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Provincetown :: Wednesday, March 29th 2017

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Interview with Mike Glasfeld

June 19th, 2011

Every season, Bay State Cruises carries tens of thousands of people from Boston’s World Trade Center to MacMillan Wharf. At the helm is Mike Glasfeld, a personable sailor who truly enjoys his work. I catch up with him at the pier talking to local employee Jade Silva, checking in with Harbormaster Rex McKinsey and dropping off supplies to Herbie Hintze and Erin Thomas-Lawrence at their ticket office. Mike was gracious enough to sit and chat about his role in Provincetown.

Every season, Bay State Cruises carries tens of thousands of people from Boston’s World Trade Center to MacMillan Wharf. At the helm is Mike Glasfeld, a personable sailor who truly enjoys his work.

Q: How was your trip?

A: Wonderful, as always. We’re continuing a tradition of what a number of different steamship companies have been doing since the 1840’s, bringing people to Provincetown over water. Ferry service from Boston has continued nearly uninterrupted but for a tough period between 1965 and 1973 when competing lines had finally bludgeoned one another into not being able to operate profitably. It crushed local tourism. Bay State Cruises stepped in to resume the tradition of ferry service to Provincetown in 1973. I acquired the company in 1998.

Q: How did that happen?

A: In 1985, I started as a deckhand with a harbor cruise company. The company was growing very quickly, domestically and internationally, and in thirteen years I went from deckhand to president of marine operations, learning the ways of business in a field that I loved.

In 1998, Bay State Cruises was owned by this now large international cruise company.

Founded in 1965 by a great man, Dick Nakasian, Bay State Cruises was fairly successful. After he sold the business in 1987, it went through three more not-so-successful ownership structures. The international company I was working for instructed me to find a buyer for what continued to be a loss maker.

I convinced them to sell it to me.

Q: The fast ferries are far more popular than the Provincetown II. Are you going to retire her?

A: No way! Although we may not make money sending her down to Provincetown on weekends, we wouldn’t dream of ending a tradition older than baseball. The Boston to Provincetown traditional ferry matters to us.

We also bring the Provincetown II down for special events like the upcoming Blessing of the Fleet, Fundraisers for the Masons, the Schooner Regatta, and the Provincetown Business Guild’s Carnival Cruise, and for David Flower’s Bear’s Week Cruise.

Q: You have a lot of young people working for you. What is your career advice to youth in the beginning of their careers?

A: My advice would be to find what you’re excited about and work like heck to earn a good living at it. Although there’s certainly a segment of our society that says “work like heck” and another that says “follow your heart”, I don’t think enough time is spent connecting the two. The former, on its own too often results in the stereotypical soul-less corporate position while the latter on its own can result with people in truly beautiful pursuits, but, also without getting enough traction in life and therefore steering into some of life’s curious pitfalls.

Q: What do you do to relax and restore?

A: My work has an inherent relaxing and restorative element to it, but, nothing beats spending time with my family, either sitting around or adventuring. My bride, Kristin, is one of the smartest humans on earth, my son, John, says he’s either going to work at NASA or write great books (I think he has a shot at both), and my daughter, Sarah, will most likely take over the world.

It was a privilege to interview a man whose work creates such a positive impact on Provincetown’s economy and traditions.

Columnist [Notes from Land’s End] Laura Shabott loves to write about the people that she admires in her beloved Provincetown. She will be attending the Fine Arts Work Center this summer.

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