Into the Douro Valley with Avalon Alegria

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If you had requested me 10 years in the past if I loved a river cruise, my reply would have been a tough no. But a decade later, river cruises have come a good distance, child! We not too long ago boarded the Avalon Alegria in Porto, Portugal, for a cruise into the Douro Valley. This European River cruise felt extra just like the small ship expeditions we’ve taken previously than the previous customary river cruises that stopped at packed ports and spent extra time on the bus than exploring the vacation spot.

What’s it Like on a Douro Valley River Cruise

Avalon Alegria Douro Valley Cruise

We boarded our all-suites ship in Porto, the place we started our journey into the gorgeous hills of the Douro Valley. The Avalon Alegria was designed to make the most of probably the most house whereas creating the final word enjoyable and splendid expertise.

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The Ship – Avalon Alegria

The Avalon Alegria Ship

The Avalon Alegria is the latest of Avalon’s ships. It is an all-suites ship with 14 deluxe staterooms or 37 Panorama Suites. We toured all the rooms, and regardless of which room you select, you’ll be comfortable. All Panorama Suites function floor-to-ceiling home windows that open to show your room into one big balcony, and all beds face the water.

Avalon Alegria Top Deck Pool

Onboard facilities embrace a bar and dance ground, nightly leisure, a eating room, a membership lounge, and a gymnasium. The Sky Deck has a swimming pool, outside grill and bar, and loads of lounge chairs and tables. If the climate is sweet, that is the place to be to soak up the attractive vistas of the Douro Valley.

Avalon Alegria Suites

Avalon Alegria Suites

Let’s start with the suites. With a most capability of 102 individuals, each room is spacious and splendid. We stayed in one of many fourteen 200-square-foot panorama suites, which was excellent for our journey.

While different cruise strains we’ve taken line their beds up in opposition to a wall with a view of the opposite wall, the Avalon Alegria ship units every mattress dealing with the floor-to-ceiling home windows for views of the river. We loved afternoon siestas in our room whereas watching the Douro River views go by.

Avalon Alegria Stateroom

But that’s not all. Most individuals need a balcony when river cruising, nevertheless it’s tough to offer everybody one because of the measurement limitations of the river and the locks. Avalon has mounted this drawback by creating floor-to-ceiling home windows that open broad, remodeling your suite into an open-air balcony. By taking away the outside balcony, they’ve created 30% extra residing house.

Breakfast in our room on the Avalon Alegria in the Douro Valley

We loved breakfast in our room every morning with our home windows open to see the hills of the Douro River. With plush robes, slippers, and gorgeous views, we by no means needed to depart our room! Oh and did I inform you that they not solely have a pillow menu, but in addition a mattress menu? There are 4 totally different settings for the mattress. Just let the crew understand how you want your mattress, and so they’ll set it up for you.

Club Lounge

the Club Lounge on the Avalon Alegria ship

Next to our room, the Club Lounge was our second favourite house on the Avalon Alegria. Before breakfast, we walked to the lounge in our robes and slippers to seize a cappuccino, freshly baked cookies, and vitamin water.

I cherished filling my refillable water bottle with my alternative of water for the day. Would or not it’s Vitamin B water? Sparkling grapefruit or ginger. The selections have been superior.

Normally, cruise ships reserve this house for upgraded suites, however Avalon makes this coveted house on the stern of the boat open for everybody. You can sit again and chill out, have tea, or ship an electronic mail on the quick Star Link Wi-Fi that’s included within the journey.

Avalon, the Greenest Ship on the Douro

Green initiatives on the Avalon Alegria

We know the rap cruise ships get, however Avalon works onerous to journey sustainably. Avalon has partnered with locations to generate sustainable electrical energy whereas docked. They use shore energy every time they will and have put in LED lighting all through their ships.

You will discover that I discussed a water station above and Avalon has zero plastic onboard. There are glasses that you would be able to refill, however we suggest packing your personal water bottle to tackle excursions. We weren’t provided bottled water on our excursions (which I used to be grateful for), so we crammed up our bottles earlier than leaving the ship.

They have lowered paper by 80%. Unlike different cruise ships, you received’t see your day by day schedule and a great deal of paper in your beds. Avalon has an app for visitors to make use of with schedules on the TVs.

Be well water stations on the Avalon Alegria

They have additionally partnered with The Ocean Cleanup to assist of their mission of eradicating 90% of ocean plastic. This is a frightening job, and I do not know the way it will occur, however with corporations investing and partnering, good issues can occur.

Honestly, in at present’s world, we’re all contributing to the destruction of the planet, so the one factor corporations can do is give again. Avalon vegetation two timber for each passenger on a cruise, has state-of-the-art oil filters to maintain oil adjustments to a minimal, and is seeking to swap to electrical ships within the close to future.

What’s Included – Avalon is About Choice

Since we talked about premium coffees and free web, I believed we’d contact on what’s included in your Douro River Cruise with Avalon Waterways. The phrase we saved listening to was the Avalon is about alternative. Passengers have flexibility relating to eating, excursions, and issues to do onboard.

Meals

Meals included on the Avalon Alegria Douro Valley Portugal

All meals, together with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, are included. Breakfast may be loved in your stateroom or within the eating room. Lunch is a buffet within the eating room or gentle snacks within the bar. You may also at all times order sure meals, like burgers and sandwiches, off the menu.

Dinner is a scrumptious multicourse meal of native and worldwide dishes paired with tremendous native wine. Portugal has unbelievable wines, and I really like that Avalon serves solely native wines. When I’m in Portugal, I don’t need to be consuming a California Chardonnay; I need a wealthy Douro Valley purple, and that’s precisely what they delivered.

Unlike different cruises, passengers are provided flex eating and might eat anytime throughout the eating window. Seating is versatile, with tables for 2, or you possibly can be part of massive teams.

Drinks

Happy hour drinks on the Avalon alegria Douro Valley Portugal

Speaking of wine, beer and wine are included at lunch and dinner. All specialty coffees, smooth drinks, and water are additionally included. And, not like different cruises, the Douro Valley River cruise affords free cocktail hour drinks. And let me inform you, they make scrumptious cocktails.

Tours

Tour to Amarante from the Alegria by Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways actually stands out with its excursions and shore excursions. They have damaged down excursions to go well with totally different wants. You can select from Classic, Discovery, or Active Excursion choices. Each day you are able to do one thing totally different from lively adventures that embrace kayaking and mountaineering to cultural experiences that take you to historic districts and meals and wine excursions to benefit from the Douro Valley Wines and Ports of Porto.

There is one thing for everybody, relying in your mobility and exercise degree. Plus, there’s an onboard journey host that leads yoga within the mornings.

Entertainment

Nightly entertainment onboard the Avalon Alegria

Each night after dinner, there’s native leisure. We loved a Fado Show of proficient native guitarists sharing their tradition, tales and music.

The subsequent night time was an impressive quartet of strings placing their very own spin on fashionable rock and pop music.

We additionally loved being serenaded by a finalist from The Voice and had nightly dancing. This is a type of journeys that brings the native tradition to you.

The Crew

The amazing crew on the Avalon Alegria

Something that basically stands out on the Avalon Alegria cruise by means of the Douro Valley is the workers. Your hosts could make or break a visit and the Alegria workers goes above and past. Within the second we stepped onboard, they felt like previous buddies.

At cocktail hour, they knew precisely what sort of cocktail I’d be within the temper for and even created specialties not on the menu.

Dave has a Gluten allergy, and the waitstaff paid cautious consideration to providing him options and informing him of what we may eat and should keep away from.

They have been at all times smiling, and you might inform that they actually loved their jobs. It wasn’t an act; the crew cherished what they have been doing. From the fellows grinning from ear to ear as they tied the strains to the entrance desk, answering our each want.

Ports of Call

Ports of call on the Vineyards & Villages Along the Douro itinerary by Avalon

Don’t fear, you’re inspired to get off the ship and benefit from the native ports of name. Avalon docks downtown or near the city facilities the place a brief (and low-cost) Uber experience can take you to the place you need to be.

8-Day Itinerary – Vineyards & Villages Along the Douro

The cruise begins within the UNESCO World Heritage City of Porto. We counsel arriving early to actually soak on this lovely vacation spot. Avalon affords a guided tour of Braga and Guimaraes, which we extremely suggest seeing. But you also needs to spend at the very least two days in Porto to benefit from the Historical Center, the Gaia District, and the gorgeous waterfront.

The cruise then leaves within the night to cease at totally different places alongside the Douro Valley. The 8-day itinerary contains these stops after which returns to Porto for one more day of touring. We selected the choice of wine tasting in Gaia with a tour of the Cork Museum, which was fascinating and scrumptious!

  • Porto Embarkation
  • Porto day tour to Braga and Guimaraes.
  • Peso da Regua – a go to to one of many oldest farms within the Douro Valley 
  • Poncinho – Douro Valley Vineyards
  • Barca d’Alva – Salamanca, Spain – This is the place you possibly can add one other nation to your itinerary.
  • Ferradosa-Leverhino – Day tour of Amarante

Can Solo Travelers Join Avalon?

Can Solo Travelers join the Avalon alegria

We at all times journey as a pair, however I do know many individuals marvel about solo journey on cruises. Avalon waives the solo complement. On Avalon, you by no means really feel alone. From my observations, a river cruise is a superb choice for solo vacationers.

Avalon is About Choice

The Avalon Waterways river cruises are all about choice

Most individuals select the Danube or Rhine Rivers for his or her first river cruise. We did 10 years in the past, and it turned us off river cruising for a decade. When Avalon invited us to pattern their Douro Valley route, we have been intrigued to offer it one other attempt. I’m glad we did. This river cruise was precisely the kind of journey we love—small ships with fewer passengers and loads of choices for shore excursions.

Fewer ships are on the river, and the stops really feel intimate and untouched. With solely 102 passengers on the Avalon selecting from totally different excursions, we had small group excursions that felt tailor-made to our wants.

The Douro Valley is among the most lovely locations to cruise in Europe, with rolling hills and terraced vineyards. It is actually a bucket checklist cruise the place immersing in tradition and experiencing the native delicacies is on the coronary heart of the itinerary.

Deb standing next to the Avalon Alegria in the Douro Valley

These are the preferred routes stuffed with different river cruises and crowds at ports of name. I’m not saying to by no means do one, however I believe the Douro Valley is the right introduction to river cruising.

So there you have got it—our Douror Valley River Cruise—the primary European River Cruise we’ve taken in 10 years. Will we do one other one? You guess! As we age, we love the thought of unpacking as soon as and crusing by means of Europe’s most lovely countryside.

When you get to ports, you don’t should observe the guides; everyone seems to be free to do as they please. Remember, Avalon is about alternative, and our alternative is to return quickly.

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