The demise of the Maid of the Mist tours from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is a shock to anyone planning a visit there in the next couple of years.
These famous and extremely popular tours have been running since 1846, using sturdy, tug-like craft that brave the turmoil of the river and sail into the mist-shrouded maelstrom at the base of the thundering Horseshoe Falls. A ride aboard the Maid of the Mist is a highlight of any Niagara visit.
A bidding war has seen the company lose its long held contract for boat operations in the river gorge. Instead, a 30-year agreement has been signed with Hornblower Canada. It has plans to introduce two new boats, each carrying 599 passengers. But it also means Hornblower tours are unlikely to start until the spring of 2014.
Maid of the Mist president Christopher Glynn says the loss of the Canadian contract has created many uncertainties, including whether Maid of the Mist tours will operate this year. The boats usually run from late April/early May (weather dependent) to October.
Meanwhile, Hornblower says its new boats will have enhanced passenger facilities, including “dry zones” offering passengers protection from the swirling mist. Well that certainly removes an elemental part of the Niagara fun – getting thoroughly soaked!