A fight on the water at Niagara Falls

There's an intense fight unfolding at one of the most romantic places in the country.

It's a water fight actually and there is a boatload of money hanging in the balance.

If you've ever taken a tour of the majestic Niagara Falls chances are you were riding on a Maid of the Mist steamship.

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Maid of the Mist has had a monopoly on the waters

The company, known for its signature blue ponchos, has had a monopoly on these waters for more than a century. But now it's seeing red, a whole lot of it, thanks to Hornblower, its new rival.

"We think it's a great company and we like their brand," said Terry MacRae, the company's CEO. "We like our brand a lot more."

Hornblower already runs tours to Alcatraz and the Statue of Liberty. Two years ago it won a bid to run tours on the Canadian side of the falls.

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Hornblower is the new rival at Niagara Falls

"The falls are iconic and the views of the falls and the things that people talk about with the falls, they're all from the Canadian side," MacRae said.

Now the Maid of the Mist can operate only on the U.S. side, but the company is confident that won't impact its business.

"A great deal of it is the experience of our captains," said company spokesman Kevin Keenan. "The seven of our captains have 111 years experience at the helm of the Maid of the Mist."

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Only time will tell if both companies can survive at Niagara Falls

Mark Keith was their eighth captain. He jumped ship to join Hornblower.

"I think it's really good," Keith said. "It's going to create more of a better product for the general consumers."

This week, Hornblower christened a modern fleet of catamarans that can carry a hundred more passengers per trip. It is also offering more services, including cocktail cruises and extended hours.

"We would love to be operating on both sides of the gorge, because the product that we see here, we would also be able to offer over there," MacRae said.

Said Keenan: "We've been here around here since 1846. We're not going anywhere, except to the base of Niagara Falls."

Only time will tell if both companies can stay afloat.

  • Vinita Nair

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