One of the world’s oldest and most popular tourist attractions/rides has come to a sudden end as the Maid of the Mist boat tour at the base of Niagara Falls has been replaced by a company named Hornblower Canada.
The Maid of the Mist had been taking tourists for thrilling rides underneath North America’s Niagara Falls for 165 years. The boats were owned by the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company and started operating from the Canadian side of the mighty Niagara River way back in 1846.
Boat rides will still be available to anxious visitors, but will now be offered by the new firm. Hornblower’s US parent company operates boat tours to the site of Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay as well as at the famous Statue of Liberty in New York City.
The company will be taking travellers underneath Niagara Falls up until 2044 as it won a 30-year bid for approximately $500 million. It will cost them a minimum of $60 million for the first 5 years, which will be paid to the Niagara Parks Commission.
The commission said the demise of the Maid of the Mist is the end of an era for Niagara Falls, but the independent bidding process was done fairly for boat tour operators at the popular tourist attraction. The parks commission implemented a bidding process for the boat-tour route in 2009 after receiving complaints from other private tour operators who said they didn’t have a chance to bid on the lucrative business.
In the past, the contract with the Maid of the Mist was automatically extended without the chance for any competition.
6 bids were received for the 2012 tour-boat season, with 3 of them coming from Canadian companies and the other 2 from American firms. Hornblower’s bid won and the company said it will improve on the service by offering more family-oriented activities as well as extended service. The company said it will build new tour boats and spend $16 million to upgrade the attractions and passenger facilities. The company said it will be ready to begin the new service in 2014.
Meanwhile, the Maid of the Mist will continue to operate in 2012 and 2013 on a monthly-lease basis. In addition, the Maid of the Mist will also continue to take passengers below the falls from the American side of the Niagara River as the new contract was for the Canadian side only. This is because the Canadian side has no jurisdiction or power over the American side of Niagara Falls.
The parks commission said that money wasn’t the only thing when it decided to award the contract to Hornblower. It said it really wanted to enhance the total experience for visitors to Niagara Falls and wanted to make sure that families could still afford the famous boat trip. It added that Hornblower’s pricing structure did just that and the company also has some unique ways to promote the boat ride, which will attract more visitors to Niagara Falls.
Those who have never taken the boat trip underneath the mighty falls are definitely missing out on one of the world’s most adventurous rides. The boat outfits passengers in rain gear and takes them to the base of the falls where you can look up and see and feel the thunderous roar of the water as it comes tumbling down.