Start your cruise in the lively city of Porto, famous for its fascinating Old World architecture, riverside cafés and extensive wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. As you sail through the breathtaking Douro Valley, visit the traditional villages of Pinhão, Pocinho and the historic town of Regua that have stood on the Douro’s shores for centuries; visit the Coa Valley pre-historic museum, with its fascinating stone carvings. Just across the border in Spain, take a day to explore Salamanca and its splendid Moorish, Roman and Celt-inspired sandstone architecture.
Day 1 | Highlights:
Welcome to Porto. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the ship where you will be welcomed by your Captain and crew. Located at the mouth of the Douro River, Porto is a fascinating eclectic mix of modern and ancient architecture. Its most famous export is of course fortified wine, and the hillside across from the city centre features numerous wine caves and tasting boutiques in the area of Vila Nova de Gaia. Tonight enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on board while cruising past the illuminations of Porto.
Day 2 | Porto – Pinhao Highlights:
Today enjoy a full day sailing the windy turns and twists of the Douro Valley. A UNESCO world heritage site this area is sparsely populated by small quaint villages and typical communities working vineyards and small farms. Your Cruise Director will host a lecture on board showcasing the history and wine culture of the region. Perhaps join a painting class of local mosaic tiles which typically depict traditional motives. Later this afternoon arrive in the village of Pinhao which is situated on a river bend surrounded by terraced hillsides producing some of the world’s best Port. Tonight your captain will be delighted to host the welcome dinner and cocktail reception.
Day 3 | Pinhao - Vega de Teron Highlights:
Today visit the marvelous baroque village of Lamego, where history stands still. Visit the remains of a Roman sanctuary and battlements. Return to your ship for lunch and an afternoon sailing to Vega de Teron, your gateway into Spain. EmeraldPLUS: Join your barman for a lesson on how to make cocktails using port wine on board.
Day 4 | Salamanca Highlights:
Founded in Roman times, the city of Salamanca is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, the seat of the Spanish language, and still a lively student town. With its grand squares and medieval structures, a walking tour here is more like stepping back in time. Tapas bars feature on every street and traditional Spanish music trickles out of buzzing bars and restaurants. You will enjoy this beautiful golden city with plenty of free time to explore independently. Upon returning to your ship from Salamanca, you will be invited to enjoy a BBQ dinner on the Terrace alongside your fellow guests.
Day 5 | Pocinho Highlights:
This morning arrive in the picturesque village of Pocinho and embark on an excursion to the Coa Valley Museum. This impressive concrete structure details pre-historic stone carvings made by the early inhabitants of the Douro, which were uncovered during the construction of the nearby dam. Later return to your ship for lunch and enjoy your idyllic surroundings as you sail towards Regua. EmeraldPLUS: This evening dinner will be hosted at a local winery estate.
Day 6 | Regua Highlights:
Wake up this morning in the former roman settlement of Regua. Visit the Douro Museum for a look at wine making in the region.
Discover More: Guided excursion to the Mateus Palace (extra expense) guests on this option will not be able to attend the included tour of Regua
Day 7 | Porto Highlights:
Located at the mouth of the Douro River, Porto is a fascinating eclectic mix of modern and ancient architecture. Its most famous export is of course fortified wine, and the hillside across from the city centre features numerous wine caves and tasting boutiques in the area of Vila Nova de Gaia. Sample the local fair in one of these specially adapted wine cellars and learn about the long adapted craft of creating port.
Discover More: Excursion to Guimaraes (extra expense)
Day 8 | Porto Disembarkation - Lyon Highlights:
After breakfast disembark your river cruise ship and transfer to Porto airport for flight to Lyon. In Lyon, you will be transferred to the new ship journey where you will be welcomed by your Captain and crew. Tonight enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on board.
Day 9 | Lyon Highlights:
Lyon is France’s third largest city, a former Roman capital positioned at the conference of the Rhone and Saone rivers, which is steeped in history. Your tour starts with a drive to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere, Lyon’s hilltop church, with stunning views over the town. Then pass by the recently re–discovered Roman amphitheatre and walk through the cobbled streets of the gastronomic old town including the secret laneways. This evening sail north through the beautiful Beaujolais region.
Discover More: Excursion to the medieval town of Perouges (extra expense)
Day 10 | Chalon-Sur-Saone – Beaune Highlights:
Chalon–Sur–Saone is best known as the birthplace of photography and the centre of Burgundy’s wine region. Travel by road to the quaint village of Beaune, where we visit the Hospices de Beaune, one of the finest examples of French fifteenth–century architecture. Marvel at the multi–coloured roofs of this former hospital, now a museum, which has become one of the symbols of Burgundy. Return to the ship for lunch, and then depart this afternoon for Macon arriving in the evening. Tonight, enjoy local entertainment on board. Emerald Active: Join your guide for a bike excursion from Tournus to Macon while the ship sails (active fitness level).
Day 11 | Macon Highlights:
Arrive in Macon, another important wine region and gateway to the Beaujolais vineyards. Walk the Heritage Trail from Old Saint Vincent to the General Hospital buildings, half–timbered house and Soufflot Chapel, maybe trying some local wines at the many tasting displays in the town. Enjoy time at leisure in the afternoon.
Discover More: Visit to Benedictine Abbey of Cluny (extra expense)
Day 12 | Tournon Highlights:
Join your local guide for a walking tour of Tournon, which is dominated by the 16th century castle and roman ruins, and is nestled in the valley near the steep slopes of le Massif Central, France's 3rd largest mountain range. The area has a long tradition in wine making, including the renowned wine growing centre of Tain l'Hermitage across the river. Emerald Active: Guided biking tour to Glun. This afternoon EmeraldPLUS: Cheese and olive oil tasting on board.
Discover More: Regional Wine Tasting in Tournon Castle (extra expense).
Day 13 | Avignon Highlights:
Avignon has a rich history from Celtic beginnings to being the residence of the Popes and later central to the French Revolution. Although a fortified town, it is the Papal Palace which stands more secure on a hill in the centre of town; its walls are 17–18 feet thick. Your guided walk with a local guide takes you through this historic centre strolling the cobbled laneways and browsing the shops, overlooking the famous 'Pont d'Avignon'. The rest of the day is at leisure. EmeraldPLUS: Provencal dinner on board hosted by a popular local chef as well as traditional local style concert known as Chanson music.
Discover More: Secrets of the Pope’s Palace (extra expense) or Excursion to Pont du Gard (extra expense).
Day 14 | Avignon - Arles Highlights:
Sail into the Camargue wilderness region to the capital of Provence, Arles where you will join your local guide for a walking tour showcasing the highlights of the city in particular the exterior of the 2000 year old Roman Amphitheatre still in use today, which was originally built to hold 20,000 spectators in the style of the Colosseum in Rome. The rest of the day is at leisure to relax on board and explore Arles further.
Discover More: Excursion to Les Baux de Provence (extra expense) or Tastes of Provence (extra expense)
Day 15 | Arles - Disembarkation Highlights:
After breakfast disembark your river cruise ship in Arles and transfer to Nice (or Marseilles) Airport for your onward or homebound flight. (Please book your flight to depart Nice after 1pm).