Hornblower Niagara Cruises vs Maid of the Mist

Ayesha Munir2023-02-09

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Mapping out your impending Niagara Falls Tour? A boat tour to the Falls would definitely be on the theme! Right? And we’re damn sure you must be grappling between the two available Niagara Falls cruises: Hornblower Niagara Cruises and Maid of the Mist. Not sure which one to opt for & for what reasons? Don’t you worry! We have it all researched for you. Read thoroughly, book your boat tour with aplomb, and voila! You’re ready for your not-so-easy-to-forget splashy tour to the Falls!

Let us first introduce you to the two rivaling queens of the Niagara River.

Maid of the Mist

(Credit: Maid of the Mist/ Facebook)

Located at Prospect Street in Niagara Falls, New York State, United States of America, Maid of the Mist reserves the laurel of being the pioneer of boat tours to the Falls. Maid of the Mist boat tour has known Niagara waters since 1846 when it carried its first bunch of avid travelers to & from the Falls. Since then, this boat has taken many of the renowned names to the Falls tour including Princess Diana & Prince Charles, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Albert Edward.

Over time, Maid of the Mist has shuffled its vessels to ensure a state-of-the-art boat experience for its passengers. The fleet got its latest vessels in 2020 when two all-new, fully electric boats were added. So! if prominence really matters to you, Maid of the Mist is destined to be your choice!

Enjoy Your Hassle-Free Boat Ride to the Falls

Hornblower Niagara Cruises

(Credit: relivinmoments / Instagram)

It came, it saw, and it conquered the Niagara Falls boat tour market in 2013 when the Canadian Government awarded the contract for the Niagara boat tour to Hornblower. Located on Niagara Parkway at the foot of Clifton Hill, the Hornblower Niagara Cruises operates on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Hornblower’s fleet for Niagara tours also comprises of two ships: Niagara Wonder and Niagara Thunder. Each vessel takes 700 passengers to Niagara River’s excursion to the Falls.

Done with our sneak peek into each of the two signature Niagara Falls tour boats. And with this, a lot of questions would be popping up in your mind. Let’s explore the differences between the two boat tours bit by bit!

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Which One Operates Where?

Well, the Maid of the Mist glides from the US side of Niagara Falls from the boarding dock located in the Niagara Falls State Park, New York. Whereas the Hornblower Niagara Cruise sets its sails from the Canadian side from Niagara Parkway at the foot of Clifton Hill.

So! If you’re visiting the US side of the Falls, Maid of the Mist makes sense. And if you happen to be traveling the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, Hornblower Niagara Cruise should be your choice. . . and if you have valid travel documents, voila! Enjoy the freedom, cross the Rainbow Bridge, and hop on any of the two boats (of your choice, of course!).


Are Routes Same for Both?

Yes! Each of the two vessels offers a timed 20-minute cruise taking you up & close to each of the three Falls: the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. However, only Hornblower offers the Niagara Falls Fireworks Cruise and Falls Illumination Cruise.


Will I Get a Poncho Free?

Yes! Both, Maid of Midst and Hornblower Cruise, offer free ponchos to the passengers.

(Credit: Maid of the Mist/ Facebook)


What Color Poncho Will I Get? 

Maid of Midst would drape you in a blue poncho while Hornblower Cruise would tuck you into a red poncho. If you’re a girl with a strong preference for girly colors, better to book a ride with Hornblower Cruise! While men might like blue ponchos.


(Credit: charlotte.walsh13 / Instagram)

Well, our take on this is that colors should be gender-neutral! So, as long as you’re getting a free poncho, go color-free and choose whatever boat you would like to ride!


What Amenities Would I Find?

Maid of the Mist does not have a seating arrangement, and passengers have to see it all standing on its upper & lower deck. It is wheelchair accessible. No pets are allowed on board the vessel except for service dogs.

The Hornblower Cruise has a dedicated seating arrangement, though you can also enjoy the boat standing if you prefer it this way. It also has bathrooms and viewing areas on its lower deck. It is wheelchair accessible as well.


What is the Tour Season?

Maid of the Mist boat ride runs its operations from May to Early-November.

Hornblower has a relatively longer tour season, extending from April to End-November.


Do I Need a Vaccination Certificate to Get Onboard?

As of 2022, the Maid of Midst does not require a vaccination certificate to get on board. Hornblower does not require such a certificate.


Which One Should I Choose?

Since the differences between the two cruises aren’t that significant, your choice largely depends on the side of Niagara Falls you happen to be! If you don’t have the appropriate travel documents, then by default you’ll have to take the cruise available on the side of Niagara River you happen to be i.e., Maid of the Mist on the US side, and Hornblower Cruise on the Canadian side. 

If you have appropriate travel documents and reserve the freedom to cross the rainbow bridge, you’ll need extra time and extra bucks. Warning! Crossing the Rainbow would take time whether you walk across it to take a boat to reach the other side. You’ll also incur a fee (though only a few dollars) for crossing the bridge!

Wanna explore Niagara Falls to & beyond its signature Falls? Explore these Niagara Falls Tours featuring iconic experiences book your favorite tour now!