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babs135

Niagara Falls in December!!

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Ridiculous or not?  Interesting sounding cruise starts in Toronto, meanders down the east coast and as far as Nassau before returning to New York.  But 3 nights in Niagara in December does not appeal at all.  Anyone been there at that time of the year?

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Hi Babs

 

Could you be a little more clear.

 

You mention Niagara Falls in your title. In your post you mention Toronto, then you say 3 nights in Niagara (region?). You are talking about a large area. Without thinking too hard, there would be people who live in Toronto who have never been to Niagara falls. Could you be more specific in what you are looking at as far as your itinerary in the area and what specifically your concerns are. Also please talk more of the cruise itself, my (limited) understanding was that the ships that went to Toronto were mostly Great Lakes cruises.

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Cruise is on the Norwegian Bliss. Flight out of the UK into Toronto and transfer to Niagara Falls for a 3 nights stay. Then Amtrak to Manhattan to pick up the ship. No hotel is mentioned at this point.

 

I'm just wondering if it's the wrong time for the Falls and what else is in the area that wouldn't be weather impacted.

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It's the wrong time for the Falls.  The attractions are closed, although you can still see the Falls and they will be beautiful.  Unlikely to be frozen solid (it can happen) that early in the winter season, but it will be cold there and that area is subject to Lake Effect storms.

 

3 days in Toronto would be much more interesting to me

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As previously posted, all attractions are closed for the season. Several years ago we took some foreign friends to the falls in December (their only opportunity to visit). The falls were not frozen but the vapor rising from Horseshoe Falls made a nice photo impossible. The day was chilly but we felt it was still a worthwhile visit. Absolutely no crowds. 😉

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Always a little tough to predict the weather but it ought not be too cold in early/mid December.  Some things to do: Niagara Falls, Christmas light snd shopping in Niagara-on-the-Lake, wineyard tours, hockey game (in NF or Buffalo if you are adventurous), Welland canal tour before it is closed for the season, gambling at the casino.

 

I assume the Amtrak connects from Buffalo to New York so that should be fairly easy.

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35 minutes ago, d9704011 said:

I assume the Amtrak connects from Buffalo to New York so that should be fairly easy.


It does, but you have to make sure you're in the right car in Albany-Rensselaer or you'll end up in Boston instead of NYC.  

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Thanks everyone. Although we won't dismiss this out of hand, we might put it on the 'maybe' list.  I too would have preferred the time in Toronto.

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5 hours ago, babs135 said:

Ridiculous or not?  Interesting sounding cruise starts in Toronto, meanders down the east coast and as far as Nassau before returning to New York.  But 3 nights in Niagara in December does not appeal at all.  Anyone been there at that time of the year?

I am guessing this  is a guided tour for the land portion??

 

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28 minutes ago, LHT28 said:

I am guessing this  is a guided tour for the land portion??

 

No guided tour. Whoever put it together (NCL or the travel agent) decided 3 nights in Niagara were better (or cheaper!) than 3 nights in Toronto. I suspect it was the agent who thought it sounded a nice addition to the cruise out of New York and didn't take into consideration the time of the year.

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28 minutes ago, babs135 said:

Thanks everyone. Although we won't dismiss this out of hand, we might put it on the 'maybe' list.  I too would have preferred the time in Toronto.

 

Hi Babs

 

I would agree. While the Falls are a wonderful sight any time of the year, 3 days in Niagara without available transportation (car), would limit your potential enjoyment of the area. I also agree that being in Toronto itself, with perhaps a day trip to Niagara falls would have been preferable. You could always ask if they would allow this as an option for you.

 

That being said, if you were in Niagara Ontario as opposed to Niagara New York (would be important to understand), you could rent a car and travel around the Niagara area, or simply do a day trip to Toronto, or both. You could do that with either a bus or train. I would not choose to drive in Toronto. If however your hotel were on the New York side this would not be an option and I would not suggest this portion of the trip worthwhile. 

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1 minute ago, babs135 said:

No guided tour. Whoever put it together (NCL or the travel agent) decided 3 nights in Niagara were better (or cheaper!) than 3 nights in Toronto. I suspect it was the agent who thought it sounded a nice addition to the cruise out of New York and didn't take into consideration the time of the year.

 

Hi

Definitely the price would have been much cheaper for a direct flight to Toronto and hotel in Niagara falls compared to a flight and hotel stays in New York.  

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44 minutes ago, babs135 said:

No guided tour. Whoever put it together (NCL or the travel agent) decided 3 nights in Niagara were better (or cheaper!) than 3 nights in Toronto. I suspect it was the agent who thought it sounded a nice addition to the cruise out of New York and didn't take into consideration the time of the year.

sounds like they did not do their research

But  are they  just flying you to Toronto & you have to make your way to NF  & whatever hotel they have booked  & then to the train??

I would think  they would organize transport to NF for those in the package or maybe  I am wrong on how  packages work in the UK

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Posted (edited)

I live about 30-40 mins from Niagara Falls - 3 days in Niagara Falls, especially without transportation,  during our beautiful summers is too much time in Niagara Falls so in December - not a good idea.  

As many have said here...almost all of the tourist stuff will be closed for the season.  

It will be cold, snowy (maybe-  Although the Lake Effect someone mentioned really wouldn't be an issue) and there won't be much to do if you have no way to get around.  The Casino is always open and there is a potential they may have a concert or show you'd be interested in. 

Im sure Im a little cynical but once you've seen the water go over the falls for 5 mins - you've seen it.  

 

And don't get me started if they are thinking you should stay on the American side of the Falls😞 

Edited by rsfunk
add text

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FWIW

 I would  forgo the package deal  just do the cruise if you want that itinerary

I would DIY a trip to Toronto & NF  at a better time of year  where you have control over the itinerary

JMO

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25 minutes ago, LHT28 said:

sounds like they did not do their research

But  are they  just flying you to Toronto & you have to make your way to NF  & whatever hotel they have booked  & then to the train??

I would think  they would organize transport to NF for those in the package or maybe  I am wrong on how  packages work in the UK

The majority of package deals will include transfers, there may be the odd one that doesn't.  Wording on this trip is not clear.  First line of the itinerary reads 'Fly into Toronto and transfer to Niagara Falls.'  No hotel is mentioned. Then 'Embark Maple Leaf Amtrak Train to Manhattan'  No mention of a transfer.  To be fair to the agent, this is only a summary, I can't go any further to try and make a dummy booking - it is marked as 'enquire for further details' at which point I would imagine transfers and hotel would be confirmed.  BTW  they are offering a Niagara Falls helicopter trip.

 

We have used this firm before with absolutely no problem, but I can't help but think that on this occasion they haven't thought things through.

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8 minutes ago, babs135 said:

The majority of package deals will include transfers, there may be the odd one that doesn't.  Wording on this trip is not clear.  First line of the itinerary reads 'Fly into Toronto and transfer to Niagara Falls.'  No hotel is mentioned. Then 'Embark Maple Leaf Amtrak Train to Manhattan'  No mention of a transfer.  To be fair to the agent, this is only a summary, I can't go any further to try and make a dummy booking - it is marked as 'enquire for further details' at which point I would imagine transfers and hotel would be confirmed.  BTW  they are offering a Niagara Falls helicopter trip.

 

We have used this firm before with absolutely no problem, but I can't help but think that on this occasion they haven't thought things through.

I would agree  on your last statement  😉

Not sure the helicopters would be flying in winter but  I am afraid  of heights  so never checked

I would call just to see what they say  & remind them  that NF in the winter for 3 days might be a bit much

1 night to see the lights  would be nice

The train probably departs on the Canadian side  

 

I have family in the area so making the drive in the winter months from Toronto can be sketchy at times

 

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Yes, Amtrak runs from Toronto, through Niagara Falls, to NYC. Once it hits Canada, the crew are changed out for VIA Rail crew, but the train is still an Amtrak train. I believe one must go through immigration in Niagara Falls. 

 

But, I'll agree with the others. I can't imagine 3 days in Niagara Falls in the winter.

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Posted (edited)

Maybe I'm unusual in preferring Winter to any other season at the Falls! But we usually visited in late Jan or Feb, when there was always some freezing, rather than December where statistically it's unlikely. Being the only people in sight, surrounded by trees literally encased in a coating of ice from the spray freezing over and over, huge columns of ice at each side of the falls, and sheets of floating ice occasionally crashing over the Falls was a mindblowingly beautiful experience and we returned almost every year we lived in Toronto to repeat it (it was never quite as good as the first time, but it was still good!)

 

BUT - even with that strong preference in mind, 3 days is 2 days too many in winter!!! Whoever put this plan together has either done zero research, or has looked at only one thing - the relative cost of hotels in Niagara and Toronto. Any time we chose to overnight in winter we paid less for the hotel than we did for a good lunch, as the number of hotel rooms is based around summer peak visitor numbers and unless it's a big concert night even the casinos are running at low occupancy and a lot of small family hotels simply close down for big chunks of time. The cheesy crap that ruins the Canadian side is still open - casino, waxwork museum, Ripley's Believe it or Not and the like - but yes, all of the good stuff like Maid of the Mist are done, even the wineries around the region are hunkered down trying to keep their vines alive over winter.

 

So while I'd encourage you to spend one night in Niagara and take the train to New York if train rides are a thing you enjoy (unlike the UK rail system, snow is something that Amtrak and VIA actually know exists and plan for and very rarely does it impact the train), I'd link this with a cruise in Feb myself... and I would strongly encourage booking this independently and staying 2-3 nights in Toronto then only heading down to Niagara for one night. Oh, and unless you're confident driving on icy roads a rental car may not be the best idea, despite the flexibility - stick to trains (VIA will get you to Niagara from Toronto).

Edited by martincath

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‘Cheesy crap’?

 

Are you suggesting that Clifton Hill may not be the cultural mecca I enjoyed a few years ago?

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2 hours ago, d9704011 said:

‘Cheesy crap’?

 

Are you suggesting that Clifton Hill may not be the cultural mecca I enjoyed a few years ago?

Clifton Hill is about the only street in the world that makes the Vegas strip look classy 😉

 

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You should also be aware that in winter up to 75% of the summer flow over the falls is diverted for hydro electric generation.  

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