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Cruise Manager Luis shares what he loves the most about our Douro River itineraries.

Our Douro River cruises are favored by travelers who seek maximum relaxation, as well as connoisseurs of fine cuisine and wine. A native of Portugal, our wonderful Cruise Manager, Luis, provides some firsthand insight into the unparalleled experiences we offer, as well as what you can see and do during your river cruise – and beyond.

Put your feet up, savor delicious Portuguese cuisine and allow us to show you the best of the stunning Douro River Valley. Having grown up in Portugal, I can safely say that AmaWaterways’ Douro River cruises are wonderfully put together with a variety of included excursions to choose from, such as either a walking tour or a hike to medieval Castelo Rodrigo, so every guest feels accommodated with a personalized experience.

Favorite Ports

One of the first things you will do when you step aboard the finest ships on the Douro River, AmaDouro and AmaVida, is see Porto, my hometown. You will also enjoy the romantic sight of Porto illuminated at night during our very first complimentary Sip & Sail cocktail hour. I highly recommend heading up to the Sun Deck for a peek at this romantic sight.

Either the next day, if sailing our Flavors of Portugal & Spain itinerary, or the last day of your Enticing Douro cruise, you will venture into this “City of Bridges.” Whether you choose our walking tour or hike,  your excursion will include a visit to a Port wine cellar for a tasting – what more could you wish for? Either way you’ll discover the colorful homes, famous street markets and amazing blue and white azulejo tiles, such as at Porto’s São Bento Station, and in many other places during your journey, including Palacio Anadia.

Another one of my favorite Portuguese ports is Pinhão. Located in the heart of the Douro River Valley, this town has the perfect conditions for producing high-quality wine. And, with its beautiful terraces and vineyards, you feel like you’re walking into a postcard. It is absolutely magical and has a very nice promenade as well as a train station with tiles depicting the story of Port wine.

Portuguese Cuisine and Port Wine

The beauty of Portuguese ports aside, one of the best reasons to visit the country is to indulge in its food. One of my personal favorites are pastéis de nata (Portuguese cream tarts), a delicious 200-year-old tradition. But you can’t come to Portugal without trying a recipe that includes codfish. It is said that we have 365 codfish recipes and it stems from the country’s centuries-old fishing history. I highly recommend bacalhau à brás, which is a dish mixed together with codfish, potatoes and onions. As for wine, the Douro River Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world, so you must try a few varieties of Port wine, a sweet fortified red, while sailing through the stunning heart of Port Country. Fortunately, AmaWaterways serves complimentary wines with every lunch and dinner on board, and some of our excursions include Port tastings too.

Traditional Portuguese Quintas

Not only does AmaWaterways provide you with exquisite onboard cuisine, but we also treat you to two locally-prepared meals at traditional wine estates, known as quintas, on shore. At Quinta da Avelada, you’ll stroll through the English-style gardens and hear historic stories, plus be treated to a sumptuous meal in a beautiful room overlooking the vineyards. And at Quinta da Avessada, you’ll be treated to a unique welcome with live music you won’t soon forget. There, you will also spot some cork trees, from which Portugal’s famous cork products are produced.

Join Us, Stay Awhile – Beginning with Lisbon

If you ask me, there is nothing smarter than adding AmaWaterways’ optional 3-night pre-cruise land package in Lisbon – the capital and largest city of Portugal. After a long flight, it is so nice to relax at your luxurious hotel in Lisbon, meet your Cruise Manager – maybe me! – right away and start making friends from day one. The hotels we use are conveniently located near one of the best shopping districts so you can easily shop and browse for souvenirs in your free time. We also offer a fantastic excursion to see many of Lisbon’s landmarks, including two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the famously beautiful Belém Tower (where you will get to taste the famous Pastéis de Belém, and the exquisite Jerónimos Monastery. You will also have free time to visit the city’s museums, including my top recommendation, the Fado Museum. Plus, the nightlife is incredible.

We will also travel to Sintra, renowned for its colorful Palacio da Pena. Plus, on your cruise embarkation day, we’ll whisk you from your hotel to the ship to begin your sailing, but not before first taking you on a special excursion to Tomar Castle, the castle of the Knights Templar, the walls of which envelop the elaborate UNESCO-designated Convent of Christ. How’s that for service? This not-to-be-missed land package is available on both our Enticing Douro and Flavors of Portugal & Spain itineraries, so be sure to ask your travel advisor to add it to your reservation!

Extend Your Journey in Madrid

When your Flavors of Portugal & Spain river cruise ends, it’s hard to say goodbye to the friends you’ve made and think about your vacation being over. The best cure for that feeling is our optional post-river cruise land package in Madrid, Spain. Not only do you get to add another country and fascinating excursions to your international experience, but you have a little more time to relax and enjoy yourself before heading home.

Our Madrid land package includes an excursion to Salamanca, the “Golden City,” the same day you disembark the ship, so there is no break in your unforgettable experience. You’ll have some free time to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site before we escort you on a tour that includes the New Cathedral and the distinctive House of Shells – you will definitely want your camera out for them both! Later we will check into our wonderful hotel in Madrid and the next two days consist of touring Madrid and the UNESCO-designated walled city of Toledo, as well as its cathedral and Synagogue Santa María La Blanca.

We are overjoyed to share that select Enticing Douro and Flavors of Portugal & Spain sailings will commence beginning in July 2021. Visit our Travel Updates page for full details on these departures and contact your travel advisor to reserve your Douro River cruise in 2021, 2022 or 2023!

Get inspired for your Douro River cruise by watching our Sip & Sail Cocktail Hour: Tracing the Douro River through Portugal & Spain.

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