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Updated Guidance for Cruises Departing the U.S. Beginning August 8, 2022. View health and travel requirements
Martha’s Vineyard cruises are the perfect way to see the magnificent Massachusetts coast and one of the most historic ports in New England. This island, just south of Cape Cod, is one of the oldest settled and continually inhabited places in the United States and is steeped in rich colonial culture and quirky charm.
The long, sweeping sandy beaches in Martha’s Vineyard are straight out of an oil painting, with picturesque lighthouses dotted along the shores and grand mansions adorning the nearby streets. Take a trip around the island to see wildlife reserves, lush farmland, historic monuments and fishing villages backed by rolling sand dunes. You’re never far from the sea here, with fishing boats, swish marinas and enticing seafood restaurants at every turn. Come for the beaches, but explore the island’s culture and cuisine at the same time.
For centuries, lighthouses were the only way to guide ships away from the jagged cliffs and rocks of the New England coast. They still play an essential role today. The lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard are also an historical reminder of human ingenuity, public safety, and cultural style.
The Edgartown Harbor Light is one of just five remaining lighthouses on the island. It is two stories tall, made of mostly wood, and has stood sturdy in its place since the 1820’s. You can get some incredible views from the top, and it’s a real treat to tour the inside to learn about its storied history and role in helping to keep ships and their crews safe.
Martha’s Vineyard cruises have lots to offer nature lovers, and the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge is a must-see during your visit to the island. The refuge is located on nearby Chappaquiddick Island, an easy day trip. Here, a barrier beach with an expansive salt marsh and red cedar colony protects local flora and fauna and contributes to an immense biodiversity. Hike the Trustees Reservation for a unique perspective on the island, and walk with a licensed guide in search of plovers, terns and oystercatchers, all of which nest here.
Who doesn’t love a classic carousel? This timeless amusement ride may feel like a flashback to the past, but in Martha’s Vineyard the Flying Horses at Oak Bluffs is legendary. Built in 1876, this is the oldest operating platform carousel in the United States, and is categorized as an official historic national landmark.
Kids and adults of all ages will marvel at the intricate design, structure, and movements of the gleaming wooden horses. The music and themes are classic, and a ride on the carousel is a great way to transport yourself to another era before heading into town for ice cream and homemade fudge.
Foodies will love cruises to Martha’s Vineyard, which for such a small island, packs an impressive culinary punch. At The Red Cat Kitchen, classic New England pub fare meets modern craft cocktails and hearty draft beers. Sample local seafood soups like the iconic clam chowder, or try baked crab served with corn risotto and cream.
For something more upscale, dine at L’Etoile Restaurant in Edgartown, where French cuisine featuring local seafood exceeds even the highest expectations. Try their Menemsha lobster with lemon-pepper pappardelle for a real treat, and end with an aged port wine before heading back to your ship.
Martha’s Vineyard was originally inhabited by the Wampanoag tribe and later settled by the British in 1602. It was a key port to both the British and Americans over the last 400 years, serving as a protectorate of Boston, and an integral trading point for whaling and other goods. In recent history, Martha’s Vineyard has been best known as a summer vacation escape for America’s rich and famous, as well as a tight-knit community of year-round locals and seashore lovers. It’s friendly, fun, full of culture, and a great place to visit for adventure and escapism.
Martha’s Vineyard’s port facilities are modern and convenient. You can step off the ship and walk right into the pretty colonial town of Oak Bluffs, with plenty of shops and restaurants to explore.
Getting around Martha’s Vineyard is done mostly by car or tour bus, once outside the villages of Oak Bluffs or Edgartown. You can rent a car for the day if you’d like to do some serious exploring, or charter a tour van or taxi. In the villages, you can walk everywhere or rent a beach cruiser bicycle to get from place to place.
Martha’s Vineyard is all about boutique shopping and artisan crafts. You won’t find chain stores or malls here, which is part of the island’s charm. Right by the cruise port, you’ll find fantastic boutiques that specialize in maritime-themed art, wood carvings, furniture, and other artisan gifts. There are also a number of tempting chocolate and taffy shops nearby, as well as clothing stores that represent the seafaring culture of the island and its people.
The local currency in Martha’s Vineyard is the US dollar, and ATMs are very easy to find at the port and in any of the island’s villages. Credit cards and debit cards are accepted pretty much everywhere, although you should also carry some cash as it’s preferred by some smaller merchants and food vendors. Tipping is expected for meals, tours, and drinks, and a standard 15-20% for good service is the norm.