niagara falls cruise

Niagara Falls cruise season starts earlier than ever thanks to minimal lake ice

For the first time ever, the waterfall cruise season at Niagara Falls is starting extremely early thanks to a warm winter.

On Thursday, March 14, Niagara City Cruises will kick off its 2023 season, the earliest opening date in the company's recorded history.

This historic milestone can be largely credited to a minimal build-up of ice on Lake Erie over the winter season this year.

"While there have been some snowstorms and frigid stretches during this year’s winter, overall, conditions have been favourable. As little as one per cent of Lake Erie's surface was covered with ice, and water temperatures were above freezing at the end of February," said Niagara City Cruises.

Because of this, the ice boom installed where Lake Erie empties into the Niagara River to manage ice flowing into the river can be removed earlier than before — a key moment that factors into when City Cruises decides to start its season.

Last year, the boom was removed on March 29, while this year, the process of removing the structure began on March 2.

"This is a historic event for boat tours to the base of Niagara Falls marking the earliest on record that Niagara City Cruises has ever operated; and going back before our time, there is no recorded opening of the Niagara Falls boat tours operating as early as March," said Chief Operating Officer Mory DiMaurizio.

While this is good news for the company, as more customers can come cruise during March Break, it's a stark reminder that our winter season is becoming more erratic as climate change continues to warp our seasons.

This season, Lake Erie was significantly below the average in ice coverage, among all other Great Lakes.

On Jan. 31, only seven per cent of the lake was covered in ice, a huge discrepancy from the same day in 2022, when nearly 94 per cent of the lake was covered, according to Spectrum News.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, "as the Earth's climate changes... rising air temperatures and water temperatures have led to less ice cover on many lakes in North America, including the Great Lakes. Ice cover is expected to decline further as the climate continues to warm."

For those wanting to take advantage of the early season, the schedule is set for March 16th to 19th between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and from March 24th to 26th during the same time period.

Tickets for adults are $32.75 while children between 3-12 can ride for $22.75. Infants two-years-old and younger are free.

Lead photo by

Niagara City Cruises

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