Hy-Line Cruises and the Steamship Authority: Nantucket’s Lifeline to the Main Land
One of our favorite ways to get to and from Nantucket is by way of a ferry. Ease into island time and take in breathtaking ocean views as you make your way across Nantucket Sound and into the heart of Nantucket. When planning your trip, you will find that two main ferry companies offer service to and from the island; the Steamship Authority and Hy-Line Cruises. Both companies offer hour-long fast ferry options from Hyannis, while the Steamship Authority additionally offers a traditional car ferry with a crossing time of just over two hours.
Hy-Line Cruises operates two boats on their Hyannis to Nantucket route, the Grey Lady and Grey Lady IV. The Grey Lady has operated as a year-round ferry since 2003 and features two levels of seating, including an outdoor area on the top level for taking in ocean views as you cross the water. Hy-Line Cruises’ newest ferry acquisition, Grey Lady IV, is a 150’ 3-level boat with two areas of outdoor seating and the new “Captain’s View” – an exclusive seating section inside on the second level. Each ferry has a layout that mixes rows of individual seats with group seating and options with tables. Also equipped with free Wi-Fi, TVs for entertainment, full-service snack bars, and restrooms, a trip on either ferry offers plenty of amenities for your traveling comfort.
The Steamship Authority provides ferry passage to Nantucket for everything from travelers to vehicles carrying supplies that keep the busy island moving. The ferry that is often used when bringing your vehicle to Nantucket, the M/V Eagle, is commonly referred to as the “car ferry” or the “slow boat.” The lower level of the M/V Eagle is reserved for vehicles that load on one end and depart on the other, while the upper-level features seating for 768 people, including passengers and crew. Rounding out the passenger level are a full-service snack bar, free Wi-Fi access, flat-screen TVs, as well as restrooms. For those looking for “fast ferry” service to the island, the M/V Iyanough is the Steamship Authority’s passenger-only option. The 154’ boat carries up to 400 people and has three levels, an outdoor seating area, free Wi-Fi access, and flat-screen TVs throughout the interior. Other amenities on the M/V Iyanough include a snack bar featuring beer, wine, and mixed drinks, as well as a variety of hot and cold menu items to choose from.
The Nantucket ferry schedules change with the seasons. Your best bet for accurate schedules is to check the individual company websites or nantucketferries.com, which is updated with the most current ferry schedule for both the Hy-Line and Steamship.
On the newer Hy-Line ferry, Grey Lady IV, passengers are given the option to upgrade to Captain’s View seating. The Captain’s View upgrade is limited to 32 passengers and allows you to pre-board the ferry and enjoy a designated seating section with the only forward-facing view off the front of the boat.
The Steamship Authority offers eFerry ticketing granting you a way to book your tickets conveniently through your phone.
Regardless of which ferry you choose for your journey to and from Nantucket, be sure to toss a penny overboard as you depart. Local legend has it that if you toss a penny into the harbor as you round iconic Brant Point, you assure a future return to Nantucket.