“Feeding Frenzy” As Steamship Authority Opens Summer Boat Reservations

Written By: Jason Graziadei | Photography By: Cary Hazlegrove, NantucketStock.com

The Steamship Authority opened online reservations for the summer of 2022 at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, and was immediately inundated with a surge of bookings. 

Over the next eight hours, the Authority recorded 8,056 reservations, significantly more than opening day in 2021 (5,530 reservations) and 2019 (5,569). Most weekend trips are already fully booked. And that was just through 1 p.m. 

“Opening day is a feeding frenzy,” said Rob Ranney, who serves as Nantucket’s representative on the Steamship Authority’s Board of Governors. 

Still, the surge came as a surprise to Ranney. 

“I was not expecting that many, but I’m happy to see people booking early,” he said. 

One Nantucket Current reader shared a screenshot of their computer after logging on to make a reservation at 5:03 a.m. Tuesday morning, just minutes after the online booking system went live.

“You are 2155th in line!” the Steamship’s website replied after they entered their information.

Ranney described his own experience booking a boat reservation for August on Tuesday morning. 

“I went online this morning at 5:14 a.m. and I was No. 2,570 in the ‘waiting room’,” Ranney said. “By 6:04 a.m. I was booking a reservation in August, but the times and days I wanted weren’t available so I booked something close and got on the waitlist. I’m hopeful that a space will open in the next seven months and chances are good that it will.”

So that begged the question: the Steamship Authority Governors don’t get special treatment?

“Even if they did, I wouldn’t take it,” he said. “It’s important I have the same experience as everyone else.”

One theory regarding Tuesday’s surge of bookings in the hours after online reservations opened is that the Steamship has done extensive communications to its customers regarding “opening day” and emphasizing that they should book early to get their preferred days and times. Perhaps that has simply pushed up demand that would have been there regardless?

“I agree with that,” Ranney said. “The earlier you start trying to get the reservations you want, the better your chances are.”

What does it all mean for the summer of 2022? 

“It’s too soon to tell if that means summer will be crazy or just that everyone got up early this morning and booked all at once,” he said. 

Tuesday’s reservations were on top of the 6,149 vehicle bookings that were made last week through the Steamship’s “Headstart” program. That number was also an increase over the number of Headstart reservations made during the same period in 2021 (4,262) and 2019 (4,252). 

“Those numbers were up, and we’re also holding extra spaces back each day for preferred reservations as well so things likely filled up very quickly,” said Steamship Authority communications director Sean Driscoll. 

Complete numbers for the entire opening day period will be available Wednesday morning. 

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