Lux­ury tour­ing afloat

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - RIVER CRUISING -

To ex­plore the Douro via its fa­bled wa­ter­way, con­sider an in­clu­sive cruise on a lux­ury river ves­sel. Aus­trali­abased op­er­a­tors have added Por­tu­gal to the more ex­pected Europe mix (Danube and Rhine, Seine and Moselle) and pas­sen­gers have a good range of op­tions. Typ­i­cally, round-trip voy­ages are from Porto, near Lisbon, and in­clude UNESCO World Her­itage sites. An eight-day cruise could in­clude two nights in Lisbon at either end. Such is the de­mand next year that some com­pa­nies have sold out lower-cat­e­gory cab­ins and may have only ve­randa state­rooms and suites on of­fer. Typ­i­cally, costs are lower later in the sea­son when the weather is colder; Vik­ing River Cruises, for ex­am­ple, has cab­ins for De­cem­ber 2016 sail­ings aboard Vik­ing Torgil or Vik­ing Hem­ming from $3395 a per­son twin­share, and if booked by Oc­to­ber 31 this year, there are re­turn Europe flights avail­able at $995 a per­son.

Uni­world has an 11-day Douro itin­er­ary (plus length­ier com­bi­na­tion tours that in­clude Spain) aboard the el­e­gantly ap­pointed 118-pas­sen­ger Queen Is­abel (pic­tured) from an av­er­age of about $5900 a per­son twin-share on de­par­tures start­ing in March next year, plus $200 a per­son for port fees. APT of­fers a 14-day land-and-river itin­er­ary from Lisbon to Madrid that in­cludes lux­ury ho­tels in the two cap­i­tals and seven nights of cruis­ing aboard the 108-pas­sen­ger AmaVida from Porto to Barca d’Alva from $8895 a per­son twin­share; ask about early-bird dis­counts and free flights ex Aus­tralia.

Scenic will de­but on the Douro in April with its ex­clu­sive new 96-pas­sen­ger, 80m-long Scenic Azure, based on the op­er­a­tor’s pop­u­lar Space Ship de­sign. Ex­pect pri­vate but­ler ser­vice, un­lim­ited com­pli­men­tary beverages, shore ex­cur­sions and myr­iad ex­tras. Check open­ing-sea­son spe­cials. • vik­ • uni­ • ap­tour­ •

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