Feel like you are a character in a Mark Twain novel as you float down the river on the Henrietta III in Wilmington, North Carolina. Captain Carl Marshburn founded Cape Fear Riverboats in 1987. A plethora of cruises are offered, including murder mystery dinners, historic and sunset cruises. In addition to the public cruises, the Henrietta III can be reserved for wedding ceremonies and private sightseeing charters.
The ship draws its’ name from a boat built by James Seawell in 1817. The Henrietta made nearly two million excursions along the Cape Fear River under the watchful command of Captain Charles Taws. Captain Marshburn’s first river vessel, the Henrietta II was the first sternwheel riverboat. The Henrietta II began shuttling guests around the Cape Fear River in 1988, almost 170 years to the day after the Henrietta made her inaugural voyage. Captain Marshburn guided the Henrietta II along the Cape Fear Coat until the spring of 2000. The Captain sold the trusty vessel to a company in Baltimore, Maryland. She was renamed the Black Eye Susan. Cape Fear Riverboats currently operates both the Henrietta II and her sister ship, Captain J.N. Mafitt.
The Friday Dinner Dance Cruise offers a lively social environment and a southern style buffet. The excursions are offered from April through December – weather permitting. The Henrietta III leaves the dock ant 7:30 pm and cruises the Cape Fear River until it is time to return to the marina at 10 pm. Passengers can begin boarding a half an hour before the Henrietta II departs. Menu items typically available on the buffet include tossed salad, French rolls baked chicken, roast beef in brown gravy, potatoes or rice pilaf, a dessert and coffee or tea.
Saturday Dinner Dance Cruisesare also offered from the month of April through December. This cruise about the Henrietta III lasts from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Passengers can board the steamboat a half an hour before departure time. Guests are treated to not only live music and a river cruise, but a tasty meal from the Captain’s Buffet. Menu items typically include a tossed salad, baked rolls, fresh seafood which is caught locally, baked chicken. Roast beef, rice and potatoes, a dessert, tea, coffee and soft drinks.
Embark on an exciting excursion along the Cape Fear River with a Murder Mystery Cruise. Passengers participate in the interactive thriller and attempt to solve the crime. Watch for clues and chat with the characters before the “murder: takes place about the Henrietta III. The two hour cruises are offered on on Tuesday evenings from May through December. Guests can board the Henrietta III a half an hour before the 6:30 pm departure. The southern buffet, coffee and soft drinks are included in the Murder Mystery ticket price.
Looking for a rootin’ tootin’ good time? Buy a ticket for the Redneck Wedding Comedy Cruise and prepare to laugh all evening. Watch Sally Jean and Bubba exchange vows and mingle with their redneck relatives before they take the stage. The cruise include a meal of good ol’ southern barbeque. Menu items typically offered on the BBQ Wedding Buffet include pork, seasoned chicken, baked beans, corn on the cob, coleslaw, green beans, boiled potatoes, cornbread, banana pudding, coffee, soft drinks and a “Redneck Wedding Cake.” This cruise is offered at varying times on Thursday evenings from May to October.
The Sunset Dinner Cruise offers a romantic and relaxed atmosphere as the Henrietta III gently rolls along the Cape Fear River. Captain Marshburn shares local lore, amuses passengers with tales of swashbuckling pirates and points out Cape Fear Coast attractions along the river route. The Sunset Dinner Cruise, Ribs on the River Buffet typically includes BBQ ribs, baked chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, banana pudding, Mexican cornbread, coffee, tea and soft drinks. Passengers can elect to enjoy just the sunset cruise, and not purchase a dinner package. The Sunset Dinner Cruise is available on Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 pm during the summer months. Guest may board the Henrietta III a half an hour before departure.
A variety of wedding packages are available through the Cape Fear Riverboats Company. A three hour Private Evening Wedding Reception package include a choice of three menus, wait staff services, fine china and linens of the tables, a tiered wedding cake, champagne for a ll guests of a wedding toast and a complimentary ticket for a first anniversary dinner with two bottles of champagne.
The Daytime Wedding Reception package includes a private ceremony on the promenade deck, a deli style buffet, and a one and a half hour river tour. A wedding cake and additional amenities can be purchased separately.
An Evening Wedding Reception during a public dinner cruise includes a private ceremony on the promenade deck and reserved tables. The river cruise last for three hours, and the couple can add-on additional reception amenities for an extra fee.
The Henrietta III can be booked for a variety of charters during both day and evening hours. Guests can choose to reserve the entire boat, the main deck or the second deck. The seating capacity on the second deck is 140 people, and the main deck hold 230 people. Charter customers can choose from eight buffet menu styles or three plated dinner options. Hors D’Oeuvres can be added for an additional fee.