Wed, Oct 17: Overnight flights to Europe.
Thu, Oct 18: Lisbon. Arrive in Lisbon, Portugal then transfer to your deluxe hotel (conveniently located near the city center) for the next three nights.
Fri, Oct 19: Lisbon. Enjoy a city tour of Lisbon that shows you all the top sights and treats you to an iconic, locally-made pastry, pasteis de nata, at Pasteis de Belém, which has been baking these yummy treats since 1837. Vibrant, colorful and picturesque, Lisbon’s historic architecture reflects the wealth brought in during the “Age of Discovery,” when the Portuguese owned the seas, but it is also a modern center of finance and international trade. Lunch and the rest of the afternoon are on your own in Lisbon. You can choose to remain downtown and explore on your own or return to the hotel. Shuttles are available to take you to and from the hotel. (Breakfast)
Sat, Oct 20: Lisbon. Lisbon is yours to explore today. Get out and see the city on your own. The city hosts remarkable museums, amazing food and excellent shopping. (B)
Sun, Oct 21: Lisbon, Coimbra, transfer to Porto. Travel north through Portugal’s picturesque countryside to Porto. En route, you’ll stop in Coimbra—Portugal’s first capital—where you’ll tour the ancient university and its lavish baroque library, the Joanina, considered one of the most beautiful in the world. After seeing a little of the town itself, which boasts Moorish and Roman architectural remnants, you’ll stop at a local family-run restaurant for a traditional Portuguese lunch. Board your ship in Porto—your home for the next eight days. (B,L,D)
Mon, Oct 22: Porto (embark). Discover Porto’s historic architecture, cutting-edge design and fabulous food and wine. Choose between two distinctive ways to explore Porto: a city tour, or “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour. On the city tour, travel through medieval alleys and UNESCO-designated neighborhoods enclosed by 14th-century walls. See the Clérigos Tower, visible from almost anywhere in the Old Town. Take in the 19th-century Stock Exchange Palace before visiting Porto’s austere hilltop cathedral and the bustling pedestrian shopping street, Santa Catarina. On the “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour, climb to the top of Clérigos Tower for the best view in Porto. Visit Livraria Lello, perhaps the most beautiful bookstore in the world, and explore the São Bento railway station. Walk to the Church of Saint Francis, the city’s finest example of Gothic architecture. Five famous bridges link Porto to Vila Nova da Gaia, including the graceful iron arches of Dom Luis I, and you’ll sail under all of them as you enter the mouth of the Douro.(B,L,D)
Tue, Oct 23: Cruising the Douro River, Régua, Pinhão. Today is all about wine, which has been cultivated in the Douro River Valley since ancient Roman times. Get a crash course on the history of Port during your visit to the Douro Museum, then treat yourself to a tasting of fruity Moscatels and a hearty, rustic-style lunch at the family-owned wine estate, Quinta da Avessada. (B,L,D)
Wed, Oct 24: Pinhão, cruising the Douro River, Vega de Terrón. Feel the centuries fall away as your ship winds its way through the pristine, dramatic, UNESCO-protected landscapes of the Douro River Valley. Head ashore and choose between two excursions: a port wine estate guided tour with a tasting at prestigious Quinta do Seixo, or a vineyard hike with a tasting at a local quinta. The ship docks near the Spanish border this evening.(B,L,D)
Thu, Oct 25: Vega de Terrón (Salamanca), Barca d’Alva. Today visit the historic university town of Salamanca, Spain—where Columbus sought advice before sailing west in search of a new route to the Indies. Called the Golden City for its tawny sandstone buildings, Salamanca boasts an abundance of beautiful churches—including the Old Cathedral which dates to the 12th century. Walk with your guide through Plaza Mayor, lined with wonderful baroque buildings, to the university founded by Alfonso IX in 1218. Visit Salamanca’s food hall – sampling some of Spain’s best cheeses and meats before free time to browse the shops on Rua Mayor. (B,L,D)
Fri, Oct 26: Barca d’Alva (Castelo Rodrigo), Pocinho, cruising the Douro River, Regua. Enjoy breathtaking scenery this morning as the ship cruises the upper Douro River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site both because of its beauty and its remarkable history. You may opt to visit Portugal’s first archaeological park, Foz Côa, an excursion worthy of Indiana Jones, where you’ll discover an astonishing collection of prehistoric carvings ranging from the Epipaleolithic and Bronze ages to the 17th century. Or choose to explore the comparatively “modern” Castelo Rodrigo, a medieval castle standing at the heart of the still-lively village—the view from the top is incredible and the village is a charming place to ramble, relax and replenish. Later in the day, your ship will drift down the Douro toward Porto, where it will dock for the last two days of your Portuguese adventure. (B.L,D)
Sat, Oct 27: Cruising the Douro River, Porto (Guimaraes). Choose between a city tour of historic Guimaraes (where Portugal was born), or a walking discovery tour of picturesque Ribeira, one of Porto’s oldest neighborhoods. On the city tour of Guimaraes, explore the wonderfully well-preserved Old Town, with its unique architecture (houses here combine granite with half-timbering) and charming little plazas. Rove with your guide from the castle that overlooks the town toward the beautiful main square, the Largo da Oliveira, and to the splendid Monastery and Church of Our Lady of Oliveira and the 14th-century Gothic Padrão do Salado. On the walking discovery tour in Ribeira, stroll with your local guide through the oldest part of the city, and check out some of the Roman ruins excavated here. This may be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s no museum: People hang their laundry from upper floors of brightly painted houses, cafés nestle under 500-year-old arches, and traditional rabelos (flat-keeled sailboats) bob at the quay. As lively as it is picturesque, Ribeira is indeed the soul of Porto. In the evening, enjoy a special Gala Dinner. (B,L,D)
Sun, Oct 28: Porto. Disembark the ship and transfer to the Porto airport to fly home. (B)
S.S. Queen Isabel.
Named after Portugal’s beloved queen, this boutique 116-passenger vessel is the most unique and stately ship on the Douro, with lavishly appointed riverview staterooms and suites. All have handcrafted Savoir® of England beds draped in high-thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, along with a menu of pillow options. Ship features: full-service bar • restaurant • Serenity River Spa • well-equipped fitness center • sun deck • swimming pool