S.S. Sao Gabriel Review

First time on a river cruise

Review for Europe River Cruise on S.S. Sao Gabriel
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CV Travelers
2-5 Cruises • Age 60s

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Value for Money
Public Rooms

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Sail Date: Sep 2023
Cabin: French Balcony

This was our first river cruise. We have previously done ocean cruises with Princess, Silversea and Seabourn. Once you board the ship, you immediately notice how narrow the ship is. During the cruise you enter several narrow locks and gain a better appreciation for the fact that the ship is designed to fit within these locks with little room to spare !! The ship lobby is very well appointed and we were greeted with warm smiles and welcomes.

The ship only sailed on the river during the day and was docked at night. At certain docks, our room was below the level of the dock so we essentially had a view of the cement dock wall. On other occasions, two or three ships were tied up side by side so our view was of a cabin in the next ship. I only mention these things as it is so different than ocean cruising and came as a bit of a surprise to us.

The sun deck is the perfect spot to enjoy some fresh air and the views of the Douro River valley. It was never crowded and chairs were always available. There is no beverage or other service on the sun deck so in general I would say this deck is under utilized. The views of the dams and locks were perfect from the sun deck and we enjoyed the precise navigation of the ship into and out of some very tight spaces.

Cabin Review

French Balcony

Our room had a French balcony which in reality is just a window that opens to allow in fresh air - - there is no actual balcony but we were aware of this when we booked the cruise. The room itself is very decorated but also very small. There are no chairs in the room and the space around the bed is just enough to walk by. Storage space in the room is also limited with a few small drawers and a closet. When the closet doors are open, one cannot pass by so some planning/coordination is required with your traveling partner. The bathroom is well appointed and we enjoyed the glassed in stall shower.

Port Reviews


From the ship, the bus ride is 2 hours in each direction so the visit to Salamanca makes for a long day. The city itself is interesting and the university is amazing to see. If you could exclude the bus ride, the excursion to Salamanca would rate higher but the long ride is well a long ride !!!


At this port we visited Castelo Rodrigo. While it is certainly a very old city, we did not find it particularly interesting other than the old church. The views of the surrounding countryside are nice but otherwise it was not a "can't miss" in our book.

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