The golden Douro on board the excellent Spirit of Chartwell
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Iconic port wine, enigmatic cities and Portuguese charm, all on a boat used by Her Majesty the Queen, makes this cruise one to remember. Discover the unique culture of the golden Douro river on board the excellent Spirit of Chartwell as you visit quintas, explore villas and sample Portuguese delicacies.
Meet your group at the dock in Porto where you board your ship, the exquisite Spirit of Chartwell. After settling in to your elegant cabin, enjoy an exotic cocktail while the captain and his crew welcome you aboard as the upper deck is bathed in the golden glow of the Portuguese sunset. Shortly afterwards, take a coach into the city where you enjoy dinner with your fellow passengers at Vinum, a restaurant owned and operated by Graham's Port, an iconic name in global port production. Here you enjoy a tasting of Graham's famous 6 Grapes Port. This wonderful full-bodied vintage port has earned many admirers throughout the years - none more loyal than Prime Minster and wine connoisseur Sir Winston Churchill, for whom 6 Grapes Port was a personal favourite.
This morning begins with a city tour of Porto. Enjoy the sights of this charming city including the impressive city bridge, the manors of the Foz district and the noble cathedral with its commanding views from the top of the Penaventosa Hill. At the end of the tour, visit a port winery where you take a port tasting and learn more about Porto's viticulture. The Spirit of Chartwell sets sail in the afternoon, on its way through shimmering waterways to Entre-os-Rios. This evening you delve more into the Portuguese port heritage with a celebration of vintage port wines.
Today, your ship docks at Regua. This morning, you are given a culinary demonstration introducing you to the gastronomic traditions of this part of the world. In the afternoon, you pay a visit to Lamego, a picturesque village near the banks of the Douro where you take a guided tour. The Cathedral is the centrepoint of Lamego, a remarkable example of Baroque architecture with superb panoramas across the white buildings below. Arguably more impressive however, are 700 steps which lead up to its doors, decorated as they are in cheerful white and blue tiles. As part of the tour, enjoy tastings of the local produce, including regional bread, cakes and a sparkling wine known as 'Raposeira'. Enjoy dinner at a local wine 'quinta' or wine estate later.
Barca d'Alva is today's docking point and from here, you take an excursion to Castelo Rodrigo. A fascinating medieval town, hidden in the hills, Castelo Rodrigo has seen a variety of different peoples and civilisations come and go. Enjoy a historical tour here along with a tasting of local almonds. Later on board, you take dinner with the Captain at the Captain's Dinner before a Portuguese Music Show which features a delightful performance of folk music.
Your excursion today sees you venture from Portugal into neighbouring Spain by coach, where you visit the magnificent city of Salamanca. This honey-coloured city is home to some stunning buildings and architecture, both of which you discover on your tour here. We see the oldest university in Spain, the decorous House of Shells and the grand Plaza Mayor as well as the intricate houses, shops and cafes which line the streets here. On your return to the ship later tonight, you sample some more of Portugal's culinary culture with a Portuguese barbecue.
The Spirit of Chartwell departs Barca d'Alva today, sailing back to Regua. On the way, you may wish to attend a lecture on Portugal in modern times. On arrival in Regua, you pay a visit to the Vila Real and the Casa de Mateus by coach. This romantic villa was owned by the Count of Vila Real, and features wonderful wooden interiors, a chapel and gracefully manicured gardens. There is much to see here during your tour.
Sail today to Entre-os-Rios this morning for your excursion to Quinta da Aveleda. One of the notable wine estates which sit near the banks of the Douro, the Quinta da Aveleda belongs to the Guedes family who have been in operation since the mid-19th century. You discover more on a tour of this family owned estate, finding out how the port wine is made and what goes into each and every bottle. The Quinta de Aveleda is set amidst beautiful parkland and the company is housed in a charming old stone building encased in vines and flowers. Later, you enjoy lunch here featuring fresh local ingredients.
Tonight, the Spirit of Chartwell returns to Porto and it is here where you are treated to a marvellous farewell sunset cruise across the harbour. Perhaps enjoy a drink with your fellow passengers on the top deck as you revisit your experiences on the Douro, against a backdrop of the sinking Portuguese sun.
Bid a fond farewell to the Spirit of Chartwell and Portugal as you disembark for your flight back home.
Our October departure for this tour includes an excursion on Day 6 to the Douro Valley Grape Harvest Festival, which takes place over the course of September and October. This wonderful festival is a celebration of the harvest, and the grapes and wine which it produces. The Douro has always been an iconic wine destination, so naturally, the harvest is a hugely important time of year. The vineyards buzz with the sound of villagers taking the finest grapes from the strongest vines, to be crushed and turned into some of the finest wines on the international stage.
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We recommend that for this tour you arrange flights to and from Porto Airport, which is approximately 15 miles from your base in Porto.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
The River Cruise
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The golden Douro on board the excellent Spirit of Chartwell