Summer crowds arrived in Oak Bluffs early when a massive cruise ship called the Celebrity Summit stopped in Oak Bluffs this week as part of its itinerary.
The ship, operated by Celebrity Cruises, dwarfed the Steamship Authority ferries. According to travel magazine TravelAge West, the Celebrity Summit is 965 feet long and has a beam 105 feet long. By comparison, the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry is 230 feet long with a width of 60 feet.
The ferry can accommodate 1,274 people including passengers and crew, while the cruise ship has a capacity of 2,158 passengers and is manned by a crew of almost a thousand.
According to CrewCenter, Celebrity Summit is scheduled to be held in King’s Wharf, Bermuda until May 19 before heading to Charleston, South Carolina.
Oak Bluffs Association executive director Billie Jean Sullivan said the Celebrity Summit was not the first cruise ship to visit the island this year. Another stopped on the island a few weeks ago when most businesses were not yet open.
Sullivan also said cruise ships generally arrive on the island from the opening of the Steamship Authority’s Oak Bluffs terminal on May 18 this year. She said it was the first time cruise ships had arrived so early.
When the Celebrity Summit arrived, the Oak Bluffs Association had its information booth ready early. Depending on the size of the ship, many visitors came ashore. Sullivan said that typically a busy day in July could see up to 300 people show up at the booth. With the arrival of the Celebrity Summit, 500 people showed up on Tuesday.
It also meant that residents visited local vendors. “A lot of companies have done pretty well,” Sullivan said.
Cruise ship passengers had to disembark via smaller boats. “It felt like July or August,” Sullivan said. “There were people in the streets.”
Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce Carolina Cooney told The Times that Oak Bluffs wasn’t the only place to see bustling activity recently. She said the chamber visitor center was also busy and she had noticed an increase in traffic from April 1. “He seems to be crawling earlier and earlier each year,” she said.
The Celebrity Summit won’t be the last cruise ship to visit the vineyard. Sullivan said “a good number” are lined up. Norwegian Pearl and Ocean Voyager are scheduled to arrive in late spring and fall. The 2024 cruise ship schedule has also been set, with the first – the Seven Seas Mariner – arriving in June.
Additionally, Sullivan expects tour bus groups to start arriving.
“We’re ready from now on,” Sullivan said.
Cooney said chamber member companies will also be notified when these cruise ships arrive so they can prepare. With the increase in activity, she expects the island to be very busy starting on Memorial Day weekend.
“I expect things to get pretty crazy here,” Cooney said.
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