Steamship Authority Nantucket
May 12, 2023
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Travelers to Nantucket can board a ferry from Hyannis, Massachusetts, for a swift and convenient journey. Passengers can be transported to the island in two hours and fifteen minutes. However, the fast ferry, which takes an hour, has some amenities that make it more comfortable to go the distance with a concessions stand, and one can roam around on the outside cabin, which is nice on a beautiful afternoon.

Hy-Line Cruises and the Steamship Authority offer quick and easy year-round access from Hyannis to Nantucket. Their high-speed passenger catamarans have an approximate travel time of one hour. The Steamship Authority provides a car-and-passenger ferry. It’s an enjoyable two-hour ride that’s sure to be memorable. Secure parking is available at both the Hyannis terminals, with accessible spaces and a nominal fee.

In the summertime, Freedom Cruise Line in Harwich Port and Seastreak in New Bedford, New York City, and Highland, NJ, offer high-speed ferry service to the island. Furthermore, Hy-Line Cruises run an inter-island ferry between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard from May to October. This ferry service is only available during the warmer season.


The Steamship Authority has a long and illustrious history. The Nantucket Steamboat Company, established in 1833, holds the roots of the story.

With the opening of the Hyannisport station of the Cape Cod Railroad in 1854, a need for a reliable steamship link between the island of Nantucket and the Cape Cod emerged. This initiated the start of a new era of sea-faring. The company responded by building a terminal near the rail station, changing its name to the Nantucket and Cape Cod Steamboat Company, and replacing its two vessels with the Island Home – the first ship specifically designed for the Nantucket Sound.

In 1945, the New England Steamship Company, facing financial difficulties, was sold to Massachusetts Steamship Lines. Three years later, in 1948, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts declared its aim to combine all private ferry services into one state-owned agency. This was the beginning of the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Steamship Authority, established in 1949 and later shortened to just the Steamship Authority in 1960. The Nobska was the last steamship in service, traversing the Woods Hole-Nantucket route until 1973.

Several of the current vessels bear names that are embedded in Island culture. The Nantucket moniker has been used by four different vessels over the years. The current vessel is the MV Nantucket, which has been in service since 1974. Before that, the SS Nantucket sailed from 1957 to 1987, though it was renamed Naushon in 1974. From 1925 to 1973, there was a steamboat known as the Nobska but referred to as Nantucket from 1925 to 1958. The original Nantucket was in use from 1886 to 1910.

Ferries of Steamship Authority Nantucket

M/V Iyanough

The Steamship Authority proudly operates the M/V Iyanough, a high-speed passenger ferry that shuttles between Hyannis and Nantucket, Massachusetts. This vessel was commissioned in 2007 and was constructed by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding to a design by Incat Crowther. Measuring 154 feet in length and 39 feet in beam, the Iyanough has a draught of 5.3 feet and a capacity of 393 passengers – 350 inside and 40 outside.

The Iyanough offers full accessibility on the main passenger deck – restrooms, food, drinks, and a transfer bridge for boarding. For any special needs, you might have while boarding, simply alert a crew member when you arrive. At the Iyanough, they strive to provide every passenger with an enjoyable and accessible experience. The Iyanough is a reliable and comfortable way to travel between Hyannis and Nantucket and is a great example of the Steamship Authority’s commitment to providing quality transportation services.

Ferries of Steamship Authority Nantucket about passenger and vehicle are M/V Eagle, M/V Nantucket & M/V Woods Hole.

M/V Woods Hole

MV Woods Hole is a reliable vessel, perfect for transporting both passengers and vehicles. It was finished being constructed in 2016 and measures 235 feet in length with a 64 feet beam and a 10.5 feet-loaded draft. This ferry can transport up to 385 people and also can fit up to 10 tractor-trailer trucks or 55 cars, with a service speed of 14.5 knots. If you want to make the most of a summer in the Cape Cod area, consider hopping on the ferry to the beautiful island of Nantucket from Hyannis. Or, if it’s a year-round trip you’re after, Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard is an excellent option.

M/V Nantucket

MV Nantucket is a 230-foot-long ferry owned and operated by the Steamship Authority. She was constructed in 1974 by Bollinger Shipyards in Jacksonville, Florida, and has been serving the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard ever since. Her name was inspired by the sidewheeler Nantucket, a 19th-century steamer that was also traveling between these two islands. During the winter, the ferry travels between Hyannis and Nantucket, and throughout the year, it travels between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard.

M/V Eagle

The M/V Eagle was constructed in 1987 by McDermott Shipyard. Rout served between the Islands and Hyannis-Nantucket year-round. This vessel was a marvel of its time, as it was a steam-driven side-wheeler and was one of the first to provide a way to move goods and people between two destinations.

All of their large passenger and vehicle ferries are equipped with elevators that can take you from the vehicle deck up to the passenger deck, including the food and beverage service area. To ensure everything runs smoothly, please arrive at the ferry terminal at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure time. When you get to the terminal, let the terminal agent or the employee checking you in know that you need access to the elevator. This applies to all passengers, regardless of whether they travel with a vehicle. Additionally, each ferry has accessible restrooms available.

If you’re planning to take a journey with your car to Nantucket, it’s wise to make a reservation ahead of time. Doing so will give you the peace of mind that your trip is all set. Suppose you can’t get a reservation and you or a passenger have a disability that requires you to bring your vehicle. In that case, you can request to talk to a supervisor to discuss a special Preferential Boarding accommodation.

Individuals with disabilities who must travel with their vehicle due to their disability may be eligible for preferential boarding. Reasons for needing to travel with a vehicle could include needing to bring a motorized wheelchair, needing a specific oxygen supply, or needing other equipment due to their disability. Visit their website to learn more about the Steamship Authority’s policies for passengers needing assistance.

For your ticket, you can expect to pay a minimum of $400 for a round trip if your vehicle is up to 17 feet 5.18 meters. If you’ll be traveling in a larger vehicle – 17 to 20 feet, like a full-size SUV, then the fee is $450. So be sure to plan ahead.

The Hyannis and Nantucket terminal buildings have all been designed to be wheelchair accessible, with bathrooms that also accommodate those who require such assistance.

Stepping onto some ferry will make you feel like you’ve already started your vacation. Enjoy the fresh sea air and sensational views on the deck, or settle into a warm, comfortable spot indoors.

Nantucket is a mere 26 miles from the mainland of Cape Cod’s port of Hyannis. Take a relaxed 2-hour and 15-minute ride on one of their traditional ferries from Hyannis to Nantucket. Or, if you’d like to get there a bit faster, hop on board their seasonal high-speed vessel only for passengers, the M/V Iyanough, for a speedy voyage that takes only an hour.

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