On today’s article I’m going to tell you about the river cruises from Douro, more precisely about Douro Azul.
I already knew the Douro Azul company, but unfortunately I never had had the opportunity before to go there in person, until today, when Captain Hugo Bastos, the fleet manager, gave me the opportunity to live this experience.
Douro Azul was founded at 1992 and has more than 25 years of experience at giving tourists a different way to know the Oporto, the Douro river and its adjacent areas.
The company is known by its diverse fleet that allows the passengers to choose the vessel that they can relate to more.
The vessels’ designs go from classic like Ms Alto Douro, to a more modern style like Ms Douro Splendour.
With panoramic view, restaurants, bars, and even pools in some of the ships, they give passengers the opportunity to discover the beauty of Douro river in a different way.
Some of the cruises provide helicopter trips departing from the cruise deck.
At these ships, all the cabins have view to the river.
Douro Azul is an environment friendly company, since the early years of the company, they had installed led lamps and solar panel systems.
Besides cruises, Douro Azul also organizes activities on shore , so their passengers can enjoy their vacations in the best way possible.
My visit to Oporto:
It was 1000 when I arrived to the Oporto city.
Captain Gonçalo Pereira did us the favor of picking us up at the terminal and took us to the Gaia docks, where the cruises were.
At that moment there were three ships at the gaia docks and I visited all of them:
• Ms Alto Douro
• Ms Queen Isabel
• Ms Douro Splendour
Besides these vessels, I also visited and sailed in the Ms Spirit of Chartwell, but that story I’ll leave for another article.
The crew is a group of seafarers including sailors, hospitality workers, cooks, bartenders, etc…
The crew is commanded by a Bosun and all the equipment are checked by an engine chief mechanic.
Since these vessels are river cruises, the people responsible for the navigations aren’t merchant navy officers, but able seamen who learned the trade at a specialized institution in Portugal called For-Mar.
After they finish the course, they do an internship with other experienced sailors from the company.
Most of the passengers of these cruises are foreign like: Americans and Chinese.
Its during New Year’s Eve that there are more Portuguese passangers.
These river cruises are made with bridges where one person can have access to everything without the need to stand up.
Here I’m pretending to do something, so I can have an idea of the positions of the equipment.
The bridge of these ships can lift and go down, to pass bellow the several bridges of Douro River.
The navigation is made through azimuths using buoys as reference points.
On Douro River they don’t use the VHF that often, since there are a lot of ships on a small area and this hinders the utilization of this equipment.
Despite the navigation being practiced on a river, Douro Azul is really concerned with safety issues, having attention to people who get inside and out of their vessels. They also make safety exercises every time they have new passengers on board.
Every two years their vessels go to the shipyard for maintenance. These works usually occur during winter.
Ms Alto Douro:
This vessel was one of my favorites due to its classic design.
It has 23 double cabins. It as a solarium on deck and a bar with dance floor.
On the next photos you can see some images of the ship.
My favorite space is the one that has a wind rose embedded on the floor.
Ms Queen Isabel:
With the name of one of the most loved queens from Portugal, the Ms Queen Isabel combines a modern style with elegance.
She was baptized by the actress Andie McDowell at 2013.
She has space for 118 passengers and an amazing deck space with pool.
Ms Douro splendour:
This ship is the most recent cruise from Douro Azul.
She has space for 126 passengers and a modern design.
I had the pleasure of visiting her right after she left the shipyard and she was still being prepared to receive her first guests.
It’s interesting to visit a ship before being launched to the public, since it allows me to visit places that I probably wouldn’t if it already had passengers on board.
When I’m given the chance, I love to see every space there’s to see. That’s why I also visited the engine room and the kitchen.
This was my visit to the Douro Azul cruises! On the next article I will tell you all about my sailing trip on Ms. Spirit of Chartwell.