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21 AmaWaterways Porto (Leixoes) Cruise Reviews

Suggested by travel agent. supposed to be top of the line experience, which it was not. Overpriced for what they provide. Highs: Service and staff. Salamance. Porto. Medium: Rooms were OK. They were small because ship has to be lower ... Read More
Suggested by travel agent. supposed to be top of the line experience, which it was not. Overpriced for what they provide. Highs: Service and staff. Salamance. Porto. Medium: Rooms were OK. They were small because ship has to be lower and narrower than other Ama boats because the locks on the Douro are small. Some noise from other rooms. We had a balcony and floor to ceiling sliding glass windows, which were nice but not necessary. Some of the shore excursions were excellent, some were mediocre fillers. Lows: Food, singer/piano player, tastings. Fitness facility was the size of a walk-in closet with two machines and some free weights. As other reviews pointed out, breakfast and lunch were fine but dinners were not. dinner items ranged from mediocre to inedible. I was looking forward to the local meals and tastings and very disappointed. The tastings were not tastings. we werent being offered multiple types of similar wines or ports. Typically, one red and one white wine were served and that was it. same with Port. There was one food "tasting" that consisted of small shop keepers offering us samples in hopes we would then buy. That was a tasting but not what i expected. My overall impression was that we were stuck with the type of local meals and tastings that i would expect from a cheaper cruise. Ama could have provided a better experience (for instance, an actual wine tasting) if they were willing to pay for it. One of the lunches was at a facility built to feed people from cruise ships. The singer/piano player was really, really bad. Laughingly bad. I was also left wondering whether the Douro is worth a 7 day cruise. 4 or 5 seems sufficient. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Unbelievable trip of a lifetime. We did the pre-cruise trip in Lisbon for three days, the Intercontinental Lisbon was a fabulous hotel. The tours were amazing, the tour guides spoke great English and were so informative about the ... Read More
Unbelievable trip of a lifetime. We did the pre-cruise trip in Lisbon for three days, the Intercontinental Lisbon was a fabulous hotel. The tours were amazing, the tour guides spoke great English and were so informative about the history, culture, food and drinks of Portugal. We had just the right mix of tours and then free time do go explore on our own. Embarkation and disembarkation were both without a problem. The ship was beautiful and clean. Our cabin was clean and just what we needed. I loved cruising during the day to see the beautiful countryside of Portugal. We went through five locks which were fascinating! Food, wine and our servers for meals were spectacular. I loved the fact that they offer cuisine from the region of our travels! Our server gave us lots of history on the food and was so attentive. By the second day, he was anticipating our needs. We loved the entertainment which included local cultural artists, including Fado. Our shore excursions were so much fun. We learned so much about the history each excursion. They even had a cooking demonstration and gave us recipes to take home. The whole staff was upbeat and positive the whole time!! I would use AmaWaterways again in a heartbeat!!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
My husband and I spent a couple of days in Lisbon a few years ago, and were eager to see more of the country. This was our third AMA Cruise, and it did not disappoint. We included the pre and post extensions in Lisbon and Madrid. Ship ... Read More
My husband and I spent a couple of days in Lisbon a few years ago, and were eager to see more of the country. This was our third AMA Cruise, and it did not disappoint. We included the pre and post extensions in Lisbon and Madrid. Ship and Cabin Due to the lock sizes on the Douro, the ship is smaller than those on the Rhine and Danube, carrying 96 passengers on this cruise—but all was scaled down appropriately, and we did not feel pinched in the public spaces. The cabin was efficient, the beds high enough to store away the large suitcases of chronic over-packers, the balcony small but enjoyable (Category B, Lisbon deck). We left a note for our cabin attendant asking for an extra layer of cushion on the bed, and it was taken care of by the time we returned from dinner. TIP: I had read on a previous review that even numbered cabins were less likely to dock right next to another ship, and we found that to be the case (happened in only one docking location). We booked this cruise along with friends we met in our first AMA Cruise, and enjoyed making more friends along the way. The sense of community on river cruises is a big plus for us. Food The food on this ship was excellent. Lots of variety, including local dishes, and incredible Portuguese breads, pastries, and cheeses. We discovered a love for Portuguese wines, and enjoyed the included glass of port at the end of each dinner. The cruise included three meals off-ship: - Dinner at Quinta de Aveleda—beautiful gardens and dinner venue overlooking the vineyard. Thoroughly enjoyed this event, food, and wine. - Lunch at Quinta da Avessada—fun excursion, food good but not great. - Lunch at a hotel in Salamanca on disembarkation day—excellent buffet, including both a seafood and vegetarian paella. One ship dinner was advertised as a “barbecue.” That word set an expectation for many of us that turned into disappointment. Perhaps this would have been more appropriately described as simply a “buffet.” Service To a person, every AMA staff person was warm, friendly, helpful, and smiling. Shout out to Filipa, who helped us arrange a port tasting in the lounge during the US Open telecast, and to Machado, who took excellent care of ten of us who managed to grab the private dining room on the last night onboard. My husband mentioned to the Hotel Manager, Ricardo, that we enjoyed the wine selections, and he presented us with a list and description of each offering. Outstanding! We also witnessed special care and attention given to passengers with mobility issues—on the ship, during excursions, and during land extensions. Cruise Portugal is a beautiful country. We fell in love with Porto, and really enjoyed the illumination cruise on the first night. Remaining docked overnight gave us ample time to explore this beautiful city, along with Vila Nova de Gaia, on our own. What we discovered along the Douro was incredible landscapes—hills and vineyard terraces unlike others we’ve seen in Europe. The 30-45 minute bus rides from docks to excursion venues were actually enjoyable, as we were winding our way high into the mountains with breathtaking views along the way. We were on the same bus with the same guide and driver most days. Diogo, tour guide on the “yellow submarine” was awesome! Local entertainment was enjoyable, especially the Tuna band, and local dancers. The weather was great the entire trip, so made good us of top deck for daytime cruising on river and through locks, and evening wine sipping with friends. Ports and Excursions - During Cruise Porto - just beautiful with a unique charm. Really enjoyed docking there overnight. The Douro is small and navigable only during the day. This resulted in some leisurely mornings or afternoons sailing from port to port, where the docking locations were small, and the excursion the treat. We particularly enjoyed: - previously mentioned Quinta de Aveleda - the Lamego Museum (surprising collection for this small city) - Mateus gardens and palace - walking around Pinhao - charm of Castelo Rodrigo - beauty of Salamanca - topography/landscape along the river and roads of the Douro and valley Pre and Post Our Lisbon hotel, the Sofitel Liberdade, was perfectly located—close to restaurants, shopping, the Baixa and Alfama districts. Of the tours, we especially enjoyed the Monastery (and Pastis de Belem tasting) and Pena Palace. Our local guide, Christina, was excellent. The Madrid Westin Palace was also well located—a 15 minute walk to Plaza Mayor, and near the museums and Botanical Garden. We added the optional Flamenco show and dinner, and were very glad we did. One of Spain’s best dancers was performing while we were there. It was well worth the price, although the food was a bit disappointing.Toledo is a must see, and Madrid is a beautiful city. Our local guide, Mercedes, was terrific. Both locations offer affordable, excellent dining opportunities, and getting around on your own is easy. As always, AMA takes great care of you—from the first greeting at the airport, to the attention and care of the Cruise Manager (Christian!) throughout the entire journey, to the AmaVida officers and staff, to the AMA representative waiting for us at our departure airport. We feel valued and cared for with AMA, and are already researching options for our next AMA adventure! We recommend this trip to anyone who is looking for something a bit different from other Central Europe river cruises. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Excellent cruise line, The ship was small with 97 passengers. Average age in the 60s from various countries. mostly Canada. The ship was well designed and comfortable. The cabin #217 was well planned. The bathroom and shower were ... Read More
Excellent cruise line, The ship was small with 97 passengers. Average age in the 60s from various countries. mostly Canada. The ship was well designed and comfortable. The cabin #217 was well planned. The bathroom and shower were bigger than expected for a small ship. The balcony was small but room enough for 2 small chairs and table. Coffee, tea and snack was down the hall (2nd deck) No coffee maker in the cabin. The service was excellent in every category. The staff was polite and informative. Best cruise director we have ever had - Luis Ribeiro. The Douro river was very scenic with mostly vineyards So, the emphasis is on wine. 1st week in Sept was best time to go, no rain and 75 for 15 days. Breakfast, lunch and dinner was served in the dining area. A later buffet is also available. The quality was excellent. The ports were all good. All the excursions were worth going on. (One required a 2 hr bus trip there and back. The excursions had 3 levels from easy to more difficult. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I close this as a contrast to the huge ocean-going ships I had been used to. This was a new riverboat with a maximum of about 100 passengers. My cabin - hardly a stateroom - was on the lowest deck, and not large, but perfect for one, ... Read More
I close this as a contrast to the huge ocean-going ships I had been used to. This was a new riverboat with a maximum of about 100 passengers. My cabin - hardly a stateroom - was on the lowest deck, and not large, but perfect for one, although a bit cramped for two. Nonetheless, it was well designed, with a small but excellent bathroom. The window was certainly not panoramic, but I spent time in the spacious public areas. The cabin lighting and air conditioning were fine, and I have any need of the good-sized television. The excursions were very well-chosen and the transportation extremely comfortable, passing through some beautiful scenery. Alcoholic drinks were limitless during meals, and the daily happy hour for cocktails. Breakfast and lunch were mainly buffet style, and dinner was a little more formal with a well-varied menu, the offerings on which were of variable quality. The evening entertainment was generally good. I really enjoyed me trip up the Douro, and hope to travel again with same company. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
With this being a. New river boat, expectations were high, the cruise and itinerary were outstanding, our cabin was great 210. The bathroom lacked shelf space which could easily be remedied by putting corner shelves on either side of the ... Read More
With this being a. New river boat, expectations were high, the cruise and itinerary were outstanding, our cabin was great 210. The bathroom lacked shelf space which could easily be remedied by putting corner shelves on either side of the mirror. The crew was fantastic and their goal was to make the cruise memorable. Captain Pedro was ever present and interacted with everyone. This is the first river cruise we were able to use the balcony more than once. No nighttime cruising so many early morning coffees on the balcony. We also lucked out on our bus Guide Louis (blue bus) who was knowledgeable and funny, our bus started off with 22 anded up with 30+ because we were talking about how good he was. Breakfast was always good, however dinners could be hit or miss, I never saw so many meals sent back on any other cruise we have taken. The scenery was spectacular. We lucked into very good weather which also added to the enjoyment. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The previous review by Mr Polich in June, was exactly our experiance in July. The boat was our first disappointment, painted a depressing brown,(not the boat shown on Ama as the Amadouro) Being pnly four months old, we also found ... Read More
The previous review by Mr Polich in June, was exactly our experiance in July. The boat was our first disappointment, painted a depressing brown,(not the boat shown on Ama as the Amadouro) Being pnly four months old, we also found the interior disappointingly old fashioned in design. And here in lies the problem, Douro Azur build, own and staff all the boats on the Douro ,and obviously turn them all out the same, the furnishings, restaurant runnings ,etc are parallel whether you are on Viking Ama, or other boats. The staff are employed by Douro Azur on 9 month contracts, so may have worked on lesser boats previously, and answer to their Douro Azur hotel manager All this said the staff were excellent (with only a couple of exceptions) Big shout out to Antonio who cared for our cabin, and Pedro, with his sunny personality, who gave excellent care in the restaurant. The cabin (french window) was fine, lots of storage. The restaurant was pretty with some tables for two which we really appreciated. Sip and Sail only operated 5 nights, of the seven. The first night we were only offered one glass of sparkling wine, similarly the last night captains cocktail party was just wine. Breakfast and lunch were excellent, but unfortunately dinner was a let down.Long wait for courses with some courses inedible. Not La Chaine des rotisseur standard by a long chalk. On day two the hotel manager was taking photoes of a wine display, completely oblivious to the fact that we were all waiting an hour for food. When I drew attention to the problem he muttered something about food having to come up in lifts. It is inexcusable that after four months they have not addressed this by bringing some starters up early, and having soup tureens in the restaurant for the waiters to serve from., thus freeing up the lifts. Be aware also that the menu is limited two starters often salad, soup, two mains, one pudding, fruit, icecream, or cheese .There is also an extra menu, of chicken, steak, salmon & chips .Note if you choose not to do the tours this is the only menu available lunch and dinner which is boring. The food at Quinta Avessada was poor, as apparently was the quinta dinner on day two, The top deck was mainly tables and chairs (but no food was ever served up there) On the one occasion that there was a waiter serving drinks, he refused to get a coffee for a gentleman with obvious walking difficulties , telling him to go down and get his own from the coffee station (there is no stair lift as on the Amavida) Appalling service which we also encountered from same bar/waiter (tall, thin greying) on an other occasion. There are only twenty eight loungers, and the usual crack of dawn towel reservers, so expect to be seated on an uncomfortable dining chair if you want to enjoy the sun. The only Ama employee was the cruise manager, who by his own admission was new to the work. I am sure he was employed for his brilliant language skills, but on the Douro Ama needs to employ someone who has hotel management skills to see the failings of the on board operation, and know how to correct, otherwise Douro Azur will continue to offer a sub standard product. All this said Porto and the Douro where fabulous, and if dinner had been as good as lunch I would be writing a very different review. Sort it out Ama this is not good for your reputation! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We went on the AmaDouro in June 2019 as part of a three week trip through Portugal. It is by far the most expensive cruise we have done....much more expensive per day than SilverSea or Seaborne. The Douro cruise was between 27% and 100% ... Read More
We went on the AmaDouro in June 2019 as part of a three week trip through Portugal. It is by far the most expensive cruise we have done....much more expensive per day than SilverSea or Seaborne. The Douro cruise was between 27% and 100% more expensive that our cruises on SilverSea and Seabourne. We are happy to pay for quality, but we expect companies to live up to their promise. The Douro River was beautiful and the locks were amazing. This cruise is probably better for the older crowd as there is not much walking except in Porto. There are no bicycling excursions. And there is a LOT of food. Also be aware that the boat quite often docks with boats on either side; this means you have another cabin just outside your cabin! So needless to say, no view. Also be aware that the dock may be the same height as your cabin, so be sure to be dressed (or curtains pulled) when docking! The boat was new and the cabins were standard river boat cabins. A bit of a tight squeeze to get in the desk seat. The excursions and the guides were good. The food was good, with plenty of healthy options. There were some excellent shows on board. BUT the service on the boat was seriously sub-standard, and this slowly wore us down. We had an onboard credit that took a few days to resolve. What struck us was that reception were quite content to tell us that the credit wasn’t there and apparently to take no further action. It took a number of emails between us and our travel agent to resolve this. For the front desk staff, the problem was ours alone. Drinks are not included outside of meal times, so no drinks included during the shows. No herbal tea unless you walk down a deck and get it from the coffee/tea machine. Also, no room service, even for a coffee in the morning...only out of the machine. So at 6am (we woke early to get work done) we had to get dressed and walk down a deck to the coffee machine. There was virtually no service on the top deck. Generally the attitude of the staff seemed to be that they expected us to come to them. This was strange because in the rest of Portugal we had amazing service. I think with some of the staff this was a training issue; but with many it was just their attitude. I would suggest hire a small boat privately for 2-3 days on the Douro. A week is a long time...especially when the staff are not keen! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We were looking for a five star experience on a River that had been recommended to us by fellow travelers on the Danube. The river scenery is indeed five stars. But the boat itself, while new, is not. Laminate throughout. The cruise ... Read More
We were looking for a five star experience on a River that had been recommended to us by fellow travelers on the Danube. The river scenery is indeed five stars. But the boat itself, while new, is not. Laminate throughout. The cruise also has major flaws. Not worth the price paid. The crew was very good to outstanding. But when you contrast that with an amazingly poorly organized dinner service - not the servers fault - and other serious flaws, you get a less than could have been experience. The small ports stopped at are pleasant enough, but really no suggestion was made by the crew to get off the boat and visit them. Instead of visiting a local restaurant or two, we were bussed to large wine estates. Interesting, but instead of a 45 min bus ride each way, surely there were closer local options. Pastry - 5 stars. Had 7-8 outstanding offerings each lunch... Breakfast - 4 stars. Nice variety in the buffet, but not all was fabulous. Nice cook to order stuff tho, and great bread and pastries. Dinner - 2 to 3 stars. Mostly hit or miss. Some items four stars, some inedible. But the real negative was the system for ordering, and delivering the food. Negative 2 stars. How can it take 1 3/4 hours to deliver three items to a dining room.? There were only 75 people on our boat and limited choices. .....plenty of dining room staff.... The rooms were a little strangely laid out but ok. Ours had a balcony, but there definitely is a better way to design same. Beds comfy, and cabin service good. This boat has a great top deck, but it was rarely used by other guests, or promoted by the crew. No lunches or events there, in spite of the wonderful scenery we were passing by. Oh what our fellow travelers missed.. The local entertainment brought on Board was outstanding, especially a Tuna band, but more could have been done here. Again, not the crew’s fault, as they worked with what was given them. The average age of those on board was probably 75. Options were offered on tours for slower walkers, which was nice, and needed. Overall, plenty of potential with the Amadouro, but AMA has a long way to go to get this boat to a five star level. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We arrived in Porto Friday April 5 after the pre-cruise package in Lisbon. Lisbon was fine, but Porto is truly an amazing place. Definitely worth a visit! The inaugural cruise on the AMA Douro was supposed to be Saturday April 6. We ... Read More
We arrived in Porto Friday April 5 after the pre-cruise package in Lisbon. Lisbon was fine, but Porto is truly an amazing place. Definitely worth a visit! The inaugural cruise on the AMA Douro was supposed to be Saturday April 6. We were initially told via email the ship wasn't ready and it will now be Sunday April 7. They put us up at the Yeatman-- a 5 Star hotel in Porto and paid for everything including our scheduled shore excursion. Then they announced we are delayed another day. (Don't ever do an inaugural cruise-- even if the owners of AMA are on board.) So we got on busses and followed the incomplete ship down the river to another hotel that was 4 Star at best. We finally met the ship 1/3 of the way down the Douro River on day 3 Monday April 8. Most of the ship was complete, but there were plenty of cosmetic issues that were worked on throughout the week. By now, the ship is probably decorated and 95% as it was intended. The other issue with the inaugural cruise is that many of the servers didn't know what they were doing and our dinners were regularly incorrect. Most of the staff was very pleasant and tried to do everything they could. For an expensive river cruise the breakfasts were excellent at 5/5, lunch 4/5, but dinners only 3/5. I'd say the biggest issue going forward is with the Douro River itself. Excursions required long bus rides and most ports had nothing to offer, but a dock and maybe a café. Salamanca Spain was the highlight and that was 2 hours each way by bus. There were no bikes available and no reason to go out at night. You were either on the boat or on a bus. This was not the Danube or Rhine where cities and castles are right by the ports. We are in our mid 50s and were by far the youngest people on the ship. The piano player was very good, but there was little to do and this is clearly a cruise for retired folks. We did get three great surprises at the end. We were offered 1/2 our money back in cash or a future free cruise credit; they paid for all our drinks (not just the free wine/beer during meals); and the Christening event on Friday was really special. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We sailed with them in Africa and it was a great trip, so we booked this Lisbon to Madrid trip. AMA Waterways put on a new ship which sailed four days after we did. The BIG problem was that they took most of the experienced staff and ... Read More
We sailed with them in Africa and it was a great trip, so we booked this Lisbon to Madrid trip. AMA Waterways put on a new ship which sailed four days after we did. The BIG problem was that they took most of the experienced staff and transferred them to the new ship, leaving us with trainees. The chef was terrible and the wait staff was hit and miss. One night it took me an hour to get a drink from the cocktail waitress. Also, the breakfast buffet had hot food that was cold, and it took five days to get that fixed. It got so bad that AMA sent someone from Corporate to solve the many problems. However, you cannot train a crew while taking care of 106 passengers. As for day excursions, most were good, but some were really bad. Someone needs to review all their day excursion trips. I will never sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
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
Sail Date July 2018
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
Sail Date July 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
Sail Date April 2017
We had gone back and forth on this itinerary for years before finally deciding to try it and chose a wine theme cruise on AMA for our first trip to Portugal. We knew many of the differences going in: Smaller ship, fewer passengers, lots ... Read More
We had gone back and forth on this itinerary for years before finally deciding to try it and chose a wine theme cruise on AMA for our first trip to Portugal. We knew many of the differences going in: Smaller ship, fewer passengers, lots of bus rides due to terrain, no night sailing. Upon embarkation we immediately noticed how much smaller the boat was; however, this was something we quickly grew used to. Our cabin, which had an outside balcony, was well appointed in typical AMA style. There was a ton of storage, beds were comfy, and it was definitely the quietest cabin we have ever had on a river boat, which we very much appreciated! Our CM was Marianna, whom we had met on a cruise a few years ago when she was aboard spending the new year with her husband, who is also an AMA CM. Marianna did a fantastic job and was warm, delightful and highly engaged with the passengers. She is definitely of the best we have ever had on AMA or any line. The entire crew was welcoming and warm and they knew our names by the second day. To a person, we enjoyed interacting with each and every one. The staff was much smaller than what we were used to, based on the smaller scale of the ship, but the service in the restaurant and bar was outstanding! The scenery on the Douro was magnificent and definitely the most beautiful of any we have experienced on the river. The river was very narrow in many areas and we understood right away why this river was not navigable at night. The winery hosting our trip was Wilson Creek and we totally enjoyed meeting the owners and their wine club members. Days when we were sailing there was always a tasting in the lounge and Mick Wilson made them fun and interactive. We have done 4 wine cruises with AMA so far and this was another winner. This is a cruise for wine lovers and those that enjoy lots of sailing time more than museums and exploring the local area. Most nights we were not docked anywhere close to a town where we could get out and about. We did miss that as we enjoy maximizing our time in port as much as possible. The fitness center was compact but did the job. I was there every morning and never saw another person. There was also a massage room and therapist available. Internet worked much of the time and the in cabin infotainment system had the usual selection. Many of the excursions did involve longer bus rides. The longest was to Salamanca, and we very much enjoyed that day and exploring this city. The other excursions often included a winery lunch and tasting and there was also a dinner off the boat one evening, which also involved a one hour ride in each direction. Porto was lively with people and we enjoyed walking the back streets and exploring this pretty port town. Food was good to very good aboard AmaVida. Breakfast and lunch had lots of choices, and dinner always offered several entree choices as well as their always available menu. Fish was always fresh and delicious, with the meat dishes being a bit less successful. We did miss the Chef's Table which we have enjoyed on all of our other AMA cruises. Wines poured were very good with a nice variety. Entertainment included flamenco, fado and the in house piano player had a huge personality and was the best we have ever had on a river cruise. Disco night was a hoot as was a version of Name that Tune that Marianna and Ricardo hosted one evening. The passengers had a great time! All in all, we were impressed with the AmaVida, the stunning scenery we enjoyed around every turn of the river and the excellent staff and crew aboard. We are glad we decided to experience the Douro and very pleased with the experience AMA provided. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We had previously taken AMA's 14-day cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam and had a wonderful time. Great food, brand new boat, service friendly and efficient. Then we took the Duoro cruise. Whole different deal. For starters, ... Read More
We had previously taken AMA's 14-day cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam and had a wonderful time. Great food, brand new boat, service friendly and efficient. Then we took the Duoro cruise. Whole different deal. For starters, it's NOT AMA's boat! Per Portugal law the boat is owned (I guess) by a friend of the president. AMA also has limited say in who they hire. So essentially it's a licensing deal and the only thing "AMA-ish" about this cruise is the logo. Examples: the young head of the hotel was named Nuno which in Portugese must translate as "he does not work." Very stand-offish, not friendly and didn't life a finger to help his staff as far as we could see. The Captain couldn't speak hardly any English and he was invisible most of the trip. No bridge tours were offered as was the case with our previous cruise. The staff was not trained very well. The waiters could speak English but the housekeepers not so much. The housekeepers were inferior to our last cruise. Food was okay, but not exceptional and was a bit boring after just a week. The Douro is a scenic river and we enjoyed cruising. The weather was horrible but that one's NOT on AMA! Bright spot! Mariana the tour guide was AWESOME! About 5'2" of unbridled energy and enthusiasm. She deserves all the kudos because without her this thing would have been a disaster. My only hope is that she can get a better gig on a "regular" AMA boat. Not up to your standards AMA. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Beware the River Douro! Two issues on our cruise, which was our 4th AmaWaterways. Let me say that we like AMA. But---First, the river: flooded and we were stuck in one ghost town of a port for 3 nights, bussing to various sights. ... Read More
Beware the River Douro! Two issues on our cruise, which was our 4th AmaWaterways. Let me say that we like AMA. But---First, the river: flooded and we were stuck in one ghost town of a port for 3 nights, bussing to various sights. Second, the river: it is not like the Rhine or Rhone, etc. the port stops, with the exception of Porto (which we never got to dock in) are just docks without much around to explore. To see the sights, a bus ride is necessary. And if you are stuck (see #1). It means a longer bus ride with all of the associated discomforts. The Cruise Director did her best to keep us busy, and in the end AMA came through for me. But, go on other rivers before you think Douro and certainly stay away in the Spring when the rains seem to come daily. Food was good, wine poured generously, crew extremely accommodating. We had one of the two suites and the cabin was excellent. The pre-cruise hotel, the Westin, was magnificent and the pre-cruise tours were fabulous. The post cruise hotel, the Intercontinental was very good and again, the post cruise tours were very good. Suggest booking both. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our first river cruise and we were a little apprehensive. Have been on 3 Cunard cruises (all great quality with perfect food and service but completely impersonal with sanitised land based tours). We were recommended to cruise ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we were a little apprehensive. Have been on 3 Cunard cruises (all great quality with perfect food and service but completely impersonal with sanitised land based tours). We were recommended to cruise with AMA Waterways by Ponders Travel (personal agents near Cambridge). They selected a river cruise focused around wine tasting in northern Portugal. My wife and I were stunned by the friendly, professional and personal attitude shown by ALL of the crew. So many lovely touches including the same coach driver; same guide all week. Some of the drives could have been scary (side of small mountains on single track roads with no barriers) but the driver was very sensitive and drove at speeds that made us all feel safe. The food was perfect with choice for all diets. Champagne for breakfast!! We got to know so many new folk from other countries. One of the AMA owners was on this cruise (Kristin Karst). She is completely committed to ensuring all travellers have a fantastic experience and supported her team really well. They have a great way of selecting passionate crew and delivering perfect service for the entire cruise. How the crew keep motivated with out a break for many weeks I don't know but I guess combining the desire to ensure guest have a great memorable time with the chance of meeting new folk every week or so keeps their interest going. Just one request for AMA - avoid seminars which are more brain washing than informative (US wine) - we are all old enough to make our own minds up if today will be a great day and don't need a motivational speaker to help. But thankfully we managed to avoid most of the loudness from just one person. We are about to book another cruise with AMA for Xmas this year. For those who haven't found Portugal yet (as we hadn't) I highly recommend a visit. It is beautiful; hot; clean and the locals are so friendly.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
This week essentially started in Vega Terron, and ended in Porto. While I've river cruised with Viking a few times, this April 15, 2014 week was my first AMA trip. The captain, crew and cruise manager were tops in making things ... Read More
This week essentially started in Vega Terron, and ended in Porto. While I've river cruised with Viking a few times, this April 15, 2014 week was my first AMA trip. The captain, crew and cruise manager were tops in making things happen, and dealing with situations that just happen with mother nature affecting the height of the river etc. The first day, we couldn't start actually in Vega Terron, because a torrent of spring weather water would not let any ships go upstream on our scheduled day in the locks. We were bussed several hours to a different port downstream. Stuff happens. Not a big deal, when the passage opened a day or so later, we got to see all that was scheduled. We didn't expect that, as that was extra fuel for the ship to use to backtrack. Nice. Tour pacing and content, meals, on board entertainment and accommodations were at good as Viking, and, all in all, a tad better. Either company is excellent on river cruising. Meals were ample and delicious included wines, and Port was often served. Additionally we visited Port wineries on land. The Douro River is beautiful, with hills on either side. Entertainment was noteworthy-I've never seen as many travelers suddenly learning how to use the video on their cameras to capture performers! From college students in a musical group, to a musical family on board, we got a great feel for local traditions. The exercise room is small on river cruises-I don't take a river cruise to exercise on board, thank you. This is not for small children-take a Disney cruise for that. We bought transportation packages from our arrival and departure cities of Madric and Lisbon, and were glad we did-worth not having to schedule. Porto is a city worth an extra day or so, as is Lisbon or Madrid while in the general vicinity. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We boarded the ship but did not sail til 36 hours passed...they told us that "authorities in Lisbon " would not let us go....meanwhile.....we were stuck in Porto....we where in the process of abandoning ship ...making plans to go ... Read More
We boarded the ship but did not sail til 36 hours passed...they told us that "authorities in Lisbon " would not let us go....meanwhile.....we were stuck in Porto....we where in the process of abandoning ship ...making plans to go home.....when miraculously....they allowed us to start the cruise. No info that made sense was transmitted........The food was cafeteria quality for lunch and dinner. The breakfast was nicely done and hearty. The crew was brand new and after 4 days...they worked well together. The chef finally cooked from his Portuguese soul....dinners were better the last few days. Never saw the cabin steward....the cruise director was trying hard for a tip.....unctuous at best. The wine flowed freely at lunch and dinner....... and was very good. Mixed drinks were a rip off.....sodas and iced teas were ridiculously expensive. The cabins were well appointed and predictably small if you were used to the nice big cruise ships. The scenery was lovely.....in a few weeks it would have been magnificent. We missed a few ports due to the late start.....we did not care....the captain was awesome going under bridges that defied the possibility of making it......and high-tailing it back in time for some passengers to make their flights out of Porto the last day. Some passengers did not make it to Porto and were bussed at 3am to the Porto airport from a stop just short of Porto. We would not do this again......take a Regent or Oceania cruise...it leaves on time and tells you what's going on.....AMA was a different story every day! Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
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