New-build, emission-free vessels to be launched during 2019 season
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday announced the Maid of the Mist, which has been navigating the waters of the Lower Niagara River since 1846, is preparing to launch the first two, new, all-electric, zero-emission passenger vessels constructed in the U.S.
Once launched later this year, the catamaran-style vessels will provide more than 1.6 million guests from around the world with an up-close, iconic view of Niagara Falls. The vessels feature a wide stance, resulting in a smooth, quiet ride, allowing guests to better enjoy the roar and majesty of Niagara Falls.
"Maid of the Mist tours of the world-famous Niagara Falls waterfalls and of the Niagara River Gorge are a signature tourism attraction of Western New York," Cuomo said. "The new zero-emission boats will continue that proud tradition, while enhancing our efforts to make New York state a premier environmentally friendly tourism destination."
"The Maid of the Mist is one of the most iconic parts of the tourism experience here in New York and around the world," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who made the announcement in person. "For generations, people from all walks of life have been able to get an up-close look at the majesty of Niagara Falls thanks to the historic Maid of the Mist attraction. Today, we are advancing it into the next century with a new fleet of all-electric vessels, which will transport visitors while protecting the health of our waterways and environment."
"It makes perfect sense for Maid of the Mist to be a world leader with the implementation of this green technology," Maid of the Mist President Christopher M. Glynn said. "The new vessels will carry our guests to the base of Niagara Falls, one of the world's largest sources of clean hydroelectric power."
Designed by Propulsion Data Systems, the new totally integrated vessels are currently under construction by Burger Boat Co. in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. In mid-May, the modules will be transported to Niagara Falls and lowered onto the Maid of the Mist dry dock and maintenance facility for assembly. Following completion of construction, launch and certification, the new vessels will be placed into service in mid-September.
ABB, a pioneering technology leader in digital industries, will supply a comprehensive integrated power and propulsion solution for the new-build vessels, including lithium ion battery packs and an onshore charging system, enabling sustainable operation with maximum reliability.
Powered by ABB's zero-emission technology, the two fully-electric vessels will take tourists to the heart of the Niagara Falls, undisturbed by engine noise or exhaust fumes. Batteries will be recharged for seven minutes after each trip to 80 percent capacity, allowing for maximum efficiency and battery life.
The hull of the new vessels features an icon of the electricity symbol within a water droplet surrounded by a turbine with Niagara Falls in the background. The color scheme is environmentally friendly green combined with the blue of the water.
Maid of the Mist VI (1990) and Maid of the Mist VII (1997) will be removed from service when the new vessels begin operating.
New York State Parks Acting Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "The Maid of the Mist has been a tremendous partner at Niagara Falls State Park. These new vessels delivering a superior visitor experience while expanding the sustainable practices we need to adopt to protect the natural assets that draw visitors to Niagara Falls and parks across the state."
Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO at the New York Power Authority, said, "New York is leading the way in the transition to an electric transportation system. The Maid of the Mist's conversion to an all-electric fleet is a bold move that shows the world we take our commitment to lowering carbon emissions seriously. The Niagara Power Project has been a long-time partner to the Maid the Mist and we are pleased to support the Maid going electric and making our environment cleaner and greener with every trip."
Congressman Brian Higgins said, "For over 170 years, the Maid of the Mist has taken visitors from across the globe on an up close and personal journey at the base of the mighty Niagara Falls for an experience like none other. In the early days it was by steamboat. The announcement of new electric boats is a fitting natural progression for this popular destination, known for its innovation in producing clean hydroelectricity."
New York State Sen. Robert Ortt said, "I am thrilled to see that two new environmentally friendly boats have been purchased for the historic Maid of the Mist and the millions of visitors that tour the falls each year. These new electric boats are the latest examples of our state's commitment to becoming more environmentally conscious, and will help contribute to the protection of the beautiful ecosystem surrounding the falls. We owe it to our future generations to do what we can to preserve and protect the natural wonders that make our region special."
Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said, "I am pleased to be present for this historic announcement by the Maid of the Mist Corp. Not only are they introducing two new boats into the Maid of the Mist fleet, they should be applauded because these two new boats are electric, making them more environmentally friendly.
“Niagara Falls is the location of the first hydroelectric power plant built by Nikola Tesla, the father of alternating current, and the city that first lit the world. Combining Niagara Falls, New York's, first tourist attraction and electric boats is an historic event. Thank you Maid of the Mist Corp. for your vision of tourism and the importance of Niagara Falls, New York, to the world."
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "I am thrilled to join our partners in State Parks and the Maid of the Mist to usher in another exciting season this year with a cleaner, greener fleet. These environmentally friendly additions to the Maid family will help to provide the same visitor experience for which the Maid is world-renowned in a more sustainable manner for many years to come."
Maid of the Mist first launched in 1846, making it one of North America's longest-running tourist attractions. Maid of the Mist vessels have been continuously operating tours to the base of Niagara Falls for 134 consecutive years, providing guests from around the world with an iconic experience.
James V. Glynn joined Maid of the Mist in 1950 as a ticket seller and purchased the company in 1971. Under his leadership and that of the current president, his son, Christopher, Maid of the Mist has expanded operations, now attracting more than 1.6 million guests each season.
In 2012, Maid of the Mist faced closure in the absence of storage space for its boats on the New York side of the river. Cuomo struck a deal to keep the boats running and produce increased revenues for Niagara Falls State Park. The Maid of the Mist Corp. agreed to invest $32 million in the former Schoellkopf Power Station site near the falls to make it suitable for the winter storage and maintenance of its boats. Under the memorandum, the company agreed to increase its license payments to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, totaling $105 million over 30 years – three times the revenues that were projected for the 30-year period when a contract was initially approved in 2002.
The new Maid of the Mist vessels build on a $70 million revitalization of Niagara Falls State Park. The initiative has renewed the park's major viewing areas – including Luna Island, Prospect Point, Lower Grove, Three Sisters Islands, North Shoreline Trail, Luna Bridge and Terrapin Point – with new pedestrian walkways, enhanced landscaping, new benches, light posts and railings. Under Cuomo's “NY Parks 2020” program, the state has made a multi-year commitment to revitalize state parks and includes $110 million in the 2019-20 state budget for park improvement projects.