Sail Date: August 2019
We started the trip with a non-stop flight from Newark to Lisbon. We upgraded to Economy Plus for the extra leg room and enjoyed a smooth flight. We landed in the early morning and after clearing passport control we were met by Viking and ... Read More
We started the trip with a non-stop flight from Newark to Lisbon. We upgraded to Economy Plus for the extra leg room and enjoyed a smooth flight. We landed in the early morning and after clearing passport control we were met by Viking and transported to the Hotel Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa. It was a lovely hotel and we enjoyed our stay. We arrived so early we had to wait a little until our rooms were ready. Since I am useless with no sleep we just sat in the lobby until our room was ready. Our room was facing the interior courtyard and there was some noise from the nightclub on the roof but I was so jet lagged I was able to sleep. The hotel was very nice and clean and the included breakfast was terrific. We found a very nice seafood restaurant down the street from the hotel and we enjoyed dinner there. The second night we ate at a place recommended by the hotel but that was not exactly what we wanted. The food was tasty but floating in a bowl of gravy. Our transfer to Porto was quite a ride but we did make 3 stops to break it up, a comfort stop , a stop for lunch and a visit to Coimbra University. The tour buses were very comfortable and equipped with a rest room and wifi. This made the trip easier to bare. Our arrival at the ship was smooth and we were given our room keys as we got off the bus. The cabins were all ready and everyone was happy to arrive and unpack finally. The meals on the ship were all very good, the weather was perfect. Cool in Lisbon and Porto and the much warmer as we got into the Douro Vally. One thing about the meals was that if you didn’t take then Chef’s suggestion he took it personally. I had duck one day and did not want the gravy. He became so upset and insisted the duck needed the gravy. It was just a personal thing I don’t care for gravy but he was acting like I suggested we go club baby seals. One night my husband ordered from the always available side of the menu. The waitress again was horrified and tried to get him to order something else. I just found that strange. The tours were all very nice my favorites were the dinner at Grahams and the Bread Bakery tour. When we were riding up to Grahams the tour guide told us that we probably didn’t know each other yet but when she picked us up at the end of the dinner we would be great friends and we were. A beautiful dinner in a beautiful place. The bread bakery was amazing. I love bread and this was the best bread I ever tasted. The lady took it right out of the oven and handed it to me. I had to grab some napkins to stop from burning my hand. I enjoyed the warm bread with butter and homemade jam. We did several wine tasting at wineries. The Sanderman winery was interesting though the ride up there was very scary. There was nothing bad that happened but I was nervous. The Viking drivers were very skillful and careful. How they negotiated the hairpin curves and the narrow roads in the big bus was truly amazing. They always got applause and a handshake when we returned. The day in Salamanca ,Spain was very nice. Plaza Mayor reminded us of Venice. We enjoyed a lunch there . Delicious and reasonable priced. We enjoyed the ship probably even more because we received an upgrade to a Veranda Suite. I am afraid I have been spoiled. The bed was comfortable and the room was spotless. Our cabin steward was perfect. She kept our room in tip top condition. The final day we were sadly transported the Porto airport for another direct flight to Newark. It was a wonderful vacation. I cant wait for my next Viking trip. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We really enjoyed this Viking River of Gold cruise along the Douro. We have travelled before with Viking as a few years ago we did the Yangtze River cruise which was amazing and so we expected a lot from Viking. We were not disappointed. ... Read More
We really enjoyed this Viking River of Gold cruise along the Douro. We have travelled before with Viking as a few years ago we did the Yangtze River cruise which was amazing and so we expected a lot from Viking. We were not disappointed. Everything was wonderful from start to finish. We flew from Heathrow to Lisbon on October 20th 2018 and spent 2 days there in the Tivoli Hotel. The hotel was about 10 minutes walk from the centre and was very good. In fact it was so good that the King of Belgium was staying there! Security was high but never affected our stay. The room was lovely as was breakfast. We had to provide our own dinners whilst in Lisbon but we were spoilt for choice by the many local restaurants. The first day we had a guided tour of Lisbon provided by Viking. Our first stop was Belem Tower and then on to Jeronimos Monastery where we arrived, of course, at the same time as the King of Belgium. Next we visited the Alfama old district of Lisbon and then had an afternoon’s free time.We really enjoyed Lisbon although it does not have the wow factor of a city such as Rome. The weather was warm and sunny. Left for Porto the next morning. This is a longish coach journey but we stopped at Coimbra and visited the oldest university in Portugal and then went for a great lunch accompanied by Faldo which is the local guitar music. Arrived at the Viking Osfrid at 4 o’clock. The ship is built especially to go through the locks on the Douro and is, therefore, quite small. There were 93 guests on board. Our cabin was also small but excellent. We had paid for a cabin with a French balcony which in hindsight was a mistake as we only opened the balcony window a few times and spent very little time in the cabin. We sailed along the Douro on the first evening and then back to our mooring. During our cruise we visited some wonderful places, drank lots of port (naturally) and ate great food. The food on board was all of a very high standard and was accompanied by wine at lunch and dinner. We did buy a drinks package although not many on board did but we like to drink a good quality wine at meals and we certainly had our money’s worth. I drank lots of Veuve Cliquot! Dinner was at 7.15 most evenings. The entertainment was low key but ideal for us. There was a pianist who played and sang but who also provided dance music later in the evening. I need to add though that there was often only a very few dancing. This isn’t a trip for a wild nightlife! Many people went to bed early although most took part in a Majority Rules quiz and a music quiz, nothing too demanding. We also had brief talks on our destinations and a demonstration on how to open a vintage port. I was a bit disappointed that people didn’t particularly get dressed up in the evenings. I don’t mean dinner jackets and cocktail dresses but that many didn’t even get changed for an evening. I am on holiday and like to get ready for dinner! The crew are all excellent and the service we had was first class. Viking usually use a system of gratuities paid in an envelope handed in at the end of the cruise but they are trialling a new system of adding the tips to your final bill. I like to tip individuals and so I took the gratuities off the bill and tipped separately. Yes I know all the arguments about tipping and I change my opinion on the best way to go all the time! The Douro is only a small river. The locks were amazing as was the scenery but the river can only get you to a limited number of places. This meant that we often went on quite long coach trips e.g Salamanca. It was certainly worth it. Viking try to ensure that you see the local life and culture. We visited port cellars, churches, villages and even a local bakery. We walked lots of cobbled streets and was glad of comfortable shoes. One evening was a Portuguese dinner and the crew all wore local costume. We added an extension visit to Santiago de Compostela and travelled by coach. There were only 10 of us who took this option. We left the ship at 9 o’clock and travelled by coach. As it is quite a long trip Viking as always make sure you get value for money and we stopped on the way to visit Bom Jesus and Braga. We arrived at Santiago at 5 o’clock and stayed in another lovely hotel. Our guide took us for a stroll to the cathedral to orientate us and showed us the main streets for restaurants. We loved our stay in Santiago visiting the cathedral and seeing the walking pilgrims. The only disappointment of this trip cannot be placed at the door of Viking, although if they had the power I am sure they would deal with it. The weather! We arrived in Lisbon to 25 degrees. The first few days were warm and sunny. I even went for a dip in the small but pleasant pool on the first day aboard. After that it was cold. Even very cold! 3 degrees one particular morning. Yes it did warm up to 10 degrees but I was completely unprepared for the weather. My research and according to Viking’s website said it would be low 20s although 50% chance of rain. I, along with most people on board, had packed the wrong sort of clothes. Those who had flown from snowy Canada and even America had warmer coats. The evening the Programme Director said to take gloves and scarves the next day was a bit of a shock. We were, however, very lucky and managed to avoid most of the rain. All in all this was a fantastic trip and I can thoroughly recommend Viking. Our fellow travellers had lots of recommendations for other trips with Viking. I would love to do a Viking Ocean Cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We had been with Viking before and generally appreciated their level of organisation and the standards they set on their vessels. We had two nights in Lisbon after flying out from Machester and then embarked the Viking Osfrid at Vila Nova ... Read More
We had been with Viking before and generally appreciated their level of organisation and the standards they set on their vessels. We had two nights in Lisbon after flying out from Machester and then embarked the Viking Osfrid at Vila Nova de Gaia on the left bank of the Douro, opposite Porta. Very friendly crew and very high standards of cleanliness and cuisine. Three Viking buses (massive legroom) met us at every port for the day's included excursion led by one of the three highly competent Programme Directors. All days worked well and each excursion was well thought out and nicely balanced, especially the trips to the wine producing "Quintas".. Downsides are the tiny cabins (riverboats on the Douro are not close to the size of the boats that operate on the Rhine and Danube. Nevertheless they are ergonomically designe and everything packs away amazingly well. Just nowhere to sit which means you rely heavily on the public areas, which are numerous and comfortable. Dining was by a single sitting in the restaurant and the food was generally imaginatively prepared and tasty with plenty of choice. There is a comfortable bar/lounge which is also used for port/excursion briefings and the information on each following day's activities was accurate and detailed. Also used for evening entertainment when local musicians etc would occasionally perform. All in all a thoroughly satisfying cruise experience run by a very professional team. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
After our first river cruise (Waterways of the Tzars) and then two big-ship-cruises (Viking Homelands, Empires of the Mediterranean), we decided to book the Douro river cruise with our courteous booking agent who also took care of all ... Read More
After our first river cruise (Waterways of the Tzars) and then two big-ship-cruises (Viking Homelands, Empires of the Mediterranean), we decided to book the Douro river cruise with our courteous booking agent who also took care of all flight arrangements. Viking was the right choice for us again. Before departure Viking sends the 'Cruise Documents' booklet, containing all travel info for flights, transfers, hotels, cruise summary, info for needed personal documents, packing hints, dress code on board, and tipping. Thus we were aware of the suggestion how much to tip the crew and of the tips to the different tour guides and bus drivers, thus we knew the right amount of dollar bills to bring before departure. On all our Viking cruises we handled our luggage only at departure and upon arrival at our home airport. Viking organizes all transfers, including pick-up from and to the airports as well as delivery/pick-up of luggage to and from hotel room or cabin. Our pre-cruise accommodation was Madrid's InterContinental; a very good choice. The Viking representative took care of all questions and gave advice freely. Our local guide was extremely informative, an art historian, perfect for guiding us in the Prado Museum and within Toledo. We always had enough free time to visit places of personal interest. After the flight to Lisbon the main-program started. We stayed in the Tivoli Hotel, another very good choice, learned of Lisbon's and Portugal's history on guided city tours, and tasted tappas with local wine. A comfy bus ride brought us to Porto and to our ship Osfrid. Our cabin was spacious with a sitting area and a balcony, a good sized closet and drawer space, a well appointed bath room, and enough outlets (american and European) to recharge our phones. We also liked the selection of TV programs available when we relaxed in the cabin. Our room service team was excellent and had a sense of humor: the towel elephant they had made wore at times one of our sun glasses or a hat -- the elephant was good company. We sailed by day and enjoyed the cities, landscape and vine-yards 'passing by'. Of great interest were the river locks through which we passed. These transits we observed from the top deck. At times we came upon a low bridge, and to pass underneath, the wheel house got lowered and the captain stuck his head out from an opening in the top - amusing. Our 'Cruise Documents' booklet described all included and optional tours and guests had the option to book or cancel tours in a timely fashion while on board. Furthermore, the distribution of the 'Viking Daily' was very helpful, as it detailed the next day's happenings and informed of the weather situation, the boat's departure and arrival time, as well as local history; it was delivered the evening before. Two four-page-leaflets, one US the other British, with recent articles from newspapers, were also available daily. The local guides, the program directors and Viking guides were very knowledgeable, always friendly and helpful. We also praise the bus drivers for they handled a bus like we would a small car. It is an art to drive so skillfully up and down on the serpentine roads clinging to the sides of the hills on both sides of the Douro river. The on-board-entertainment included info on upcoming destinations and excursions, a scenic sailing during our first dinner, cocktail parties also for returning Viking travelers, live piano music, dancing, quiz-evenings, cooking demo, info on Portugal's cork industry as well as olive oil production, informal gatherings with finger food, and folkloric music. We were very happy with our choices of included and optional excursions, learned a lot about wineries, wine-makers, Port Wine and its production, storage and ageing; we tasted Porto of different ageing stages in several Quintas and wine cellars and noted the various patterns in terracing on the hills. On board, too, we had plenty of wine with our meals. Breakfast was in a self-serve-style, but the Chef himself, prepared orders for omelettes, eggs Benedict and eggs any-style. At lunch and dinner all cruise participants ate together and always several choices of dishes, sometimes local cuisine, were offered. Our trip to majestic Madrid, historic Lisbon, the University town Coimbra, Porto and the 'azulejo' Portuguese blue tiles depicting large scenes of the country's history, Guimares, the amzing Quinta da Avessada, Regua and the Quinta do Seixo, Regua and the Mateus Palace and Gardens, Pinhao and our rustic-elegant lunch in the country-side setting, our wine tasting and pic-nic amid the grape-vines high up on a terrace with a grand view, beautiful Salamanca, charming Lamego - we truly enjoyed, as well our post-extension to Santiago de Compostela, a UNESCO World Heritage site and destination for us and of many devout pilgrims, young and old, since the Middle Ages. In both pre- and post-extension programs a Viking representative welcomed the participants, answered the where-what-when-questions and was available throughout our stay in hotels. We appreciate Viking how well it is organized for our arrival and departure, in all aspects of our travels and cruising, and not to forget, for the good food and service...... and our next river cruise (Provence) is already booked. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
After a wonderful stay in Lisbon, we transferred to Porto, where we boarded the Osfrid. This boat cruised across Portugal on the Douro River to the border with Spain. The voyage certainly met Viking's high standards for service, ... Read More
After a wonderful stay in Lisbon, we transferred to Porto, where we boarded the Osfrid. This boat cruised across Portugal on the Douro River to the border with Spain. The voyage certainly met Viking's high standards for service, fine food, and comfort. This was our seventh river cruise with Viking and they do a consistently excellent job. Anyone who fancies fine wine should consider this cruise - there were winery visits in every stop. The cabins tend to be small, but the food is excellent. The enrichment lectures about llocal customs and culture were interesting. At the conclusion of this voyage, we took the optional extension to Santiago de Compostela, which we thought was exceptional. We enjoyed the various parts of Portugal a lot more than we expected to. In the past ten years, we have visited more then 110 countries and we had not previously had a high interest in Portugal, but we found the country interesting and the people very friendly and hospitable. We highly recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
This was our first trip to Portugal and it didn’t disappoint. Visiting Lisbon and Porto allowed us to enjoy the wonderful things that historic, urban cities in Europe can offer. The cruise down the Douro gave the opportunity to ... Read More
This was our first trip to Portugal and it didn’t disappoint. Visiting Lisbon and Porto allowed us to enjoy the wonderful things that historic, urban cities in Europe can offer. The cruise down the Douro gave the opportunity to experience the beautiful countryside and unique vineyards in the area with the beautiful terracing. The service provided by all staff members was simply outstanding. They were attentive, friendly, and fun without being intrusive. Our needs were sometimes anticipated before we realized we had them. They also worked well as a team and presented as a cohesive unit. Our program director had the great combination of being extremely knowledgeable about history and a talented presenter with a great sense of humor. He was very entertaining. This is not a trip that I would recommend for people with mobility issues. This section of Portugal isn’t a good one for people aren’t steady on their feet. This area of Portugal requires bus transportation to get to many sites. The roads are very windy and people prone to motion sickness may wish to have some treatment with them (e.g. Dramamine). Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
Excellent previous experience. I like the river cruises. Viking has given us great experience all around: service, meals, rooms, tours, etc. We will try the ocean cruise next. It is hard to put in words but I will try: from the ... Read More
Excellent previous experience. I like the river cruises. Viking has given us great experience all around: service, meals, rooms, tours, etc. We will try the ocean cruise next. It is hard to put in words but I will try: from the moment we embarked, in Porto, Portugal, we we treated like VIP's. All of the personal was very attentive. I had a medical problem and receive very good attention with appointments, transportation and follow ups. The dinning experience was excellent with very good food, truly nice (not fake) service from everyone. There was no place where I did not receive the best attention. Highly recommended!!!! The tours were all planned ahead and well executed with excellent guides very fluent in English. And all the tours were included in the price, therefore I did not pay extra. The rooms has nothing else I will add. During the cruise in the river we had a fantastic view of nature. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
After several longer river cruises (i.e., Budapest to Amsterdam) we thought that we might like what would be a much shorter trip (Douro river is only what, 125 miles long?) and kind of quirky itinerary; small towns and wineries with time ... Read More
After several longer river cruises (i.e., Budapest to Amsterdam) we thought that we might like what would be a much shorter trip (Douro river is only what, 125 miles long?) and kind of quirky itinerary; small towns and wineries with time to walk and explore. Wow did we like it! Beautiful countryside in Fall colors, visits to often tiny towns, and so on. Castelo Rodrigo, for example, is a hilltop hamlet with about 48 residents. We had time on our own in some very small towns to just wander. Very restful, actually Quite different from say, Vienna! I don't recommend this for one's "first cruise". Take a longer one, or several, with Viking and then try The Douro. Doing that really helped us notice the differences and fully appreciate the laid back leisurely nature of this trip. It is very well thought out and complete. I think you'll find it wonderful. As always with Viking there are little extras; to be met back at the ship with a Port wine toast, local foods acquired almost every day, and some unique entertainments. Portuguese Fado music. for instance. I HIGHLY recommend the post-river add-on trip to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The shrine of Saint James is not only the ending point of "The Way" pilgrimages, but also a UNESCO Heritage center. We loved the city and its foods. Tapas three times a day! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We would not normally have done this cruise, but it was for my Mother-in-Laws 80th and she wanted us there. We had a lovely time. Everything exceeded our expectations, from the boat, food, crew, and cabin. We have sailed Silver Seas, ... Read More
We would not normally have done this cruise, but it was for my Mother-in-Laws 80th and she wanted us there. We had a lovely time. Everything exceeded our expectations, from the boat, food, crew, and cabin. We have sailed Silver Seas, Regent, Uniworld, Princess, and other Viking Cruises, but this exceeded them all. The crew was amazing, always smiling and anything they could do for you, they would. The food and the house wine were both exceptional. Our only complaint were the excursion, they was lots of bus time and we don't like that, so we created our own tours, and did lots of walking. It just seems that more active excursion could have been offered. However; many people enjoyed the excursion, just not what we like. The common rooms were lovely and there was always plenty of room available and waiters on hand. I can not recommend more highly! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Dear community, we really had a fantastic cruise lately on Viking Osfrid. It is our 3rd Viking Cruise already and this time we decided to see Portugal, started in Lisbon and finished in Madrid. The Lisbon part was Hotel and Bus only ... Read More
Dear community, we really had a fantastic cruise lately on Viking Osfrid. It is our 3rd Viking Cruise already and this time we decided to see Portugal, started in Lisbon and finished in Madrid. The Lisbon part was Hotel and Bus only and ok, its rather a city trip but once you board the ship in Porto the feeling changes. Porto what a great city to explore and if you love wine and port than this is a must cruise. Don’t expect too much of an entertainment on those small ships but look forward to the tours. The landscape you see from the ship is not comparable with any other cruise and the fact that there is a lot of daytime sailing makes it even better. Our Cabin had a balcony which is a must I would say, keep in mind its quiet hot in the valley and rather colder in Porto. Food was exceptional compared to previous cruises and always with a local touch. Crew went out of their way to serve us and did a great job. They seem to be less personal than on other viking ships but really surprised us with their smile and service. Generally we felt this was the best viking cruise so far after we did the Rhine and China before. Thanks to the Osfrid team, job well done – we are coming back…. The Fellons Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
This was our 6th Viking cruise and certainly one of the best we had so far. We started in Lisbon which was ok as we been there before but when we embark the ship in Porto for the actual cruise the have been overwhelmed. The boat is ... Read More
This was our 6th Viking cruise and certainly one of the best we had so far. We started in Lisbon which was ok as we been there before but when we embark the ship in Porto for the actual cruise the have been overwhelmed. The boat is very small and intimate which we really enjoyed, the crew took good care of us and made this trip really special. What a small world it is within the Viking family as we had the same Hotel Manager as last year in Russia. Rebekka from Germany really made us feel like home. She managed the ship really well and you could see that she did this with passion. Food was great as always with Viking, could have been a bit more with local touches as always. Our Cabin was really specious with fantastic views every day. We book one of the Veranda suites this time. Our cabin girl was from Porto and gave us really good inside hints, we really enjoyed the mix of international crew with the local touch. Tours are fantastic but due to the longer bus rides sometimes we skipped some as the weather in Spain was already reaching the highs. Our only criticism of this trip was the entertainment as this was not as ever before on Viking, perhaps due to cruise director team who seemed not to be Viking and entertaining, also they are 3 and so far we always had 1 only. They always escorted the busses but would have been nice if they also comment on something at least. Well I guess Viking needs to improve this but the rest of the team was superb as always. We really enjoyed this cruise and booked another one and since this is our first online comment ever, thanks to Rebekka who ask us to do so, we would like to spread our positive experience herewith. March and Jean Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2017
We so much enjoyed our previous Viking cruise, Amsterdam to Budapest, that we were eager to try a second Viking cruise. We had never been to Portugal, and we had heard others praise its beauty. Also, this was at the perfect time, because ... Read More
We so much enjoyed our previous Viking cruise, Amsterdam to Budapest, that we were eager to try a second Viking cruise. We had never been to Portugal, and we had heard others praise its beauty. Also, this was at the perfect time, because it started just after we finished a convention elsewhere in Europe. The Duoro river is beautiful. Because the ship is small, we got to know our tour guide well. The first day in Lisbon was a highlight. Another other major highlight was the very old library, where they let bats live behind the stacks because the bats eat moths that would eat the books! The ancient college in Salamanca was another highlight, with a very informative guide. The only weak spot was that because this was the first cruise of the year, the kitchen had a little trouble getting organized for dinner... sometimes ran out of a popular food, or had slower than expected service. But Viking did everything they could to remedy the problems, including hiring some extra staff after a day or two. We learned much about Portugal and its history and culture. We are big fans of Viking, and we have already signed up for another cruise next year. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
We had previously taken the Viking Bordeaux cruise in 2015, and shortly after getting home signed up for the November 2016 Rivers of Gold cruise on the Douro River. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and the land portions - we started with ... Read More
We had previously taken the Viking Bordeaux cruise in 2015, and shortly after getting home signed up for the November 2016 Rivers of Gold cruise on the Douro River. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and the land portions - we started with two nights in Lisbon with well planned and interesting tours of the city over the two days. Then a comfortable bus trip up the coast of Portugal to Porto, where we boarded our vessel in Vila Nova de Gaia, across the Douro from Porto. November is not shirtsleeve weather in Portugal, we had rain on the first day in Lisbon, but Lisbon takes on another sort of beauty in the rain and soft contrast of an overcast day. We arrived in Porto to sunshine and two beautiful days of incredible light and fascinating tours. Then the Viking Osfrid headed up the Douro, the weather turned more rainy and cold - but the river valley was so beautiful with the vineyards and mountains rising out of the mist. As we'd experienced in France in 2015, the Viking crew and staff were unfailingly helpful, cheerful and knowledgable. On this cruise, the guides were engaging and fun to spend time with, and the tours were excellent. This is another cruise, like the Bordeaux cruise, in which there are significant motor coach tours away from the ship, while some passengers didn't care for that, we recognized that it was the only way to get to the many fascinating places we visited, many of which were on the tops of the surrounding mountains. The food and wines were fabulous as usual, the staterooms were comfortable, the fellow passengers were interesting and diverse. We had a fabulous time. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Wonderful destination with a beautiful country and very friendly people. The itinerary and Vikings staff and accommodations were beyond prior cruises. Great optional tours and sights. The opportunity to be entertained on the ship with ... Read More
Wonderful destination with a beautiful country and very friendly people. The itinerary and Vikings staff and accommodations were beyond prior cruises. Great optional tours and sights. The opportunity to be entertained on the ship with specialists that entertained and educated us was very important. The social director was professional and provided a knowledgeable support to help us understand the people,country and customs. the menu varieties offered territorial foods, grains, cheeses and beverages that allowed us to enjoy the flavors and tastes of origin creativity. The staff were meticulous in their attention to our requests and keeping our cabin, dining areas and common use areas of the lounge, decks and atrium both clean and fresh. The bar and lounge area offered a local and very good selection of beverages. Evenings were enjoyed with alternative entertainment with local performances both on the ship and off in the local venues. The evening serenades of the piano and songs provided a chance for karaoke and professional song performances. Overall, the Osfrid's cruise was a satisfying delightful adventure that fulfilled our cultural and relaxing goals in what we wished to achieve. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Our latest Viking Voyage (we go on our 6th trip with them this year) was absolutely wonderful. With a 2-day pre-extension in Lisbon (and a 2-day post on our own in Lisbon), we ended up spending 6 phenomenal days in one of my new favorite ... Read More
Our latest Viking Voyage (we go on our 6th trip with them this year) was absolutely wonderful. With a 2-day pre-extension in Lisbon (and a 2-day post on our own in Lisbon), we ended up spending 6 phenomenal days in one of my new favorite cities on the planet. Lisbon is gorgeous, very compact and highly accessible. Don't even think about going unless you book the Lisbon pre-extension. And whatever you do, don't miss the Taste of Lisbon optional excursion. The river part of our serene journey started on September 6, 2016 on the Viking (baby longship) Osfrid. While I will tell you many ways the whole trip could have been better still, my five star rating stands. Overall, we had an absolutely fantastic time. And, man oh man, did I get some great pictures. Portugal is one very picturesque country. (Photography and traveling are my hobbies. You can see my best pictures from our recent vacations here: www.RhodesVacations.com) LISBON PART OF TRIP From the time we got to the lovely Tivoli Hotel, we were already having a great time. The hotel has much to recommend it. When you go to breakfast (a large buffet in a beautiful room full of rich wood paneling and large picture windows), be sure and get a table that looks out onto the Avenida in front of the hotel. This is one of the most tranquil streets I've ever seen. With a very wide central pedestrian median that goes on for at least a mile, it is lined with huge trees hundreds of years old and has large walkways made of colorful stones set in mosaic patterns. I could spend days sitting on one of its park benches. So relaxing. But I digress. Back to the hotel. One final note, be sure and go up to the bar area on top of the hotel at night. It’s a hopping scene with great mood lighting and music. Half of the young adults in Lisbon seem to be there. But, most of all, it has great views of Lisbon's lights at night from the top. Be sure and take your camera when you go up to it. We had such a fabulous time in the endlessly charming Lisbon that it's hard to list everything we did, so I'll just stick to some of our favorites. We heard a lot of excellent fado music (something I didn't even think I would like), but none was better than the performance we got during the optional Taste of Lisbon excursion that we went on. But more than just the music and the dinner were the acting and dancing on the stage. It was a near perfect evening. My favorite was of one of the leading singers, who was so emotive in her acting and so compelling in her smiles that I couldn't stop trying to capture pictures of her. The best walking tour of trip was the one of the Bairro Alto in Lisbon, which is part of the pre-extension. In contrast, the tour of the Alfama District of Lisbon, which is part of the regular tour, was good but way too much of it was done on a bus. The Bairro Alto tour was all done on foot, so you really got to see the lovely tiled buildings with their intricate grill work, the enchantingly narrow and colorful streets and the overall charm of the byways of the city. Our Bairro Alto guide was terrific. She realized that the best guides aren't rapid-fire fact machines but entertainers who know how to weave humorous stories and make cute little remarks. Also, the Alfama tour spent time at the Maritime Museum. It's almost always a waste of time when a guided tour includes museum visits. You will have a fair amount of time on your own in Lisbon, and there is so much to do. Taking one of the fun old trams is a must but follow the Viking guides recommendation, as we did. Don't go on the public trams, which will have you waiting hours to get on and quite likely make you stand for its hour and a half trip. Instead go on one of the private trams, which look exactly the same. While they cost more, they will save you hours of wasted time standing and waiting for the public ones, and they will always have a seat for you once on board. Supposedly too, the public one is frequented by pickpockets. The tram whips around narrow streets and provides a constant steam of great visuals. Arguably the most stunning site in Lisbon is the Jeronimos Monastery, which should be on your must-see list. Also good is the castle, which, although in ruins, provides breath-taking views of the city since the castle is set high on the hill above the city. The way to get to the castle is with a taxi. Taxis in Lisbon are reasonably priced and easy to hail. The coach museum near the Jeronimos Monastery is well worth a visit. Filled with restored coaches, it really takes you back in time to when traveling was particularly elegant. One day we hired a private car and driver, which wasn't that expensive, and went to Sintra, most of all to see Pena Palace. A fantastical and ridiculously colorful place, it is a palace as Walt Disney might have imagined one. The town itself too was pretty. Later we went to the westernmost part of continental Europe, Cabo da Roca, and admired its jagged cliffs and crashing surf. An extraordinary day out. Finally, just walking around Lisbon's various squares and narrow streets provide endless delight. We ended up eating outside several time at LVSO Central Italian Restaurant in Rossio Square. The people watching there is great fun, and the waiters are real charmers and clowns. We always got one of the tables closest to the wide sidewalk. And, while we were in Lisbon during an unseasonable heat wave with temperatures in the upper 90s, the trees, the awnings and the good breezes made for very relaxing and quite comfortable outdoor dining nonetheless. SHIP PART OF THE TRIP Of the 13 days we spent in Portugal, 7 of them were on the ship, so let's talk about that part of our adventure. First and foremost, the staff and the people we met on the ship were extremely friendly. Our tour director Elia and our guide Iuri were uniformly terrific. My wife has mobility issues, and Iuri was constantly checking on her as we were walking to make absolutely sure she was always ok. The restaurant staff, which sometimes weren't quite as organized as they should have been, were extremely friendly and hard-working. On land and on the ship, everyone spoke very clear English, and they were able to easily understand a wide variety of accents easily, even my thick Texan. Quite a surprise was that, unlike all of the other Viking cruises we've been on, the captain was around a lot and liked to strike up conversations with the guests. His English too was perfect, and he proved to be a good story teller. The part of the ship we liked the least was the food, which was at best ok and was the worst of any Viking trip. Ironically, the best food, which was consistently fabulous, was on the Viking Truvor this summer in Russia. The chef on the Truvor is scheduled to move to one of Portugal ships next year. Almost made me wish we'd waited. But, to be honest, we didn't care much for the food off the boat either. The worst meal I got was some inedible cod for lunch in Lisbon. Being a baby longship, everything was shrunk, but it was a still a longship. On the regular size longships, there are many round tables for six at dinner, so meeting people is easy. The baby longship has many fewer such tables, and they are oblong rather than circular. The problem with an oblong table is that there are almost always 2-3 conversations going on simultaneously while, with round tables, it is usually just one. One conversation makes it a lot more fun and easier to hear people. But the ship did have a very large top deck, which proved to be a great place to gather while cruising and after dinner, when the lights on the hills were truly magical. And, speaking of magical moments, one of the best occurred the first evening on the ship when, just after dinner, the captain took us on a slow ride up and down Douro River to see the lights of Porto at night. All I can say is WOW! The Douro River provides endless scenic vistas while cruising. The high hills (or low mountains or whatever you call them) are full of vineyards, olive trees and almond trees. While you are there you live in a blue green world. Lush green hillsides are on your left and right while the rich blue of the sky and river are above and below you. Because of a broken lock on our trip, they had to re-sequence the days, which ended up giving us a full day cruising at the end. This proved to be a blessing, not a curse. Just about everyone spent the day on the top deck enjoying the great views and the lovely weather, which had cooled back into the normally seasonal 80s. We only had one early morning of rain the whole trip, and the rain was gone by the time we left the boat. Since I've been writing for a while now and still haven't mentioned any of the places we visited from the ship, you might wonder why. It's because this isn't a trip where you go to see a few big sites. It's more one of enjoying the smaller ones. But we did visit some pretty sites during the cruise. Castelo Rodrigo was fascinating and beautiful. A stunningly pretty little rocky and isolated town set high up on a small mountaintop, it was perhaps the best thing we saw while on the ship part of the trip. I am very glad that I chose the "strenuous" walking tour that day. Very mislabeled, it wasn't even up to a moderate level. Lamego was a peaceful little town to wander through, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Salamanca was quite pretty, but the included lunch there was almost inedible, and the flamenco dancing we were shown wasn't very good. My wife had suggested we skip the included lunch and flamenco performance and wander around Salamanca instead. Should have taken her advice. Others did this and had a much better time than we did. One night we had a dinner at old monastery. The setting was lovely and the fado singing was pretty good but not nearly as good as in Lisbon or Coimbra. Actually, the only part of the Coimbra visit I really enjoyed was the excellent fado performance after lunch there. DISAPPOINTMENTS Some of the places like the inside of the Mateus Palace, the library in Coimbra, the main church in Lamego didn't allow photography even without flash. This is just plain stupid in my opinion. I saw many people ignoring the rule and snapping pictures with their cameras and cell phones. The low point of the tour was Favaios, where we saw one of the world's smallest and most boring bakeries and visited a not very interesting small museum. On the optional tour to Guimaraes, the only good part was a brief walk through the streets of the town. There just wasn't much else there other than a very plain castle. Don't waste your money. Stay on the ship and enjoy the cruising instead. A couple of times after dinner, the crew led us all in a big conga line, which proved to be a whole of fun. What was very disappointing was that there were no team games as entertainment as there have been on every other Viking trip we've taken. For example, in Russia they had a game called Liar. Three members of the staff would give us the definitions and derivations of obscure English words, but only one of them was telling the truth. We divided into small teams to guess who was truthful each time. It was hilarious and marvelous fun. Internet, internet, internet! Viking, come on. In this day and age, there is no excuse for painfully slow speed internet. The days of dial-up class speeds are so last millennium. Airplanes and other cruise ships are adopting faster technologies and so should you. We ignored this failing by chewing up lots of cellular data at very pricy rates. OVERALL We had a terrific time that we will never forget. We are busy having fun now thinking about our 7th (and maybe 8th) Viking trip for 2017. So many places; so little time! FYI - The regular Veranda rooms on the baby longships that Viking uses in Portugal are much smaller than on the regular longships. While the bathroom is fine, there is no space on either side of the bed for a chair. Because of this, it makes good sense to go for the Veranda Suites, which have lots of room and are extremely well laid out. Couldn't have been more comfortable. LOVED our Veranda Suite! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
As usual Viking River Cruise Line treated us like Royalty. Fabulous ship, Fabulous food, Fabulous staff, Fabulous Company. Loved Portugal- hope to return some day! People were so very friendly and welcoming i every Port.Tour guides were so ... Read More
As usual Viking River Cruise Line treated us like Royalty. Fabulous ship, Fabulous food, Fabulous staff, Fabulous Company. Loved Portugal- hope to return some day! People were so very friendly and welcoming i every Port.Tour guides were so knowledgeable and familiar with customs, people, education, and politics of Portugal and Spain. Cabin was spacious with a walk in closet. The Osfrid is a small intimate ship with staff willing to make you comfortable what ever your needs.Viking Company never left you wondering how the day will go giving updates as needed. Shore excursions were educational and well run. Always on time and exact in panning. The scenery along the Douro River was incredible. The ship sailed during the day allowing you to have the best views of the river and the countryside. The itinerary was set to give you free time in every port. River Cruises are a fabulous way to meet people from other countries and well as from the USA/ We will continue to travel with Viking. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
The ship is stunning and very well laid out. There is a large lounge and the sun deck has ample space for all 100 guests and has a (0.7 metre deep) pool. Cabins are a good size, well-appointed, and comfortable, but with no-where to sit, ... Read More
The ship is stunning and very well laid out. There is a large lounge and the sun deck has ample space for all 100 guests and has a (0.7 metre deep) pool. Cabins are a good size, well-appointed, and comfortable, but with no-where to sit, except for the balcony. There are no cabin Tea or Coffee facilities, although there is a 24 hour coffee & snack station outside the restaurant. Our cabin steward was probably the best that we have ever had, and we appreciated the Towel Elephant & Duck. The restaurant has plentiful selection of food, but with a variable quality. Breakfast is the most disappointing, with no freshly squeezed juices, poor fresh fruit and warm cooked food. The Eggs Benedict was my favourite choice, always piping hot and tasty. The Omelettes & Eggs were cooked fresh and looked good.Cremated Bacon was supplied for our American cousins. Wine was free-flowing, but sometimes they needed a little encouragement. There was a good Port Talk each evening before Dinner and the obligatory Newsletter, both of which were really helpful. Most of the Shore Excursions were really good, especially Salamanca and Lamego. Otheres were 'average' or 'poor'. Paid for ones were always excellent. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
The Douro river was one of the ones on our "to do" list we had yet to experience so we chose this one by Viking. My wife and I had travelled with Viking 5 times before so we knew their strengths - and their weaknesses. Their ... Read More
The Douro river was one of the ones on our "to do" list we had yet to experience so we chose this one by Viking. My wife and I had travelled with Viking 5 times before so we knew their strengths - and their weaknesses. Their organisation is usually brilliant and this trip was no exception. We were all asked to wear stick-on Viking badges on exiting Lisbon airport arrivals so we were spotted immediately and directed towards two more Viking reps. Our luggage was taken from us and we were whisked to the Tivoli hotel, probably one of the best in Lisbon, where we were due to spend two nights. There was an included coach tour in Lisbon and we were given plenty of free time to ourselves. No meals were included apart from breakfast and this was superb. After our second night we were taken with our luggage to Porto, where we were to embark our ship. I really must say this was one of the best coaches in which I have travelled, with on board wifi and masses of legroom. The driver, in fact every driver of every coach we used, was so considerate for our comfort. There was a stop in Coimbra en route where we had a splendid lunch with entertainment. Unfortunately, as we were to discover, it was probably the best meal we were going to get for the next week - on the ship at any rate. On arrival at Porto we joined our ship. First great surprise - we were given a cabin upgrade. Details about the cabin follow. One slight downside about an upgrade is that your cases are fitted with the original labels so there was a small delay before they arrived but it gave us a chance to explore the ship. First impressions were very good although it was obvious that there wasn't much to do on board. There was a small putting green and a pool measuring five metres by three and 0.7 metres deep. That might sound useless but it was equipped with a powerful pump and I found you could swim against the pump indefinitely - or at least until your stamina ran out. The temperature was 32°C. After settling in we had dinner - the first of many disappointing ones. There was nothing on the menu I particularly fancied so I settled for the available everyday steak. It was only partly edible, containing far too much fat and gristle. That happened all too often throughout the cruise and I think I saw only one person who managed to eat the whole of his. Breakfast next day was also disappointing when I saw the poor choice of cereals. Muesli was available but only as the Bircher variety. A very nice banana pancake was on the menu but if you ask for it be prepared to wait for anything up to 20 minutes for it. Oh, and if you are kept waiting don't mention it to the staff - they don't like it one bit. Throughout the cruise we had a number of included tours but I found most of them boring. The saving grace was the scenery. I've travelled a fair bit and I found the Portuguese countryside amongst the most spectacular I've seen. One particular trip was over 9 hours long which was just too much. The trips are optional, of course, even though you've effectively paid to go on them, and a few people decided to stay on the ship. I wish I'd done so once or twice. There were a few lectures and demonstrations on board during the cruise. How much you would like these would depend on your interests but I enjoyed the one given by the head chef on how to make Pastel de Nata. Evening entertainment was pretty dire. I just had to walk out on one (claimed) musical group. There was one quiz evening run, not particularly well, by cruise director Matthew. At the end of the cruise you are asked to complete questionnaires. These are written so badly that I refused to fill mine in. So many of the options were not applicable. We were asked to comment on our Cruise Director. The problem was that there was more than one so how are you supposed to answer that? The one who accompanied us on all our tours, Henry, was superb. Another one, Matthew, probably the senior one, I found uninformative and not nearly as amusing as he seemed to think he was. The one thing he was good at was touting for tips and this if one of the worst features of every Viking cruise I've been on. In Russia the recommended rate was an obscene $25 per person per day. Even in the Grill Suites on Cunard's Queens the rate is only $13 per day. Here there was a more or less compulsory 15 euros per day added to every guest's bill and Matthew was still suggesting we give more. Tipping is the subject of many conversations at the end of any Viking cruise and most guests seem to dislike the current situation. I have a suggestion for Viking. I used to go to a restaurant and the following was written on the menu: "Our staff are adequately remunerated and no additional gratuity is expected or should be given. Your simple thanks are enough." If Viking would do this I would be delighted, even if it added £100 to £200 to the upfront cost of the cruise. It would cut out all the uncertainly and the constant fishing for change at the end of every excursion. Overall, though, I'm glad I took the cruise. I liked the ship and I loved the scenery and you couldn't fault most of the staff. The food seemed to disappoint nearly everyone and I can't remember any cruise I've been on, river or sea, where it has been so dull. I suggest you research the places you are going to visit on the excursions and see if they are really for you. There are plenty of Douro cruises to choose from so it might be prudent to shop around if you are thinking of doing one especially if the food is important to you Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
Past cruises were on Viking. We are spoiled, we wouldn't choose any other. The hotel in Lisbon was first class and the little outdoor market yielded some unusual treasures.Our cabin was fine and ingeniously designed, although we ... Read More
Past cruises were on Viking. We are spoiled, we wouldn't choose any other. The hotel in Lisbon was first class and the little outdoor market yielded some unusual treasures.Our cabin was fine and ingeniously designed, although we missed having a chair - something that was provided on previous cruises. Having a veranda is great for relaxing and watching the scenery. The dining is exquisite, with many many menu choices. The service is excellent. Waiters and waitresses go out of their way to be of assistance. The shore excursions were fine, and Fatima and Our Lady of Remedies were particularly appealing. There was one very scary trip up a mountainside and I think the cruise director should warn people ahead of time that it will be alarming. Many of us were unnerved, some to the point that they did not want to go back down. Anyone who is afraid of heights would be terrified. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose to sail Viking's Douro River after talking with a member of Viking's staff on our last cruise in Bordeaux. She said the fall was a fantastic time to visit Portugal. She was correct. We began our trip in Madrid 3 ... Read More
We chose to sail Viking's Douro River after talking with a member of Viking's staff on our last cruise in Bordeaux. She said the fall was a fantastic time to visit Portugal. She was correct. We began our trip in Madrid 3 days earlier on a pre-trip extension. Madrid is very modern and easy to get around on ones own. Viking's representative met us everyday and gave us ideas and tips for things to do. We would recommend the optional "Tapas Tour in Madrid" and the optional day trip to "Toledo". The Intercontinental Hotel in Madrid was near the Metro and several tasty restaurants. The included breakfast was great. We left very early on day 4 to meet the rest of Viking's passengers in Lisbon. We arrived at 7am at our hotel, the Trivoli. Of course the room wasn't ready and the Viking staff was tied up with the previous cruise who were leaving Lisbon for the ship in Porto. The hotel stored our luggage and provided us with coffee. We were able to meet with the Viking staff at 830am and get some advice for our first day in Lisbon. The hotel was less than a mile walk to the touristy section of town. We spent a fun day exploring on our own and then met the rest of the passengers at 7pm for introductions. Day 2 in Lisbon was spent touring the city in the morning. Plenty of time in the afternoon for independent exploring on ones own. That night, we did the optional "Taste of Lisbon" excursion - money well spent. Weather permitting, visit the Skybar on the Hotel's roof for a great night time view of the city. We left Lisbon at 830am in 4 buses for our trip to Porto. One bus took the optional excursion group to Fatima. The rest of us traveled for about 2 hours to Coimbra for a short tour of the university and then a fantastic Fado Lunch at a local restaurant. Good music, food, and endless wine. We arrived at the ship about 4pm to meet the crew. Day 1 in Porto included a morning tour with a stop for a Port tasting. The weather didn't cooperate today as rain kept us from really exploring too much on our own. We tried the optional "Graham Port Dinner and Tasting" this evening. The cost was 260 euros PP but I must say it was worth every penny. Viking has 3 other optional scheduled tonight and so only 6 of us went to Grahams. If you are a Port lover, this excursion is a must. We sampled 4 vintage Ports and then 10,20,30, and 40 year old tawney Ports. Afterwards, we had a 5 course dinner paired with wine and Port. A great evening. Day 2 we set sail at 7am for our Cruise on the Douro. The fantastic scenery starts about 35 miles inland and doesn't seem to end. I won't go into each days activities as this review is getting windy. I'll just touch on a few highlights. 2 included excursions not to miss are the whole day trip to Salamanca and the 7 hour trip to Favaious. They both were fantastic and fun filled days. A wonderful lunch in Favaious left us all in great spirits. A few words about the crew and ship. The Osfrid crew was amazing and friendly. Everyone from the 3 Cruise Directors to waiters to housekeeping were outstanding and hard working.. The ship seemed roomy, clean and comfortable for all 106 passengers aboard. The food was plentiful and ranged from good to okay. Part of that is a matter of taste -- we are not fond of fish - others will love it. This was our 3rd cruise with Viking. The Douro was probably the most scenic and friendly. The Rhine had the best ports and excursions. Bordeaux had the best wine and food. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Always wanted to see Portugal. We had been on a Rhine River cruise and were easy "converts" to river cruising. Having mentioned the Rhine, our only "criticism," if that's the right word, is that the scenery on the ... Read More
Always wanted to see Portugal. We had been on a Rhine River cruise and were easy "converts" to river cruising. Having mentioned the Rhine, our only "criticism," if that's the right word, is that the scenery on the Douro is quite monotonous, i.e., vineyards, olive trees, almond trees, vineyards, etc, etc. One sees little life on the Douro probably because this was Spring and not the fall harvest. This is not a criticism of Viking. They can't change that. But we did enjoy the boat and the many people we met on it ! Weather was absolutely glorious even in Santiago which was optional where I had been told by a friend "it always rains." It didn't. Service on the Osfrid was quite good. Staff in the dining room was exceptional especially our waiter Augustin and the Maitre' d Dragos. Entertainment was a little thin. "Flamenco Night" featured three female dancers to recorded music. They could have sprung for a guitarist if nothing else. It didn't matter. We were thoroughly tired after a long day Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Have been on several river cruises in Europe and worldwide but had not done this one before. The Douro seemed a quiet,restful and unspoilt river. Preceded by 2 days in Lisbon. Enroute to Porto stopped off at beautiful old University ... Read More
Have been on several river cruises in Europe and worldwide but had not done this one before. The Douro seemed a quiet,restful and unspoilt river. Preceded by 2 days in Lisbon. Enroute to Porto stopped off at beautiful old University town-Cuimbra. Lovely ship and cabin with sitting room and balcony. Good public rooms and excellent dining. Friendly well informed crew. Always ready to help.Too many excursions and not enough time to enjoy sailing so skipped some excursions. Well informed local guides with good English and good audio arrangements. Comfortable coaches with good drivers.A good supply of water on coaches-it was very hot in Portugal with unusually high temp. Well arranged embarkation and disembarkation. Viking staff at Airports readily identifiable. Did not like Vikings suggested arrangement for tips, tho voluntary. Seemed excessive. Obviously their staff depend on tips to supplement their income but it should not fall on the shoulders of passengers. Viking prices are quite high but everyone seems to have had a discount! Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This was our third Viking river cruise and we enjoyed it very much. We started with two days in Lisbon pre-cruise. This was a little disappointing - we had Viking book our flights and we did not arrive in Lisbon until 3 pm on day 1, so ... Read More
This was our third Viking river cruise and we enjoyed it very much. We started with two days in Lisbon pre-cruise. This was a little disappointing - we had Viking book our flights and we did not arrive in Lisbon until 3 pm on day 1, so our first day was basically lost. The second day we had a half-day city tour that was very good, in spite of terrible rainy, cold, windy weather. Our tour guide Walter did the best he could under the circumstances. We saw the Belem Tower and Monument to Discoveries, and had a short walking tour of the Alfama. We did not go to the Monastery of Jeronimos because it was closed that day, did the Maritime Museum instead which was very interesting. We spent the afternoon on our own exploring the city. We liked the hotel Tivoli Lisboa, comfortable rooms and very friendly and helpful staff. On day 3 we departed Lisbon and stopped once for a quick rest stop along the road, and then in Coimbra for a tour of the university and lunch. The university was impressive, especially the Joanina Library, and it was fun seeing the students in their black capes, an inspiration for Harry Potter. Lunch was very good - choice of chicken or cod - I am not a fish lover but the cod was delicious! We could have tried both, the wait staff came by with seconds of each main course. Wine was also included, as was an excellent fado show. Our final stop was to join our ship in Porto. We had cabin 309, a veranda cabin. It was small but functional. We loved the veranda and used it often. Unlike other cruises, we did not "raft" with other ships very often, only once or twice that I can remember. Bed was very comfortable, drawers and closet space were adequate, bathroom worked well. Dining on the ship was good, but not as good as we have had on previous Viking cruises. Breakfast was the same, a buffet with menu option, and we always had a good breakfast. We didn't eat lunch very often, but had a good Portuguese sandwich (francesinha) one day. Dinner was very good some nights and so-so some other nights, but we always found something to eat without having to resort to the American side of the menu (steak, chicken, salmon). I wish there had been some more traditional Portuguese dishes. The staff on the ship was wonderful. We really enjoyed Carmen the cruise director, loved Tom and Fernando at the bar, and our waiter (forgot his name, one of the side effects of aging!!). You are assigned a certain bus at the beginning of the trip and stay on that bus with the same tour escort throughout the week. We had Iuri and he did an excellent job describing the scenery and history of Portugal every day no matter where we were. Every member of the staff went out of their way to make sure we had a perfect cruise. One small glitch - we always buy the Silver Spirits package and enjoy perusing the wine list and ordering and trying different wines. This ship did not even have a wine list available for the first two days and then had a different list for the bar and another for the restaurant. On other cruises we have been able to try a glass of something at the bar and then order a bottle for dinner if we liked it, not as easy to do on this cruise. However, once Tom and Fernando at the bar figured out what we liked, they were quick to recommend different wines for our dinner, and they did a great job! On board activities included a piano player (Sal) who did a great job, playing lots of oldies for the senior crowd on the cruise. Other "enrichment" activities included a presentation about cork, along with a small sale of cork items, talks on Portuguese food, on the Douro River and region, and Portugal's history, a Portuguese language lesson, an evening of folk music, and a ceremony of vintage port opening with fire and tongs. All were very enjoyable and informative. Because of the short length of the river, most days we were bused to different locations to see interesting things. We had a half-day tour of Porto including a visit to the impressive tile-covered train station and a port wine tasting before returning to the ship. There was an optional tour to Guimaraes that afternoon, but we opted to stay on the ship and enjoy a little cruising. Note that cruising often took place in the morning and tours in the afternoon - the ship could not sail at night due to restrictions on the river. Nice because we didn't have to get up really early, but sometimes it was a rush getting back from an afternoon tour and getting ready for dinner, with time for pre-dinner cocktails! We enjoyed the visits to the Mateus Palace (beautiful gardens), Quinta do Seixo wine tasting, and Castelo Rodrigo (be sure to visit the food shop and gift shop, they are both small but we found some nice things and really liked the variety of almonds). The full day trip to Salamanca included a bit longer bus ride, but the scenery was beautiful and Salamanca was worth the trip. Note that you are not at sea level, and at the higher elevations, the weather can be cold in windy in the spring, as it was when we were there. Bring your jacket - you can always leave it on the bus if not needed. We had lunch at a hotel in Salamanca (not very good food, except for the Iberian ham), followed by an enjoyable flamenco show. One of our favorite days was the trip to Favaios. We first visited a bakery to learn about bread making and tasted some delicious bread. Because it was Sunday, the bakery was not operational so we could only imagine what it was like when the ovens were working,. Then we went to the museum for more information and stopped at the wine cooperative for a taste of muscatel. We had lunch at the Quinta de Avessada, good food and wine, along with lots of interesting and humorous information presented by Luis Barros, who had a resemblance to the comedian Mr. Bean. Our final excursion was to Lamego where we saw the beautiful shrine of Our Lady of the Remedies on top of the hill. Some people chose to walk down the 686 steps to the bottom, but we went down on the bus. We also visited the Lamego museum, a small museum with a nice collection of art and other items from the Roman days to present. Long review - but overall we really enjoyed ourselves. This cruise was a little different from other Viking cruises because the staff do not work for Viking (other than the cruise director), but there was no lack of service or any significant problems because of this. We would highly recommend this cruise primarily for the interesting excursions and wonderful Portuguese people! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose is cruise to explore northern Portugal, starting in lisbon with a few nights stay at the hotel Tivoli and then onto porto for our river cruise. The room that we were alicated on-board was clean and well designed although we did ... Read More
We chose is cruise to explore northern Portugal, starting in lisbon with a few nights stay at the hotel Tivoli and then onto porto for our river cruise. The room that we were alicated on-board was clean and well designed although we did notice a low drone of engines/generators running. The meals onboard were average at best. The evening entertainment was poor even by river cruise standards. The trips were well organised and with Vikings own coaches which were very nice. The problem for us was that we were in room 221 and at 05.30 the next morning the main engines started and the noise was terrible the whole room was vibrating. This is a veranda room which we found unusable as when we were going along the river the noise was unbearable and when docked was usually next to another ship. I wrote to Viking about the room and noise over five weeks ago but they never replied a bit disappointing really. The other thing about Viking is they never mention gratuities until you get your final documents and then charge 15 euros per person per day automatically to your bill on our cruise there was 103 guests and 35 crew so over a week that's 309 euros per member of staff and the staff at the Tivoli were quick to tell us that they were not part of the scheme and that we should tip them separately. I have booked my next river cruise with a company that has let me chose my room and gratuities are included in the price Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise specifically to experience the Douro river valley and vineyards. Unfortunately, this cruise was not an ideal way to do so. The navigable part of the river is relatively short, two days of cruising each way. To make ... Read More
We chose this cruise specifically to experience the Douro river valley and vineyards. Unfortunately, this cruise was not an ideal way to do so. The navigable part of the river is relatively short, two days of cruising each way. To make up the additional time Viking starts the trip with a full day in Lisbon followed by a full day riding a bus to Porto to meet the ship. You spend another full day in Porto before the ship sails. That leaves five days on the river, or so it would seem. The daily tours involve riding a bus to the attraction and then meeting the ship at a different location so you have about half a day of cruising. The third day is an all day excursion to Salamanca, Spain; two hours on the bus each way and returning to the ship at the same location. The following day is another long bus ride to visit Favois and long stop for lunch at a vineyard and a bus ride to catch up to the ship at Pinhao (or in our case, Regua). The last day is a morning bus trip and finally a long cruise from Regua back to Porto. If you really want to experience the Douro river valley consider renting a car and staying in the small hotels along the way. The roads are excellent and you'll see much more of the local culture on your own. All this having been said, Viking does provide excellent service and accommodations. The veranda suite we booked included laundry service and complimentary mini-bar. The crew was attentive, program director terrific, and the chef presented excellent regional menu choices every day. Considering we were in a wine region, the daily offerings of wine were particularly disappointingly dull. Read Less
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