We chose to sail Viking's Douro River after talking with a member of Viking's staff on our last cruise in Bordeaux. She said the fall was a fantastic time to visit Portugal. She was correct.
We began our trip in Madrid 3 days earlier on a pre-trip extension. Madrid is very modern and easy to get around on ones own. Viking's representative met us everyday and gave us ideas and tips for things to do. We would recommend the optional "Tapas Tour in Madrid" and the optional day trip to "Toledo". The Intercontinental Hotel in Madrid was near the Metro and several tasty restaurants. The included breakfast was great.
We left very early on day 4 to meet the rest of Viking's passengers in Lisbon. We arrived at 7am at our hotel, the Trivoli. Of course the room wasn't ready and the Viking staff was tied up with the previous cruise who were leaving Lisbon for the ship in Porto. The hotel stored our luggage and provided us with coffee. We were able to meet with the Viking staff at 830am and get some advice for our first day in Lisbon. The hotel was less than a mile walk to the touristy section of town. We spent a fun day exploring on our own and then met the rest of the passengers at 7pm for introductions.
Day 2 in Lisbon was spent touring the city in the morning. Plenty of time in the afternoon for independent exploring on ones own. That night, we did the optional "Taste of Lisbon" excursion - money well spent. Weather permitting, visit the Skybar on the Hotel's roof for a great night time view of the city.
We left Lisbon at 830am in 4 buses for our trip to Porto. One bus took the optional excursion group to Fatima. The rest of us traveled for about 2 hours to Coimbra for a short tour of the university and then a fantastic Fado Lunch at a local restaurant. Good music, food, and endless wine. We arrived at the ship about 4pm to meet the crew.
Day 1 in Porto included a morning tour with a stop for a Port tasting. The weather didn't cooperate today as rain kept us from really exploring too much on our own. We tried the optional "Graham Port Dinner and Tasting" this evening. The cost was 260 euros PP but I must say it was worth every penny. Viking has 3 other optional scheduled tonight and so only 6 of us went to Grahams. If you are a Port lover, this excursion is a must. We sampled 4 vintage Ports and then 10,20,30, and 40 year old tawney Ports. Afterwards, we had a 5 course dinner paired with wine and Port. A great evening.
Day 2 we set sail at 7am for our Cruise on the Douro. The fantastic scenery starts about 35 miles inland and doesn't seem to end.
I won't go into each days activities as this review is getting windy. I'll just touch on a few highlights. 2 included excursions not to miss are the whole day trip to Salamanca and the 7 hour trip to Favaious. They both were fantastic and fun filled days. A wonderful lunch in Favaious left us all in great spirits.
A few words about the crew and ship. The Osfrid crew was amazing and friendly. Everyone from the 3 Cruise Directors to waiters to housekeeping were outstanding and hard working.. The ship seemed roomy, clean and comfortable for all 106 passengers aboard. The food was plentiful and ranged from good to okay. Part of that is a matter of taste -- we are not fond of fish - others will love it.
This was our 3rd cruise with Viking. The Douro was probably the most scenic and friendly. The Rhine had the best ports and excursions. Bordeaux had the best wine and food.
The cabin was small but was comfortable in every way. The room was very quiet. Of course it helps that the ship only sails during the day. Plenty of plugs in room, both American and European types. We could not have been taken care of any better.