Portuguese ports are becoming increasingly popular with cruise liners, and the country that sits on the gateway to the Atlantic offers a variety of options for those intending to make the best of their stopover. PDV points you in the right direction regarding cruise lines, ships and side excursions.
Portugal earned its place in history as a country of explorers, brave enough to defy the dangerous, indomitable seas. During the golden Age of Discoveries, the Portuguese travelled far and wide across the seven seas and discovered lands no one thought could even exist. What then, could make more sense than visiting this country by sea?
Luckily, a large number of cruise ships make a stop in Portugal, with cities like Lisbon, Funchal, Portimão and Porto being popular ports of call. From short, two-day cruises to large, transatlantic ships, there is something for everyone. If you’re an adventurer and would like to visit as many cities as possible and immerse yourself in culture then perhaps a large cruise with on field tours is perfect for you. If you’re a fan of Port wine and the Douro region, then opting for a Viking Douro cruise is perhaps your best option, since they sail up the Douro river taking in the city of Porto as well, but they also depart from Lisbon, offering tours of the capital’s nightlife district of Bairro Alto and other day excursions.
Holland America cruises are especially good with day excursions, when visiting Madeira they provide day tours including one to the botanical gardens. Other cruise lines, such as Iberocruceros and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines offer day excursions on the mainland, the latter offering a tour around the charming town of Óbidos.
On the other hand, if you’d rather just get away from it all and enjoy a few days relaxing at sea then a small cruise offering plenty of relaxation and spas could be a better option. All of these include restaurants and swimming pools, and most will have a spa & fitness centre. Typically, the longer the trip the more the boat has to offer, like water parks for children, libraries or casinos.
To help you find out which cruise would suit you best, PDV has selected five different cruise lines, each with its own specialities and quirks.
Carnival cruises are perfect for first time cruisers and younger passengers, especially those who would like to party the night away.
An example of a Carnival cruise that stops in Lisbon:
Departs: Barcelona, Spain
Ports of Call: Monaco, Marseilles, Florence, Rome, Malaga, Lisbon, London
Sailing dates: 9 June, 2013
Ship features: Variety of restaurants and coffee houses, shopping mall, sports facilities, stage shows, video arcades, library, camp carnival (for children), variety of bars and club, casino, pool, spa & fitness
Excursions: tour of Lisbon, going from Torre de Belém to Rossio square
Cost: US$1,049 – US$2,829 depending on the room
Focusing on families, this cruise line offers a variety of activities for parents and children alike as well as spacious rooms.
An example of a Royal Caribbean cruise that stops in Lisbon and Ponta Delgada in the island of São Miguel, the Azores:
Departs: Southampton, England
Ports of Call: Lisbon, Ponta Delgada, Nassau, Fort Lauderdale
Boat: Independence of the Seas (even more family activities available)
Sailing dates: 22 November 2012
Ship features: Pool, H2O zone (Water Park for children), spa & fitness centre, solarium, casino, variety of bars and club, dining room, theatre, library, surf simulator, sports court, kids club
Excursions: Ponta Delgada- Tour of village of Sete Cidades & wine tasting, crater lake scenic drive, Ponta Delgada city tour, Furnas Lake walk, Furnas valley tour
Cost: US$699 – US$2,099 depending on the room
Perhaps more suited for seniors, this cruise line does not provide as many onboard activities as the previous ones but is still a magnificent line with relaxing lounges.
An example of a Holland America cruise that stops in Funchal, Lisbon, and Portimão:
Departs: Barcelona, Spain
Ports of Call: Barcelona, Cadiz, Funchal, Santa Cruz, Las Palmas, Arrecife, Agadir, Barcelona, Malaga, Cadiz, Portimão, Lisbon, Funchal, Fort Lauderdale
Boat: Ms Ryndam
Sailing dates: 15 October 2012
Ship features: Restaurant and café, spa & salon, show lounge, nightclub, fitness centre, wine tasting room
Excursions: Scenic Madeira tour up to Pico do Arieiro, Cabo Girão, Camara Fishing Village & Reid’s tour, Lisbon Baroque & the Art of Tiles tour, Fado, Folklore & Food tour
Cost: US$1,594 – US$7,366 depending on the room
Azamara Club Cruises
Rated as the best cruise line in the world by Condé Nast Traveler magazine, this luxury cruise is sure to amaze you.
Departs: Southampton, England
Ports of Call: St. Peter Port, Borceaux, St. Jean de Luz, Pasajes, Bilbao, Porto, Lisbon
Boat: Azamara Journey
Sailing dates: 9 August 2012
Ship features: Variety of restaurants, shopping, lectures series, library game shows, casino, shows, lounges, bars and clubs, spa & fitness
Cost: US$2,999 – US$5,299 depending on the room
Viking River Cruises
If you’re already in Portugal but would like to go on a cruise, then a trip on the Douro river in the north of the country with many day excursions around the region should do the trick. Condé Nast Traveler magazine considers the Viking River Cruise line one of the 12 best in the world.
Departs: Lisbon, Portugal
Ports of Call: Lisbon, Porto, Régua & Pinhão, excursion to Salamanca (Spain), Porto
Boat: Viking Douro
Sailing dates: various
Ship features: sun deck, pool, Jacuzzi, restaurant with panoramic view, bars
Excursions: variety of tours from wine tasting to touring Lisbon’s Bairro Alto district
Cost: US$2,956 – US$4,356