I just returned from AmaWaterways “Enticing Douro” cruise with 3-nights in Lisbon pre-cruise (7-17 July 2018)
I rarely write reviews on my cruse experiences, which have included numerous river and ocean voyages with many operators, but this experience was so exceptional it deserves mention.
Our Cruise Manager, Mr. Luis R., of AmaWaterways deserves much of the credit for making this experience as great as it turned out to be. Luis was organized, congenial, thoughtful and made everyone (96 guests) on the trip feel he was their personal assistant and lifelong friend. If you had food restriction, Luis made sure you received your preferences whether on board or one of our numerous meals included excursions. If you needed mobility assistance, as several of us did, Luis would arrange for alternate transportation. If you were shopping for that special gift Luis could help you find it. If you were looking for that special restaurant Luis knew what to recommend. In short, AmaWaterways should be proud they have a representative like Luis.
The on-board staff were equally attentive to their quests needs.
Special thanks go to Nuno and Jose in the bar. Each night after our day out we had a “Sip & Sail” where the bar was open for the guests’ pleasure. During lunch and dinner beer, wine and sodas were readily available at no cost, and the wine choices of the day were superb. Water was always available in the rooms and on the busses.
As a picky eater I found the menus to be well planned. The day started with and early risers’ continental breakfast in the lounge followed by a FULL breakfast buffet in the restaurant, the breads were a meal in themselves. Each day there was a lite lunch in the lounge and a more formal lunch in the restaurant. For dinner the menus included a chef’s recommendation. If that did not appeal to you there were also fish, meat and vegetarian options, and if those still did not work for you there were always salmon, steak or chicken available. All these were served by smiling Antonio who was friendly, attentive and accurate and one of the many excellent servers on board. The courses were all presented artistically.
The cruise itself could not have been better, except for a brief shower in Porto on day one the weather was more than one could have hoped for the rest of the trip. Sunny and clear every day with the temperature getting warmer as we approached the Spanish boarder (e.g., 72F in Porto and 86F in Salamanca).
The itinerary was excellent! The Hotel Intercontinental Lisbon was an excellent place to call home. Good location and a great breakfast included each day. Lisbon was beautiful starting on day 2 with a city tour that included St. Jeronimos’ Monastery (with a Pastel de Belem sampling), the Belem Tower and the Discoveries’ Monument and a Sintra City Tour on day three. The high-speed train transfer to Porto (actually Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river from Porto) was fast and clean. For our first night on board we were treated to and “illuminated river cruise” of Porto to see the city lit up at night, an extraordinary sight.
Each subsequent excursion generally included an historical site visit followed by a wine/port tasting which typically included local tapas. Some trips included full dinners such as those to the Monastery Alpendurada, Hotel Alameda Palace in Salamanca, and Quinta de Avessada; all the food was to die for. The excursions provided options for active walkers/hikers or for those wanting a slower pace. Each person had a QuietVox synced to their guide. The bus drivers need to be complemented on their navigating skills on the hills to and from our ship and through the narrow streets.
On board entertainment was provided nightly by an excellent pianist. We also had presentations on the Douro region and its’ wines as well as wine tasting briefings, a wonderful Fado group and a Tuna band. We also had a Flamenco show in Salamanca and an onboard cooking demonstration for Pastel de Belem’s.
In conclusion, this was a phenomenal trip that everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing.
WEAR comfortable walking shoes, the cobble stoned streets with un-even curb and steps are torturous! If you can avoid making any flight transfers thru Madrid I would suggest strongly that you do so. Going through security there is the worst travel experience you may ever have.
Clean and neat every day. Very well appointed with ample room and a small but adequate balcony