Taking a cruise along the Niagara River has long been a top-ranking tourist option, allowing new angles for photo opportunities and general sightseeing for Niagara Falls. There has always been a boat tour of some description on the river since 1848 – a traditional attraction which has hosted international celebrities, US presidents, UK royalty and other prominent world figures in its long history.
Until recently, the designated cruise ship to see the falls from the water has been the Maid of the Mist. However, recently The Maid has moved to the United States side of the border and the Niagara River cruise in Canada is now solely operated by Hornblower Niagara. The appeal of the cruise itself hasn’t changed, and in-fact now comes with some fresh innovations.
Hornblower Cruises offer a way for tourists to get up close to the system of waterfalls that define the landscape, with voyages departing every fifteen minutes. The boat travels close enough to the falls that passengers are offered mist gear for some shielding against the spray from the massive deluge of water.
One of the main changes in recent years is the expansion of the voyage schedule to include late afternoon and evening departures. The Sunset Cocktail Cruise is a 30-minute tour with a licensed cocktail bar and snacks, styled as a more romantic alternative to the daytime voyages – and also a great way to try local wines in a unique setting. Later in the evening, the Falls Illumination Cruise – also a 30-minute tour – is a night-time trip close to the falls under the starry sky which also provides a vantage point for viewing the Niagara Falls city skyline. Weekend trips even have small fireworks displays as an extra incentive.
Hornblower currently keeps two catamaran boats and a smaller 150-passenger boat for private tours and special occasions. These ships are state-of-the-art and equipped with full amenities and an in-built audio tour program: an educational narrative on the history of the falls and the boat tour.
Many different ships and chartered boats have travelled the Niagara River – Hornblower ships are only the latest to offer the tours. So far they have been a success in keeping tourists happy and continuing the tradition of giving thrill-seekers a chance to feel the force of the falls up close.
Hornblower Niagara Cruises opens on April 30th, for the 2015 season.
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