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Emerald Waterways Secrets of the Douro River - July 6-13, 2019


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This was our third river cruise (all with Emerald Waterways), and it was the best one yet! We are experienced ocean cruisers (25+ cruises with Carnival, RCCL, Celebrity, and NCL) and we wanted to try something different. We took our first river in 2017 and loved it! The Douro River was on our bucket list, and when I saw a great sale price we grabbed it.


We arrived in Porto one day early, and stayed at the 1827 River House in Porto. This boutique hotel was a very short and easy walk to where the Emerald Radiance docks in Porto. It was a wonderful beginning to our vacation. If you book directly with them online, they will provide free car service from the airport to the hotel. We arrived the morning of July 5. We didn't see our driver, so we called the hotel, who assured us that our driver would be there soon. About five minutes later he was there, helped us with our luggage, and quickly drove us to the hotel. Our room was not ready because check-in was not until 3:00 p.m., but we were invited to sit in the breakfast area and have coffee, tea, juice, fruit, and pastries. Everything was delicious, and we sat by the window and looked out at the river while trying to keep our eyes open (red-eye flight).  Our room was ready around 1:00 p.m. and our hostess took us up. (One thing to note - there is an elevator in the hotel, but I do not think it goes down to the breakfast level. You might want to ask about the stairs before booking if that is a concern.) 


Our room was on the top floor, with sloped ceilings and a window without a view. It was spotless, quiet, the bed was comfortable, and it was fine for our purposes. It was the least expensive room they offered. I believe that the more expensive rooms have lovely river views, but since we were going to be on the river for a week the view from the room wasn't that important to us. We took a nap and then got up to see the city. Porto has many picturesque streets, buildings faced with colorful tiles, and churches with ornately carved altars covered in gold-leaf. On the waterfront there was an area with benches where you could watch the river and people watch.  We really loved Porto, and felt safe as we explored.  When we got back to the hotel we each enjoyed a glass of Super Bock beer that they had on tap, free for guests!

The next day we got up and had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel. In addition to the items we were offered when we arrived, you could also order a cappuccino, expresso, and eggs.  Then we packed up, settled our bill, and walked to the boat. I've included photos of our room, etc., from our stay there. The salmon-covered building in the last photograph is a picture of the hotel from the top of the boat to show how close it is to the dock.


Let me know if you have any questions, and I'll do my best to answer them. I'll be posting more soon.





1872 House Bed.jpg

1872 House Pasteis de Nata.jpg

1872 House Shower.jpg

1872 House Sink and Toilet.jpg

1872 House Table and Chairs.jpg

1872 House Window and Tea Service.jpg


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9 hours ago, linolive said:

...stayed at the 1827 River House in Porto. This boutique hotel was a very short and easy walk to where the Emerald Radiance docks in Porto....

It should be noted that while Emerald Radiance docks in Porto near 1827 River House, most Douro River boats dock across the river in Vila Nova de Gaia, a half hour walk away. 

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Hi Thom,


Yes, this is true. When we were in Porto, it looked like only the Emerald Radiance, and also Scenic (I can't remember which) boats docked at our location. 


I'll post more later...



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We were greeted at the gangway by several staff members who took our bags.  The gangway where the Emerald Radiance docks in Porto is very steep, but we had no trouble. There were quite a few guests who used canes, and one guest who used an electric scooter chair.  They all must have managed the gangway, but I don’t know how much help the staff can give. I didn’t notice if staff gave any help or not, and on Emerald’s website the terms and conditions say that non-ambulatory people must have someone with them to help them. The boats that dock on the other side of the river are all level with the river with an almost flat gangway. They would be a short taxi-ride from the 1872 River House.  I wouldn’t try to walk there with my bags because Porto is hilly and you would have to drag your luggage up hills or up steps and then across the bridge, which is very crowded with pedestrians.


On the boat we were invited to have a light lunch which was set up buffet-style on the bar in the lounge, where we waited until our room was ready.  Check-in was very easy. We waited in the lounge until the Hotel Manager called us to the desk to take care of the paperwork, and then we were shown to our room. Our bags were already there.  We were in Room 108, which was in the least expensive category (category F). We paid a very good price and we were happy with the room. The room is below the water and has a window that is just above water level. It was smaller than the rooms we had on other Emerald Waterways ships because the Radiance was built smaller to fit the locks on the Douro River.  The space between the bed and the bathroom was very tight and the bathroom had a pocket door. There was a table and two chairs under the window but there was barely any room between them and the bed. I think it would have been better without the table and chairs because we never sat there and they took up too much room. On the table were a guide book and a map of the river which we were allowed to take at the end. The bed was two twin beds pushed together to make a king-sized bed. It was made up with bottom sheets and two duvets that overlapped and no top sheet. We asked our cabin steward if we could have a king top sheet and duvet instead and she gave us a king top sheet and king blanket, which was perfect for us. The bed was very comfortable and we slept well all week.

There was enough storage for the two of us, but we are light packers. Our suitcases fit under the bed, there was a closet with plenty of hangers, a vanity area with a stool, two deep drawers, a couple of cabinets with shelves and a shelf above the TV.  The bathroom had shallow shelves (I think two medicine cabinet sized) to the left of the sink and more shallow shelves on the right above the trash can and toilet. We didn’t use the shelves to the right.  There was also a small recessed shelf inside the shower.


In the closet they provided two robes, two pairs of slippers (that you can keep), a walking stick, and a large umbrella. There was a hair dryer in the room, a fairly large safe, and a refrigerated mini bar. We did not use anything from the mini bar, but it did have room for us to chill two water bottles. The air conditioning worked very well all week and you could set the temperature yourself with the thermostat.

Let me know if you have any questions, and I'll post more soon.



Emerald Radiance Room 108 Window.jpg

Emerald Radiance Room 108 Bed.jpg

Emerald Radiance Room 108 Closet.jpg

Emerald Radiance Room 108 Vanity.jpg

Emerald Radiance Room 108 Safe.jpg

Emerald Radiance Room 108  Mini Bar.jpg

Emerald Radiance Room 108 Bathroom.jpg

Emerald Radiance Room 108 Shower.jpg

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8 hours ago, linolive said:

...The boats that dock on the other side of the river are all level with the river with an almost flat gangway. They would be a short taxi-ride from the 1872 River House.  I wouldn’t try to walk there with my bags because Porto is hilly and you would have to drag your luggage up hills or up steps and then across the bridge, which is very crowded with pedestrians.

The first bridge upriver is Ponte de Dom Luís I. It does have a fairly high tram and pedestrian upper level which would require a significant climb or paying to use the funicular located just upstream from the bridge. HOWEVER there is a lower level of the bridge for vehicles with a rather narrow pedestrian sidewalk which requires IMO walking up only a fairly small and gentle incline. It would still be a 20-30 minute walk and most people with luggage would use a taxi. 

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I walked the lower bridge, and it was packed with pedestrians. The walkway for people was very narrow, and I had trouble walking with the crowds with just myself. The roadway had a lot of car traffic too. I wouldn't even attempt to drag suitcases across it, but that's just me...

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Hi Got2Cruise,

What ship were you on? We have only sailed on Emerald, so I can't compare it to any others. We first tried them when I saw a really great deal on a  cruise on the Rhine. My husband and I travel often, but we have to find low prices to do so. It was interesting to see the lobby of a Scenic ship when they were rafted next to the dock with our ship on the outside. The floor, walls, and reception desk were marble, and there were artsy life-sized bronze statues. In the Emerald ship the walls and reception desk were mirrors and chrome, and there were ceramic roosters for decoration.  I think that all the Scenic guests have a butler, while on Emerald - maybe just those in the owners suite did? I don't know because we were in the least expensive category.  I'm sure there were other differences too with entertainment, and shore excursions, but we paid thousands less and we were very happy with what Emerald offered for the money we paid. Others may value a more upscale experience, and that's fine too. I'm grateful to have found a river cruise line that we can afford.

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I scanned the daily programs: Emerald Douro Daily Programs.pdf.

Maps of each port were available at the cruise director's table in the lobby each day: Emerald Douro Maps.pdf.

There were also other factsheets at the cruise director's table about a variety of topics: Misc Portugal Factsheets.pdf.

Laundry service was available for a fee and on one day (I can't remember which) they offered one price for a filled laundry bag. The laundry bag was the usual size but it was made out of cloth so you could really stuff it without fear of ripping the bag: Emerald Laundry.pdf. I didn't use the laundry service, so I don't know how good it was.




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Here is the drink menu: Emerald Radiance Drink Menu 7.2019.pdf Gratuities are included so the price you is what you would pay. When we received our cruise documents, they said that we had the premium drink package included. This was a happy surprise to us because we didn't remember our travel agent saying anything about it. When we checked in, they gave us a card that said we had the package. For the first few times ordering a drink we had to show the card. After the servers got to know us we didn't have to show it anymore because they remembered we had the package. If you didn't have a package you had to sign for the drinks, and on the last day settle your bill (which you get the last day in your cabin) at the reception desk. Our final bill was zero because we had the drink package and we didn't go on any of the excursions that had an extra cost.  All gratuities are included in the price you pay for the cruise, so unless you do one of the extra excursions, don't have a drink package and order extra drinks, or buy something in their shop there is no other charges to pay. If you don't have a drink package, you still get wine and beer at lunch and dinner, and they refill your glass throughout dinner, and will top it off at the end if you wish. They had a different red and white wine each day. I enjoyed them, but I'm not a wine expert.



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Hi Canagal,

I tested the links, and they worked on my desktop in Chrome, but not in IE. They worked on my Samsung tablet in Chrome, but not on my Samsung phone. So I think it's a browser issue. I can put the files in a Google Drive folder and send you the link if you're interested.



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