Thousands of people logged onto the Steamship Authority website hours before dawn Tuesday, breaking records on the opening day of summer ferry reservations and portending a busy summer ahead.

Website waiting room was full before the sun came up Tuesday.

Just after 5 a.m, more than 6,000 people were queued up in a waiting room on the boat line web page. By the end of the day, the SSA completed 24,580 transactions — thousands more than on the opening days for advance vehicle reservations in 2019 and 2021, which saw 14,870 and 16,252 transactions respectively.

The numbers this year translated to nearly $5.8 million in revenue, spokesman Sean Driscoll said in an email. By comparison, total transactions on opening day in 2019 were valued at $2.8 million, while total transactions on opening day in 2021 were valued at $3.9 million.

The Steamship Authority defines a transaction as either a one-way or a round-trip reservation.

“Obviously we’re off to a very robust start for the summer. The waiting room and website worked as expected and any issues that were encountered were user-specific, not site-wide. At its peak, the waiting room had more than 14,000 users in the queue,” Mr. Driscoll said in the email.

Speaking to the Gazette by phone Thursday, Mr. Driscoll said as expected, ferries on holiday weekends were neearly sold out just three days into summer reservations.

About half of all trips scheduled for Memorial Day weekend have space availability of 25 per cent or less, Mr. Driscoll said, while 61 per cent of trips over the Fourth of July weekend are more than 75 per cent booked.

“Leading up to the two holidays, we are very busy,” he said. “We’re not necessarily totally sold out . . . but you have to be flexible.”

Opening day was a markedly different story from 2018 and 2020, when the SSA website seized up on the first day of advance summer reservations, unable to handle the volume of web traffic and causing a long day of headaches for the boat line and customers alike.

The reservation waiting room was introduced last year in an effort to improve the system.

“As it is every year, these internet general openings are a true team effort, and I am thankful for the amazing job that was done by all of our employees,” SSA general manager Robert Davis said in a statement Wednesday.

Reservations are currently open online and by mail. Reservations by phone will be available beginning Feb. 1 at 7:30 a.m.

Vehicle reservation slots are open from May 17 through Oct. 19. Up to five transactions will be allowed.

Mr. Driscoll encouraged use of the SSA wait list, noting that some customer have already been moved into their preferred reservation slots.

“There are still options out there,” he said. “I really can’t underscore how much the wait list can help enough.”

Advance reservations for fall travel will begin June 20, according to the SSA website.

The reservation office will have extended hours (7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily) from Jan. 26 to Jan 31.

A $2 million overhaul of the boat line website is also in the works this year.

Updated to include Thursday followup with Mr. Driscoll.