Emerald Waterways, a luxury river cruise company, is shining the spotlight on the Duoro River in Portugal this year, with 30 cruises between April and October. Eight-day voyages sail aboard the new 112-guest Emerald Radiance, roundtrip from Porto. Rates are from $2,195 per person.
Cruisers will explore the villages, farms and vineyard around Porto, and an afternoon sailing to Vega Teron, the gateway into Spain, offers the opportunity to participate in a Portuguese cooking demonstration. Later in the cruise, a day trip to Spain’s Roman city of Salamanca offers a first-hand look at the seat of the Spanish language and a feel for life in medieval times. Declared a World City of Culture, Salamanca is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe and is still a lively student town. A full day spent in this historic city offers plenty of free time to explore.
An excursion to the Coa Valley Prehistoric Museum in Pocinho reveals stone carvings made by early inhabitants of the Duoro, followed by a cocktail lesson (using white port) on board and a dinner at a traditional local wine estate. At the Duoro Museum in Regua, travelers can book a Discover More excursion to Mateus Palace, the historic icon depicted on the labels of Portugal’s famous rose wine. Back in Porto as the cruise comes to its end, a city tour, including the numerous wine caves of Vila Nova de Gaia, rounds out the trip.
For those wishing to extend their stays in Portugal or Spain, Emerald Waterways offers the opportunity to spend time exploring the capitol cities of Lisbon and Madrid. Guests wishing to see Lisbon can add a three-night stay at the beginning or end of the sailing with a package that includes accommodations, daily breakfast, one dinner, a city tour and services of a program director starting at $645 per person. A three-night extension package in Madrid, Spain contains accommodations, breakfast daily and one dinner starting at $995 per person.
Launched in 2014, Emerald Waterways caters to upscale travelers, with five-star ships and service, and a fully inclusive pricing plan. The cruise fare includes all transfers to and from the ship; most onboard (and some on-shore) meals; unlimited tea and coffee; wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner; bottled water in the cabins replenished daily; continental breakfast, pre-dinner canapés and after-dinner sweet treats served in the top suites; complimentary Wi-Fi onboard the ship, a shore excursion on most days; and more – as well as all gratuities on and off the ship.