As river cruising continues to rise in popularity, many discerning travellers who have experienced the iconic landmarks of the Danube and Rhine are beginning to search out new and exciting journeys.
France’s Seine and Rhône rivers have become fashionable ports of call in recent years. One unveils the bucolic charms of the serene north while the other meanders through the lavender fields and ancient Roman cities of the south, respectively.
The Volga in Russia is Europe’s longest river. Cruising this behemoth generally navigates a route between Moscow and St. Petersburg, and also includes a jaunt on the Svir, a river which connects Lake Onega and Lake Ladoga.
When it comes to a sun-soaked cruise, Portugal’s Douro is the name on everyone’s lips. Flowing across northern-central Spain and Portugal, the river makes a 557-mile-long journey before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean after passing through the coastal city of Porto.
The arrival of 2016 marks Scenic’s debut on this tranquil waterway. The launch of our new Douro itineraries is coupled with the launch of the Scenic Azure, the only custom-built ship to sail this radiant river.
Accommodating just 96 guests in 48 spacious cabins, this state-of-the-art vessel is set to revolutionise the Douro river cruise experience. But as with all Scenic itineraries, there’s more to your journey than just travelling in all-inclusive style. You can also look forward to mesmerising days ashore, exploring mighty cities, UNESCO-listed sites and a handful of hidden gems.
We’ve documented a few of our favourite Douro highlights to give you an insight into our new Portugal river cruises.
Those familiar with our Freechoice touring programme will know that we aim to offer our guests a variety of excursions on an almost daily basis. By giving you the freedom to pick your preferred activity from a diverse collection, you only see the sights that appeal to you. It’s just one of the things which makes us unique.
During each of our three Douro itineraries, we travel through the region of Entre-os-Rios. While here a day of Freechoice options awaits, one of which we believe will be popular amongst our guests.
Quinta Aveleda is a winery which has been managed and cared for by the same family since 1870. They are amongst the largest producer and exporter of Portugal’s adored Vinho Verde, a light, fresh and young wine that is not allowed to mature. This fruity and floral wine is the perfect accompaniment to rural region surrounding the vine-covered gardens of this idyllic rural property.
You will be invited to explore the enchanting winery on a guided tour which culminates in an educational and fun tasting. It takes just a short walk through the Quinta da Aveleda estate to realize that here quality and perfection are something natural... something that is present in the smallest details of its history and that the Guedes family tries to apply in everything it has done over more than 300 years. Aside from its important architectural heritage, marked by the perfect harmony between functional and natural elements, the Quinta da Aveleda estate is also famous for its parks and gardens, where rare species of trees flourish, some of which have been around for over a hundred years.
Every Scenic cruise features at least one Enrich experience. These unforgettable encounters are our pièce de résistance that are sure to be amongst the highlights of your cruise.
In the coastal metropolis of Porto, Scenic invite you to visit the Burmester Cellars, a famous wine landmark responsible for the exportation of Port wines to Europe and England since 1750.
You can look forward to an evening of dine dining and traditional Fado music in this historic cave located at the foot of the iconic Dom Luis I pedestrian bridge. Exceptional cuisine will grace the table, authentic melodies with dance through the air and there will be lashings of tantalising wine to try.
The cellars, built in the end of the 18th century, kept the original architecture almost unchanged, with A darkened wooden beam ceiling and granite walls, greenish by the time-draining humidity.
The freshness we feel and light are, after all, the ideal conditions for a wine cellar, resembling cells, where Port wines are kept and where you can meet the first Burmester oak barrel, dated of 1883.
A small museum keeps some of the machines that were used for bottling, labelling and filling, taking you back to the glory of yesteryear.
Sundowner, Museu do Douro
Sundowners is another one of our unique and exclusive Scenic-only events.
Almost all of our cruises feature this enchanting evening in which we transport you to a unique location where sunset cocktails await. It’s the perfect excuse to reflect on your journey, catch up with your fellow guests and raise a toast to the days ahead.
In Portugal, you will be transferred from your ship to the Museu do Douro. After the doors close to the general public, you are invited to soak up the magical views of Régua’s surrounding landscape at an exclusive cocktail event hosted on the beautifully manicured terrace of the museum. A medley of port wine varietals will be served in the most alluring of settings. We suggest sampling the Port Tonic, a sublimely refreshing white port.
If our 8-day and 11-day Douro itineraries simply don’t cut it, you’ll be delighted to discover that we also offer a 14-day epic which includes a pre-cruise extension in the capital of Lisbon.
You will enjoy three additional nights in this unmissable city, staying at the Sheraton Lisbon, a centrally located hotel in the heart of the action.
During your time here you can look forward to a mixture of included excursions and free time to explore on your own terms.
Embark on a guided walking tour of the city, journey to Lisbon’s seaside suburbs of Cascais and Estoril, climb to the hilltop town of Sintra and dine of sumptuous Portuguese cuisine.
Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon has been captivating visitors’ imaginations for centuries. This is your chance to unearth the historical charms and cultural treasures of one of Europe’s most revered cities.