Category Archives: Getting Here

How Does the Steamship Authority Work?

Matha's Vineyard Steamship Authority Ferry

For those of you that have been to the island of Martha’s Vineyard, you know that the process of bringing a vehicle along on your Vineyard vacation can be very trying if you don’t know the process!  Our island population goes from around 15,000 year round residents to 100,000 August visitors.  You really do need to take a ferry to and from the island.  It is a 45 minute ferry ride from the Cape.

Oak Bluffs Beach Front Rental

Once you have booked your Vineyard vacation rental, you will need to work on making arrangements for getting here.  The Steamship Authority does not take reservations for the summer season until sometime in January.  This year they open reservations online and via mail on January 20th.  Mark your calendars!  They will open the phone lines up on January 27, 2009.

Sometimes it feels like you have won the lottery when you get just the right times for your reservations for your August vacation.   The process can seem unbearable much of the time but following are some tips that might help:

  • Go online to the Steamship Authority and sign up for your profile number and pin prior to making your reservation.
  • Go online as soon as you can on January 20, be patient as you may get bumped off the site due to high volume.
  • Book any time you can on the day of travel or as close to the day of travel and request to be wait listed for your preferred times.

You should know that the wait list system does seem to work out for most travelers that are reserving their tickets this far in advance.   The steamship has represented in the past that they do not completely book all of the boats so they will have some flexibility.  Things do shift around but you may not know for sure right up until travel time.  They do also have a day of sail number you can call to try to change your reservation while you are on the road.

I once had a customer call and book a house one Saturday in August, drive down and get right on the boat and arrive at my office to pay for their vacation home and pick up their key, all in the same day.  This is not the norm and I do not recommend you wait to see if this works but, please realize that some of the systems that may seem very flawed can work well in the end!

Visit Us Via the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry

Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism / Marthas Vineyard, Steamship Authority Ferry / Flickr
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism / Marthas Vineyard, Steamship Authority Ferry / Flickr

When looking to visit Martha’s Vineyard, enjoy the ease and comfort of taking a ferry. There are several options to check out from a number of different locations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Here are ways you can visit us via the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry.

Martha’s Vineyard Ferry from Woods Hole

The Steamship Authority is the largest ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard. They offer low fares along with convenient times and frequent departures to get you to your destination on time. Steamship Authority has ferries that go to Martha’s Vineyard from Woods Hole several times during the day, allowing you to find a time that works when going from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard and back. The trip lasts about 45 minutes and you can enjoy free Wi-Fi when on a Steamship Authority ferry.

There is an on-board snack bar offering refreshments, beer and wine. The ferry offers plenty of comfortable seating for the trip. If you’re looking to bring your vehicle with you to Martha’s Vineyard, you can make a reservation ahead of time in preparation for your trip. Transporting a vehicle without a reservation is allowed on stand-by basis unless it’s a busy holiday time. Stand-by is not allowed during peak (summer) season. You can be wait-listed, but have you must have an existing reservation to do so. For more information, click over to Steamship Authority’s website.


Passenger reservations are not required for the traditional ferries to Martha’s Vineyard. Passengers and vehicles must be at the dock and ready for boarding at least 30 minutes prior to departure. If it’s during the summer, it’s recommended that you arrive 45-60 minutes ahead of departure. Visitors can also park their cars in Steamship Authority’s lots and use their shuttle to get to the ferry. For more information, visit Steamship Authority’s website.

There are many travel options to arrive to Woods Hole from Boston and New York City, along with the surrounding areas so you can catch the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard on Steamship Authority.

Martha’s Vineyard Ferry from Hyannis

Hy-Line Cruises offers secondary passenger ferry service from Hyannis, a nearby town to Woods Hole. There are several times to leave from Hyannis to Martha’s Vineyard each day. Depending on the season, make sure to check the schedule to see when the ferries are leaving.

Martha’s Vineyard Ferry from Falmouth

Island Queen resumes ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard on May 22 out of Falmouth. Enjoy the 35-minute trip on the ferry that operates from May to October. Although Island Queen does not offer vehicle transportation, they do offer bicycle and pet transportation along with passengers. Passengers are advised to arrive 45-minutes ahead of departure time.

Martha’s Vineyard Ferry from Quonset Point

The Vineyard Fast Ferry takes passengers from Quonset Point, Rhode Island to Martha’s Vineyard. Operating at a high speed, the Vineyard Fast Ferry can accommodate over 400 passengers, bikes and luggage. Located minutes from I-95, the ferry is convenient to passengers in other parts of New England. Parking is offered for $10 a day.

Martha’s Vineyard Ferry from New Bedford

The Seastreak offers a 60-minute passenger ferry ride from New Bedford. Kids ride for free on the comfortable vessel. On-site parking is available.

There are many great options for visitors to choose when coming to Martha’s Vineyard. Let Sandpiper Rentals help you find a great vacation home to rent on Martha’s Vineyard and then take a comfortable and scenic ferry ride over. There are many great things to experience on Martha’s Vineyard and there are affordable and convenient ways to enjoy them!


Ferry Tickets Sold Out


If you missed our blog post about vacation rentals that come with ferry tickets, this is a HUGE reminder. If you’re trying to travel during the peak season, especially August, you may find that the dates you’d like to travel are completely,  unequivocally,  comprehensively SOLD OUT.

Now, don’t panic! We have over 30 beautiful vacation rentals with very thoughtful owners. Many are a part of Steamship Authority‘s Head Start program where they can make summer reservations before the general public. The owners know that there are experienced renters that wait with bated breath for the moment it turns 12AM January 13th to book their ferry tickets. These owners have done the work for you. They have transferable round trip ferry tickets that you can use when you book with them.

7173 7201 282 7134

Search the complete list: Rentals with Ferry Tickets

Sandpiper RentalsView our vacation rental properties here