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  • The Spirit of Chartwell in the Douro Valley

    © Douro Azul

  • Tiles on the Church of Saint Ildefonso, Porto

    Photo by Dominik Kuhn on Unsplash

  • Salamanca Cathedral

  • Pinhão

  • Sanctuário Nossa Senhora dos Remédios

  • Boats on the Douro from Vila Nova de Gaia

    Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

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, during privileged visits


    Click here to view details of our April 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 customer on a previous Douro River Cruise on the Royal Barge with Martin Symington


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.


We will learn about the fascinating winemaking heritage of the area on privileged visits to sites owned by the Symington Family Estates. New for 2025, we hope to enjoy a tour and vineyard walk at the Quinta do Bomfim, and upon our return to Oporto, a visit to the historical Factory House of the British Association, as well as a special tour of Graham’s Port Lodge, to discover and taste some of their fine vintage.


We will also enjoy some traditional music during the tour; opportunities to learn about local cuisine during an on-board culinary demonstration; and time spent cruising on deck and taking in the beautiful views of the Douro Valley in the golden sunshine of late September.


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 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!”



The Spirit of Chartwell

Used by Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012, the Spirit of Chartwell is the flagship vessel on the River Douro. This royal river barge, now based in Portugal, offers a spacious and sumptuous design with the finest interior furnishings. The vessel is fully equipped with a restaurant, piano bar, observation deck and 14 comfortable outside-facing cabins, each with private facilities. Professional and highly attentive crew members provide unequalled service during this calm passage through the Douro River Valley.

Tour Code

Please contact us to discuss cabin availability on 01223 841055.

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 £475 per person, cabin for single use supplement £1995 (on request).

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