Beautiful scenery and lots of drink
On arrival on the AmaVida it was apparent that she is one of a number of near identical vessels cruising the Douro. Almost every vessel, regardless of cruise line and ship's name, flew the house flag of "Douroazul". Every coach serving cruise passengers, regardless of paint livery seemed to be owned by Douroazul too. The ninety guests were served by an hotel crew of 27 and a deck crew of 5. The food offered was of a higher standard than is normal for the already high standards of river cruise vessels. Whether this is always so or was because it was a special wine tasting tour was not clear. The cruise had a resident expert, delivering a number of guided tastings through various ports and standard (unfortified) wines. The waiters were very friendly but leadership within the restaurant needed to be improved and there were a number of complains of poor service. Indeed, when the hotel manager, Marissa, heard of the complains she effected a significant improvement in speed of service by the end of the week. Cabins on the upper two decks were 215 square feet in area with a firm but very comfortable bed. In the bathroom there was a separate lavatory to one side and the shower cubicle to the other. There was a small balcony, enough for two seats and a small table. Cabins on the lowest deck were smaller [161 square feet], they were too small to accommodate the two chairs that the cabins above had in them. The bathroom was smaller too. The included visits, mostly to gardens, port cellars and vineyards were good. The best by far was to Quinta de Avessada where the host was amazing! If the visit is offered, book it. Although the cruise was geared towards wine tasting, passengers had to pay for all bar drinks. Anyone on a cruise run by an Australian company, like the Scenic one that followed this cruise, would have had all drinks included instead of just those with lunch and dinner as on this USA booked cruise. It seems that it is well worth enquiring as to who is the dominant tour operator for AmaVida cruises.
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