Exploring Portugal’s Douro Valley can be amazing and exhausting at the same time. Seeing the sights, and tasting the world famous port wine, requires a great deal of moving from place to place. Instead of jumping from one hotel to the next, make your home away from home on the Douro River itself, aboard the Viking Osfrid.
Launched in spring of 2016, Viking Osfrid was built to cruise the Douro River. Smaller than Viking’s Longships, she carries 106 passengers and a crew of 37 per sailing. All staterooms are on the outside of the ship with a view of the Douro River, and all upper and middle deck staterooms have a veranda or French balcony.
I stayed in a Veranda Stateroom on the Upper Deck that was just as spacious as some city hotel rooms I’ve called home. The private bathroom included a generous shower with a sliding glass door and rainfall shower head. Fresh towels and L’Occitane bath products are restocked daily. As expected, rooms are equipped with amenities like a 40″ flat-panel TV featuring satellite television and movies on demand, a telephone, safe, refrigerator, hair dryer and bottled water that is replenished daily.
When sailing the seemingly never-ending scenic stretches of the Douro, sitting on my stateroom balcony was akin to having a front row seat to a sold out rock concert, but there are also a number of public spaces on the ship where the view and atmosphere does not disappoint.
The Viking Lounge is home to the ship’s bar, staffed by the always smiling Tom and Eduardo. It has cushy sofas and chairs to relax in while taking in the view through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Step outside to the front patio, called the Aquavit to get fresh air and sunshine.
The Sun deck provides the perfect spot to watch as the ship navigates the Douro’s handful of dramatic locks. Topped with solar panels, the large sun shade does double duty. Along with plenty of cushioned chairs and loungers, there is a small pool, a putting green and an herb garden used by Chef Richard.
All meals aboard the ship are served in the Restaurant located on the Middle Deck. Open seating, with only a handful of tables for two, ensures guests quickly get to know one another. With white linens and Villeroy & Boch china, it has a sophisticated, yet casual atmosphere. At breakfast and lunch, there is a light buffet along with cooked to order menu selections. At dinner every evening, the menu always includes a regional specialty, giving guests an opportunity to try the dishes they’ll see when exploring ports of call. Sparkling wine is served at breakfast. Beer, wine and soft drinks flow freely during lunch and dinner.
After a two night hotel stay and tour in Lisbon, guests are transported by bus to the ship in Porto. The ship stops in a variety or ports along the Douro, including Vega de Terrón, in Spain, which has a population of just two people – the gentleman who runs the local cafeteria and his mother. Ironically, it also happens to be the port the ship calls home, when cruisers can opt for a bus ride to Salamanca, Spain. Just short of two hours each way, the city is worth the drive. With a few exceptions, excursions are included in the cost of the cruise.
Wireless internet is free, but spotty and at times, non-existent. If you’re trying to travel light, there are two computers for guests to use in the Lounge, just behind a small gift boutique.
All but one member of the crew aboard the Viking Osfrid is Portuguese, but all communication on board takes place in English.
Osfrid is one of three Viking ships sailing the Douro. Portugal’s River of Gold itinerary lasts 10 days and includes eight guided tours. Cruises range from $2,456 to $4,050, not including airfare.
Review and photos by Dana Rebmann. She was a guest of Viking Osfrid, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.