Niagara River Cruises &
The Niagara Falls

When you think of Niagara River cruises, you might be thinking of only the Niagara Falls. While those cruises are very popular, there are some other options that aren’t quite as adventurous and take place on calmer waters of the Niagara River. 

Did you know that there is a city called Niagara Falls in both the United States and Canada? Both cities are also connected by the 1,450 foot long Rainbow Bridge. Cruises to the Niagara Falls typically begin near the city of Niagara Falls in New York or Ontario.

You’ll have a chance to view three separate waterfalls along the Niagara Falls’ course of the river. The Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls are located in the United States, and the Horseshoe Falls are located mainly on the Canadian side.

River Cruise to Niagara Falls 

If you’re seeking a quieter ride, you’ll find cruises on the upper Niagara River which can provide that type of experience. There are scenic boat rides that travel in New York between Grand Island and Tonawanda. And from Ontario, you can cruise the lower Niagara to the mouth of Lake Ontario. These trips will not take you near the Niagara Falls.

Niagara River Cruises generally last between one and five hours and are available from May through October. There are day and evening scenic cruises available that serve lunch or dinner in a relaxed atmosphere.

Or for the more adventurous at heart, you can tread the waters of the river and see and feel the power of the Niagara Falls from a safe but close distance. 

Other Rivers in America

Maid of the Mist Near Horseshoe Falls

Niagara River Facts

The Niagara river forms part of the border between Ontario, Canada and New York, USA. Flowing in a northerly direction from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, the river only flows for about 35 miles. It's indirectly connected to the St. Lawrence River through Lake Ontario and indirectly connected to the Erie Canal through the Tonawanda Creek and the Welland River.

Niagara Falls has three waterfalls that are separated by Luna Island and Goat Island. Bridal Veil Falls – the smallest of the Niagara Falls – is separated from the American Falls by Luna Island. And Goat Island separates Horseshoe Falls - the largest of the Niagara Falls - from Bridal Veil Falls. 

Horseshoe Falls - The Largest of the Niagara Falls

By Pollinator at English Wikipedia (Own work by the original uploader) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Niagara River Cruise Destinations

Cruises on the Niagara River depart from Grand Island, Tonawanda and Grand Island in New York on the U.S. side. Scenic day and evening cruises, that do not travel to Niagara Falls, will take you around Grand Island. It’s a 28-square mile island that is also a city with the same name. You'll enjoy lunch or dinner as you cruise along the Niagara River.

If you’re planning to visit Niagara Falls, Maid of the Mist offers round-trip cruises. They have two 700-passenger boats that depart from Niagara Falls, New York – Maid of the Mist VI and Maid of the Mist VII. You’ll have a chance to see all three of the Niagara Falls in this order – the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Horseshoe Falls.

You can also take a day or evening scenic cruise on the lower Niagara River aboard the Niagara Belle, which is a paddle wheeler. You’ll experience a leisurely cruise Niagara and Queenston to Lake Ontario, passing sites such as Fort Niagara and Fort George.

In 2014 Hornblower entered the Niagara Falls river cruise scene from Niagara Falls, Canada. The company operates two 700-passenger vessels with departures from Niagara Falls, Ontario. 

Whether you’re on the United States side or the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls, most cruises combine a land tour as part of the trip. In the United States, you’ll be able to visit the Prospect Observation Tower and a walking tour of the Cave of the Winds. And on the Canadian side, a walking tour of Skylon Tower provides an impressive view of the American Falls and the Horseshoe Falls.

Niagara River Cruises in Canada

Niagara Falls Illumination Cruise

Niagara Falls the American Falls

Niagara Falls - The American Falls

By Sixlocal (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

If you decide to visit the Niagara Falls area, there are many other activities and tour options. Whirlpool State Park is a popular attraction. You’ll find a great view from the park, which overlooks the Niagara Gorge and Niagara Whirlpool.

And if you think it would be interesting to get a closer look at the Niagara Whirlpool, there is a cable car called the Whirlpool Aero Car that takes passengers above this portion of the Niagara River.

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Lauri Wakefield is a travel writer who specializes in  river cruises in Europe and the U.S. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.

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