Anyone that has ever gone on a cruise discovers one true fact: As soon as you’ve figured everything out, it’s time for you to go home. Unfortunately, new experiences usually have steep learning curves.
As a result, we’ve compiled the best of the Douro River Cruise so you know exactly how to prepare.
The river is the region's defining feature, stretching from Spain's Vega de Terron (a stop along the river where you can head to the lovely city of Salamanca) to the Atlantic Ocean.
The journey upriver is amongst the most scenic routes in the world. River cruises can last from an hour to one or more days, with or without food and perhaps even vineyard visits, and are a delightful way to embrace the landscape.
The cruising season begins in late March and runs into late November. Even though there is certainly no Christmas markets season in the area, Viking River Cruises does offer trips during December.
Usually the best times to pay a visit are in spring, May and June, and then once again during harvest season -- in fall months of September and October.
For the best prices, shoulder season months, like March through to May and then again in November since this offers the cheapest fares but you may find the weather a bit cooler and rainy.
July and August are great times for snagging deals since the area can be quite hot during the period.
Although it is probably busy, you can anticipate an explosion of colourful flowers and greenery and the garden will simply be amazing in full.
This route is so popular and companies are starting to add more lines. These include Emerald Waterways, AmaWaterways, APT, Uniworld, Scenic and Viking River Cruises.
On many occasions, ships are actually controlled by DouroAzul, a Portugal-based company that owns much of the region's cruising infrastructure, from docking facilities to coaches. However, companies do get to choose how to operate their tour for example types of food etc.
Itineraries can vary very little between cruise lines. Typically, Longer trips (10 nights and more) begin in Madrid or, on the reverse, in Lisbon before travellers are delivered by coach to their ships. The 7 night cruise travels between the delightful UNESCO approved city of Porto and a small village, known as Vega de Terron. This is a docking point for the two-hour bus ride to Salamanca.
Most of the itinerary highlights are in two genuinely beautiful cities (Spain's Salamanca and Portugal's Porto).
A fair portion of the itinerary can actually be pretty slow and laid-back possibly influenced by nature of the Spanish and Portuguese.
As there's plenty to do, one thing that may catch you off guard is that there's no night navigation, therefore ships must cruise from sunrise to sunset.
Hopefully we have helped you decide to take a look at this wonderful region and most importantly make the most of your trip.