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Are Wilmington’s tour boats owned or operated by the city?

Cece Nunn
Henrietta III

The Henrietta III with the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge in the background at Wilmington. (StarNews file photo)

The tour guide boats in downtown Wilmington are privately owned. Other than taxes and business license fees, the city doesn’t make any money from these tours directly, but the businesses work to lure tourists downtown.

“We spend thousands of dollars and all kinds of man hours a year marketing Wilmington and New Hanover County,” said Capt. Carl Marshburn, owner of Cape Fear Riverboats, which operates the Henrietta III.

In addition to the variety of cruises available on the Henrietta III, the company also offers $4 evening harbor cruises Memorial Day through Labor Day; a $4 roundtrip shuttle service to and from the Battleship North Carolina from the downtown riverfront; a $10, 45-minute narrated sightseeing cruise aboard the Captain J.N. Maffitt; and small boat charters. The company’s website lists all of the services Cape Fear Riverboats offers.

Another tour guide boat company, Wilmington Water Tours, is owned by Capt. Doug Springer and three partners. Wilmington Water Tours operates a catamaran. Wilmington Water Tours services include ecological and history tours, sunset cruises, custom charters and “a number of scheduled excursions to our beach communities, Bald Head Island, and Southport,” according to the company’s website. Prices vary. Hourlong cruises that take place from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday around Eagle’s Island and along Wilmington’s riverfront are $10 for adults and $5 children.

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