Scenic Azure – Douro River Cruise Review

November 30, 2021  |  Share:

I have just returned from cruising Portugal’s historic Douro River aboard the all-inclusive ‘space-ship’, Scenic Azure. Despite being relatively well-travelled and having cruised with many famous cruise lines, this was my first time on a river cruise, so I was eager to see if it met my expectations. 

Upon arrival in Porto, we were greeted by Scenic’s friendly representatives and transferred to the Scenic Azure. Following a swift boarding process, the crew guided us to our accommodation and gave us some time to familiarise ourselves with the ship before a spot of lunch.

Scenic Azure River Ship

Scenic Azure ‘Space-ship’

Suite accommodation; space-ship style

Our Balcony Suite (B Grade – #203) was ideally situated close to the stairs, allowing easy access to various parts of the ship. In any case, Scenic Azure is most certainly a ‘small ship’, so you’re never too far from where you need to be. The Balcony Suites on Scenic river ships are known for being spacious, and we weren’t disappointed. Not only was the bed HUGE, but we had a comfortable seating area, ample storage space and a mini-bar. The bathroom was equally stunning, boasting a walk-in shower and well-stocked with complimentary premium bathroom products from L’Occitane (my favourite!).

In addition, every suite on Scenic Azure provides a private butler, which improved our experience. Our butler, Dario, was exceptional and on-hand through the journey. This level of personal service allowed us to relax truly – there’s something to be said for knowing that every element of your trip is taken care of, from room service to laundry concierge.


Balcony Suite Accommodation

Balcony Suite Accommodation aboard Scenic Azure.

All-inclusive dining

Scenic river cruises are all-inclusive, so our meals and snacks on Scenic Azure were complimentary. The ship’s main restaurant is the Crystal Dining Room, which provides many options, including steak. Also available were the ‘Chef’s Recommendations’, alongside healthy choices such as salads and light meals. In addition to the main dining room,  Scenic Azure has two alternative dining venues: Portobellos and the River Cafe. Positioned in the Panorama Lounge, Portobellos provides an intimate environment and a view of the kitchen, so you can watch the staff prepare your meals. The Portuguese-style cuisine is unique and delicious, but you must book as space is limited. The River Cafe is more informal, serving light bites such as sandwiches and snacks and ideal if you’re a bit peckish outside of mealtimes.



Delicious cuisine at Portobello’s restaurant.

The Itinerary

Following our first night on Scenic Azure, we left Porto early and began cruising east, passing through locks and taking in the majestic sites of the Douro along the way. While the ship was in motion, we could participate in a few activities, such as cooking classes (Pasteis de Nata) and wine tasting. In addition, we went to a tile painting class, which was a fantastic experience, and it was lovely to get to know our fellow guests for the first time. 

Regua was the first stop on our itinerary. Situated in the northeastern region of Portugal, Regua is perhaps best known for being the centre of the country’s port wine industry. While exploring Regua, we visited the quaint Douro Museum, which provided an excellent overview of the local history and a comprehensive insight into the region’s most famous export. 

Back on Scenic Azure, we attended the Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Reception during the evening, where we were warmly greeted with a refreshing glass of champagne and a selection of tasty canapes. We also met the Captain and the ship’s Hosting Managers, which was a nice touch, before rounding off the day with a fun music quiz (we didn’t win).


The historical Douro Museum in Regua.

The historical Douro Museum in Regua.


The following day, we took us to Mateus Palace, where we enjoyed a guided tour and learned about the intriguing past of the Baroque-style building. Comprising three buildings (the manor, the winery and the chapel), Mateus Palace dates back to the 18th Century and is one of Portugal’s finest examples of civil architecture. In the afternoon, we returned to the ship to continue our voyage, marvelling at the rows of vineyards as we cut through deep valleys and past small villages. The next stop on our Douro River cruise was the small village of Frexio de Espada a Cinta, where we had the chance to visit a silk museum and taste delicious homemade almond cakes.


Mateus Palace

Mateus Palace dates back to the 18th Century.


Next up was a ‘Tastes of the Coa Valley’ tour at Casa Painova, where we explored the grand manor house and sampled the port, which was unsurprisingly lovely. Then, back on the ship, the crew hosted a traditional Portuguese BBQ – the sun was shining, the sangria was flowing, and the food was second to none. Finally, in the evening, we enjoyed a fine dining experience at Portobellos, which was simply amazing. Our seven-course dinner (7!) was divine, and we indulged in a range of meat and fish dishes accompanied by olives, soup, and portobello mushrooms. The local music also added an extra touch of authenticity to the ambience!

We spent the second-to-last day of our cruise at a local event in the picturesque village of Provesende, where we visited an old bakery and the local port to taste various treats. After another day of busy shoreside activities, we headed back to Scenic Azure for a Portuguese buffet before taking in a performance of classical music at the Sao Francisco church. This excursion was by far my favourite experience of the whole trip, and I highly recommend seeking it out if you’re ever in this part of Portugal.


Douro at sunset

Douro River at sunset.


In Porto, on our final day, we spent the morning uncovering more of the local area and touring Quinta de Avelada, which was another of my highlights. A 300-year-old wine estate, Quinta da Aveleda offers an unbeatable combination of stunning botanical gardens and on-site food and wine tasting.

With our time in Portugal drawing to a close, we spent our last night onboard swapping stories with fellow guests, sampling cocktails, and toasting farewell to the excellent crew. Before we knew it, morning had arrived, and it was time for disembarkation and the short flight back home. 

Since returning, I’ve reflected on my experience and look back fondly at my Scenic adventure. We felt safe throughout the journey and comfortable around the much-needed COVID measures – We had daily temperature checks and access to hand sanitiser and face masks. Additionally, we showed a negative test result 72 hours before the voyage commenced and provided a PCR test 48 hours before departing back to the UK, all of which were very quick and easy.

My time exploring the Douro aboard Scenic Azure was the best introduction to river cruising I could have hoped for, and I couldn’t believe how much we managed to pack into the week. There was so much to enjoy, from the incredible shoreside opportunities to the exquisite dining experiences and excellent service – needless to say, I’ve already started planning my next voyage and can’t wait to return!


The botanical gardens of Quinta De Aveleda, Porto.

The botanical gardens of Quinta De Aveleda, Porto.


For more information regarding Scenic Azure or Douro River Cruises, please call us on 0800 008 6677.

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