Island Queen begins its daily route

The Falmouth-based ferry provides speedy transit for passengers.

Island Queen starts cruising between Falmouth and Oak Bluffs this weekend. —Michael Cummo

The Island Queen returned Friday, making its runs between Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard. The only passenger ferry going to and from Falmouth and Martha’s Vineyard for half a century, the ferry will continue to provide a valuable option to travelers. The service isn’t just useful for pedestrians and tourists; there are commuter plans available, as well as a 30-day parking punch book that costs $375.

The ticket office opens at 8 am, and the first departure from Falmouth is at 9 am. The trip to Oak Bluffs takes about 35 minutes from dock to dock. Monday through Thursday, the boat will make three trips back and forth each day, including the initial morning passage. Every Friday, an additional two trips will be tacked onto the schedule, one departing Oak Bluffs at 6:45 pm and another at 8:45 pm. The spring schedule will continue until June 7, at which point the summer schedule will take effect to accommodate the influx of seasonal visitors.

General manager of the Island Queen Todd Bidwell said that the central goals of the service are convenience, efficiency, and comfort. “We are focused on providing enjoyable and safe travel to our passengers,” Bidwell said. “The fact the trip only takes 35 minutes, and the ease of parking very nearby to the dock, it’s all to benefit the passengers’ experience.”

Drivers can drop off family members or friends at the dock with their luggage, then drive to the parking lot. “There is hassle-free dropoff of people and bags; it makes it very easy to hop out of the car and onto the ferry,” said Bidwell. He suggests that people arrive 45 minutes early, especially during the busiest parts of the season in July and August.

Bidwell explained that having a passenger-only ferry is uncomplicated, and makes for a more pleasurable trip. The Island Queen website calls the experience a “mini-cruise” through the sparkling water of Vineyard Sound. There is an onboard snack bar featuring two special Cape Cod draft beers, a Cape IPA and a Cape blonde. Lighter fare is available, as well as food for more hungry passengers.

According to Bidwell, a new crew started Friday, ranging in age from 16 to 89. The blend of ages and personalities on staff is an aspect that Bidwell said will greatly improve crew and customer relations. “We have a really awesome crew this season,” said Bidwell. “There is a diverse mix of people. For some of the younger crew, it’s their very first job. I think it’s a really exciting thing.”

The crew will be there to help passengers with bags, take tickets, and answer questions. Their main objectives are to keep passengers content and make traveling easy.

The ferry service also allows people to bring bikes and water-sport equipment like kayaks and standup paddleboards. Customers can bring a bike for $8 round-trip, and any moderate-size kayak, paddleboard, or surfboard for $12.