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S.S. Sao Gabriel Review

-- / 5.0
Editor Rating
5 reviews

Fabulous Cruise - Perhaps Not Quite as Premium as We'd Hoped.

Review for S.S. Sao Gabriel to Europe River
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MW_in_NZ
2-5 Cruises • Age 60s

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Sail Date: Sep 2022
Cabin: Suite
Bathroom
Our Suite
Our Suite

We have done one previous Uniworld cruise in Bordeaux in 2018 and absolutely loved it. At the end of that trip we asked our fabulous cruise manager Tania, what cruise she recommended and she suggest the Douro. Due to COVID disruptions, we finally did it in September 2022. We booked a top deck (Azores Deck), cabin No. 309 which was a Suite (220 Sq ft/20 sq m) and were delighted with this cabin. There was enough space in it and enough storage space. As the boats on the Douro are narrow due to all the locks on the river, the cabins are generally narrower so I think the French Balcony cabins on the lower deck at 156 sq ft are too tight. The top deck came with two butlers to service the small number of rooms and they were super friendly and helpful. It was also lovely getting complimentary laundry service by being in a suite.

Overall I don't think this Douro cruise felt as premium as the Bordeaux one and that was due to a couple of key things. The first is the food and it's probably a combination of Portuguese food being a bit more rustic in nature but also didn't think the options or presentation of the dinners on board were up to the level of our previous cruise. And also the off-boat excursions felt like we were going to the 'mass market' wineries/quintas as opposed to the Bordeaux cruise where the chateaus we went to for lunch and for tours, we were the only group or we'd been split into much smaller groups so we were able to visit much more boutique producers. On this Douro Cruise, the lunch visit to Quinta da Pacheca was in a beautiful barrel hall. The lunch was pretty average (partly again due to the rustic nature of the Portuguese cuisine) but when we came out of the lunch there were at least 5 other buses and so many tourists that we were unable to squeeze into the Tasting Room/shop for more port sampling. For our other visit, we went to Quinta da Roeda (Crofts Port) and on this occasion, two options were offered - the walking tour at Quinta da Roeda and a Sandeman Port visit. Ours was the smaller group of just over 20 people, but the visit to Quinta was just a very standard tour that they would normally offer and unfortunately the guide, Miguel, was completely disinterested in doing the tour, so it was quite disappointing. However walking around this vineyard was spectacular.

On this cruise there were only 73 guests on board - two Kiwis, two Aussies, 4 Canadians, 2 British and all the rest American. The American group included a large group which had a historical affiliation and they generally hung out together. The age range on board felt older than our Bordeaux cruise and there were very few people not in their seventies or eighties. Having said that, we made friends with another two couples and we had a great time.

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