Combine a passion for pristine countryside with history, fine wines and local cuisine as you sail through the Douro River Valley, Europe’s most unspoiled UNESCO World Heritage-designated river valley. After two full days in historic Lisbon, board your ship in Porto, the "City of Bridges" and explore medieval walled towns, charming local farms and vineyards, and the remarkable Spanish city of Salamanca. Throughout, you'll have a chance to taste a variety of local wines, sample regional specialties and immerse yourself in the region's unique culture on 11 included shore excursions.
$125 per person discount off advertised fare
Additional AAA Vacations® benefits on June 6 & October 31, 2013 departures only: $100 per person savings, $50 per person shipboard credit, Best Price Guarantee and 24/7 Member Care**
Canal and river cruising is one of the most relaxing and intimate ways to experience the beauty of Europe, without crowds and in great comfort. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection helps combine the pleasures of discovering different destinations with the same exquisite accommodations, award-winning hospitality and world-class cuisine of a five-star boutique hotel. Enjoy the convenience of docking right in the heart of town, mere steps away from the storied cities, medieval villages and picturesque farms and vineyards you'll explore on the 11 included shore excursions of this delightful itinerary.
Begin in Lisbon, Europe's most powerful city during the Age of Discovery from the 15th to 17th centuries. A city tour includes stops in the district of Belém, the colorful Rossio plaza, the Alfama district and the spectacular Manueline Baroque Jerónimos church. After a free day to explore Lisbon on your own, embark on the NEW Queen Isabel for an exciting weeklong voyage of the Douro River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Rambling vineyards and charming native farms called quintas cling to the valley's steep hillsides, creating an incomparable backdrop to one of Europe’s most unspoiled regions and to Port country - the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.
Glide through this unspoiled river valley as lovely vistas unfold before you each day. Take your choice of walking tours in Porto, longtime hub of the trade in Port wine. Spend a day in Régua, where you'll taste a variety of local wines from village vineyards, including Port wine, the sweet fortified wine the region is famous for. Feast on a traditional meal with wine at a quinta overlooking the Douro Valley as you learn about the history and methods of wine cultivation. On a full-day excursion to Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage city, enjoy a traditional Spanish-style lunch complete with a flamenco show. And step back in time as you walk the cobblestone streets of the 12th-century walled village of Castelo Rodrigo. Throughout your voyage, you’ll uncover a land of genuine beauty, breathtaking charm and warm-hearted people.
• 3 nights’ accommodations at the Tiara Park Atlantic Lisboa Hotel in Lisbon with daily breakfast (hotel is subject to change)
• 7 nights cruise accommodations in a river view stateroom aboard Queen Isabel
• While onboard, daily breakfast, 7 lunches and 7 dinners, including Captain’s Welcome Gala and Farewell Dinners
• Complimentary fine wines, choice of beer and soft drinks during lunch and dinner onboard; replenished bottled water daily in your stateroom; 24-hour specialty coffee and tea bar
• 11 shore excursions, including 2 “Choice Is Yours” options, fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
• Services of an experienced cruise manager plus state-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio headset system on all shore excursions
• Captivating onboard local entertainment plus Signature Lecture: “The Magical Douro River Valley”
• Airport transfers on Days 1 and 11
Day 1 - Arrive in Lisbon
Arrive at Lisbon’s Portela Airport where you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel.
Accommodation: Tiara Park Atlantic Lisboa Hotel or similar - 3 nights
Day 2 - Featured Excursion: Lisbon city tour
Stand on the banks of the Tejo River and take a deep breath. This is the sea air the great Portuguese explorers breathed as they dreamed of opening trade routes to India, dreams that led to the establishment of Portuguese colonies all over the world. Now turn around and look at the city climbing the hills above you. This is where your adventure begins.
Start with a guided tour that takes you to the historic district of Belém and the Belém Tower, the traditional starting and ending point of Portuguese voyages of discovery, past Rossio plaza with its wavy black-and-white paving and lively street life, and into the hills of the Alfama district. Sample a sugar-dusted pastel de Belém, the city’s trademark pastry. Step into the spectacular Manueline Baroque Jerónimos church, which withstood the 1755 earthquakes that leveled so much of the extravagant old city.
Day 3 - Free Day in Lisbon
Spend leisure time enjoying this cosmopolitan city. Window shop in elegant Chiado. Wander through the steep, cobblestone streets of the Alfama district. Ride the famous Santa Justa elevator to Carmo Square; it was erected at the beginning of the 20th century as a means of taming one of Lisbon’s steep hills. If it reminds you of the Eiffel Tower, that’s because it was built by a student of the iron master who designed the Parisian landmark. Have a glass of wine and listen to some fado - the traditional, mournful and beautiful music of the city - in one of the colorful taverns. Learn about Portugal’s celebrated blue-and-white tile at the National Azulejo Museum.
Day 4 - Featured Excursion: Coimbra tour with Joanina library visit and family-style lunch / Embark your ship at Porto
In the morning, we’ll leave Lisbon and head through the countryside to Porto, driving past cork forests and fields. En route, you’ll stop in Portugal’s third-largest city, Coimbra, birthplace of six of Portugal’s kings and home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. In fact, Coimbra is sometimes called the University City. You’ll see the university’s Biblioteca Joanina, a gem of a library whose gorgeous Baroque decor was done entirely by Portuguese artists; it houses an important collection of books from the 12th century. From this hilltop center of learning, you’ll head off to enjoy a typical Portuguese lunch in a local restaurant before continuing to the ship, which is docked in Porto.
Accommodation: Stateroom aboard Queen Isabel - 7 nights
Day 5 - Featured Excursions: Choice of Porto city tour OR Ribeira District walking tour
Birthplace of Henry the Navigator, who launched Portugal’s voyages of exploration and longtime hub of the trade in Port wine, Porto combines well-preserved historic buildings with cutting-edge architecture and a booming cultural revival. Your tour will take you to the 19th-century Palácio da Bolsa, with its famous Moorish Revival-style Arab Room; the austere hilltop cathedral with its amazing views of the city below; and the vivacious pedestrian shopping street, Santa Catarina.
If you prefer, you can explore the UNESCO-designated Ribeira district on foot; the colorful heart of the old port city entices you with Medieval lanes and zigzagging stairways. After lunch, stop by the prestigious Port wine cellars in Cais de Gaia for an introduction to the country’s namesake wine. Then it’s all hands on deck – or perhaps in your luxurious stateroom – as the ship sets sail up the Douro for Bitetos.
Day 6 - Featured Excursions in Régua: Mateus Palace and Gardens, Douro Museum, and dinner at Quinta da Avessada
Today you enter Port wine country. The Douro River winds through 100 miles of granite mountains, carving out a valley whose steep slopes hold terraces that were cut by hand into the rocky soil and planted with grapes centuries ago. A stop at the Douro Museum in Régua will introduce you to the oldest delimited wine-growing region in the world, while Mateus Palace and Gardens, with one of the most beautiful gardens in the country, shows you what Port wine can build. These are exciting times in the Douro region, as a group of dedicated winemakers are rapidly shifting the focus from Port to table wines, producing bottles of premium red – and even some white wines. Is the Douro the next great wine region to be discovered? Taste and decide for yourself. Begin your discovery of the region with a tour of the family-owned Quinta da Avessada, which produces premium Moscatel. Tramp between the vines with the vineyard’s owner, who will tell you how he cultivates the grapes he grows, and pause to look out over the lovely hillsides at the river far below. Inside the old stone walls of the winery, which was founded in the 1750s, partake in a rustic local dinner, complete with live traditional music. It’s a merry evening, capped off by a glass of fine local wine.
Day 7 - Featured Excursion: Wine tasting at a local quinta in Pinhão
Pinhão is the epicenter of the Port winemaking, so it is only fitting you visit a quinta to learn the history of, and sample, the country’s most celebrated beverage. In the afternoon, enjoy the breathtaking scenery while sailing the remote Douro Valley.
Day 8 - Featured Excursion: Full-day Salamanca tour with traditional Spanish lunch and flamenco show
From Vega de Terrón, on the Spanish border, travel overland to Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage city. This charming town is untouched in its architectural purity and throughout the centuries the sandstone buildings have gained an exquisite golden glow, giving the city the nickname the “Golden City.” Visit Salamanca’s historic university before having lunch with a flamenco show at a local restaurant.
Day 9 - Featured Excursion: Castelo Rodrigo tour
Visit the 12th-century walled village of Castelo Rodrigo, a charming and captivating place with Medieval streets, thick stonewall houses and a remarkably distinctive fountain, Chafariz dos Pretos.
Day 10 - Featured Excursions: Choice of Guimarães city tour OR “Hidden Treasures of Porto” walking tour
Visit historic Guimarães, Portugal’s first capital back in the 12th century and home to its first king, Don Afonso Henriques. It has been called the birthplace of the Portuguese nation. Dominated by Afonso Henriques’s grand castle, Guimarães was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for its extraordinarily well-preserved city center.
Or opt to discover some of Porto’s hidden treasures, visiting such highlights as the church of São Francisco, with its amazing gilded woodwork, and the beautiful Art Nouveau bookstore Lello – with a coffee break at a traditional pasteleria. Later, enjoy dinner while sailing to the mouth of the Douro River.
Day 11 - Depart Porto
Disembark the ship and transfer to the airport for your flight home.
*Prices are per person based on double occupancy, are subject to availability at time of booking, and may change without notice. Price given based on category 3 stateroom on 11/7/13 departure; rates for other stateroom categories and departure dates may be higher. Single supplement may apply. Unless stated otherwise, airfare, taxes and government fees are not included and are additional. Offers valid for new bookings only. Member Benefit is per person and applies to first and second traveler only. Member Benefits are available only with advertised fare and are subject to change without notice. Your travel arrangements may be modified or cancelled subject to the travel providers policies. Black out dates and other restrictions may apply. We make every effort for accuracy at time of publication, but reserve the right to correct errors. AAA Travel strongly recommends the purchase of trip protection insurance. Fares may not reflect additional fuel supplement or port charges and vary by provider. Ships’ registries: Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Egypt, Russia, China.
**Restrictions apply to the AAA Vacations® Best Price Guarantee and 24/7 Member Care. Should you find a valid better rate for the exact same itinerary within 24 hours of booking, AAA will match the lower rate. Ask your AAA Travel Counselor for details.
CST #1003968-80. Registration as seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.