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Fitness / Practicalities
Tour Director

  • Sail aboard the Spirit of Chartwell, formerly the Royal Barge, as it cruises along the ‘River of Gold’

  • Take in the vineyards and historical towns of Portugal’s northern valleys

  • Learn about the history of port, Oporto and the Douro Valley


    Click here to view details of our September departure

“It was an outstanding trip – the programme was very well constructed and carried out, the Tour Director [was] excellent… The Spirit of Chartwell was very comfortable… and we were very well looked after by the crew”

- ACE customers on the 2021 Douro River Cruise on the Royal Barge


Beginning our tour with an exploration of the old town of Oporto, we cast off for our voyage eastwards. Along the way, we will explore one of Europe’s most handsome Renaissance cities, Salamanca, and pay a visit to the 18th century Mateus Palace.


Our tour will also embrace some lesser-known delights, including the picturesque town of Pinhão, strikingly situated at the confluence of the Douro and Pinhão Rivers, and the medieval hilltop town of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.


Continuing into Spain, we will explore Salamanca, famous for its honey-coloured buildings, ancient university, 18th century Plaza Mayor, and twin cathedrals, perched high above the River Tormes. The city has passed through the conquering hands of Carthaginians, Romans and Moors, a fact that is evident from its mix of architecture.


During an excursion to the pilgrimage town of Lamego, where Baroque mansions and churches grace the skyline, we will enter one of the country’s most majestic shrines – Our Lady of Cures – acclaimed for its monumental Baroque staircase.


Upon our return to Oporto, we will visit the historical Factory House of the British Association, and tour Graham’s Port Lodge – owned by the Symington Family Estates – to discover and taste some of their fine vintage.


We also hope to enjoy some traditional music during the tour, as well as opportunities to learn about local cuisine during an on-board culinary demonstration.


Our Tour Director, Martin Symington, BA, is a travel journalist who contributes to The Times and Wanderlust, and is the author of Dorling Kindersley’s guidebook to Portugal. Martin was born and raised in the region, and is a port expert. He will deliver talks on port, Oporto and the Douro Valley, as well as on Portugal in general and the country’s history. 



Tour Director Martin Symington writes:


“We’ll be starting in the city of Oporto which is where I was born and grew up. From there we’ll be sailing all the way up to the Spanish border, stopping at various places on the way. We’ve got some treats such as the Mateus Palace, which anybody who can remember the Mateus rosé will be very familiar with; we go to the port shipping town of Pinhão right in the heart of the port growing area, and after that the scenery just becomes more and more dramatic as we sail up through the port growing area where the vineyards close ever more around this river. On our way up to the Spanish frontier we then spend a day going off to the astonishing city of Salamanca which if it’s not on anybody’s list already, just trust me, it needs to be!”

Tour Code

Fully booked - please contact the office on 01223 841055 to be added to the waiting list.

Included: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded cabin, full board with unlimited tea & coffee (whilst on board), wine, beer, soft drinks served with meals, shore excursions & admissions, all gratuities & all taxes.

Not Included: travel insurance, supplement for the Royal Suite £395 per person, cabin for single use supplement on request.

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