Review: Douro River Cruise with Viking
Cruise - River Cruise
Perfect celebration cruise
87 people found this review helpful
Both my husband and I are 60 this year so we decided to celebrate by going on our first river cruise. We selected Saga's 'Douro Discovery' and made exactly the right choice. We found the booking process very easy and were soon looking forward to flying from Gatwick to Porto. On arrival in Porto we were very swiftly taken to Vila Nova de Gaia, the port storage capital opposite Porto. We arrived and were taken into the wonderful dining room for a very welcome four course meal. Water is included with meals (although you are asked to pay for bottled water in the cabins which is quite expensive but we stocked up when we were off the ship) and the cost of the wine is very reasonable, starting at about £10 per bottle. The lack of time to freshen up did not seem important as everyone seemed very friendly and non judgmental – an ethos that lasted the whole cruise and added greatly to my enjoyment. The ship, owned and run by Douro Azul and chartered by Saga, is fairly small as it needs to fit into the locks on the Douro, so only holds about 120 passengers. This together with a non reserved seating policy for meals , resulted in us meeting and chatting to most of the other passengers over the course of the week and led to many laughs along the way as everyone seemed to gel. The staff are very attentive, but there is a feeling that the tips at the end are the reason. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style with many different combinations of hot and cold foods that changed on a daily basis. You can eat as healthily or not as you choose and still feel as if you have been to a really good restaurant. The 'staterooms' are not large but are very well laid out with plenty of storage, comfortable twin beds, a large mirror and a wonderful French balcony giving excellent views of the stunning scenery along the way. Ships aren't allowed to travel at night on the Douro so no scenery was missed. There aren't many towns to visit along the banks of the river so luxury coaches were provided to take us to places of interest every day. These varied from a guided visit to the Mateus Palace (the one pictured on the label of Mateus Rose), lunch in a monastery converted to a luxury hotel, a visit to the stunning sites of Salamanca and tours of port wine 'Quinto's' (where tasting was the norm). At every stage we were well looked after and guides accompanied us on every excursion. The history and industries in the Douro well well explained and I now drink port knowing exactly how it is produced, bottled and shipped. We learned about the history of those amazing people (mainly Scots and English) who saw the future in not letting all the sugar ferment from the grape juice, making 'Port Wine' (as it is always referred to) so unique. We saw the Cathedral in Porto decorated with 300 kilos of gold leaf, the 'legal graffiti' on the walls of the historic buildings in Salamanca, written by university scholars centuries ago to celebrate their graduation. (After 5 years of study with nothing written down during the lectures only 7% were successful – a reason for celebration indeed). Views across the Douro Valley were incredibly breathtaking and the blue haze of thousands of Morning Glory flowers will live in my memory for many years. I would thoroughly recommend this cruise and hope that for us, it is the first of many.
87 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.
Silver Travel Advisor Recommended Partner: Viking River Cruises