Unfortunately our cruise on the River Douro got off to a bad start as a radar fault at Porto airport meant that our TAP Portugal plane was prevented from leaving Gatwick for 24 hours. On our delayed arrival in Porto we were taken by coach to a quay further up river to join Douro Elegance. The ship has defined booking times at the five locks on this river so she had to move. On boarding ship the excursion staff led by Cruise Director Carmem Maria Do Carmo was at considerable pains to point out at every turn that our issues were not their fault. Whilst we knew this, their implacable stance did not go down too well with the fifty plus guests affected. In fairness that aside, every effort was made to make up for what we had lost, including arranging for us to have a tour of Porto on the last afternoon.
The ship is modern and very smart though the cabins are a little tight for space, slightly smaller furniture would make all the difference. The bathrooms are well equipped with a good shower. Our one issue in Cabin 216 was the wind whistling through the window when it was closed.The only way to stop the extremely irritating sound was to open the window which was not always practical or acceptable. The ship’s crew were pleasant and helpful and the food pretty good though limited in choice. We paid for the drinks package which for us was wine at lunch and dinner. Some waiters were a little reluctant to refill glasses though this did seem to become less of a problem as the cruise progressed.
The excursions were well organised on modern smart coaches which accompany the ship along the river. The long haul to Salamanca was worth it (no comfort stops en route), the city has many interesting buildings and the included lunch at the hotel Hospes Palacio de San Esteban was extremely good. There were also flamenco dancers and a splendid singer as entertainment.
The dinner, one evening at the Quinta Da Pacheda was by contrast disappointing. The main course was veal which is not something we would eat and there was a two piece string ensemble which played, too loudly, the most depressing music. The venue was billed as overlooking the River Douro which it did not.
So, for us, a mixed trip, enjoyed at the correct pace I am sure that it would have been more relaxing, but these things happen when you travel. Fortunately the weather was good throughout. Despite giving no indication regarding compensation during the cruise, Riviera Travel promptly refunded an amount to cover the lost portion of our holiday, by the time we arrived home ~ very impressive. We have already booked another river cruise with them.