Exploring Sandeman

Added 17 Jun 2015

Our first breakfast on board AMAVIDA and rather special too! A vast selection of food to choose from, your very own chefs to cook dishes to order and, if you feel like it, a glass or two of sparkling wine. Fortunately most people pass on the bubbly and thereby remain reasonably coherent for the morning’s activities.

We sail from Porto a little earlier than usual. Our Captain has kindly agreed to Richard’s request to sail early and allow extra time in our first destination, the town of Regua. As we sail upstream this morning the scenery is beautiful. The Douro isn’t a very wide river so we can easily see day-to-day life going on and enjoy the views of the vineyards and the country houses. Our Cruise Director, Mariana gives an informative cruise overview. We learn more about the week ahead and the various excursions and options. It’s clearly going to be a rather special cruise.

Lunch is even more comprehensive than breakfast. A huge buffet plus an a la carte service in the restaurant. Or a light lunch option in the main lounge. Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks too. After lunch we arrive in Regua and we’re soon ashore and joining our three luxury coaches for a visit to Quinta do Seixo, one of the Sandeman wine estates. Our buses take us across the river and we head east and then up the hill to our destination. The final approach is quite exciting. A single track road once we’re through the entrance gates of the quinta. Sharp bends and quite a dramatic view down the side of the hill. Some guests close their eyes. Fortunately our bus drivers don’t. The drivers have driven the road many times and are experienced. On arrival at the estate we are greeted by local guides dressed in a black cloak and Spanish style black hat … the Sandeman brand logo. We’re treated to an informative tour of the estate and enjoy a tasting of three ports, including 10 year old and 30 year old. The views from the estate are magnificent.

Back in Regua most guests visit the Douro Museum. The staff here has kindly agreed to stay open late so we have time for a nice tour, which is guided by two excellent guides, Barbara and Marco.

After dinner we all gather in the lounge for a social get-together. The Furlongs version of “speed dating” party, we’ve invited some of the crew to join us so we can ask questions. After 5 minutes, the staff team move one position to another table of guests and the questions begin again. And so on. 45 minutes later we’ve found out quite a lot about the team and how the ship works!