Tag Archives: ferry reservations

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!

Vacation Style: How Social are you?

Your Social Energy

Consider the social network. It documents our lives, blasts us with updates and lets us know who our friends are; why not bring your social life into the vacation discussion. Your real social life, the one the dictionary calls the “interaction between the individual and the group”. In Thursday’s Vinyasa Yoga @MansionHouseMV the instructor offered us some guidance. She asked us to consider how we would like to expend our energy in class, to energize and build strength, or to relax and repair our bodies. It is always a personal decision as to how you would like to expend your energy and once you know – you can really maximize and enhance your experience, this goes for vacation planning as well!

The Obamas come in August – are you up for it?

Some visitor’s have a whole separate social network out here that they tap into once a year, others prefer the anonymity that the island provides to “check out” and unwind. Simply put, most people either like to be in the thick of “it” or nowhere near “it”. You probably already know which you prefer but if there’s any doubt, consider defining “it” as the Martha’s Vineyard MegaWeek and go from there.

The week of August 11th-18th is desirable for good reason, it’s a super-fun quintessentially “summer” experience. Featuring Illumination Night, Fireworks and 4 days of the Almighty Ag Fair – your Facebook feed will have to keep up with your “check-ins” and new friend requests you make along the way.

If this sounds like your waking nightmare maybe you’d prefer to duck the crowds during our “shoulder season.” To experience the Island as an Islander, prepare for peace and quiet, if you can handle the slower pace and cooler weather you will be rewarded with generous weekly rental rates too.

How to make it Happen

So, you decide you want to come for all the fun August has to offer but the ferries are booked! What do you do? Don’t panic – this is a good reason to use an agent to make your vacation plans. We know which houses might offer transferable ferry reservations for guests to purchase. You can check the specials listed on www.sandpiperrental.com for new listings with ferry tickets available for desirable August weeks.

Martha’s Vineyard is a wonderful little place that can satisfy a myriad of vacation possibilities. Have a conversation with your rental agent about the pace you desire for your vacation to determine the when and where of your vacation.

Fall Checklist for Summer 2010 on Martha’s Vineyard

The kids are back in school, the days are getting shorter and cooler…and it’s hard not to start dreaming about next summer on the Vineyard! Don’t worry, I don’t think you’re crazy, I think you’re very, very smart because planning for a fantastic 2010 summer on the Vineyard really does need to start now!

Here’s my checklist to keep you fully on top of things:

1. If you want the house of your rental dreams, book it now! The fall is actually our busiest booking time as folks scramble for primo houses. Our inventory is huge, our site has been updated and is beautiful, and we get new listings every day!

2. Make plans with friends and family as soon as possible. It’s much easier to plan a vacation for two, or even a family of five (who all do exactly what you tell them because three of them are kids!), than it is to plan for your extended family or groups of friends. The sooner you all get your schedules set, the less stress you’ll have. No one should have their summer planned yet – so you’ll be asking them to commit before you have to dance around everyone else’s commitments.

3. Ferry reservations. Yes, I know you can’t actually book your ferry reservations until February, but let me remind you how much less stressful it will be to plan the times you would like to sail (and sync them up with any other travel you need to do to get here) when you aren’t under the gun of opening day on the Steamships Advanced Reservations Line!! I recommend that you plan it out on paper and clip it to your February calendar. On the big day, just go online and book those tickets!

4. Same with the plane. You can book your plane reservations now and they do fill up! Also, unlike the ferry, airline fares are cheaper if purchased in advance.

5. If you’re really eager, create a list of all of the things you love doing on the island – include beaches to visit, restaurants, festivals and stores. This can be especially fun with the whole family as you reflect on the summer of ’09 and get ready for the summer of ’10. Then make a big calendar and start jotting down activities you don’t want to miss. You can even decorate it with pics from summers past. When the snow starts to fall, this beautiful calendar and homage to Martha’s Vineyard will be sure to warm you up…

Any other questions, concerns, delightful memories to share? Don’t hesitate to ask me!