Royalty on the water: 84-foot paddlewheel riverboat to set sail in Tavares

TAVARES, Fla. — A new queen is set to take the throne along the waterfront of Tavares.

Dora Queen, an 84-foot paddlewheel riverboat, is preparing to set sail this spring.

The boat is already parked along the waterfront as its interior gets its finishing touches, transforming the boat into a floating entertainment venue.

Owners Brandy and Brian Herron said the Dora Queen was built using pieces of an old 49-passenger steamboat. When it’s complete, the boat will be a 149-passenger, double-decker vessel.

The Herrons said it will have a bar on each level, lounge seating and more.

They said their venture is much different than the water taxis the city tried but failed with back in 2014.

For one, they said the Dora Queen is not a tour boat, and will focus on daily pleasure cruises, weddings and special events

“We want to work closely with the city of Tavares and city of Mount Dora and just make it a special event, special place to come,” Brandy said. “Really, the sky’s the limit as to what you’d like to do on the boat.”

Twelve-year resident Tristan Holkins said he’s looking forward to taking a ride.

“Not a lot goes on in Tavares, sleepy little town, and this is good. I think it’s good for everybody in Tavares,” he said.

After the interior is finished, the Herrons said Coast Guard inspections will follow.

They said they hope the Dora Queen will be ready to sail by March.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.