A New Way to Cruise the Cape Fear
Cape Fear Riverboats’ newest boat, Henrietta, carries up to 115 passengers for sightseeing and sunset cruises.
Downtown Wilmington visitors and locals now have a new option when choosing to cruise up and down the Cape Fear River. Earlier this year, Cape Fear Riverboats welcomed its newest boat, Henrietta, to its fleet. Built in 1985, this two-deck boat joins Cape Fear Riverboats’ other two vessels, Captain J.N. Maffitt and Jacob’s Run, as part of downtown Wilmington’s longest continuously running boat tour.
This past March, the owner of Cape Fear Riverboats, Captain Carl Marshburn, and his son, Darren, traveled to Orange Beach, Alabama, to sail Henrietta up to her new home in Wilmington. The boat was originally named Southern Belle, but Marshburn renamed her Henrietta after the historical Henrietta steamboat that ran up and down the Cape Fear River from Fayetteville to Wilmington in the early 1800s. In honor of the river’s history, Cape Fear Riverboats owned and operated both Henrietta II (North Carolina’s only true paddlewheel riverboat) and the 600-passenger, three-level Henrietta III, before downsizing to smaller boats in 2015. With the new Henrietta, Marshburn gives guests the option of larger capacity once again, along with air-conditioning and more dining features.
After two months of renovations, Henrietta officially began cruising the river from the downtown docks in May. Certified for 115 total passengers, the new boat offers an air-conditioned bottom level with a full bar and tables that seat 84 guests, as well as a covered top deck with chairs for outside viewing and relaxing. The boat is handicapped accessible and includes on-board restrooms for guests.
Henrietta offers one-hour sightseeing tours that give passengers a different view of downtown Wilmington and the surrounding area. These narrated tours share fascinating information regarding the importance of the river throughout both North Carolina and Southern history. Guests will also enjoy learning about the historical developments and happenings in downtown Wilmington and the importance of North Carolina’s State Port just south of downtown, as well as some local legends and stories.
On weekend evenings, Cape Fear Riverboats offers passengers a relaxing, narration-free, 1.5-hour scenic sunset cruise aboard Henrietta. A guest favorite, these cruises provide some of the best views of downtown’s spectacular sunsets. A sunset cruise on Henrietta is a unique and unforgettable way to enjoy happy hour Wilmington-style!
Henrietta can also be reserved for private charters and events such as anniversaries, company parties, birthdays, cocktail parties and family reunions. Guests can bring their own food and can purchase beverages through the full bar on board. On Captain J.N. Maffitt and Jacob’s Run, private charter guests are welcome to bring along their own beverages, as there is no full bar on the smaller boats.
Next year Marshburn hopes to begin offering lunch cruises aboard Henrietta featuring a set menu of boxed lunch options. Currently, the sightseeing tours and sunset cruises run from March through November, with private charter options available year-round.
For more information, visit www.cfrboats.com.