NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WROC) — The world-famous Maid of the Mist tour boat is arguably one of the most anticipated parts of New York state’s re-opening plan.
Guiding it is Henrietta’s Kaitlynn McHenry, the first-ever female captain of the prestigious boat.
McHenry’s day-to-day work starts with the sounds of crashing water coming down the Falls, and ends with a drenched uniform. Across her two-year period as operator of the tour boat, however, McHenry’s experience with navigating the currents of the Niagara River continues to amaze her.
“I think the captain’s experience it even on a deeper level than the passengers do. The passengers are in awe of the height of the falls and the sound of the falls,” McHenry said. “The captains are more focused on the force of the water coming off of the falls and battling that current and that never ceases to humble us.”
The Maid of the Mist’s history tracks back to 1846, where it took on its maiden voyage as a means of transportation for people, luggage and cargo across the Niagara River below the Falls. Two years later, it was rebranded as the tourist adventure that it still operates as to this day.
The biggest change to the Maid of the Mist’s recent history came in 2019, when two new emission-free vessels were constructed. The boats were the first of their kind in the United States, and represented the state’s effort to make New York a premier tourism destination.
“We’re running 100% electric, no carbon footprint, nothing at all—we’re totally green with these vessels which is very exciting,” McHenry said. And with these news drives that we’ve learned to operate now, we have incredibly maneuverable vessels.”
The Maid of the Mist staff anticipates the global destination spot will gradually welcome a larger amount of passengers as New York state re-opens.
“An enormous part of our business is international tourism,” McHenry said. “And we know it’s going to be a little while before we see that back in full force, but we’re already seeing it a little bit here and there, we’re already seeing tourism pick up from where it was last season this time.”
The Maid of the Missed kicked off the 2021 season on April 29, as the two fully electric boats set sail again.