Just in time for the start of 2017 sailings on Portugal’s Douro River, Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours has opened a new dock for exclusive use by both Scenic and its sister company Emerald Waterways river ships. Unlike other river ship docks, this is conveniently located in Cais de Maragaia, a historic area of the World Heritage city of Porto and only a five-minute walk to Ribiera Street, one of Porto’s most popular riverfront promenades known for its distinctive small alleyways and pastel-hued buildings.
Douro itineraries range from eight to 17 days sailing roundtrip – with no overnight sailing – from the World Heritage city of Porto to Vega de Terron over the Spanish border. Highlights include many of the region’s best sites and activites: sparkling wine tasting at the fairytale property of Quinta Aveleda; exploring the restored Monastery of Saint John of Tarouca; a sumptuous lunch and Flamenco dance in the architecturally-rich city of Salamanca; a canoeing adventure on the Sabor River; and learning about life in the port wine town of Pinhᾶo from residents. Itineraries can be combined with Bordeaux and Seine river cruises plus extensions in Lisbon and a land tour from Porto to Madrid.
Scenic launched the custom-built luxury Space-Ship, the Scenic Azure, in April 2016 as one of the only owner-operated river cruise ships on the Douro with sailings that both begin and end in Porto. At 260 ft. long and only 48 cabins, this is the next-generation of river ships designed with only one purpose: to navigate the calm waters of the Douro and its short and narrow locks, vineyard-covered gorges and abundance of incredible scenery.
The 5-star Scenic Azure boasts the same truly all-inclusive luxury experience synonymous with the all Scenic Space-Ships – a 1:2 staff-to-guest ratio; private butler service and unlimited complimentary beverages and spirits; full-size private balcony staterooms which come equipped with Scenic’s Sun Lounge technology – a unique system where the walkout open-air balcony converts to an all-weather lounge with a push of a button; a vitality pool on the Sun Deck and a guest elevator between decks, wellness area and fitness center.
On board cuisine allows for up to six dining options, including the tradition of dégustation at Table d’Or, fine dining at Portobellos and the more casual fare at the River Café. As with all Scenic river cruises, guests will never have to reach for the wallet or purse as everything (except a haircut or massage) is included: tips and gratuities, expert local guides, all Scenic FreeChoice activities that allow for a more personalized vacation, plus Scenic Enrich events which are exclusive to Scenic and its guests.
An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at www.avidcruiser.com.