After Reservations Fiasco, Steamship Prioritizes UPS On Boat Reservation Wait List

Written By: Jason Graziadei | Photography By: Cary Hazlegrove,

The Steamship Authority Board of Governors took action Tuesday morning to stave off the looming UPS delivery disaster after the shipping giant failed to secure its normal summer boat reservations aboard the Steamship vessels.

The Board of Governors voted unanimously to prioritize UPS on the waitlist for reservations, and add them to any existing trips with available space if possible. Steamship Authority General Manager Bob Davis also vowed that the boat line would not displace anyone with existing reservations in order to accommodate UPS.

The discussion during Tuesday’s meeting, which was held via Zoom, was a bit awkward as the Board of Governors and Steamship staff avoided identifying UPS by name, instead calling the company simply one of its “common carriers.” But it was clear from the outset that the unnamed company was UPS, and Davis acknowledged the seriousness of the situation.

UPS missing out on its summer boat reservations “has the potential to impact a significant amount of individuals and businesses on the Nantucket route,” Davis said. “This carrier delivers to individual homes and business on a daily basis. Management is not recommending we displace existing reservations – what management is proposing is adding the carrier to trips with available space and if necessary to prioritize them on the wait list.”

During the peak months, UPS’ volume is so significant that it traditionally sends two to three trailers of packages from Hyannis to Nantucket on a daily basis aboard the Steamship vessels. That includes most, if not all, of the Amazon orders destined for the island, as the e-commerce giant has not yet established an outpost of its own burgeoning delivery service on Nantucket.

Rob Ranney, Nantucket’s representative on the Steamship’s Board of Governors, is hopeful that Tuesday’s action and subsequent “shuffling” on the part of UPS will adequately address the situation and avoid the potential impacts.

“I think there’s enough time in advance of the main summer schedule that this will resolve itself,” Ranney said. “It may end up being that the common carrier we’re talking about may not get the exact times they want and have to shuffle their schedule, but I think everything is going to be fine.”

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