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Cruising along the Douro

Saga Cruises Expert Andrew Iwasyszyn is on hand to explain why the Douro is a river cruising destination that ticks all the boxes…

The Douro is very scenic; in fact I’m quite confident in saying that it’s enchanting all the way through. You’ll find spectacular valleys, rolling hills, sweeping bends, hillsides cloaked with vines – it’s all so wonderfully picturesque from start to finish. And these glorious views go hand in hand with the peace and serenity you’ll experience as you cruise. I’ve never known tranquility like that on a Douro river cruise, it’s almost like you’re on another planet. And you’re virtually guaranteed sunshine, so if you’re so inclined, you could just while away the days on the sundeck, soaking up the warmth and enjoying the scenery that slips past.

But if you have a look at any of our Douro cruises, you might be surprised at just how many excursions we’re arranged, both included and optional – at times the programme can look very busy indeed! That’s because the berthing points along the banks are small, quaint little villages; whilst this is another plus for people who river cruise to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I’m aware that this kind of laid-back holiday won’t suit everybody. I like to make sure our cruises offer something for everyone, and a mixture of active days and calmer ones can make all the difference between an enjoyable cruise and an unforgettable one.

One excursion I was really keen to include was Salamanca, which I think is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. It goes back to Roman times and features so many different types of architecture; I fell in love with it when I visited, and wanted to make sure our passengers have every opportunity to fall in love with it too!

Another thing to bear in mind is the product this part of Europe is most famous for – port! We make sure we dock in Oporto, where you’re surrounded by the port warehouses, and there are ample opportunities for tasting and buying bottles of the delicious local tipple. It’s a brilliant way of really immersing yourself in the culture, drinking port as the ship sails past the very vines that the grapes in your glass grew on – it’s just perfect.

Personally, I think the best way to explore this region is by river cruise – I wouldn’t do it any other way. Our customers seem to agree with me too – some will come back two, three times a year, maybe in April and again in October, because the weather is lovely almost all year round. It’s a great compromise holiday too; if you are a couple where one loves relaxing in the sun and the other loves seeing new sights, then it ticks all the  boxes.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.