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Steamship Authority Vs. Hy-Line Cruises Ferry From Hyannis to Nantucket: Which is Better?

Unless you’re flying or taking your private yacht from Cape Cod to Nantucket, there are only two choices of ferry companies that travel between Hyannis and Nantucket: Steamship Authority and Hy-Line Cruises.

I travel to Nantucket from Hyannis multiple times every summer, and have become an expert in ferry travel between the two destinations. Here’s which ferry I always pick, and why.

The below chart compares the Steamship Authority vs. Hy-Line Ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket during the peak summer season (June through September). Prices listed are per person, one-way.

Ferry CompanyOne-Way Ticket Price: Passenger Fast Ferry / Slow FerryCost per CarCost per BikeFast Ferry TimeSlow Ferry TimeParking Cost per Day
Steamship Authority$42.50 / $20.50 $260-$320$71 hour2 hours 15 mins$21
Hy-LineCruises$48 (Fast Ferry Only)N/A$71 hourN/A$28

Nantucket Ferry Terminal Locations in Hyannis

Both ferries to Nantucket leave from Hyannis, Massachusetts. The Hy-Line Cruises terminal is located at 220 Ocean Street in Hyannis. The Steamship Authority terminal is located at 69 South Street in Hyannis. 

The two ferry terminals are about a 10-minute walk from each other.

Winner: Tie

Ferry Parking

The Steamship Ferry only offers off-site parking, meaning you’ll have to take a shuttle to the parking lot, adding time to your journey.

Hy-Line Ferry offers both on-site parking and off-site parking. If you book ahead and don’t mind spending a bit extra, the on-site parking makes your travel day significantly easier, because you can just walk off the ferry and to your car, rather than dealing with a shuttle bus.

Winner: Hy-Line Ferry.

Bringing a Car to Nantucket

If you want to bring your car over to Nantucket, you’ll have no choice but to use Steamship Authority. Hy-Line does not run a car ferry from Hyannis to Nantucket. 

Vehicle slots on the ferry to Nantucket fill up quickly during the peak summer season, so make sure you book your trip early or you likely won’t be able to bring your car. 

Summer reservations generally open January 31 at 7:30 a.m. and can be booked online, over the phone, or via postal mail. We recommend logging on to the website and calling simultaneously as soon as reservations open to have the best chance of getting the day and time that you want. The site can often get overwhelmed with traffic and crash, which is why calling (and likely waiting on hold) can be a good backup plan. 

Winner: Steamship Authority

Nantucket Ferry Terminal Locations

The Steamship Authority terminal on Nantucket is located at 1 Steamboat Wharf in Nantucket. The Hy-Line Cruises terminal is at 33 Straight Wharf in Nantucket. The two docks are within a five-minutes walk of each other, so the best one to choose is whichever is closest to your hotel. 

Winner: Tie

Nantucket Ferry Schedule

Nantucket ferry schedules for both Steamship and Hy-Line change frequently, with different schedules for holiday weekends, peak season, etc. During peak season, May 15, 2024 – October 20, 2024, Steamship Authority runs five ferries a day between Hyannis and Nantucket. Click here to see the ferry schedules for Steamship Authority.

Hy-Line uses the dates June 8, 2024 – September 2, 2024 for its peak summer season, and runs nine ferries per day, giving you a lot more options for times to choose from to better suit your schedule. Click here to see Hy-Line’s schedules.

Winner: Hy-Line.

Steamship Vs. Hy-Line: Overall Winner

Hy-Line Cruises wins the Nantucket ferry battle if you’re not bringing a car, due to the convenience factor of the on-site parking. However, if you’re bringing a car from Hyannis to Nantucket, Steamship Authority wins.

Important Tips


We had a reservation for the Hy-Line ferry to Nantucket, and Hy-Line canceled our sailing an hour before departure due to weather. Note that Hy-Line does not automatically refund your ticket price, even when the company is the one that cancels. You still have to call and ask for a refund, so make sure you call and request that everything (including your ferry ticket and parking) is refunded if the ferry company cancels your trip.

Google Maps

If you are parking off-site for either company, make sure you put the address of the parking lot into your GPS (rather than typing in “Steamship Authority, Hyannis”), otherwise, you’ll waste time driving to the ticket office and then having to drive back to the parking lot and taking a shuttle.

Off-Season Ferries to Nantucket

Steamship Authority and Hy-Line run ferries to Nantucket in the off-season, however, schedules are significantly reduced. Steamship Authority runs four fast ferries daily between Hyannis and Nantucket from October 21 – January 3. Hy-Line’s off season schedule varies a bit more from month to month but typically runs five daily ferries in the off-season.

Both ferry companies charge the same fare year-round.

Where to Stay on Nantucket

Looking for the best luxury hotel on Nantucket? Read our review of the White Elephant Nantucket.

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