More Than 10,000 People Swarm Steamship Website On Opening Day For Summer Reservations

Jason Graziadei •

Hazlegrove 4718
Photo by Cary Hazlegrove |

After delaying the start date to book summer ferry reservations last month due to its latest website snafus, the Steamship Authority opened the floodgates Thursday morning and more than 10,000 people attempted to rush through.

While customers' experiences varied - and wait times peaked at two hours and 20 minutes - the Steamship Authority's website and reservation system sustained the huge volume without any major glitches or crashes.

As of approximately 3 p.m. on Thursday, the Steamship had processed 7,800 transactions representing more than $4.2 million in revenue. That compares to 9,153 reservations on opening day in 2023, and the all-time record of 9,499 transactions in 2022.

"The Authority closely monitored and actively managed the number of users allowed on the website this morning to ensure the system operated at an optimal level," the boat line announced in a formal statement Thursday afternoon. "This was done through the use of a virtual waiting room that allowed customers to see their 'place' in line and the approximate wait time until they can make a transaction, eliminating the need for customers to continually refresh their browser."

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At its peak shortly before 9 a.m., the Steamship's virtual waiting room had an average of more than 10,000 active sessions per minute, although the boat line believes that number is likely higher than the actual number of individuals waiting because individuals were using multiple devices to attempt to access the website.

The summer reservation opening times and dates were rescheduled following an investigation into "technical challenges" experienced by customers on January 18, 2024, during the "Head Start" summer reservation openings for residents of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

“Based on the system’s performance during Nantucket’s general opening, I feel confident in proceeding with the scheduled opening for Martha’s Vineyard reservations,” Steamship general manager Bob Davis said. “I’m thankful to our IT staff and our external vendors for their diligence in ensuring today’s reservation opening for Nantucket was a success. Although delaying the general openings was unfortunate, we ultimately were able to provide a better experience for our customers.”

Following the online openings, customers will be able to make summer reservations for either island via the phone and in person at terminals starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday, February 20, 2024.

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