9 Porto (Leixoes) First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because the scenery is beautiful and because we love Portuguese food. The Duoro River in northern Portugal is spectacular: steep banks that have terraced vineyards right to the top, also olive and almond trees. The ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the scenery is beautiful and because we love Portuguese food. The Duoro River in northern Portugal is spectacular: steep banks that have terraced vineyards right to the top, also olive and almond trees. The Scenic Azure is a lovely brand new ship, contemporary design with spacious cabins, very comfortable. All the staff are Portuguese, many from Porto where we set sail. The service is very professional but friendly and relaxed. 96 guests and 39 crew. Guests were mainly from Australia and UK with about a dozen Canadians and half as many Americans, mostly couples and mostly active seniors from ages early 60’s on up. There were interesting excursions, many of which required some level of fitness due to the steep hills and cobblestones .... Guests who were not as able could be accommodated by bus tours. Buses were new and very comfortable. The tour guides use communication systems which guests wear so that when they dial in they can hear the commentary without the guides’ having to yell. We sailed during the day so were able to appreciate the scenery --- we docked at interesting places and there are stretches of the river that are not heavily populated. The Duoro is becoming popular but so far not over-run --- we were only rafted a few times and the other ships tended to leave early in the morning in many cases, allowing us to have our coffee on the balcony. There were no noticeable exhaust fumes from the engines. The crew were friendly and professional, and not obtrusive. They all spoke fluent or almost fluent English. We were disappointed with the food. Meals were beautifully presented and professionally served with plenty of choices, but rather bland for the most part, lacking acid balance and seasoning. We were hoping for some more strongly flavored Portuguese specialties. This certainly did not spoil our experience and we recognize that chefs must accommodate many tastes – but other guests stated the same concern, one offering the opinion that the food lacked "zest". This is an all-inclusive cruise, with no added charges and no tipping. We recommend this luxury cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
The Portugese staff on this boat were fautless. They were charming, efficient & always there if required. Our guide Henry too was excellent, incorporating world history (where appropiate) in his information about various places & ... Read More
The Portugese staff on this boat were fautless. They were charming, efficient & always there if required. Our guide Henry too was excellent, incorporating world history (where appropiate) in his information about various places & customs. We were greeted each time by our name (that might be partly because our surname is Hemming and we were on Viking Hemming! ) Being a new boat, the Scandinavian interior - for both cabin & general area was pristine - the soft wood very pleasing to the eye. A comfortable lounge area but apart from on deck this was the only place you could sit & relax. As this space was used at times for presentations & activities, if you didn't want to witness that & the weather wasn't conducive to sitting out - that only left sitting on your bed - not ideal. The standard cabins are quite compact - there was only just enough room to get round the bed - but adequate. However the bathroom/wet room was beautiful & very spacious. Food was excellent, tasty,varied & beautifully presented. All the trips out of course are included in the price, so after visiting 2 port/wineries I decided I didn't wish to visit a 3rd - so I had a pleasant 3 quarters of a day extra on the boat - while husband did a food/drink trip which he enjoyed and of course I heard all about it - so didn't consider I'd missed out. I enjoyed seeing some of the scenery again and chatting to the other 6 guests who'd stayed on the boot too. Other excursions (that didn't include wine/port tasting) were varied and enjoyable. If you are an Art Deco/Nouveau fan then the trip to Salamanca is to die for. The only criticism is that with having 2 nights in Lisbon 1st you have to use different airports for arrivals & departures & for a no. of passengers this meant waits & much longer no. of hours getting there & back than if you'd just flown to near Porto! I think adding Lisbon on as an available extra (for 2/3 nights) would be better as it wold reduce the basic cost of the river cruise; maybe getting extra customers and still accommodating other who might like a few days in Lisbon. Do this trip soon before there are too many other boats going on the river & possibly spoiling the views or causing waits at locks! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The holiday got off to an excellent start with the excellent Tivoli Hotel in Lison, with very comfortable rooms and a well-judged recommendation from the Concierge for a local Portuguese restaurant. We enjoyed the tour of the city and the ... Read More
The holiday got off to an excellent start with the excellent Tivoli Hotel in Lison, with very comfortable rooms and a well-judged recommendation from the Concierge for a local Portuguese restaurant. We enjoyed the tour of the city and the well-organised trip by coach to the Hemming in Porto. The male Republica de Saudade Fado players who provided entertainment during lunch were truly brilliant (note: FAR better than the fado players at the dinner at the Monastery/Pousada!) The 7-day cruise along the River Douro was truly faultless and lived up to our expectations. Food on board was of an excellent standard and the menu and portions well judged, as were the accompanying local wines. Service in the restaurant was overseen by Claudio the superb Maitre D' for whom nothing was too much trouble. Shore excursions were very well chosen with adequate time to explore Porto, Salamanca and Lamego as well as delightful local insights into port, wine and local bread production. On BOTH outward and return trips by air - with Brussels Airlines, we were far less satisfied. Viking had allowed completely inadequate time for flight connections at the hell that is Brussels Airport and on our return journey we missed our connecting flight to Edinburgh and as a consequence were without baggage for an entire 4 days. Viking's response to our complaints was both inadequate and condescending. Despite our great cruising experience, any future cruises are unlikely to be with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Overall wonderful trip. However, bathroom & cabin were small and terrace was small. Ship was well appointed & very clean. Staff were great; worked very hard to accommodate us. Food was excellent & waiters were friendly and ... Read More
Overall wonderful trip. However, bathroom & cabin were small and terrace was small. Ship was well appointed & very clean. Staff were great; worked very hard to accommodate us. Food was excellent & waiters were friendly and very helpful. Trivoli Hotel was just ok. Breakfast was disappointing, not very good. Tours guides were good, sometimes to much chatter on bus by them. Really could have skipped their life history which actually seemed to be about giving a significant tip! Our trip to Salamanca wasn't very good. Given limited free time and the tour guide took us past many blds. & explained in detail about their purpose and structure. Boring. At the end we asked if we could go in & look at the Cathedral Vieja Museo which the tour ended in front of. That should have been the highlight of the guided tour. It was magnificent, beautiful, very old & very interesting. We ran through it with not much time. Our lunch at Quinta de Avessada in Pinhas was terrible. Cod & potato casserole which was all potato; however the entertainment was fabulous. All in all it was a good trip. We've booked a Viking trip in May from Amsterdam to Basil. Hope it will be a positive experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was our first river cruise and certainly not our last with Viking. Every staff member was most helpful but a special mention must be given to Barbara whose daily briefings and knowledge added much to our enjoyment. Every little detail ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and certainly not our last with Viking. Every staff member was most helpful but a special mention must be given to Barbara whose daily briefings and knowledge added much to our enjoyment. Every little detail was seen to and the ship was just the right size. The pool was so pleasant on hot days and although our cabin was comfortable, we enjoyed being up on deck and watch the world go by. The excursions were well organised and the coaches comfortable. We particularly enjoyed the excursion to Salamanca where there was so much to see and if possible, would have liked more time here. As first timers, we weren't quite sure what to expect but our experience with Viking has given us the bug for more - we've booked a Danube cruise in 2016. Thank you very much for a memorable holiday! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Hotel in Lisbon was very comfortable and the Viking staff very helpful and welcoming. City tour interesting. Excellent service on board the ship. Meals were all excellent. Cabins comfortable and spotlessly clean. Unfortunately ... Read More
Hotel in Lisbon was very comfortable and the Viking staff very helpful and welcoming. City tour interesting. Excellent service on board the ship. Meals were all excellent. Cabins comfortable and spotlessly clean. Unfortunately there was too much walking for me and the trip to Salamanca, was enjoyable, but the walking in the city for the tour was too much. Using the tourist train in the city tour would have been better for all the folks with walking difficulties. My husband and I would consider another river cruise but would need to consider the itinery for the excursions. Problems at the airport on our return which were handled well by the local Viking representative but I was not too happy with the Viking office staff during my 3 hour wait. Enjoying relaxing up on deck Service was Excellant Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We recently returned from the Viking Hemming "River of Gold" cruise of the Duoro river. We were 2 couples. Let me start by saying every employee of Viking and it's Duoro river partner (Duoro Azul), were amazing. Viking seems ... Read More
We recently returned from the Viking Hemming "River of Gold" cruise of the Duoro river. We were 2 couples. Let me start by saying every employee of Viking and it's Duoro river partner (Duoro Azul), were amazing. Viking seems to employ the Cruise Director and a few other employees and the rest are from Duoro Azul. They all give great service and made the trip wonderful. We added 2 days in Lisbon and 2 days in Santiago de Compostela. It was great to get over jet lag before we started cruising. Our room was beautiful and made every inch count. We were in Veranda suite 304. Great location on the ship. Our cabin steward, Sara, was fabulous. She not only kept our cabin spotless and well stocked. She did it while keeping a low profile. It was fun to come back to the cabin each day and see what towel sculpture would await us. This girl is good with towels! The daily excursions were very well planned and our buses were very comfortable. We were divided up onto 3 buses that each had their own tour guide. We had George. He was very informative and made the tour fun. He also would go the extra distance to make sure we were well taken care of. We had Carmen as our tour director. She basicly made sure it all ran smoothly. This she did while making everyone feel like their needs came first. It is a talent to balance so many peoples needs and wants. She made it seem effortless. Viking is lucky to have her. The food was good and plentiful. They had a small herb garden on the top deck. So we were lucky to have lovely fresh herbs. I took the Galley tour. It is amazing to see how 5 people in a very small space could put out our 3 meals and snacks a day. Quite impressive. I also found the bartenders to be fabulous. They whipped up our drinks and gave us recommendations of good wines. We signed up for the alcohol upgrade. Well worth the extra expense. The cruise itself is great. The Duoro River valley is some of the prettiest scenery I have ever seen. Going thru the locks was thrilling. The only complaint about the excursions is: because of the timing of going thru the locks, we ended up arriving in towns during siesta. Most shops were closed. So not a great shopping cruise. The ship has arranged for a shop in most towns to be open. But that makes for 106 people shoving into a small shop at one time. Not fun. I would also caution that their is no medicaly trained person or any first aid equipment on the ship. My friend had a allergic reaction and their were no epi pens or any oxygen tanks. So bring your own. The crew was very good about getting her to a hospital and George stayed with her and Carmen kept us informed. But it could have been avoided if we could have had basic medical supplies on board. Just saying… I would not go on the extension to Santiago de Compostela with Viking. The hotel was not good (unfunctioning air conditioner) and the bus was substandard. Rent a car and drive yourself. Stay at the Parador in town. Overall this was a amazing cruise and I would give Viking lots of kudos for great thought and personalization of this cruise. The ship is definitely first class and has a first class staff. I miss it already. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Cabin is small but set up with plenty of storage suitcases fit under the bed and you can access the internet on the tv in your room-service was very good and food was good .The bar is open after dinner and no charge in fact everything is ... Read More
Cabin is small but set up with plenty of storage suitcases fit under the bed and you can access the internet on the tv in your room-service was very good and food was good .The bar is open after dinner and no charge in fact everything is included tips etc of course you pay for this in the price but it is nice not to be nickel and dimed on every tour etc.It is winery and castles and very low keyed but we enjoyed it very relaxing .One thing that I noticed from the other river tours(Budapest France)is that people do not dress up at all in fact even at the captains dinner only about 6 men wore Jackets.(a lot of times shorts were worn!)On this tour we were met at the airport driven to the hotel in Lisbon with no waiting checked in by a rep from uniworld get together that night about the tour.I have been on a lot of tours and this was a nice set up also when tour was over they drove us to airport and walked us to the airline check-in and to the security check-in which was nice esp if you have not been in this airport before-we had a very nice time Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We embarked at Porto to cruise along the Duoro Valley as first-time cruisers. Cabin was small but made good use of space. We had a veranda which was smaller than expected and when one was sitting down the second person had to climb over ... Read More
We embarked at Porto to cruise along the Duoro Valley as first-time cruisers. Cabin was small but made good use of space. We had a veranda which was smaller than expected and when one was sitting down the second person had to climb over and around to use the other chair. Food on board was fine for breakfast and buffet lunch but we expected a higher standard for dinner. Wine was plentiful but of cheap quality unless you paid for extra quality wines as a separate package. There was insufficient waiting staff for lunch and particularly dinner and there was no service outside the restaurant. There were trips every day but they were at a very slow pace, understandable for the older clientele but although we are in that category we are very active and would have preferred more free time. Tipping was strange. We were given two envelopes at the end of the week to hand in to reception with full instructions as to their use!! One was for the programme director, the other for the rest of the crew. This was disappointing to those who wished to reward the individuals who looked after them. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014

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