Posted July 14th, 2014, 03:59 PM
"And for those of you who are veterans of a Portugal/Spain Duoro River cruise, please – please! – feel free to share your advice and insights about your trip here."
Hi Carolyn, am new to this board but not to CC. Thought I would chime in about our recent experience with AmaVida on the Douro since you asked for some input and I never got around to posting a trip report!
We took AMA's 'Port and Flamenco' cruise this year and throughly enjoyed it. AMA's excursions were, for the most part, very well organized and provided a great introduction to the Douro region.
Ship: AmaVida was built last year but is not owned by AMA (typical of river cruises on the Douro) - in fact, we were docked right next to a UniWorld ship that was an exact twin of our boat! The lounge and dining areas were spacious and comfortable, & even during "peak times" it never felt cramped. Our cabin was very clean, well appointed, and comfortable, and it was nice having a little step out balcony with a small table & 2 chairs.
Food: breakfast and lunch were buffet style AND/OR you could order off a menu. Dinners were very well presented and tasty though don't expect "5 star." That said, the crew could not have been more personable or engaging: nothing was too much trouble if requested (some passengers had very specific dietary requests which always seemed to be met).
Internet: available in each cabin but sometimes connection was lost due to the steep hillside terrain. During some of these times many of us found that internet connection could still be made in the Main Lounge area.
Weather: ideal. So the upper deck was busy at times but never felt "crowded" due to its layout: there was a pool with lounge chairs around it & plenty of tables & chairs available for those who wanted shade.
Wine and port, coffee/tea: Wine & port were poured/sampled quite frequently on this trip so we certainly didn't go thirsty!
Really enjoyed trying the white ports as well as learning more about some of the local Vintage ports. There is also a handy little 24/7 coffee/tea/cookie self serve station on board. Would have liked to have had a small fridge in the room, though not sure if this is the "norm" with river boat cabins?
Scenery: simply gorgeous and very peaceful - hillside after hillside sculpted with beautiful lush, green (at that time of year) vineyards everywhere you looked!
Tour guides: locals who were engaging, interesting, knowledgeable about the area, and fun.
Excursions: We really enjoyed the fun dinner at the Quinta da Avessada winery and the Mateus Palace is a must see: such beautiful grounds! Porto is an interesting city to explore and we loved spending time in Madrid and Lisbon, pre and post cruise.
On the way to/from the ship: Salamanca is an attractive and interesting town but felt the lunch, which included a so-so Flamenco show, was a bit of a letdown. Enjoyed the interesting stop in Fatima on thenway to Lisbon though.
So overall it was a fun, scenic, and relaxing cruise with very friendly passengers on board. We love river cruising now and were very happy with our first AMA experience.