Last year (2012), Hornblower Niagara Cruises [NiagaraCruises.com], won the contract to operate cruises from the Canadian side of the Niagara Gorge to the base of the Horseshoe Falls. Maid of the Mist Steam Company has been operating the tours since 1854 (originally they were ferries between Canada and the U.S. as far back as 1846) – and will continue to offer tours from the U.S. side of the river.
For anyone familiar with the sights of the Maid of the Mist boats, it’s going to be quite a surprise to see the new catamarans running alongside the traditional-looking boats.
The catamarans’ features include: improved manoeuvrability in the water, enclosed viewing areas for those who don’t want to get wet, an outdoor deck with tiered viewing areas to provide maximum sightseeing and they’ll also have seating, on-board washrooms and licensed concessions for new evening and night time cruises.
The catamarans, (26 metres long and 10 metres wide), will arrive in Niagara Falls sometime in January 2014. One has already been built, with the second one soon to be completed. The boats are being built by Hike Metal in Wheatley, Ontario and will be constructed, disassembled into three sections and then shipped to Niagara Falls on six large transport trucks whereupon they’ll be re-assembled and tested prior to use.
A third boat, called “Guardian of the Gorge”, has already been built and the 150-passenger vessel will be used for rescue efforts as well as for private charters. The two un-named-for-now (see below for a unique competition) tour boats have a 700 passenger capacity compared to the present Maid of the Mist VI and VII boats that have a maximum of 600 passengers (Maid of the Mist IV and V have maximum capacities of 200 passengers)
Hornblower’s Senior Marketing Manager, Madalena Phillips said: “These boats will be unique to any other boat we operate, they are built to optimize our operations in the Niagara Gorge, and designed with special features which will hopefully allow us to start earlier (in the season) and finish later.”
A variety of tour options will be offered, including sunrise and sunset rides, fireworks cruises and more. Online ticketing with timed arrivals will be available to avoid long waits in line. “We’re creating a new experience for visitors to Niagara Falls,” said Phillips. “We’re reinventing the iconic boat tour.”
The California-based cruise boat company has more than 30 years of experience in countries around the world. They are scheduled to start operating on the Canadian side of the Niagara River – near the base of the Horseshoe Falls – in mid-April, weather permitting.
Hornblower is launching a world-wide contest to name the two catamarans, starting Friday November 15th. The company is inviting members of the public to submit their favourite boat name via the Hornblower Niagara Cruises Facebook page – www.facebook.com/NiagaraCruises. The winning submissions will receive a five-day, all-expenses paid luxury trip to Niagara Falls.
“It’s an international contest because it’s Canada’s iconic boats,” said Phillips, adding Niagara Falls residents can still participate, despite the prize being a trip to their city.
“The goal is to find a name brought forward by the people. We also invite classrooms to participate. If a classroom wins, the entire classroom wins a trip down and a trip on one of our boats.”
Copyright © 2013 Iain & Gail Shankland / TravelBloggers.ca (at) Gmail.com
Iain Shankland & Gail Shankland started blogging in order to inspire and motivate people to travel the world from their perspective – specializing in having the most fun while using the least amount of money, travelling on the cheap without sacrificing comfort.
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