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Maid of the Mist offers boat rides an hour early

NIAGARA FALLS – The Maid of the Mist boat rides below the falls will start an hour earlier this season, which kicks off Friday at 9 a.m., the company announced Thursday.

Maid of the Mist Corp., which operates on the New York side of the falls, is heading into its second year in competition with Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which operates on the Niagara Falls, Ont., side. Hornblower had been offering rides that started earlier and ended later in the day.

From its opening until the summer season kicks off in earnest on Memorial Day weekend, the Maid of the Mist boats will begin offering rides at 9 a.m., an hour earlier than it had last year.

Early season rides will end at 5 p.m. weekdays and 6 p.m. on weekends.

Hours of operation during the main summer season will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays.

The company has made “significant investments” in its operations, including modifications to its boats and facilities, which will allow for extended operation compared to its traditional departure schedule, it said in a news release.

The improvements may even allow an extension of the season, now tentatively scheduled to end Oct. 31.

One of the boats got a new environmentally friendly engine, along with navigational upgrades and new deck lighting.

Daily ticket prices will remain the same – $17 for adults and $9.90 for children ages 6 to 12.

This is the 130th consecutive season the rides will be offered at the falls, the company said.