Discover the joys of the Douro River with Riviera Travel. Credit: Shutterstock

Have you seen Riviera Travel’s new itinerary? On a brand new ship…

Author: Daniel Edward

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Visit one of Europe’s most intriguing (and lesser visited) countries, brimming with unique architecture, food, culture and a very particular type of wine

Did you guess the destination? Riviera Travel has just launched a new itinerary through Portugal, and with eight full days to explore the highlights of the Douro Valley and Salamanca, this is going to be a popular sailing.

Sailing onboard MS Porto Mirante – Riviera Travel’s soon-to-launch ship dedicated to the golden waterways of Portugal – you’ll start and end your cruise in the coastal city of Porto.

The itinerary journeys all the way across to the easternmost reaches of Portugal, and even (overland) extends into Spain with a one-day excursion to the hallowed and ancient university town of Salamanca.

Riviera Travel is introducing a new ship, Porto Mirante, to operate the Douro river from next summer. Credit: Riviera Travel

Step onboard the newest ship in Portugal
MS Porto Mirante launches in 2024, with the new highlights of the Douro Valley and Salamanca itinerary as one of her signature voyages.

Staffed by a crew of 42 – including an expert Riviera Travel cruise director to enhance your travel experience with local tips and know-how – this elegant ship has a capacity of 120 guests.

That’s one crew member for every three guests, ensuring a personal and first-class feel around the ship.

Presented over four decks, with roomy cabins on the first three, MS Porto Mirante offers an environment where like-minded travellers can explore the modest magnificence of Portugal from the comfort of a floating boutique hotel.

To cap the ship off, the sun deck is a wonderfully relaxing spot, with the best views around and a refreshing pool for a splash in Portugal’s famously rosy summer sun.

Onboard amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, all meals onboard (including a special Captain’s dinner on the final evening), a superior drinks package included in the cruise fare, and all excursions.

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A taste of the journey
Following a west-east course across the north of Portugal, MS Porto Mirante’s eight-day itinerary whisks you from a well-known Portuguese tourist hotspot and deep into the lesser explored heart of the country.

Porto – the start and end point of your journey – is north of Lisbon and features many similar charms to the Portuguese capital, though with fewer crowds. There’s an international airport, so getting here from the UK is simple and fuss-free.

And there’s plenty of time to explore this steep-banked gateway to the Douro Valley. With a stepped landscape splashed with whitewashed walls and glowing terracotta roof tiles, punctuated with impressive towering stone facades of historic churches there’s a lot to see in Porto. And your Riviera Travel tour of the city (included in the cruise fare), will make sure that you make the most of your time in port(o).

Following an overnight stay in Porto, it’s time to venture into the UNESCO World Heritage listed Douro Valley – a picture moment at every meandering turn. Enjoy cruising through majestic landscapes as you tuck into a gourmet breakfast, before the ship docks in Castelo Rodrigo, a 12th Century walled town all the way in the highlands approaching the Spanish border.

Given the proximity to Spain, your itinerary affords you the luxury of a day trip across the border to visit Salamanca – home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. This ancient seat of learning also houses two cathedrals (one from the 12th Century and the other – also in Gothic style – built in the 16th Century). As part of your day trip to Salamanca, tuck into a local lunch and soak up the trademark spirit of an authentic flamenco show.

Portugal’s second city, Porto, is having a moment. Credit: Riviera Travel

The return leg of the cruise features a memorable visit to Quinta da Avessada – known for its delectable moscatel wines. Discover more about the area and its rich wine heritage before indulging in a tasting over lunch.

Day six transports you to Lamego, where you can explore the Moorish castle in the morning and then head out to Mateus Palace in the afternoon – if you’re a wine lover, you may well recognise the striking facade as the logo of the celebrated Mateus Rosé label.

The cruise concludes back in Porto, where an excursion to Guimarães transports you to the spiritual birthplace of the country – the city where the very first king of Portugal is reputed to have been born in a Romanesque castle that still presides proudly over the city. Alternatively, choose to return to Vila Nova de Gaia for a final port tasting.

Admire the baroque Casa de Mateus palace. Credit: Shutterstock
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