Niagara Falls’ iconic Maid of the Mist tourist boats are about to be replaced with brand new electric-powered designs. The two boats will be the first fully electric, zero-emission passenger vessels to be built in the United States, and will take their first paying customers in the fall.
The new, greener designs were recently unveiled by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“The Maid of the Mist has offered tours of the world-famous Niagara Falls waterfalls and of the Niagara River Gorge for more than a century, and are a signature tourism attraction of Western New York,” Cuomo said. “The new zero-emission boats will continue that proud tradition while continuing our efforts to make New York state a premier environmentally friendly tourism destination.”
The two catamaran-style vessels will provide more than 1.6 million tourists a year with an up-close view of the famous falls, offering a “smooth, quiet ride, allowing them to better enjoy the roar and majesty of Niagara Falls.”
The redesigned Maid of the Mist is the work of Massachusetts-based Propulsion Data Services and the two boats are now being built by Burger Boat Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
The integrated power and propulsion system is the work of Swiss-Swedish tech firm ABB and includes lithium-ion battery packs and an onshore charging system.
The batteries will be recharged for seven minutes after each trip to 80 percent capacity, allowing for maximum efficiency and battery life. Tourists, meanwhile, will be able to enjoy trips free of engine noise and polluting diesel fumes, allowing them to focus entirely on the awesome sight before them.
“Reducing emissions at Niagara Falls is not only important for the natural landmark, but also proves that the technologies enabling sustainable mobility are already available today,” ABB’s Peter Terwiesch said in a release.
The bulk of the construction work is expected to be completed this month, after which the two boats will be transported to Niagara Falls and placed in the Maid of the Mist dry dock where the finishing touches will be added. The first tourists are expected to step aboard the electric boats in September 2019.
Now, if only they can do something about all of those gas and diesel cars that descend on the tourist hot spot throughout the year …