Maid of the Mist’s future uncertain

    6 Comments

    From Buffalo Business First:

    The 2011 season for the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Corp. began Wednesday morning.

    But the bigger question is whether this will be the last year that the Niagara Falls, N.Y.-based company will be permitted to run its boats from the U.S. and Canadian shores of the lower Niagara River.

    At issue is a 2008 renewal that the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Corp. signed with the Niagara Parks Commission to continue to pick up and drop off passengers on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. Potential competitors cried foul over what they perceived as a no-bid process that saw the pact renewed.

    The issue morphed into a political hot button in Niagara Falls, Ont., with the parks commission ultimately deciding to withdraw the deal and put the tour-boat operations out to bid. The bids were issued last fall, and 18 firms including Maid of the Mist Steamboat Corp. are believed to have responded. The parks commission has declined to formally identify any of the bidders.

    6 Responses to “Maid of the Mist’s future uncertain”

    1. Curious if maid of mist still takes photos as you are loading? Anyone sure of price? Think they did that at journey of the falls too

    2. When I was a kid growing up in Niagara you could not keep me out of the Niagara Falls Museum. There was this spooky Egyptian mummy on the upper floor with a big nose that I always went to see whenever I could convince mom and dad to take me there. I also went to the museum on school trips. Later in life I met the operator of the museum Arnold Sherman and he was the nicest person that I have ever had the pleasure to know. I went to see him many times in the museum and I always visited that old mummy each time. I think Arnold said or thought the mummy was some unidentified aristocrat of the middle kingdom. I was stunned when recently I learned that I had at the age of 8 gazed upon the face of Rameses the first. I was baptized Catholic and I can tell you that seeing those mummies in the museum under glass was a religious experience for me because they reminded me of the resurrection story of Christ. The Pharaoh mummies after all were living ‘gods’ in there own right and here they were waiting for resurrection to the afterlife….under glass in a museum. And then there was the shrunken heads! Anyway, Niagara Falls Museum was a cool place and Arnold Sherman was a cool guy god bless him (he passed on to the afterlife when we were friends back in the 70’s).

      The Maid Of The Mist was the other main attraction in Niagara all my life. On and off I applied for jobs there but when I was called I had already got a job somewhere else or I was off on another adventure and not available. I never thought or considered the politics of bids and contracts for this tourist attraction. I guess I assumed that the Niagara Parks Commission ran the show and hired managers to operate the attraction. The complexity of bidding and switching contracts amongst plural operators does sound at first a bit complicated and …dicey. These Maid of the Mist vessels are top notch little ships and are costly to build and maintain. Crewing is also costly…I know as I have a captain’s certificate and have worked on similar vessels. However, I’m also sure that this operation is quite profitable and this is why others want a piece of the action as it were.

      The old Niagara Falls museum I believe was owned by different parties throughout its history and I think that the Maid has had different owners as well during its past. To me both of these operations were always the landmark attractions of Niagara. I think the Museum is now extinct…perhaps because it became less profitable for some extinct reason and that is saddening. I don’t think the Maid will go the way of the museum. I think that the Maid of the mist attraction, no matter who the operator…is ‘maid in the shade’. In fact I hope they do well as I may want a job ‘down there’ one day. LOL

    3. Thank you for a personal view on two great attractions. I never went to the Niagara Falls Museum but, I have many many times gone on the Maid of the Mist. It would be a great loss if the powers in charge uses politics to get rid of the most popular attraction.

    4. Lisa,
      I don’t think it’s political at all, just sound economics. If you had been using a certain brand product for years, and then discovered that you could get an equal (or better) product for half the price, wouldn’t you jump at it? It is expected that the Niagara Parks will increase their revenue from the boat ride from $3 million to $7 million per year, so I say loyalty be damned!!
      I can’t wait to see what will happen on the U.S. side, where there are no docking facilities, and they are locked into a 40 year lease where the State of New York actually PAYS $600,000 per year to MOTM to operate their boats. It would seem that the only way for boat rides to be continued on the U.S. side is for MOTM to win the bidding process, and that certainly doesn’t seem like a sure thing.

    5. Drafty
      Thank you for explaining the economics aspec of the debate. I can see now the neccesity for the bidding process. Being from NYS (Rochester). I was never aware of such a long lease but of course I put that aspect with the ill faded Fast Ferry our ex mayor force us into what a waste of money. Anyways US not having the docking is no surprise, They hardly put any money into the US side.

    6. I actually meant dry docks, not docking facilities, which of course they have. They need enough room to be able to store the boats out of the river, above the ice in the winter. The Canadian side has a fair amount of land that allows them to do that and they have an eloborate system of cradles on rails. On the U.S. side, there is no land to do the same thing.

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