We had gone back and forth on this itinerary for years before finally deciding to try it and chose a wine theme cruise on AMA for our first trip to Portugal. We knew many of the differences going in: Smaller ship, fewer passengers, lots of bus rides due to terrain, no night sailing.
Upon embarkation we immediately noticed how much smaller the boat was; however, this was something we quickly grew used to. Our cabin, which had an outside balcony, was well appointed in typical AMA style. There was a ton of storage, beds were comfy, and it was definitely the quietest cabin we have ever had on a river boat, which we very much appreciated!
Our CM was Marianna, whom we had met on a cruise a few years ago when she was aboard spending the new year with her husband, who is also an AMA CM. Marianna did a fantastic job and was warm, delightful and highly engaged with the passengers. She is definitely of the best we have ever had on AMA or any line.
The entire crew was welcoming and warm and they knew our names by the second day. To a person, we enjoyed interacting with each and every one. The staff was much smaller than what we were used to, based on the smaller scale of the ship, but the service in the restaurant and bar was outstanding!
The scenery on the Douro was magnificent and definitely the most beautiful of any we have experienced on the river. The river was very narrow in many areas and we understood right away why this river was not navigable at night.
The winery hosting our trip was Wilson Creek and we totally enjoyed meeting the owners and their wine club members. Days when we were sailing there was always a tasting in the lounge and Mick Wilson made them fun and interactive. We have done 4 wine cruises with AMA so far and this was another winner.
This is a cruise for wine lovers and those that enjoy lots of sailing time more than museums and exploring the local area. Most nights we were not docked anywhere close to a town where we could get out and about. We did miss that as we enjoy maximizing our time in port as much as possible.
The fitness center was compact but did the job. I was there every morning and never saw another person. There was also a massage room and therapist available.
Internet worked much of the time and the in cabin infotainment system had the usual selection.
Many of the excursions did involve longer bus rides. The longest was to Salamanca, and we very much enjoyed that day and exploring this city. The other excursions often included a winery lunch and tasting and there was also a dinner off the boat one evening, which also involved a one hour ride in each direction. Porto was lively with people and we enjoyed walking the back streets and exploring this pretty port town.
Food was good to very good aboard AmaVida. Breakfast and lunch had lots of choices, and dinner always offered several entree choices as well as their always available menu. Fish was always fresh and delicious, with the meat dishes being a bit less successful. We did miss the Chef's Table which we have enjoyed on all of our other AMA cruises.
Wines poured were very good with a nice variety.
Entertainment included flamenco, fado and the in house piano player had a huge personality and was the best we have ever had on a river cruise. Disco night was a hoot as was a version of Name that Tune that Marianna and Ricardo hosted one evening. The passengers had a great time!
All in all, we were impressed with the AmaVida, the stunning scenery we enjoyed around every turn of the river and the excellent staff and crew aboard. We are glad we decided to experience the Douro and very pleased with the experience AMA provided.
Well appointed with small balcony, tons of storage and great soundproofing.