Porto and the MS Amalia Rodrigues of Croisi Europe

Stephen Bellingham on 20 March 2019
I had for a long time wanted to visit Porto. So, when Travel Counsellors asked me if I would like to represent them at the inauguration ceremony of Croisi Europe’s latest ship on the Douro I jumped at the chance!

The weather was exceptionally good. Sitting at one of the many riverside cafes was just magical, with the port barges in front of me and the winding, steep cobbled streets behind. The Douro offers stunning scenery, seen best from one of its ever-increasingly popular river cruises, which must include a stay in the historic and beautiful Porto.

The city has a history of being the starting point for exploring the globe and retains many positive links to the UK. You can easily see the city by tram or cable car and avoid the steep winding streets if you prefer. I greatly enjoyed taking a Sandeman port tour and tasting, and a boat trip to see not only the mouth of the Douro but also the various historic sites and all the city’s highly impressive, iconic bridges. Porto did not disappoint!

The Croisi Europe hospitality was amazing. Although they have a set menu each day, the food is fresh, local and delicious. If nothing takes your fancy, the Chef will create an alternative just for you. And where else will you find that the ‘house wine’ included with your meal actually gives you a choice of 9 local wines!

Language is not an issue either as all staff speak a minimum of English and French. When on my tour, our guide skilfully switched between both faultlessly, even though neither language was her native tongue! Even at the naming of the ship they used both French and English despite there being only a few English-speakers among the guests.

As to the ship herself…with only 66 cabins over the three decks, the Amalia Rodgrigues is absolutely lovely. There is one mobility cabin and a lift between the main and lower deck provides easy access to the restaurant. The lower deck cabins are better than most I have experienced, offering 2 good-sized picture windows. Cabins on the other deck have sliding French windows which add the luxury of a balcony. The on-board service is impeccable, and nothing is too much trouble

With the most positive of relationships in Europe, as a British person you will always be welcomed in Portugal. I can’t wait to return!