A cruise on the Douro is a delightfully relaxing voyage. Credit: Shutterstock

New girl in town: Avalon Alegria to make her debut on the Douro

Author: Daniel Edward

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Avalon Waterways’ newest addition will sail on Portugal’s ‘river of gold’, with 14 deluxe staterooms and 37 suites

With her name meaning ‘happiness’, Avalon Alegria will be sure to live up to her name when she sets sail in 2024. The new ‘Suite Ship’ will be the first Avalon Waterways ship to venture along the Douro, in Portugal.

Marking a momentous expansion into one of Western Europe’s lesser explored destinations, Avalon Alegria will offer guests the opportunity to experience Europe’s old-world charm from the comfort of an Avalon ‘Suite Ship’ for the first time.

Making the announcement of the new itinerary, Avalon Waterways' CEO Giles Hawke said, “we’ve been waiting for the perfect opportunity to add Portugal to our robust portfolio and that day has finally arrived.”

Avalon Waterways' CEO Giles Hawke. Credit: Avalon Waterways

What to expect onboard the new Avalon Alegria
When she launches in March 2024, Avalon Alegria will bring Avalon Waterways’ sleek ‘Suite Ship’ concept to Portugal for the first time.

Onboard, you’ll discover suites with the best views of the river as you sail, with sumptuous window-facing beds arranged to offer panoramic landscapes as soon as you open your eyes after a night of peaceful rest.

The ship’s décor is an elegant balance of contemporary simplicity with classic touches, with room furnishes drawing in the warm and relaxing hues of Portugal’s sun-kissed hills.

Staterooms are arranged over three decks, with the majority of rooms featuring full floor-to-ceiling window walls, which can slide open to transform your entire room into a magnificent open-air balcony.

Around the ship, you’ll enjoy watching the world go by from the covered observation lounge, or take it easy on the open-top ‘Sky Deck’, where you’ll find plenty of al fresco seating and an outside pool set behind the navigation bridge.

And then there’s the food, which draws inspiration from regional cuisines along the itinerary and stars the freshest local ingredients, sourced in traditional food markets in the ports of call.

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Sail the river of gold
The Douro River winds majestically through Portugal. Formerly the beating heart of a mighty trade empire, this river has seen treasures and trade steam through from all corners of the globe. Nowadays, the pace of life is more tranquil along the Douro.

Portugal’s major cities – where the Douro meets the Atlantic – glow in the romantic wash of a coastal sunset, with terracotta-topped neighbourhoods and blue-tiled walls gleaming in the warm wash.

Further inland, you’ll through some of the continent’s oldest vineyards, famous for their rich fortified wines amongst other popular bottles.

In port, you’ll explore the picture-perfect Minho region, famed for its 16th century golden church, and venture back in time even further to witness ancient rock art that presents a window into another world.

The Douro is pint-sized in European river cruising terms but it certainly packs a punch. Credit: Shutterstock

Choose to join Avalon Alegria for eight days of sailing, on a round-trip river cruise from Porto, or add in three nights in Lisbon at Avalon Waterways’ partner hotel in the Portuguese capital.

Once checked-in, Porto is a fabulous city for foodies, so you might want to join the ship’s optional food tour, with plenty of local flavours to sample. And with an overnight stay in port to start the cruise, there’s ample time to absorb the essence of the city before cruising up river to the historic Guimarães – perfect for a cycle ride.

With sailing times scheduled to maximise scenic cruising, there’s a generous amount of time in port both during the daytime and evenings, delivering the deep connection with the destination that Avalon Waterways’ is celebrated for.

And with the line’s range of excursions and activities touching all styles of traveller, from cooking workshops and painting classes to classic sightseeing tours and laid back relaxation in beautiful lesser-visited ports, this new itinerary on a brand new ship promises to be a hotly anticipated release.

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