First let me say that my wife and I have been on quite a few ocean and river cruises before with several on Uniworld. When we travel we like to have an enjoyable time, see the sights the locals see, eat the food the locals eat, and get to ... Read More
First let me say that my wife and I have been on quite a few ocean and river cruises before with several on Uniworld. When we travel we like to have an enjoyable time, see the sights the locals see, eat the food the locals eat, and get to know the countries we are visiting.
We understood long before booking this trip that Uniworld was teaming with Douro Azul and that the ship was leased from Douro Azul. I read reviews stating that the cruise did not meet normal Uniworld standards, but we booked anyway.
That said, we had an absolutely outstanding cruise. We traveled to Lisbon a day early so that we could get over jet lag before the trip started. We stayed at the Tiara Park Atlantic hotel which was the hotel Uniworld uses for its Lisbon extension. The hotel made it very easy. We did not have to change rooms and they combined the bill so that we would only have to pay once. The restaurant on site was great for dinner and acceptable for breakfast. Rooms were good size and spotlessly clean.
Our second day in Lisbon (first of the cruise) we met Ercilia Afonso, our cruise director. She is a fire ball. Uniworld couldn't ask for a better representative. We were lucky in that she was going to stay with us for the Douro River portion also. She helped people find missing luggage, locate good restaurants, and learn about the country. Can't say enough good things about her.
After a couple of days of touring Lisbon and Sintra (which was worth the visit), we got on buses to Porto. The buses had plenty of leg room and were comfortable. Drivers were experienced and the guides gave us a running commentary along the route. First stop was Coimbra for lunch and a visit to the University. Good planning on Uniworld's part as this got us to Porto on time to get right into our cabins on the ship.
We had cabin 310. It was good sized and had a small balcony. The cabin was quiet, clean, and had plenty of space to store items. The ship was smaller than most Uniworld ships because the locks on the Douro are smaller than the locks on other European rivers. The ship was in great shape and the crew was superb. Every stop, crew members were out washing the ship and conducting preventive maintenance. The captain obviously trained his crew very well.
Pedro, the Hotel Manager, Silvino, the Restaurant Manager, and Dinis, the Chef, were everywhere. They were highly visible and approachable the entire cruise. If I didn't know that they weren't Uniworld employees, I would have assumed that they were. I saw absolutely no difference in the way that they did their jobs than I saw on the other eight Uniworld cruises we have been on.
While food is a subjective matter, we found it to be very good. Actually too good since it is requiring a diet back home to loose the weight gained. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style and dinner was sit down. What we really liked was the chef prepared menus that incorporated local dishes into almost every meal. That is one of the reasons we travel. He did a very good job of it and we found some new favorite foods.
The tours were all very good with our favorite being the harvesting tour to the Quinta. It was probably the most fun we have ever had on any river or ocean tour. The Quinta owner put on a show that was super. We felt like family members when we left.
Service was good throughout to include the restaurant staff, hotel personnel, front desk, bar, and music. To say we were relaxed is an understatement. We liked cruising during the day and looking at the beautiful scenery. Sitting on the balcony was a definite plus. Uniworld's all inclusive policy took the concern of tipping out of the equation and made the trip even more relaxing.
Overall, we were pleased with all aspects of the trip and would not hesitate to recommend it to our friends. Read Less