Luxury touring afloat
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. • vikingrivercruises.com.au • uniworld.com/au • aptouring.com.au • scenic.com.au