The Captain Morse House

A Note about Service Fees

If you’ve searched for a vacation rental in the past year, you may have noticed it is much more difficult and expensive, at least on the major booking sites.

As property owners, we feel your pain. Prior to this year, we only advertised on VRBO and were always fully booked.  We paid a yearly subscription, and our guests paid none. We chose not to advertise on AirB&B, as they have always charged guests a service fee (but do not charge the owners.)

But things changed last year with the introduction of the HomeAway / VRBO service fee.  The service fee is charged by HomeAway/VRBO to the traveler and is calculated on a sliding scale of 4% to 9% of the rental amount. Keep in mind that they still charge the owners, too! 

To help explain this “double-dipping”, HomeAway introduced their “Book with Confidence Guarantee.” If you read through it and have rented from an owner before, you might just get a chuckle out of it:

  1. Premium customer service that is available 24/7 to help you if you have issues or questions regarding your stay.
    Sounds awesome! But . . . if you call VRBO customer service (in India), they have never actually seen our property and know nothing about the home.  They are going to call the homeowners.  As owners, we would much rather establish a friendly relationship with our guests prior to you arriving at our home.  If there are questions, we answer them. If there are any issues, we want our guests to call us immediately so we can take care of them.  

2. Rebooking assistance to help you find another vacation rental should your booking be canceled by an owner or manager at the last minute.
In most locations, moving a traveler to a comparable property is simply not possible.  Odd of that customer service rep across the ocean finding you another ocean-front, pet-friendly 6-bedroom house that you selected six months ago are slim to none. You’re going to end up in a Motel 6 by the highway. And personally, as an owner, the only time I have “canceled last minute” was due to an impending hurricane and a mandatory evacuation order.  And, of course, gave a full refund.  

3. Comprehensive payment protection that protects your full rental payment against listing fraud, phishing, property significantly misrepresented and more.
So, not really.  I just read the read the “fine print” of this protection and was appalled to see that a guest is not covered if they arrive and discover  that a) the property is excessively dirty, b) it’s located in a different place than you saw online, c) the interior is  “different than the description  in the listing” and/or  d) there is “a failure of the air conditioning, internet, phone service, grill, hot tub, or swimming pool.”  

Again, establishing a relationship with the owner is your best protection.  I would never want someone to think we falsely advertised our home’s location or interior.  And I would be horrified if they felt it was not clean enough; we would send the cleaner back out right away.  We had our washing machine break during someone’s month-long stay and had it replaced with a brand-new one the same day.

4. Security deposit protection to help you recover your deposit if it is wrongfully withheld.
After many years of acting as a vacation-rental host, I can guarantee you that the last thing responsible owners want to do is withhold even a portion of your security deposit.  In our five years of doing this, we have had to use a portion of the deposit only twice.  Once, when our guests broke the glass on our dining room table. And once, when we had really bad guests who let their dogs trash the house.  Most small accidents or issues are just the cost of doing business. 

We still advertise on all of the major booking sites.  If you feel more comfortable using them, regardless of the additional fees, then please do so. If you have started your reservation process through a third-party site, we will not suggest or allow you to cancel and book direct. That would be unethical, in our opinion.

Just do your homework before you book. The best price always comes from booking direct, whether it’s a hotel, airline or vacation rental. 

And most important, when renting a vacation property, the owner (and not the website you found the property on) is your best friend when it comes to ensuring the quality of your stay. 


Cumberland Island Visitor Information

Cumberland Island

Winter 2017/18 Cumberland Ferry Times

The ferry service from St. Marys, Georgia to Cumberland Island National Seashore during winter 2017/2018 season is Thursday through Monday in the months of December, January, and February (no service on Tuesdays & Wednesdays).

The ferry leaves St. Marys at 9 am and 11:45 am Thursdays through Mondays, heading to Cumberland Island for the three month winter schedule. The return ferry for day trippers departs Cumberland Island at 4:45 pm. (There’s also a 10:15 am ferry departing the island, typically used by overnight campers).

 The Park Service and ferry concessionaire advise ferry reservation holders to arrive one hour early before departure time, to check in.  According to the NPS website, “All unclaimed ferry reservations will be cancelled 30 minutes prior to departure and those spots will be offered to walk-in visitors.”

Note that since Hurricane Irma, an alternative dock being used requires a bit more time for parking and getting to the dock. 

If you are staying with us at the Captain Morse House, you are centrally located to both the check-in point and the temporary departure dock. 

Bicycles can be transported on ferry for $10 fee (but space is limited), or rent a bike for $16 from ferry company (first come, first serve). 

Ferry tickets cost $28 plus tax per person, plus a $7 park entry fee. 

Where To Eat

low country boil

Fresh seafood.  It is synonymous with any visit to Coastal Georgia.

You can’t get any fresher seafood than in St. Marys.  Literally, it is caught in our waters, cleaned at Lang’s Marina then cooked up for you at Lang’s Seafood, one block down from us on the riverfront.  Fried shrimp is the specialty.

We also love the Riverside Cafe, also on Front Street.  A Greek restaurant (with awesome Mousaka,) it has a large menu with a little bit of everything; all of it great! Fresh seafood, also. And their desserts . . . OMG.

Pauly’s, which is two doors down from us, is always written up as one of the best restaurants in Georgia.  An Italian restaurant, but also amazing for seafood.  I love the shrimp salad there; it is in a vinaigrette dressing, so really different and yummy.  And their homemade potato salad is phenomenal.

Want breakfast? Try the Cedar Oak Cafe.  Two blocks west on Osborne, in the local art gallery.  Great coffees and a large variety of breakfast and lunch items.

Click on the map to open a Google Restaurant search result:

Kings Bay Naval Base

Kings Bay Naval Base, for those who are not familiar, is located 10 minutes west of St. Marys. The Submarine Base is the U.S. Atlantic Fleet‘s home port for U.S. Navy Fleet ballistic missile nuclear submarines armed with Trident missile nuclear weapons.  

St. Marys’ appreciation and support of the men and women who serve our nation is evident around town.  When we first came to St. Marys, we noticed that most downtown shops have a sign in their windows, “EDICCIMAD.”  To save you the time of an inquiry, this means “Every Day in Camden County is Military Appreciation Day.”  In most cases, those displaying this sign will offer a military discount.  As retired Air Force, just seeing those signs makes us feel a little warmer inside.

If you are a military member with proper ID, you can take advantage of the Commissary and other base features, such as a beautiful swimming pool and playground.  On any of our longer visits, we do our grocery shopping there.  

Many of our guests each year are the families of military members, attending a ceremony or coming to visit their loved ones stationed in Kings Bay.  As retired military, those groups are “our family” too, and we love the thought of sharing our home with them.


Advantages of the Captain Morse House

Consider renting the Captain Morse House for your visiting relatives.  

  • With four bedrooms, it is more economical than individual hotel rooms. 

  • Your family members have a gathering place (that’s not your house!)

  • With so much to do in downtown St. Marys, visiting guests will enjoy every minute of their stay.