ABOVE: The Dora Queen is transported through downtown Tavares on its way to its Wooton Park base. (Photo by Trident Boats of Tavares)
It’s been over two dedicated years in the making: The Dora Queen, a new 149-passenger replica of a paddlewheel riverboat, was painstakingly transported in pieces today to its new home at the downtown Tavares waterfront.
The custom 80-foot, pontoon paddleboat, based out of the Wooton Park docks, will now have its top deck, paddlewheel and other elements reassembled on site, as the vessel inches closer to its maiden voyage.
The impressive New Orleans-styled boat with its gray shiplap exterior and red ornamental iron details will feature two bars, comfortable lounge-style seating and music for passengers to enjoy or dance to during their approximately 90-minute to two-hour Lake Dora voyage. Unlike the other commercial passenger boats currently on Lake Dora, the Dora Queen will be offering pleasure cruises that remain on Lake Dora, rather than narrated boat tours into the Dora Canal. Passengers will be able to board the boat at the Tavares docks and in Mount Dora.
B.J. and Brandy Herron, long-time Mount Dora residents and owners of Steamboat Tours Inc., which will operate The Dora Queen, are planning to offer three scenic cruises a day on Lake Dora, including a sunset cruise. The shaded boat will also be available for private parties with its galley available for caterers. In addition to its daily operations, The Dora Queen will also have special cruises for Mother’s Day, the 4th of July and other seasonal events.
ABOVE PHOTOS: It took approximately two and half hours to carefully transport the very wide load of the Dora Queen's lower deck to Wooton Park from just a few miles away. (Photos by Nancy Ball, Jonni Vermuelen and Lauren Cunningham).
The timing of the Dora Queen’s maiden voyage will depend on its finishing details and the U.S. Coast Guard’s inspections schedule.
“We wanted a way for locals and tourists to enjoy the beauty of Lake Dora, while offering a unique experience,” said Brandy Herron. “Our goal is to add to the charm of our community with a fun and enjoyable new attraction.”
Over two years ago, the couple purchased the Dora Contessa riverboat replica that was docked on the Dead River for several years. Fortuitously, it was the same boat that served as the location of their wedding rehearsal dinner in 2001.
Robbie Cunningham, of Trident Pontoon Boats in Tavares, was contracted to build The Dora Queen and incorporate The Dora Contessa’s paddle wheel and other elements into the new and larger vessel. Cunningham and his crew have a solid track record of building impressive commercial pontoon boats for businesses throughout Florida.
ABOVE: Brian and Brandy Herron, owners of the Dora Queen and Mount Dora residents
The Dora Queen’s pleasure cruises will complement the vintage excursion train, seaplane rides, restaurants and other businesses based in the City’s entertainment district.
Stay tuned to Mount Dora Buzz on Facebook for updates on The Dora Queen’s maiden voyage, pricing, schedules and other details as they become available. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, visit the area's websiteand download the area's free mobile app.