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Home Tourist Attraction The Voyage of Henrietta III to Wilmington’s Shores

The Voyage of Henrietta III to Wilmington’s Shores

by Staff

The arrival of Henrietta III in Wilmington just before Hurricane Floyd in 1999 marked a significant chapter in the city’s maritime history. Initially a Mississippi gambling vessel, the boat underwent a transformation into a sightseeing entity that would charm Cape Fear River passengers for over 15 years. This transition not only introduced a larger capacity for guests but also signaled the retirement of its predecessor, Henrietta II, which found a new home in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Historical Significance and Transformation

The first Henrietta, a paddle steamer, connected Wilmington and Fayetteville in the early 19th century, laying the groundwork for its successors. Henrietta III’s conversion from a gambling boat to a sightseeing vessel was a meticulous process, reflecting the city’s evolving relationship with its riverfront. By April 2000, it was ready to embark on its inaugural river cruise, promising an enriched experience for up to 600 passengers at a time.

Impact on Wilmington’s Riverfront

The introduction of Henrietta III had a profound effect on Wilmington’s riverfront, enhancing its appeal as a tourist destination. The vessel’s capacity to host a larger number of passengers compared to the Henrietta II allowed for more expansive tours and events, contributing significantly to the local economy and the vibrancy of the waterfront community.

A New Chapter and Legacy

In 2016, Henrietta III’s journey took another turn as it was sold to a Florida company. Renamed the Captain J.P. III, its legacy was momentarily tarnished when it broke free from its moorings and collided with a train bridge in Albany, New York, in 2019. Despite this incident, Cape Fear Riverboats has continued the Henrietta legacy with a new vessel, now accommodating up to 100 people, ensuring the continuation of riverfront tours and the enduring spirit of Wilmington’s maritime tradition.

The story of Henrietta III, from its origins as a gambling boat to a beloved sightseeing vessel, reflects the dynamic history and adaptive nature of Wilmington’s riverfront. As the city welcomes a new Henrietta, the legacy of these vessels continues to navigate the waters of change, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those who have experienced their charm.

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