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9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
I just returned from AmaWaterways “Enticing Douro” cruise with 3-nights in Lisbon pre-cruise (7-17 July 2018) I rarely write reviews on my cruse experiences, which have included numerous river and ocean voyages with many operators, ... Read More
I just returned from AmaWaterways “Enticing Douro” cruise with 3-nights in Lisbon pre-cruise (7-17 July 2018) I rarely write reviews on my cruse experiences, which have included numerous river and ocean voyages with many operators, but this experience was so exceptional it deserves mention. Our Cruise Manager, Mr. Luis R., of AmaWaterways deserves much of the credit for making this experience as great as it turned out to be. Luis was organized, congenial, thoughtful and made everyone (96 guests) on the trip feel he was their personal assistant and lifelong friend. If you had food restriction, Luis made sure you received your preferences whether on board or one of our numerous meals included excursions. If you needed mobility assistance, as several of us did, Luis would arrange for alternate transportation. If you were shopping for that special gift Luis could help you find it. If you were looking for that special restaurant Luis knew what to recommend. In short, AmaWaterways should be proud they have a representative like Luis. The on-board staff were equally attentive to their quests needs. Special thanks go to Nuno and Jose in the bar. Each night after our day out we had a “Sip & Sail” where the bar was open for the guests’ pleasure. During lunch and dinner beer, wine and sodas were readily available at no cost, and the wine choices of the day were superb. Water was always available in the rooms and on the busses. As a picky eater I found the menus to be well planned. The day started with and early risers’ continental breakfast in the lounge followed by a FULL breakfast buffet in the restaurant, the breads were a meal in themselves. Each day there was a lite lunch in the lounge and a more formal lunch in the restaurant. For dinner the menus included a chef’s recommendation. If that did not appeal to you there were also fish, meat and vegetarian options, and if those still did not work for you there were always salmon, steak or chicken available. All these were served by smiling Antonio who was friendly, attentive and accurate and one of the many excellent servers on board. The courses were all presented artistically. The cruise itself could not have been better, except for a brief shower in Porto on day one the weather was more than one could have hoped for the rest of the trip. Sunny and clear every day with the temperature getting warmer as we approached the Spanish boarder (e.g., 72F in Porto and 86F in Salamanca). The itinerary was excellent! The Hotel Intercontinental Lisbon was an excellent place to call home. Good location and a great breakfast included each day. Lisbon was beautiful starting on day 2 with a city tour that included St. Jeronimos’ Monastery (with a Pastel de Belem sampling), the Belem Tower and the Discoveries’ Monument and a Sintra City Tour on day three. The high-speed train transfer to Porto (actually Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river from Porto) was fast and clean. For our first night on board we were treated to and “illuminated river cruise” of Porto to see the city lit up at night, an extraordinary sight. Each subsequent excursion generally included an historical site visit followed by a wine/port tasting which typically included local tapas. Some trips included full dinners such as those to the Monastery Alpendurada, Hotel Alameda Palace in Salamanca, and Quinta de Avessada; all the food was to die for. The excursions provided options for active walkers/hikers or for those wanting a slower pace. Each person had a QuietVox synced to their guide. The bus drivers need to be complemented on their navigating skills on the hills to and from our ship and through the narrow streets. On board entertainment was provided nightly by an excellent pianist. We also had presentations on the Douro region and its’ wines as well as wine tasting briefings, a wonderful Fado group and a Tuna band. We also had a Flamenco show in Salamanca and an onboard cooking demonstration for Pastel de Belem’s. In conclusion, this was a phenomenal trip that everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing. WEAR comfortable walking shoes, the cobble stoned streets with un-even curb and steps are torturous! If you can avoid making any flight transfers thru Madrid I would suggest strongly that you do so. Going through security there is the worst travel experience you may ever have. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We have wanted to visit Portugal's famous Douro for many years. We couldn't have chosen a better way to explore this gorgeous wine producing region than our wine river cruise aboard the AmaVida. This ship offers everything: ... Read More
We have wanted to visit Portugal's famous Douro for many years. We couldn't have chosen a better way to explore this gorgeous wine producing region than our wine river cruise aboard the AmaVida. This ship offers everything: fine dining, outstanding daily excursions, spacious accommodations and a superb staff that anticipates the guests' every need. Each day was an exciting new adventure and by the time we departed the ship, we felt we had really come to understand and love the Douro and surrounding areas. While we chose to participate in each excursion, some friends in our group decided to stay on board and enjoy relaxing poolside. Their experience was just as special as ours. Whether you choose to immerse yourselves in Portugal's fascinating culture by joining the AmaVida's outstanding guides as they conduct their daily tours or simply explore the charming towns that are the overnight port stops, you can't go wrong. After this introduction to river cruising, we can't wait to explore other AmaWaterways wine river cruises. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We chose this wine river cruise as it worked with our dates for a wedding we were attending in Lisbon. We caught up with the pre-Douro River trip as they left Lisbon and took the train to Porto with them- using the company's ... Read More
We chose this wine river cruise as it worked with our dates for a wedding we were attending in Lisbon. We caught up with the pre-Douro River trip as they left Lisbon and took the train to Porto with them- using the company's transfer. Sonya- our cruise director for the week was very organized and connection was flawless. Cruise was well-organized, very active pace and lots to see and do. Activity level for participants was decided on your own- hikers, regular walkers, gentle walkers or people that just wanted to stay on the boat and see the gorgeous views. Individual guides went out with the buses and were very knowledgeable and great command of English. Professional and efficient- but friendly as well. Itinerary was a mixture of history, fun and interesting places. Top notch visits to wineries and spectacular scenery. Food on board was delicious- wine plentiful. Sevice was excellent on board- dinner at times was a bit slow in getting everyone served but staff was efficient and worked hard! Christian, Alex and Natalie were wonderful. Marius at the bar was fun and remembered your drink of preference. Cabin stewards kept your room spotless and plentiful towels and toiletries. L'Occitane toiletries were wonderful! Gym was tiny- one room.....and no window as well as teeny pool upstairs, but seats were plentiful. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2017
This trip centered on a 7 day AmaWaterways Port Wine & Flamenco Douro River cruise from Vega Terron to Porto, Portugal on the AmaVida ship. When we first started to look at river cruising on the Douro, it seemed like Viking was ... Read More
This trip centered on a 7 day AmaWaterways Port Wine & Flamenco Douro River cruise from Vega Terron to Porto, Portugal on the AmaVida ship. When we first started to look at river cruising on the Douro, it seemed like Viking was the only player where we were likely to have mostly English speaking fellow passengers. After the only Viking cruise we took in 2014 did not live up to their slick advertising hype (see review by 'atkinsonguy' on this board) we vowed never again to spend any money with Viking. A web search led us to AmaWaterways. We added both the 3 day Madrid, Spain and the 3 day Lisbon, Portugal extension to the river cruise through AMA and then added one additional day in each city using Starwood and IHG points. Although the capacity for this tour was 106, there were only 75 passenges aboard. 36 of the 75 were clients of backroads.com an adventure travel company. They had their own hiking and biking tours each day, took many of their meals off the ship, and were not with us in either Madrid or Lisbon. The result was we got to know the 39 "regular" passengers quite well over the two weeks. We were all from the USA or Canada; mostly retired couples over 55, no one under 40. The hotels for the land portion in Madrid (Westin Palace) and in Lisbon (Intercontinental) were first class in every respect. In summary, AMA did an excellent job providing a comfortable environment on the ship, keeping us well fed, showing us interesting things and beautiful scenery along the way, and giving us a good value for our fares. If we do another European river cruise in the future, it will certainly be on AmaWaterways! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This was our 3rd river cruise with AmaWaterways (prior: Danube and Seine.) We have done a bit of traveling in Europe, a mix of ocean cruises, scheduled tours, and some “do it yourself” and driving. We’re an active couple, still ... Read More
This was our 3rd river cruise with AmaWaterways (prior: Danube and Seine.) We have done a bit of traveling in Europe, a mix of ocean cruises, scheduled tours, and some “do it yourself” and driving. We’re an active couple, still working to support our travel habit. We chose this itinerary because we had never seen Portugal and wanted to see more of Spain. We do enjoy wine, and visiting the wineries was of interest, but not the primary reason. Air travel: Booked our flights about 4 months in advance, with Air France. Los Angeles to Lisbon, with a short layover in Paris. Smooth, no problems. Transportation from Lisbon Airport to hotel: We went right out the doors at the airport and got in the queue for a taxi. I think it was under 15 euros to the hotel. Pre-cruise extension Lisbon and post-cruise Madrid with AmaWaterways: We opted to do the pre and post cruise extensions with AmaWaterways. We had never done this before, we typically DIY before and after a cruise. The extensions are expensive, but I am pleased with what we experienced and quality of the hotels and excursions. Lisbon: We arranged with the hotel that AmaWaterways used in Lisbon, The InterContinental, for an additional night because we wanted to arrive a day before to have a full day (Friday) on our own. The hotel was very lovely, rooms were large and comfortable, and the restaurant was good. However, it is located away from the city center. So we chose to utilize a taxi. Taxis are very cheap and reliable, typically under 7euros for just about anywhere we wanted to go. We’ve learned that it is good to arrive at least a day ahead to get acclimated and minimize the effects of jet lag. We like to begin our trip feeling rested. (Friday: we had to ourselves, we met up with a friend who happened to be in Lisbon, did a walking food tour and a Tuk-Tuk city tour. We ate dinner at Mercado Time Out… highly recommend.) Welcome Cocktail with the Cruise Manager and fellow passengers There was a scheduled meeting on Saturday evening at 6pm at the hotel for us to meet our Cruise Manager, Christian Abker, and fellow passengers who were also doing the pre-cruise excursions. Everyone was friendly and a group of us decided to walk together to a restaurant suggested by Christian. Dinner in Portugal and Spain is typically served around 9 or 10pm. So, when our group of about 15 entered the restaurant at around 7:30pm, we were considered very early. Breakfast included at hotel: The buffet had the typical European breakfast offerings, scrambled eggs, cold cuts, cheeses, yogurt, fruit, pastries, cereal, etc. Special orders for breakfast was also available. The food was average, espresso was very good. Pre-cruise excursions: Lisbon City Tour (Sunday): I won’t go into detail about the tours, only to say they were well organized, and travel by coach was very comfortable, we enjoyed them. The rest of the day and evening were on our own. We shared a cab and went to dinner with some of our fellow passengers. Sintra (Monday): Great excursion, we visited Pena Palace, great views. The other excursion in the afternoon was a wine tasting. We decided to skip that and went (on our own) to Quinta da Regaleira an estate classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We were glad we skipped the wine tasting to see the amazing Quinta da Regaleira. I was actually surprised it wasn’t part of the AmaWaterways tour because it is so beautiful, with lovely gardens, waterfalls and a forest-like atmosphere. Note: That is one of the great things about the excursions with AmaWaterways… as long as you tell your guide that you want to do something else, and meet back up at the designated time, it works out well. Train to Porto to embark the AmaVida (Tuesday): We had to put our luggage outside our hotel room door by 9am, for them to collect and put on a truck. (The luggage truck would drive to Porto while we were on the train.) Cruise Manager, Christian, was great about explaining all the details for our transportation, having us identify our luggage before it was put on the truck, etc. Christian and a tour guide escorted our group and rode with us on a bus to the Santa Apolonia train station, where we had an assigned train-car for our ride to Porto. Very smoothe and another chance to get to chat with fellow passengers. When we arrived in Porto, a bus was waiting at the train station to take us to the dock to board the AmaVida. We checked in, smooth and quick, and went directly to our stateroom. Our luggage was already inside our stateroom. The ship: The AmaVida is a little smaller, with a capacity for 106 passengers. Our cruise was not full, with only 71 passengers on board! Side bar: I don’t know why the ship wasn’t full, because just 2 weeks prior to the cruise, our adult daughter said she would like to go. When I called to inquire about availability, I was told there were only 2 rooms left, and they would not offer the solo discount. Another passenger we met on the cruise told us a similar story. It seems to me that it would be better to offer a discount to a solo traveler than have empty rooms. Our stateroom was on the Porto Deck, room 315. It was small but we found plenty of space for our belongings. We had a tiny balcony, but really did not use it while in port. In fact, we were tied up to another ship several times, so we were unable to use it. This is my only complaint about the ship: When we were tied up to other ships while in port, our stateroom would have a very strong odor from the diesel exhaust and sewer gas. We noticed it as soon as we entered the room. I went to the desk that evening and told them, but they said it would get better. It didn’t. The next day, we were still tied up, and again, the room really smelled bad. Again, I went to the front desk. This time I asked the attendant to come with me and see for himself. He admitted that the smell was strong, and all he could do is apologize. I wondered why they didn’t offer us another room, as we knew the ship wasn’t full. I asked our fellow passengers if their staterooms had the odor, and some did, others did not. We spent 2 nights on the boat in Porto, tied up to 2 other boats. Once we left Porto, and set sail, we didn’t notice the odor anymore. Onboard entertainment: One night we enjoyed listening to a “tuna.” A tuna is a group of university students in traditional university dress who play traditional instruments and sing serenades. They were funny and entertaining. Another evening, there was a flamenco show. It was good, but it didn’t compare to the show we saw in Madrid. Crew and service: The crew were friendly and work very hard. The captain, Bernardino Pereira, was visible throughout the cruise. It seemed to us that the waitstaff in the dining room was short-handed compared to other cruises we have done with Ama. AmaWaterways Tour guides: Our tour guide for Portugal, Laura, was outstanding. She was very knowledgeable and interesting. She was a former teacher, and it was easy to listen to her while on the bus and at the different sites. Truly one of the best guides we have ever had. Food and wine: I know food is subjective… we were quite happy with the food offered at all meals. We found variety and choices on the menu to be very good. The wine was good and flowed generously at meals. One evening at dinner, I didn’t care for the red wine being served, and when I told the server, he replied that was the only red they were serving. Later, in the lounge bar, I mentioned that to the bartender. He frowned and said the server should have found a different wine for me! I thought so, too! Side bar: Everyone has an opinion on food. In a conversation with other passengers, I said I thought the food was very good. One lady adamantly announced that it was the worst food she has ever had on a cruise. I was a bit surprised. Throughout the cruise, I did notice that she complained about everything. The itinerary / ports: I won’t describe each port and excursion because the descriptions can be found on the website. We enjoyed every port and excursion that we went on. The wineries with lunches were super good! The scenic cruising on the Douro river is simply beautiful and so relaxing. Some quick highlights: Sunset in Porto is stunning! The beautiful tiles in the train station in Porto, not to be missed. Entre-os-Rios/ Regua, Portugal - leisurely sailing the Douro River, then a visit to Mateus Palace, built in the 18th century. The gardens are stunning. Lamego. Incredibly beautiful! It's one of the major points of pilgrimage, with 600 steps up to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies. Guimaraes, Portugal- One of the most historic towns in Portugal, and a UNESCO world heritage site. We went to Quinta da Aveleda with it's beautiful gardens and where they're known for green wine. Pinhao, Portugal - a tiny and beautiful port, with spectacular views of the steep terraced Douro valley vineyards. We went to Quinta da Avessada for a fantastic Portuguese lunch in the vineyard and later, to Sandeman estate, known for it's Port wines. We disembarked in Vega Terron and those of us who were going to do the post extension, took a bus to Salamanca before going to Madrid. Wow! Salamanca, Spain, is beautiful! A UNESCO site, it is one of the most important university cities in Spain. The University of Salamanca, was founded in 1218, and is the oldest university in Spain. From Salamanca, we took a bus to our hotel in Madrid: The Westin Palace in Madrid was beautiful! Location was perfect for walking to many of the sites, situated across from the Prado. Great restaurants in walking distance. After being in our tiny stateroom for a week, our room at the Westin felt like a mansion. Breakfast buffet in a gorgeous setting included. Very good variety, with the option of having omelettes and other items cooked to order. Post cruise extension in Madrid AmaWaterways Tour guides in Spain: We were not impressed with the guides we had in Spain. We did a Madrid city tour and had free time later. We went with fellow passengers to a wonderful place for dinner. AmaWaterways arranged an optional excursion in Madrid. Dinner and a Flamenco show. It was outstanding. The food was excellent, Michelin chef. The flamenco was incredible. They allowed us to take photos and videos only for the first dance, which was very kind of them. The excursion to Toledo was one of my favorites. What a beautiful place! We arranged with the hotel, The Westin Palace, for an additional night because we wanted to stay a day longer to have a day (Friday) on our own. We went to the Prado, the Royal Palace, Buen Retiro Park, Plaza Mayor, Cristal Palace and the bullfighting ring. Our fellow passengers: We had the best time with the people we met on this cruise. I strongly believe that meeting people on the pre-cruise extension bonded us together. There were about 10 of us that really hit it off and we palled around together on excursions, celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, met on deck to watch the scenery, etc. We’ve exchanged emails and friended each other on social media, and perhaps someday our paths will cross again on another cruise. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Our cruise on the AMAVIDA, was all that we had hoped for and more. Sometimes all your travel plans fall into line and with this 7 day river cruise on the Douro it happened. First of all, traveling in April on a river in Europe can be ... Read More
Our cruise on the AMAVIDA, was all that we had hoped for and more. Sometimes all your travel plans fall into line and with this 7 day river cruise on the Douro it happened. First of all, traveling in April on a river in Europe can be very risky with some rivers flooded and long bus ride substitutions for cruising. We had 7 days of bright, warm sunshine as we cruised the Douro as far as navigation would allow. The ship could accommodate 106 people and we had 87 on board. With such a small group it was easy to get to know people and make new friends. The cruise director, Rachel, was outstanding. Great at multi tasking and attending to details. We had 2 lunches and 1 dinner off ship at 2 wineries and one hotel, and in each venue she made sure eveyone's dietary needs were met. This was our 4th river cruise and the first with AMA which made the point of highlighting the scenery on this trip. By the way, it was spectactular! With the exception of an all day trip to Salmanca, Spain and one day with 2 excursions, all the other days had afternoon excursions. We had the same 4 guides and bus drivers for the whole trip which was very nice. They were all very professional and I heard many good things said about the ones I did not directly have contact with. This allowed for leisurely breakfasts, sitting on the sundeck viewing the scenery and having a relaxing morning overall. After lunch we then went out to various sites, usually involving a bus trip of 30 minutes to an hour. Back on the ship by 5:30 and dinner at 7:00PM. There was some evening entertainment of local music or dancing, but not every night. Our stateroom met all our needs and even had a balcony. However, it was really too small for 2 people to sit out side together. The staff was very friendly and worked very hard to please. The food in the dining room was very good, with lots of selections and the chief seemed to appear each night to chat with passengers. However, service was uneven some nights with an incorrect order and no coffee being delievered to our table. Wines were good and plentiful. The lounge area was comfortable, but the piped in music was too repetitive with the same tapes being played over and over again. There were several days in which the WIFI did not work very well. AMA is a river cruise company that we would definitely choose to cruise with again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise because of the location. We wanted to go to Portugal and we used AmaWaterways in the past. It was also a Wine Cruise. This was a wonderful cruise. The weather was superb and the excursions were very enjoyable. The ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the location. We wanted to go to Portugal and we used AmaWaterways in the past. It was also a Wine Cruise. This was a wonderful cruise. The weather was superb and the excursions were very enjoyable. The Cruise Manager (Mariana) was one of the best and we hope to sail with her again. She handled a slight crisis (accident on the rails) and did not affect our trip at all. For those who are used to a larger ship, be aware this ship is limited in size due to the river and locks. However, they make use of the space wisely. There was very little free time so be prepared to be on the go. The staff is very friendly and adds to pleasure of sailing with Ama. The excursions in Lisbon and Madrid were very enjoyable. There were some glitches with the billing but it was the first cruise of the season and a lot of the staff was new. The embarkation went well. One criticism was the change of buses in Salamanca - we had to change buses and the place we were to have a comfort break did not seem prepared for us. We had to leave hand carried items without knowing for sure how it would be secured. Also, the new buses we had to ride on to Madrid were not comfortable, no leg room. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
This river cruise is different from most of the others in Europe in that it focuses on the Port wine trade and the vineyards that supply it. The cruise goes through locks at 5 hydroelectric dams completed only in 1985. Highlights: * ... Read More
This river cruise is different from most of the others in Europe in that it focuses on the Port wine trade and the vineyards that supply it. The cruise goes through locks at 5 hydroelectric dams completed only in 1985. Highlights: * Cruising the upper Douro with the views of the steep sided vineyards * Visits to the vineyards * Day trip to Salamanca * Oporto city * Superb Cruise Director and wonderful staff and guides who, without exception, were friendly and helpful. Lows: * Food was distinctly average and worse than comparable sea cruises * The wine was poor - nearly all cheap Douro wines - the selection was a poor advertisement for Portuguese wines and were not of a standard expected at the prices paid for an Ama Waterways cruise. The Port provided at the and of the meal was also unacceptable given that, because of the itinerary, many people on the cruise would be Port lovers. Read Less
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