There’s a new way to soak up the magic of the Iberian Peninsula’s Douro River Valley—and it comes with a host of cushy amenities and services. Launching June 27 as the newest ship on the river, Uniworld’s S.S. São Gabriel was specifically designed to reflect the Douro region in everything from its décor and its food and wine offerings to its off-shore programming. It’s also one of Uniworld’s more luxurious ships, thanks to the addition of butler service, the availability of exclusive excursions and the fact that one entire deck is dedicated to spacious, beautifully appointed suites. Seen here in these exclusive first look photos, the S.S. São Gabriel will ferry passengers on eight– and 11-day journeys through this stunning part of the world.
Running from central Spain to northern Portugal, the Douro River Valley region has become a popular destination for its millennia-old tradition of winemaking, which has garnered the area a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. But there’s more to enjoy here than just world-class eats, including scenic hikes, archaeological sites, medieval castles and picturesque towns that are full of both history and modern energy. The ship’s shore program highlights these attractions through such activities as lunch at an agricultural estate, viewings of prehistoric carvings, a tour of the hilltop Castelo Rodrigo and hikes through terraced vineyards. Excusive to Uniworld is a “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour of Porto that includes a ride on a historic tram, strolls through winding back streets and expert insight into iconic sites.
Back aboard the ship, find 50 sophisticated river-view staterooms, including 20 with French balconies, 12 suites and four Grand Suites (with separate living rooms). Suite guests enjoy dedicated butlers and the option to dine at any time they would like. The suites are all located on the third-floor Azores Deck, above which sits the top-level Sun Deck with swimming pool and loungers. Elsewhere, find restaurants that spotlight regional dishes—don’t miss the special wine-paired tapas dinner overlooking the bow of the ship—and a wine room, where guests can enjoy a sommelier-led tasting of Douro River Valley varieties. As on all Uniworld cruises, rates include all onboard meals, premium wine and spirits, offshore excursions, airport transfers, onboard gratuities and WiFi.
As Uniworld cruises resume this summer following the pandemic closures, the company is dedicated to stringent safety and sanitation protocols on each of its ships. All who board (including guests, crew, service providers and local guides) are required to complete a travel declaration form before entering, and all sailing passengers must provide proof of full Covid-19 vaccination status (with the final dose given at least 14 days prior to boarding) or proof of a negative PCR or rapid antigen test taken no more than 72 hours before the start of the cruise. Country-specific requirements will also need to be met; as of this writing, Spain has reopened to vaccinated US residents, and Portugal has begun admitting US travelers with proof of a negative Covid-19 test. Rates for the eight-day Douro River Valley sailing start at $2,799; rates for the 11-day Portugal, Spain & the Douro River Valley itinerary start at $3,499 per person.