There are clear signs that spring is in the air or just around the corner. This is sweet words to the ears of those of us who live in the Niagara area. Cold winters are good for certain things but by this time of the year, most of us are ready for some warmer temperatures. While we have certainly experienced warmer than usual winter temperatures, they still do not allow us to do what we are capable of doing in the spring. Flowers start to bloom and the temperatures allow us to start going outdoors without a coat.
You’ll be happy to know that Hornblower Niagara Cruises has announced that they will begin sailing again in late March, a sign that winter has ended and spring has started. This is something of interest to those living in the area since this will be the first time that the water-based attraction has ever started the season in March. They usually aim for the 1st of April as the official start to the season.
However, unlike Hornblower, the Maid of the Mist boats is not scheduled to start rolling until April. No official start dates have been announced.
The vice president and general manager of Hornblower Niagara, Mory DiMaurizio said that they are testing ice and water but that the starting date looks promising for March. He adds that despite having started operations late last year, they still managed to have a successful season with 2.2 million passengers. Given the additional 45 days, they are expected to supersede that number.
That was a drastic turn around from the past two seasons when the boats didn’t go out until May due to ice conditions on Niagara River and Lake Erie. In 2018 Hornblower didn’t go out until May 3 and in 2019, it didn’t set sail until May 14.
Last year the Clifton Incline Railroad was put back into motion and renamed the Funicular. It is part of weather-protected, 50-passenger glass-wrapped cab that takes riders from the street directly to where the boats launch. They go down a 300-foot incline to the walkway where the catamarans are docked. The ride is only a short two minutes but it offers visitors a lovely view of Niagara Falls. Given that you can’t get this view from any other angle, it adds to the overall Niagara Falls experience. Over 1 million visitors used the Funicular cabs.
Hornblower still maintains an elevator system that takes its passengers from the street to the Riverside Patio. The Funicular cabs helped eliminate some of the demand placed on the elevators.
Hornblower reportedly invested more than $12 million to get the rail service started again. Those who have the honor of riding on it, it was well worth the investment. More people will likely go to the Falls just to capture video or images of the views that they can only get when they ride the Funicular.
Hornblower operates two 700-passenger catamarans and operates 1 150-person jet boat, which is usually booked for private events and private parties.