Steamship Authority: Seeing the Cape & Islands By the Way of the Waves

The Steamship Authority has nine vessels that are quick, easily accessible, pet-friendly, and make daily trips all year.  There’s no more beautiful a way to access Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket than by taking a ferry.

The Authority offers multiple features which make travelling as easy and comfortable as possible, including the lowest fares for island travel, a text-alert system in the event of a cancellation, on-board snack and beverage bar and the most frequent departures from multiple locations.

For many routes, both high-speed (1 hour dock-to-dock) and traditional-speed (a bit over 2 hours) ferries are available.

Steamship Authority Locations

The Steamship Authority has 5 centrally located terminals in the Upper and Mid Cape and throughout the islands.
The Woods Hole Terminal is perhaps what most people think of when they hear ‘Steamship Authority.’ Situated at the heart of Cape Cod’s cultural and scientific mecca, the terminal is located at 1 Cowdry Road, Woods Hole.

Martha’s Vineyard’s flagship terminal at Vineyard Haven, Union Street and Water Street, Vineyard Haven (also known as Tisbury) is just steps away from the most popular shopping area on the island, Main Street.
Vineyard Haven’s next-door annex, the Oak Bluffs Terminal at 1 Seaview Ave, Oak Bluffs, is a seasonal access point which closes for the late fall/winter season.

One of the most-visited towns on the Cape is also home to Steamship Authority location. The Hyannis Terminal at 69 South Street, Hyannis isn’t far from Main Street and the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority terminal.

Lastly, the Nantucket Terminal is located at 1 Steamboat Wharf.
Specific directions and information for each terminal is available by clicking here.

Car Transportation & ParkingSteamship Authority

Steamship Authority vessels can carry cars as well as people and pets!  While not guaranteed during peak travel times, the Steamship Authority does offer daily vehicle standby travel on a first come, first served basis. Driving your car into the ship’s cargo area is an experience in itself, and definitely one you’ll want to consider if you plan on seeing as much of the islands as possible!

The Steamship Authority offers on-site parking for permit holders and several off-site (shuttled) lots for each terminal. To make your life easier, try the parking hotlines ahead of time:

Woods Hole Parking information line – (508) 457-PARK (7275)

Hyannis Parking information line – (508) 775-PARK (7275)

Steamship Authority Schedule

You can check daily availability (recommended during the summer and on major holidays!) online. Schedules do change each year and sometimes each month, depending on inclement weather trends. Usually, year-round weekend and weekday times start as early as 6:00 a.m. and run until 10:30 p.m. on various routes, with more limited times between early January and Mid-May.

To learn about the Steamship Authority’s fleet, click here.

Steamship Authority

CCB MEDIA PHOTO
The Steamship Authority is planning a third slip at its Woods Hole terminal.

Where to Buy Tickets

The Steamship Authority’s online reservation system is the quickest way to reserve tickets. Otherwise, those can be purchased at the Woods Hole, Hyannis or Island terminals. The Authority recommends travelers arrive over an hour early if tickets are to be reserved the day of travel.

Steamship Authority Costs

As is the case with many Cape Cod attractions, costs can vary from year to year. Most recent figures show a traditional-speed, round-trip ticket costing $17 for adults, $9 for children ages 5-12 (4 and under are free) and discounts for Active Military members.

Prices for high-speed, round-trip tickets run $69 for adults, $35 for children and discounts for Active Military members.

Vehicles add significant weight to the vessels’ load, increasing fuel consumption and overall cost. This is reflected vehicle travel ticket prices, which can range $280-450 dollars for round-trip tickets. Smaller vehicles such as motorcycles will cost less.

Small fees ranging from $14 to $28 are incurred for some carry-on items. These include bicycles, surfboards, windsurf boards.

Occasionally, the Steamship Authority will run $50 round-trip specials Sunday through Thursday.

History of the Steamship Authority

The Steamship Authority has served the Cape & Islands for 55 years, and is the only ferry service offering transportation for both passengers and their vehicles. It was created by state legislature in 1960 and runs on operating revenue close to $80 million.

The Authority says that since 1962, it has only had four cases of operating deficits. According to their calculations, Steamship Authority ferries have an on-time record close to 100 percent.


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