36 Porto (Leixoes) Luxury Cruise Reviews

This cruise was our 8th Viking River Cruise and we were excited to experience another unique adventure. Every cruise has been superb and this one was no different. It lived up to Viking's promise of excellence. We had Viking Air ... Read More
This cruise was our 8th Viking River Cruise and we were excited to experience another unique adventure. Every cruise has been superb and this one was no different. It lived up to Viking's promise of excellence. We had Viking Air make our airline reservations because of the ease and comfort of knowing we would be met and safely transported to our destination. We booked the extension in Lisbon and stayed at the Hotel Tivoli Lisboa, a truly lovely and most accommodating place in central Lisbon. As with all the extensions, this one allowed for a comfortable tour of the city without being rushed or harried. We found ourselves dining in style off the beaten path and enjoying not only the fine food but also the local culture. Good recommendations on the part of the hotel. The transfer to the Viking Hemming was most enjoyable as we took in scenery on our way to Porto. The ship was immaculate and well prepared for our arrival. In many ways it felt like coming back home to familiar smiles and excellent service. We were fortunate to have been upgraded to a suite and what a joy that was. Spacious and well laid out, it added to an already great start. Viking has a reputation of excellence in all that it does and this was the case for us. Every aspect of our cruise was superb. From cleanliness to meals, from house keeping service to tour guides, all was made special by the people who took a genuine interest in making our trip special. Of particular note: my wife has MS and while we get along well in all the activities and tours, we use a stroller wheelchair to keep pace. We were able to make all the tours and excursions without slowing the group down due to the path selected by the tour leader and the helpfulness of the bus drivers in getting the chair out for use at every stop. It is attention to detail that I really appreciate in looking after our needs. We loved the tours of the wineries and small villages and the unique cultural experiences that made visiting Portugal worthwhile. Once again, the Viking Team proved themselves as the best. Casual elegance made common. We can't wait for our next adventure with dear friends at Viking. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Probably, my friends are getting tired of hearing about what a wonderful time I had, and having me whip out my phone to show a picture of this or that. The ship was small, immaculate and well-designed. There was a shallow pool on the ... Read More
Probably, my friends are getting tired of hearing about what a wonderful time I had, and having me whip out my phone to show a picture of this or that. The ship was small, immaculate and well-designed. There was a shallow pool on the roof deck, which kept me sane. If it's hot, I have to get in water, otherwise I might've jumped overboard! The cuisine was wonderful, like dining in a fine restaurant for every meal. There were lots of fresh fruits at breakfast and healthy salad ingredients at lunch. I especially enjoyed the soups. Dinner choices were excellent every night. One night, I couldn't decide which dessert to have, so the waiter brought me both. I enjoyed the white wines, especially the vino verde. The caring wait staff really made dinners a special occasion. There was afternoon tea, too. Believe me, you will never go hungry! Daily excursions were always interesting, with excellent guides. Even though I'll probably never acquire a taste for port, learning how it's made and sampling it were interesting experiences. The Salamanca day trip was long, but the scenery from the comfortable bus was beautiful and the Spanish city very interesting. I was torn between going and relaxing on the ship, but so glad I went. Sometimes I get queasy on long bus rides, but I wore my bio-bands for motion sickness and was fine. Trip highlights for me: the 3 male fado singers at lunch in Coimbra, the flamenco dancers at lunch in Salamanca, the roof deck barbeque dinner on the Torgil, and sitting in the pool while going through a lock. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Staff were very accommodating, pleasant and efficient. Portugal gave us a very favorable impression, the people, scenery etc. Viking itinerary was quite interesting, in depth tour of an area of world that is a well kept secret. Ship ... Read More
Staff were very accommodating, pleasant and efficient. Portugal gave us a very favorable impression, the people, scenery etc. Viking itinerary was quite interesting, in depth tour of an area of world that is a well kept secret. Ship was very clean and had attractive decor. The safety drill on first day was the most comprehensive one we had ever had, extremely well done. Food on ship was varied and tasty, wait staff was very attentive and anticipative of our needs. Unlimited wine with lunch and dinner always has clients returning. Ship cabin was quite small, but had compact layout, good shower and toiletries. Was quite amazed at service to airport for 6:00 am flight- continental breakfast available- tour guide going along to airport and actually taking us to our Lufthansa gate an lifting our luggage on scale for us. Thought Ships Captain was very quiet, seemed shy and had almost no interaction with guests. He was however more importantly a skillful navigator. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Trip started in Lisbon, excellent hotel but room preparation bad - no soap, towels etc - obviously housekeeping stuff up. Two days there then bussed to Oporto to join boat; boarding well handled, cabin excellent and staff great. Side tours ... Read More
Trip started in Lisbon, excellent hotel but room preparation bad - no soap, towels etc - obviously housekeeping stuff up. Two days there then bussed to Oporto to join boat; boarding well handled, cabin excellent and staff great. Side tours were well done, although some bus trips were a bit hairy due to buses travelling too quickly in mountainous areas. Food and wine were plentiful, and excellent quality. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We chose Uniworld because we had sailed with them last year and were very happy. We had a state room with a full sliding door, room 214. It was comfortable at 192 sq ft. You adjust to the space; the luggage fit under the bed, there were ... Read More
We chose Uniworld because we had sailed with them last year and were very happy. We had a state room with a full sliding door, room 214. It was comfortable at 192 sq ft. You adjust to the space; the luggage fit under the bed, there were enough drawers and hangars, etc. We did the 3 day extension ahead of the cruise in Lisbon and highly recommend it. 3 nights at the InterContinental let us adjust and see beautiful Lisboa. We did the Uniworld included tours in Lisbon, day trip around the city to see the sites: Belem Tower, monastery, etc and the bus trip to Sintra and Cascais. Great days. The day we embarked was a 3 hour trip north to Porto. We stopped in Coimbra, where 6 Portuguese kings were born and the toured the country's oldest university. We were given a traditional lunch at a great restaurant. Then we boarded the QI and sailed almost immediately. We found the day tours terrific, the guides knowledgeable and the staff good to great. The bar staff and the restaurant staff were the best; the hotel mgr and the cruise director were a little cold to guests IMO. We enjoyed all the day trips, they were included in the price. The only boring bit was a port wine lecture in Pinhao or Regua. Uniworld could dump that. We had scenic sailing 3 or 4 days of the week, we saw all of Porto, Regua, Pinhao, Salamanca Spain and all of the hired guides spoke great English and were helpful. The best though is the Douro itself; just a true jewel. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
The Azure is a magnificent ship with a wonderful crew. The ship launched this year and offers the best in cabin features. Particularly good was the electric blinds making the room almost completely dark when closed. Great for a restful ... Read More
The Azure is a magnificent ship with a wonderful crew. The ship launched this year and offers the best in cabin features. Particularly good was the electric blinds making the room almost completely dark when closed. Great for a restful sleep. As with all Scenic cruises the very highest standards apply to the whole cruise. The food was outstanding and avoiding putting on the kilos is very difficult. My wife has food allergies and Chef Claudio and his staff could not have been more helpful. All the day tours were wonderful with the 3 onboard tour escorts going the extra mile to ensure wonderful trips. Scenic have 3 of their own buses (also brand new) with fantastic drivers who navigate Portugal's narrow streets safely and easily. All the staff have fantastic memories and soon you will be called by name by everyone with all your preferences noted. Rarely did you have to ask for your favourite drink as the bar staff would remember you. Would go again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We thoroughly enjoyed our recent cruise with Scenic down the Douro Valley in Portugal. The entire crew were fabulous and went out of their way to ensure every passenger had their needs and wants met. The interaction of the crew was ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed our recent cruise with Scenic down the Douro Valley in Portugal. The entire crew were fabulous and went out of their way to ensure every passenger had their needs and wants met. The interaction of the crew was appreciated by all guests and added to our experience of the people and culture of Portugal. The food and service were world class with something to suit every taste. Activities on and of the shop were well organised and carried out. Cabins were very well thought out and set, with everything we needed. They really had thought of everything. We were also impressed by the service provided by Scenic -a Scenic rep meet us at the airport in Sydney and then at the other end in Porto. We were after from start to, making it a enjoyable experience. It really was a fantastic trip. We will definitely be doing another cruise with Scenic. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We have done other river cruises with Scenic and when the Douro River cruise was introduced we could not wait to experience this and we were not disappointed. The Azure was newly commissioned and very comfortable. We were particularly ... Read More
We have done other river cruises with Scenic and when the Douro River cruise was introduced we could not wait to experience this and we were not disappointed. The Azure was newly commissioned and very comfortable. We were particularly pleased with our balcony cabin from which we could view the scenery going by in complete comfort. The food, drinks and service could not be faulted with friendly staff ready to meet our every needs. One issue was that the lounge area was somewhat small for the number of passengers and during the port talks things got a little cramped. Overall the tours were delightful and very informative, with the exception of the Salamanca Lunch. The food left a lot to be desired, although this was off-set by the Spanish Dancers who were very professional and a joy to watch. The BBQ on the upper deck was a great idea, with excellent food and drinks. The pianist provided superb entertainment playing music that catered for the ages of the majority of the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Having heard Uniworld was supposed to be a large cut ahead of the rest, I decided to explore Spain and Portugal on a cruise tour from Madrid to Lisbon. The tour director and organization of the sightseeing were outstanding. The Duoro River ... Read More
Having heard Uniworld was supposed to be a large cut ahead of the rest, I decided to explore Spain and Portugal on a cruise tour from Madrid to Lisbon. The tour director and organization of the sightseeing were outstanding. The Duoro River is definitely not a tourism area, so there was no local entertainers; in fact, there was nothing to do after dinner. Women would dance together in the lounge. That is the one negative. Food and sevice were excellent for the size of the crew. Dinner could be very slow. Travel companions were fun and interesting, about a third American and Canadian, one third British and the other third Australian and New Zealanders. The sites were beautiful. The wineries looked beautiful but the product was only fair. Tours in metropolitan areas were very interesting and enjoyable. We saw a variety of towns from medieval times and contemporary. We saw two impressive universities. We saw where and got an idea of how Jews were excluded during the Inquisition. I enjoyed the cruise but would appreciated a larger room with better storage. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Extensive Review of Uniworld cruise… Very Disappointing!!! We expected a 10 but experienced a five. September 2016 Douro River Cruise Beware…this is not a Uniworld product. The ship and crew are leased from Douro Azul River ... Read More
Extensive Review of Uniworld cruise… Very Disappointing!!! We expected a 10 but experienced a five. September 2016 Douro River Cruise Beware…this is not a Uniworld product. The ship and crew are leased from Douro Azul River Cruise Lines, according to the ship hotel manager who was one of only two Uniworld employees on board. Both of the Uniworld managers had only been on the ship since the day before we arrived. They were as frustrated with the staff and as disappointed as my nine guests and I. The manager stated that he had never encountered a crew that cared less about customer service and pride in performance than this one. The crew, I was told, is not trained by Uniworld but by Douro Azul. Throughout the cruise there seemed to be an element of animosity and contempt from the Douro Azul crew towards the Uniworld management. The attitude seemed to be that “we are Douro Azul, not Uniworld.” We all felt very sorry for the Uniworld manager. He seemed out of his element. Evidently they have partnered with Douro Azul since 2011 so you’d think they would have their act together by now. The capacity of the ship is 118 and I was told that there were only 90 passengers on board. I am a travel agent and veteran of over 30 cruises. Along with my wife I brought four other couples along on this cruise. All are discriminating travelers and foodies with whom we have traveled to Scotland (Awesome), Africa (Inspiring), Italy (Delicious) and South America, (Celebrity cruise in Aqua Class… Outstanding). We did the Douro River because they have done almost everything else. I convinced the group to take the Uniworld brand because it was named best river cruise line for 2016 by Travel + Leisure Magazine. I ended up rebating my full commission back to my clients…here’s why: First the hits: The ship was clean, the bedding was superb, the showers in the cabins were the best I’ve encountered on any cruise ship. Housekeeping was good. The river venue was pleasant and the day tours were well done with an excellent tour director. Now the many, many misses: The service and the food was not what we expected from the number one river cruise company of 2016. We expected superb service and over-the-top food as touted in all of Uniworld’s advertising. Unfortunately the service was extremely poor and the food was, at best, mediocre. There was only one public restroom on the ship just outside the dining room. This restroom was in constant use during dinner but was in a constant state of untidiness. Several times we complained to the manager on duty. His comments, without apology, was that his colleagues were supposed to have taken care of it. Even then, it was not handled. This was a nightly occurrence and was even a problem on the last evening. The personnel in the dining room always seemed understaffed. Requested drinks and water were often overlooked or entirely forgotten. There was no anticipation on the part of the wait staff. When asked for water or wine refills, only the person who requested the refill was taken care of then the waiter was off without filling other glasses. Some guests were almost finished with their meal before others were served. Orders were forgotten. Clearly the wait staff was not properly trained. At least four more wait staff or even busboys were needed to accommodate their guest adequately. On the pool deck, there were never enough towels for the guests. Even when requested, it took more than 30 minutes for additional towels to arrive and then only three or four were brought. There were seldom waiters on the pool deck. There were buttons to push for service, but seldom did any waiters appear. More often than not, passengers went down to the bar to get their own drinks. When we commented, they told us they were understaffed and took care of passengers in the lounge first so if you want drinks, come and get them yourselves. On the first day, during the passenger orientation, the temperature in the lounge was in the mid-eighties. Everyone was fanning themselves and requesting the air be turned up. The air conditioning could not keep up with the outside temperature which was in the nineties. We were told it had been even worse the last two weeks as the outside temp was over 100. If it’s always this hot, why don’t they have a/c that can accommodate? In two of our staterooms, the air conditioning was very poor as well. On the night we were in Porto, I felt badly for the passengers that were on the right side because they were tied up against the wall and had no view. We had a beautiful view of the city from the left side. During dinner, a Douro Azul ship pulled up alongside us and completely blocked our view too. We were there for two days with nothing to look at but the side of the other ship. Obviously Azul had more priority than Uniworld. At another port, we were pulled up alongside a parking lot with several dumpsters full of garbage only a few yards away. There were flies everywhere and they entered the dining room and our cabins in the evening. I noticed two Viking ships were moored on the other side of the river. The next day they were gone and we moved into their spot. It seemed that everywhere we went, Viking ships had the best moorings and we were secondary. Each of my guests had a $50 per cabin credit. Other than the small gift shop there was no place to spend the money except for massages, so all of us used the credit for laundry. Upon checkout, we were indignantly told “It is the policy of Douro Azul that cabin credit cannot be used for laundry.” As the group leader, I told the front desk woman that there were no indications anywhere that this was not allowed. She looked me in the eye and angrily said “It is policy! You cannot use!” This was typical of the negative feeling we felt from the crew. I later talked to the Uniworld rep and he gave us the credit. The windows on the entire ship were never washed from day one on. Nothing could be easier on a river boat than washing windows in each port. The windows seem to have not been washed in weeks, if not months. Now the worst part… Two of my guests were in cabins that had a toilet blockage down the line that backed up into their cabins. The first guest encountered the problem at five a.m. when she arose to use the toilet. She stepped into two inches of sewer water. She called the front desk immediately. At five thirty she called again but was told that they could not find the engineer. The other couple awoke at seven to the same problem. Shortly after seven the engineer appeared. At this point their suitcases were wet as was everything on the floor. Getting prepared for the day tour was very inconvenient. They went to breakfast and after breakfast it was time for an all day shore excursion. They were told that they would be upgraded to a higher cabin but when they returned, their cabin had been cleaned and dried by an on shore flood repair company and they were not given a new cabin. The cabins continued to be very humid for the next two days. As an apology, each cabin was given a bottle of prosecco for the room and two massages. (As an aside, I had two clients on a Viking Cruise a few months ago that missed their connection because of weather. They had made their air arrangements through Viking. Their late flight was met at the airport by a Viking rep, they were taken to a five star hotel, taken to the next port the following day, given a $300 on board credit, two bottles of champagne, upgraded to a suite and given a 50% credit for their next Viking cruise. All Viking was obligated to do was get them to the next port.) Kudos to Viking. If you were a travel agent, which line would you send your clients on? We were a group of foodies. We chose Uniworld because of their advertisements showing lobster and oysters on the half shell among other wonderful taste sensations. We were so disappointed. The food was at best a five on a scale from one to ten. Breakfast and lunch were buffet with much the same selection every day. The daily specials were meager. The eggs benedict were served on a slice of un toasted white bread with no ham and a cloying, sticky, heavy cheese sauce. We had been in Lisbon, independently, for the previous three days and had eaten in some wonderful restaurants. In some of these restaurants we took pictures of almost every dish. On the ship, we took only one picture of a dessert on the very last day. The preparation and presentation of the food was unimaginative and pedestrian. There was not one outstanding dish the entire voyage. There was a coffee machine outside the dining room that was available 24 hours. It made coffee from a pre-mix and cappuccino, lattes, and other coffee drinks were available. We expected that in the dining room the cappuccino would be made from a dedicated espresso machine but, instead, the waiter went out to the mix machine for the caps. I was told by the hotel manager that they were getting a real espresso machine next month! When we were in the bar one of my guests ordered a coffee and Bailey’s. He was told (not asked) to go downstairs to the machine and get his own coffee because they were too busy! At mid-cruise a “How are we doing” questionnaire was handed out. After discussion with my guests, I filled out the questionnaire for all of us. Under service I wrote “very poor” and under food I wrote “mediocre at best”. I wrote my name and room number and said I was willing to go into detail if they were interested. When I returned from the daily excursion, I spent 90 minutes with the two Uniworld employees. They told me of their frustrations and said please don’t judge Uniworld by this cruise and that my group should try another one. I told them this cruise was ruining their brand and that they should take this voyage off line until they can fix it. We paid about $5,000 per person. Douro Azul River Cruise Line operates the same cruises for less than $2,200 per person. That is about what this cruise was worth. That is why I returned my full commission to my clients. Upon returning home, I see that the Cruise Critic rating on this cruise is only 63% positive whereas most of the Uniworld voyages rate 90% or higher. In reflection, I wish I’d checked CC before I booked this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Why Portugal? Because my husband wanted to experience Portugal Was an interesting cruise but very short on cruising. The River Douro is very short, hence we stayed several nights at the same spot. I enjoyed the Scenic Azure but the ... Read More
Why Portugal? Because my husband wanted to experience Portugal Was an interesting cruise but very short on cruising. The River Douro is very short, hence we stayed several nights at the same spot. I enjoyed the Scenic Azure but the Junior Suites were very short on space - I chose a Junior Suite as the Budapest cruise suites were very spacious. Glad of the extra space per favour of the closed in balcony. We choose to sail because of the scenery - not the wines as the crews seem to think. No way would we attend a 'Captain'/ Dinner'! A Scenic bar which, I believe is Australian, cannot make a lemon, lime & bitters - an Australian favourite. Internet was great. No break in service. Ship staff were very obliging and dealt admirably with my husband's requirements for daily injections that had to be kept between 5 & 8C. Australian staff had no idea of assistance with being able to take the needles overseas! Caused many grey hairs which was totally unnecessary! Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We heard so much about how wonderful Uniworld is...Well not on this trip We came to find out that Uniworld doesn't operate this tour..they lease it out. The first thing they should do is get their name off of it What a ... Read More
We heard so much about how wonderful Uniworld is...Well not on this trip We came to find out that Uniworld doesn't operate this tour..they lease it out. The first thing they should do is get their name off of it What a disappointment....the service was bad, particularly the dining room,. Our waiter told us we should have gone on Viking, as they are better. Perhaps he is right. There was no air conditioning for most of the trip and the temps were in the 90's. In the lounge, where drinks are included, it was impossible to get one. 88 people on board, one waiter..one bar tender. One of the passengers tried to get behind the bar himself. Awful. On the deck, you had to ring for a waiter...good luck with that. There is more, but you get the idea... When we got back I reached out to Uniworld customer service, asked for some compensation. They said sorry, but no. But they would give us ship board credits on next voyage. There will not be a next voyage with this company.... Lots of other vendors...don't need to be disappointed.... Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We had enjoyed a Scenic cruise before, Amsterdam to Budapest and found it to be excellent in every way. The feature of extending the room by having the balcony window go up and down is a great extension of the room and helps enhance the ... Read More
We had enjoyed a Scenic cruise before, Amsterdam to Budapest and found it to be excellent in every way. The feature of extending the room by having the balcony window go up and down is a great extension of the room and helps enhance the enjoyment of any passing scenery. The food and service are always extraordinary in every possible imaginable way! They do try to think of and anticipate every possible need and usually do. In the unlikely event they do not they are anxious to try to ensure it happens! The ship is exceptionally clean and it is evident it is important to them in so many ways. The waiters get to know you by name and are happy to engage in conversation, likewise if you are having a private conversation they are helpful and not interrupting. The bartender was very helpful and thoughtful and had a great sense of humour we enjoyed as well. They seemed to be constantly thinking up ways to improve on things for example the upper deck barbecue with sangria and authentic Portugese food with sufficient variety to please every palate. The tour guides were very helpful and happy and friendly, in fact all the staff were friendly. The hotel manager clearly is a happy and kind person and it reflects in the attitude of the staff throughout the cruise and at all levels. It would be very difficult to fault any aspect of the Scenic cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We'd been on a previous Scenic river cruise and enjoyed it very much. This was our first cruise in Portugal and it was very enjoyable - food 9 our of 10, service 10 out of 10, cabin (junior suite) a bit short of space but this was to ... Read More
We'd been on a previous Scenic river cruise and enjoyed it very much. This was our first cruise in Portugal and it was very enjoyable - food 9 our of 10, service 10 out of 10, cabin (junior suite) a bit short of space but this was to be expected, butler service was impeccable The crew were all very helpful and we enjoyed the first night's dinner (Welcome Party) at the Captain's table. It was October and weather was dry but cool so we didn't see much of the Sun Deck. Excursions were well organised and very interesting. Embarkation and disembarkation were trouble-free. Bar service in the lounge in the evening was under-staffed but the bar tender and the two waiters did their very best. The scenery was fantastic. We missed most of the enrichment activities and port information talks as they coincided with our siesta time. We'd certainly use Scenic again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Ww had not previously been on a river cruise. Scenic offered the possibility of top quality service and a chance to totally relax, and we chose the Douro cruise because there were only 90 passengers and around forty crew. We chose well. We ... Read More
Ww had not previously been on a river cruise. Scenic offered the possibility of top quality service and a chance to totally relax, and we chose the Douro cruise because there were only 90 passengers and around forty crew. We chose well. We were collected from home by limo which took us to Heathrow. After flights to Lisbon and then Porto we were on board for a late lunch. All the crew were Portuguese and very friendly and helpful. Nothing was too much trouble. Being an all inclusive cruise of food, drink and tips it was all paid for before leaving home. The food and drink were first class with excellent choice at every meal. Our cabin had a built in balcony with a sliding window so we could enjoy the weather when suitable and a butler service if needed. A most comfortable bed and plenty of cupboard space. We left from Porto and travelled in daylight hours only. The river banks are covered in vineyards and famous name Quintas (Taylors, Sandeman, Warres etc) along the way.Lovely scenery which varies as you travel along. One thing to say about a river cruise - it's so smooth you don't know you are moving till you look outside! We had various trips out each day, including to Mateus Palace (famous to all of us of a certain age for its Rose wine) and Salamanca in Spain, as well as a coach trip in Porto on the last day. We were always accompanied by very experienced friendly guides, who were crew members we got to know very well. Our cruise was the last of season for Scenic, and as it was their inaugural season we were given a lovely goodbye on the last night. It was also Scenic's 30th Anniversary of the start of the company in Australia. A very happy ending to a great cruising experience. One piece of advice? Just do it! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This cruise was outstanding and one of the main reasons was the staff. This was a cruise of Portugal and every staff member was from Portugal and I think it added that extra something that you can't get by just having a large mix of ... Read More
This cruise was outstanding and one of the main reasons was the staff. This was a cruise of Portugal and every staff member was from Portugal and I think it added that extra something that you can't get by just having a large mix of nationalities. The service was outstanding and you could tell they loved to talk about their own country and loved their country you don't get that on every cruise. The rooms were great very comfortable and the bed was to die for. Lots of room for all your luggage and the food was top notch. The shore excursions were varied and except for the weather which is not up to the company very interesting and covered different types of excursions. For example I did the canoeing which was real fun and a change from churches, museums etc. The everything is included was a real bonus. I don't drink alcohol but my husband enjoyed a great range of different drinks that was excellent. The ship was a good size and not too big. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
This was a last- minute booking. We knew the ships could be outdated - and this one was (gaudy orange walls, green carpet and shiny gold ceilings) and that the majority of people on board would be French but decided to give this company a ... Read More
This was a last- minute booking. We knew the ships could be outdated - and this one was (gaudy orange walls, green carpet and shiny gold ceilings) and that the majority of people on board would be French but decided to give this company a try. Unlike other lines, Croisi Europe does not include any trips although they say that all drinks are included - this is true unless you want any liqueurs, branded spirits, decent wine or anything but very basic port. There are daily cocktails which appear to come ready mixed and don't seem to contain much alcohol. The wine we got with meals was cheap and nasty- we found one of the bottles for €3 in a local shop. Trips are expensive and you get the impression that things are included as time-fillers rather than because they are interesting. There are no allowances for slower walkers, as there are on other lines. Smoking is allowed in all outside areas which means that everyone has to suffer when someone smokes at the front of the sun deck, which they do all the time. There is nowhere to escape from the constant noisy chatter on board. There is no choice at mealtimes, although they try to offer alternatives if you let them know you don't like something. They do try to include regional specialities. Breakfast is largely continental and is the only meal served buffet style. There were eggs and a variety of weird sausages and we even had bacon one one occasion. The river is stunning with wild, remote areas and five dams with huge locks. The canopy on the sun deck had to be lowered each time we went through the locks and for low bridges and you have to be careful not to get wet when the ship passes under the guillotine gates from which water pours as you leave the locks. The only places where there is anything to see when you stop are Regua and Pinhao. Both are small places with a few shops and cafes but neither is anything special. If you go on the excursions, the ship moves on and you miss a lot of the beautiful scenery. Porto is interesting but very hilly. It has 30-odd port houses. We didn't feel that this cruise was good value because the trips were extra. By the time you add flights and transfers onto the basic cost, it didn't work out much different from other far superior lines and would have been more expensive if you went on the trips. We did see other Croisi Europe ships which appeared to be much nicer than ours and we were told that the ship is due a re-fit at the end of the 2017 season. This is long overdue! Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
My brother has done several river cruises with UNIWORLD and has always spoke highly of those experiences. We decided to join him and his wife on the Douro River cruise on board Queen Isabel. I expected a five star trip but this was not the ... Read More
My brother has done several river cruises with UNIWORLD and has always spoke highly of those experiences. We decided to join him and his wife on the Douro River cruise on board Queen Isabel. I expected a five star trip but this was not the case. The actual cruising time is only four nights. I don't think we needed two nights in Porto before sailing. We certainly did not need two nights at a place that is nothing more than a fly spot on the map whilst waiting to be transferred to Madrid. Yes there was a tour to Castillo De Rodriguez but that only took care of three hours or so of that stopover. To be fair, I enjoyed the shore excursions put on by Uniworld and have no real complaints about them. However this does not apply to the food and drink on board. It really annoyed me that most of the decision on what to eat was restricted to main course only. This occurred on three occasions of the five nights aboard. The menu for the rest of the courses had been decided by the Chef. The food was not of five star quality- I had better on a recent cruise on board Celebrity Solstice. The wines were a big disappointment as like the food, all came from Portugal. The wines on offer were very high in acid. There was no Champagne and no other alternatives for the wines. Some of the wines we purchased ashore were of a far better quality than those aboard. The service was mixed. The waiters tried very hard but due to the lack of numbers of them, were often forgetful when servicing the needs of the diners. In particular, the situation on the sun deck. One (very new to cruising) waiter tried to meet the demands of at least 40 people. Just couldn't cope and rightfully so.There was also a language problem in that few of the waiters were fluent in English. Please know that this is not a five star cruise despite the very expensive price tag and the experience in my view, is a smear on UNIWORLD'S reputation. I understand that UNIWORLD charters the Queen Isabel and has little intervention over the use of Portuguese staff, food and beverages. Maybe UNIWORLD needs to rethink its presence on the Douro River. Scenic does the same trip and it is booked out. Maybe that is because Scenic has its own boat and does not have to compromise its level of service or its reputation. It would take quite an incentive for me to chose to cruise with UNIWORLD again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Full trip report Overview We researched the various cruises available on the Douro, including Viking, Scenic, AMA, and CroisiEurope who all run their own ships. We also looked at Agents who buy blocks on other boats. We chose ... Read More
Full trip report Overview We researched the various cruises available on the Douro, including Viking, Scenic, AMA, and CroisiEurope who all run their own ships. We also looked at Agents who buy blocks on other boats. We chose Emerald as, for us, they had the best overall offering, a new ship. We had cruised with them before on the Danube and knew the standard to expect. We booked direct, and early, to get the best discounts and cabin choice. We had a chance to have a tour around their Scenic sister ship, Azure, whilst moored alongside. They are the same size with identical sun deck, although we preferred the partial shade on Emerald rather than the solid awning on Scenic. Scenic is all suite (white-chrome, and a bit clinical) with butler service (who wants their smalls unpacked!) with less guests/different crew ratio (96/33 against 112/37 on Emerald) and more dining options. We were told by our crew, who swap between boats when required, that the food is the same on both boats but all silver service in Azure. They also far preferred working on Radiance as although busier, the guests were more friendly and inclusive. I genuinely think it was their honest view, not said to please. Inclusive liquor packages are the same but they have a 3-piece band at night rather than a pianist! Apparently, they play to an empty lounge after dinner as the Scenic guests all were in bed, unlike the Emerald bar which was lively most nights until midnight. We honestly couldn’t see the extra value in paying thousands of £/$ to sail Scenic rather than Emerald. Pre/Post Cruise The Emerald price includes air fares to/from the UK. From our own experience, we knew that this generally included transfers in Paris/Frankfurt or Amsterdam if not flying from London airports. When our flights were offered they included a 06.15 departure and a 55-minute connection-a disaster waiting to happen. We took a price reduction of £250 each, booked direct flights to Oporto the day before departure and stayed at the OPO airport hotel and still had some change. Our advice-investigate the alternatives. Other guests, who had lost luggage/missed connections/late arrivals wished they had knew this option. Joining The Emerald price includes collection/drop off at the airport so we made our way, refreshed after a good sleep and breakfast, to Porto Arrivals to be collected with two other guests and transferred to the Emerald Radiance just as the last group were disembarking. We were the first of the new guests to arrive. Bliss. We had the ship to ourselves, and a private guided tour, until after lunch when the next few arrived. We sat in the sun, watching the Red Bull Air Race Practice and enjoyed a delightful buffet lunch with local wine & beer before we were shown to our suite promptly at 3pm. 10/10 The Ship The newest on the Douro, it’s first cruise was in June. The early cruises attracted criticism with early teething problems with cabin fittings and service levels but the all Portuguese crew had got their act by the time we joined the September cruise. As you would expect, everything is new-and it shows. The Horizon Bar & Lounge are the hub of the ship and the service from head barman Abel, supported by Sandra, sparkled. Guests had an option of having a light breakfast/snack lunch here or on The Terrace whilst the full buffet breakfast and lunch was laid out in Reflections 9/10 Suites (as they are called) Although they vary in size from 150to300 sq ft and you get what you paid for. Everyone we spoke to seemed to be happy with their rooms, however grand or modest, especially the comfort of the beds. We heard of only one flooding and one complaint of noise, a cabin directly below the crane which started up at 06.30 am as we prepared to depart each morning-note there is no night sailings on the Douro. Our suite at the stern was very quiet with only propeller noise at 7am on departure. 9/10 Dining and Beverages The Emerald price included, for most guests, all liquor and future cruises are fully inclusive. This included fine Spirits included premium Gins and Black label whisky, Vintage Port and included Cava/Prosecco but not Champagne. The Douro wines stocked and served were excellent. We thought the food was of very high standard with a wide choice to match all tastes. Lobster, crab, scallop and prawns were a feature on one night and every evening included a local signature dish. The Captains Gala dinner was excellent but we, and many others, enjoyed the buffet evenings rather than waiter service. Much wider choice, hotter food and we ate at our own speed. The farewell dinner should have been buffet-instead it was table d’hote. A big error by management with guests wanting an early night and still waiting for their main course at 9pm This is however the only real moan as the food and service was really good, well cooked and presented, a wide choice to meet all tastes and always the alternatives of Chef’s Specials of Grilled Salmon, Chicken or super Sirloin steak with fries-delicious! Two final points, both frequently reported and taken on by Management. Everyone was banging their legs, and there were a few near tumbles, because of the splayed rear legs of the chairs. Change them… And there are no soup spoons, only dessert shovels which are useless for soup. Buy some… 7.5/10 Crew All Portuguese, they have only been together for 3 months but are now working as a team. Good English, big smiles and always willing to help, The Captain Alfonso Ribeiro, speaks perfect English and is full of stories, some not printable. He is the most senior captain on the river, poached from Viking, and was originally a DS trawler captain. The waiting staff are worked really hard, especially at dinners as do the bar staff who despite the pressures from thirsty guests, smile through it all. Housekeeping is immaculate and the laundry service is spot on. The cruise director Luis Gomes worked on large cruise ships catering for the US market and it shows. (-: 8/10 Cruising and Excursions The highlights for us was the actual cruise itself, up (and down) the magnificent river Douro winding through the steep sided vineyards. We were blessed with fabulous weather, a warm 21c in Porto climbing as we passed through the mountains and onto the Spanish high plain to 36c in Salamanca. Sitting in the sun, G&T in hand watching the vineyards of Taylor, Crofts and Sandemans go by, was a real treat Passing the locks was a great experience but we soon learned to take shelter from the sun deck when leaving the lock to avoid getting wet with drips from the overhead gantry. Only two optional excursions were offered- Mateus Palace and Guimaraes and although guests who took the Mateus tour enjoyed the house and gardens they did not like the trip to Guimaraes as it was long motorway journey with little to enjoy or see in Guimaraes. All other excursions are included and our favourites were Porto itself, the lovely river side town of Pinhão and the full day in Salamanca. For those on board, when cruising, there was always an afternoon activity-cocktail making, tile painting and talks. In the evening, there was always music in the bar or a quiz or competition for those up for it although many, knackered, preferred an early night. 8.5/10 Guests Mainly from the UK, making up 75% the rest a mix of Australians, Canadians and from the US. Only a few aged under 45 (travel agents?) with the average age in the high 60’s with a good smattering of lively 80’s (affectionally called the “sticks”) A really good mix and, as the meals are free seating, most guests had a chance to mix and mingle. 10/10 Summary The Douro is a lovely river and has fascinating micro climate winding through vineyards, olive groves almonds and eventually, just over the border with Spain, oaks with the famous black pigs. Porto is a great City to explore and Salamanca is a must Emerald has a well-paced cruise with excursions to meet all tastes, and cabins to meet most pockets and seems to attract a good mix of guests. 8.5/10 Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Excellent cabin, ship's amenities, staff and cuisine. The all Portuguese crew were friendly and proud of their country and were always ready to go the extra mile to make everyone on board as comfortable as possible. Scenic Cruises ... Read More
Excellent cabin, ship's amenities, staff and cuisine. The all Portuguese crew were friendly and proud of their country and were always ready to go the extra mile to make everyone on board as comfortable as possible. Scenic Cruises calls their vessels "Space Ships" and the novel design of their "convertible" veranda lives up to the hype. We have always viewed cabins with a veranda as a minimum requirement for any cruise that we have taken as we liked to be able to step out and feel the weather before going ashore. As good as that has always been for us, the Scenic "Space Ship" gave us the option of making that Veranda area part of our interior cabin space (which was wonderful) OR to use it as a traditional outdoor veranda space. Having that choice has spoiled us! The all inclusive nature of a Scenic cruise is wonderful. No nickel or dime additions EVER. In fact they do not even ask to see your credit card when you check into the vessel. A wonderful experience that we will treasure! Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Had not been to Portugal before and really enjoyed 1st Secenic trip Amsterdam to Budapest. Cruise director very well organised and supportive. Tour guides, Raquel, Sergio and Maria Helene were very knowledgeable, entertaining and ... Read More
Had not been to Portugal before and really enjoyed 1st Secenic trip Amsterdam to Budapest. Cruise director very well organised and supportive. Tour guides, Raquel, Sergio and Maria Helene were very knowledgeable, entertaining and supportive. All the excursions were fun and informative and gave a great overview of Portugal. However, the day to Salamanca could be reviewed. I loved Salamanca and would have liked free time but was not prepared to be ready at 6.30am. An option for free time would be not to partake in lunch at hacienda with dancers, but to stay in Salamanca and organise own lunch in a cafe or bar and then get picked up about same time as lunch experience had finished. Food excellent - enjoyed all meals. The galley tour was extremely interesting as was the cooking demonstration so thanks to our executive chef, Rodrigues. Met lovely people on cruise and enjoyed getting to know them and hear their stories. Will definitely do another Scenic cruise as the service, food, facilities and everything prepaid all terrific and suits us to do it this way. Travelled with friends from Perth, Western Australia but everyone so friendly on board and socialised with many different couples. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
On board dining excellent although "The Portbello Experience" was sadly lacking. Not helped by the cruise director walking around the area giving the very lengthy port briefing. No greeting or farewell by the butlers at this ... Read More
On board dining excellent although "The Portbello Experience" was sadly lacking. Not helped by the cruise director walking around the area giving the very lengthy port briefing. No greeting or farewell by the butlers at this event. General dining could not be faulted especially Tiago our waiter who was excellent. Evening drinks served by Sofia and her assistant was excellent again. Thank you Sofia and assistant. Excursions when accompanied by Maria Helena were excellent and she could not be praised enough for her humour and also extensive knowledge. The last full day was a rush as we wanted to go on both the morning and the afternoon tours, which we did. Unfortunately this left us only 40 minutes on return to shower and change for the Taylors meal which has been put back from the previous day. A tiring day not helped by the fact the meal was terrible. There were no choices of menu, the soup was lukewarm in a cold dish, the meat, again on a cold plate and lukewarm was far too rare for us, my wife's meat was raw in the middle and she did not eat it. This was mentioned casually to the cruise director who told my wife to see the maître de. Half of the people on our table did not eat their meat for the same reason. The few vegetables on the plates were also haphazard, different portion size. Finally I would have expected more than a small glass of port when you visited such an establishment although there was ample wine. We were unable to do the online survey as we had no time, receiving late the evening before and having such a busy final day. The transport to and from the airport was excellent. Not the best way to finish what is a luxury holiday and leaves me undecided if I would use Scenic again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
This was a lovely cruise on a smallish classy boat, with a hugely attentive and friendly local crew, Food and cabin were good, but most important of all the ambiance and feeling on the trip was wonderful with the Douro being a truly ... Read More
This was a lovely cruise on a smallish classy boat, with a hugely attentive and friendly local crew, Food and cabin were good, but most important of all the ambiance and feeling on the trip was wonderful with the Douro being a truly unspoilt and magnificent destination. The excursions were well organised with entertaining and knowledgeable guides. It of course helped that the weather (October) was neither too hot nor too cold. In summary we would highly recommend - it wasn't cheap but the inclusive nature, alcohol and tours, made it better value for money than it seemed on the ticket price. The flights were via Portuguese airlines, which were both surprisingly pleasant and punctual. The transfers were fine, albeit the traffic from Porto airport to the ship was awful. Overall highly recommended on this our second scenic tour - they have developed a way of employing good staff who seem genuinely to enjoy helping all their passengers. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We have travelled with Uniworld on other cruises and had found them very good. The Douro Valley was on our 'must do' list. Both the cruise and the ship exceeded expectations. Although the usual things ( mentioned below) met ... Read More
We have travelled with Uniworld on other cruises and had found them very good. The Douro Valley was on our 'must do' list. Both the cruise and the ship exceeded expectations. Although the usual things ( mentioned below) met expectations it was the attitude of the staff on board and on arranged tours that made the trip very special. The staff were more than just friendly and helpful - they were an integral part of the experience. Their humour alone was worth the trip. Shore excursions were effortless and enjoyable, the scenery along the way was magnificant. Were held a professional conference on board for 80 delegates and although the ship was not designed for conferencing the ships crew did everything necessary to facilitate the smooth running of our conference including the rearranging of furniture and the set up of conference facilities daily, rescheduling tours, meals and events to accommodate conference sessions. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We were in Lisbon three days before we boarded the ship. Lisbon is a beautiful city with great buildings to look at. We had great tours from Scenic to many areas of Lisbon plus went to the ocean to see the beaches. Great accommodations in ... Read More
We were in Lisbon three days before we boarded the ship. Lisbon is a beautiful city with great buildings to look at. We had great tours from Scenic to many areas of Lisbon plus went to the ocean to see the beaches. Great accommodations in Lisbon at the Sheraton, within walking distance of lovely old areas. Getting on and off the ship was very easy and orderly, a young crew but were fantastic. So accommodating and really enjoyed there job. The dining was wonderful for breakfast, lunch, and dinner always a special treat awaiting us. The wine was excellent as it was from the local areas we were in. We had a wonderful piano player who looked like Richard Gere with a wonderful voice. There were always games to partake in at night or just enjoy a night cap with the other guests. The shore excursions were top of the line just as you would expect from Scenic and its crew. A cocktail event at the Douro Museum with Port Tonic. Or touring the town of Lamego to see Portugal's first toll bridge. The city of Salamanca that is a world heritage site along with the history of wine production. The small village of Provesende where we were brought into a bakery to see how they still use the old ovens to bake the bread. WE also enjoyed port in a restored manor house. The owner actually took us around his estate. We went to a dinner like none other at Taylors Cellars that included traditional Fado music and wonderful views of the Douro River. All in all the cruise was excellent and Portugal is a wonderful place to visit. This should be your next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017

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