebreaker/buoy tender for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Delivery is scheduled for June 2022. Blount also is building two 65′ crew transfer vessels (CTVs) for Atlantic Wind Transfers developed by the UK’s Chartwell Marine to support new wind farms off the East Coast.