Cruise ship brings summer-level crowd to Oak Bluffs

More cruise ships are scheduled to visit the Island. 

The Celebrity Summit, a cruise ship, made a stop at Oak Bluffs on Tuesday, May 16. — Courtesy Celebrity Cruises

Summer crowds came early for Oak Bluffs when a massive cruise ship called the Celebrity Summit stopped by Oak Bluffs this week, as a part of its itinerary.

The vessel, operated by Celebrity Cruises, dwarfed the Steamship Authority ferries. According to travel magazine TravelAge West, the Celebrity Summit is 965 feet in length, and has a 105-foot beam. By comparison, the ferry Martha’s Vineyard is 230 feet in length, with a 60-foot beam. 

The ferry can hold 1,274 people, including both passengers and crew, white the cruise ship has a capacity of 2,158 passengers, and is run by a nearly thousand-member crew. 

According to CrewCenter, the Celebrity Summit traveled to Bermuda from the Vineyard.

Oak Bluffs Association executive director Billie Jean Sullivan said the Celebrity Summit wasn’t the first cruise ship to visit the Island this year. Another stopped by the Island a few weeks ago, when most businesses weren’t open yet. 

Sullivan also said cruise ships usually arrive at the Island starting when the Steamship Authority’s Oak Bluffs terminal opens, which was on May 18 this year. She said this was the first time cruise ships arrived so early. 

When the Celebrity Summit arrived, Oak Bluffs Association had prepped its information booth early. Appropriate to the size of the ship, many visitors came ashore. Sullivan said usually a busy July day could see up to 300 people showing up at the booth. With the Celebrity Summit’s arrival, 500 people showed up on Tuesday.

That also meant the sojourners visited local vendors. “Many of the businesses did quite well,” Sullivan said.

Passengers of the cruise ship had to come ashore via smaller boats. “It looked like July or August,” Sullivan said. “There were people up and down the streets.” 

Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce executive director Carolina Cooney told The Times Oak Bluffs was not the only place seeing bustling activity recently. She said the chamber’s visitor center has also been busy, and she noticed an uptick in traffic starting on April 1. “It seems to be creeping earlier and earlier every year,” she said. 

The Celebrity Summit will not be the last cruise ship to visit the Vineyard. Sullivan said “quite a few” are lined up. The Norwegian Pearl and Ocean Voyager are scheduled to arrive in late spring and in the fall. The 2024 schedule for cruise ships has also been set, with the first — the Seven Seas Mariner — arriving in June. 

Additionally, Sullivan is anticipating tour-bus groups starting to arrive. “We are ready from here on in,” Sullivan said. 

Cooney said businesses that are members of the chamber will also be notified about when these cruise ships arrive, so they can prepare. With the increased activity, she expects the Island to be quite busy starting on Memorial Day weekend. “I expect things are going to be getting pretty crazy over here,” Cooney said.


  1. There will never be enough money money money to earn so more deregulation and development are key to Martha’s Vineyard…wait, did I just hear correctly? Are we actually an island of Republicans dressed up in liberals’ clothing? I would say so. You?

    • What in the Sam Hill does this comment have to do with this article? Are you mad at daytrippers or something?

  2. I have seen downtown Key West pretty much turn into a made-in-china-trinket mart after the invasion of the cruise ship people. I do hope MV keeps a grip on this “development”.

    • MV, Oak Bluffs especially, has been a made in China trinket mart since long before cruise ships starting to show up.
      Honestly, the way everyone is up in arms about development, I would think daytrippers are the perfect solution
      They show up for 8 hours or so, throw a couple hundred bucks around, then leave. No further development needed…

    • Cruise ships have been coming here for decades. Not so much during Covid but now we are getting back to normal. Most of the stores in OB sell trinkets, again, it’s been that way for decades.

    • No idea how or why people think this is a problem. Cruise ships bring people and money. They aren’t driving cars, they’re not renting rooms/housing. They’re not stressing the infrastructure at all and the ships don’t come in the busy season. There is literally no real downside other than the problems associated with the cruise ship industry which are real but not relevant to MV.

  3. Islanders can be such hypocritical snobs when it comes to determining whose off-island money they find acceptable to line their pockets. Cruise ship passengers apparently don’t have the right stuff for many, but the hordes descending for Beach Road Weekend are welcomed with open arms. Greedy hypocrites have their standards, I suppose. Mostly (not all) mediocre music that pounds and thumps and damages the life out of a residential neighborhood is great because restaurants and hotels and B&Bs and trinket sellers make out like bandits, but islanders look down their nose at disembarking tourists from cruise ships? The soul of the Vineyard sold out ages ago.

    • Island Softball League started this week and the field is still wrecked from Beach Road Weekend last year. The outfield is uneven and has many small dips and holes that are dangerous to our athletes. This was never a problem before this atrocity of an event was allowed to happen on the island.

  4. BRW brings talented, vibrant people to the Island.
    Cruise passengers clog our streets with white heads crowding into our trinket shops.

    • It remains hypocritical and snobbish to welcome the BRW hordes while being disdainful toward the cruise ship hordes. You either welcome the hordes and their money or you don’t. Calling cruise ship passengers “white heads” is ageist. Their money is as good as the hordes creating traffic jams to attend BRW concerts.
      The chance to make money always wins out on the island, despite snobbery and hypocrisy and the grumping, and despite selling out the island’s soul to cater to off-island tourists and visitors, and gouge them when possible, with the promise of high-priced events and chazzerai to buy, most of it mediocre. Someone on IT recently remarked they spent $18 on one child-sized and one regular-size ice cream cone at a popular ice cream shop. You know how many concert goers and cruise ship passengers do that without batting an eye?

      • Crowds of any sort are just not nice. Whether they be hordes, white-heads, cruise ship PAX…
        Now describing BRW’s offering as mediocre is another debate.

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