Henrietta III to depart permanently from downtown Wilmington

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Capt. Carl Marshburn has sold Henrietta III to a company in Florida. The boat will leave Wilmington no later than March 1. Courtesy photo.
Capt. Carl Marshburn has sold Henrietta III to a company in Florida. The boat will leave Wilmington no later than March 1. Courtesy photo.

A downtown landmark is no more.

The Henrietta III will soon move from its longtime home on the Cape Fear River River to Fort Myers, Florida next month, following a sale of the vessel Wednesday to Pleasure Boat Cruises Corporation. She took her final local cruise on New Year’s Eve.

According to a news release, the riverboat will permanently depart from downtown Wilmington no later than March 1.

Captain Carl Marshburn, president and owner of Cape Fear Riverboats, said he has been actively looking for the right buyer for the Henrietta. He now plans to replace it with a smaller riverboat better suited for private charters, sightseeing and nature cruises.

Marshburn originally brought the Henrietta II to Wilmington in 1988 and replaced it in 2000 with the larger Henrietta III, which is touted as the largest riverboat in the state. He has also since added to his company’s fleet with the Captain J.N. Maffitt and John Knox, two smaller vessels that will remain in operation from the same Water Street dock that was the Henrietta III’s home.

“My goal has always been to create a quality attraction for Wilmington, and that our citizens would adopt the Henrietta as ‘their’ boat. And I’m proud to say that we did. And now, we look forward to bringing a new vessel to the Cape Fear River,” Marshburn said.

Weather permitting, Cape Fear Riverboats, a locally owned, family-run business, will resume sightseeing cruises aboard the Captain J.N. Maffitt on March 1.

Between now and then, Marshburn invites locals and visitors alike to take pictures and say goodbye to the red and white riverboat that has become a symbol of downtown Wilmington.

Those who have purchased gift certificates for the Henrietta III are being contacted by Cape Fear Riverboats and will be reimbursed in full.