Niagara Gazette — After constructing two state-of-the-art catamarans in the base of Niagara Falls during one of the harshest winter seasons in Canadian history, Hornblower Niagara Cruises has begun testing their marine railway system in preparation for their inaugural season.
The marine system, consisting of shuttles, carriages and winches, is currently being load tested to soon launch the Niagara Thunder in and out of the water at will for sea-trials. The Niagara Thunder is the sister ship to the Niagara Wonder, both brand new catamaran boats built in Ontario that will commence boat tours next month.
The Niagara River Control believes the lower Niagara River will be navigable for passengers around May 15.
“It’s literally a waiting game with Mother Nature until we are authorized to begin operating tours. In the meantime, we will continue to test our new equipment and train our crew”, explained Terry MacRae, Hornblower’s president and CEO. “We will have some additional regulatory requirements to complete during this first year of service and will do our best to be in service once the river is navigable.”
Hornblower has invested more than $25 million in new boats, facility updates and equipment. “The early testing also provides an opportunity to provide dockside crew training and compliance with all necessary Transport Canada Marine Safety inspection criteria,” explains Hornblower Vice President Charlie Bills.
Company officials said they are ready to begin their inaugural season with 115 trained employees ready for opening day.