Douro River 2021

A Cycling Cruise of Portugal & Spain

Photo Itinerary

Douro River 2021

Our 8-day itinerary starts with a personal airport greeting. Jan will greet arriving flights and help you get your luggage aboard a shuttle that takes you to meet Bill at Torre Clérigos. While your luggage continues to the ship you’ll ascend Porto’s centerpiece tower for a 360-degree view of the city, river and seacoast.

On your return to ground level, we’ll provide a path of discovery packet that includes a written guide, navigation tools, admissions and transit tickets. You can team up with others, go it on your own, or return at an appointed time to sweep the course. Depending on your stops and pacing, you’ll reach the ship in 1.5 – 4 hours. Along the way you’ll use a funicular, antique tram, and water-taxi. If you decide to cry “uncle” our packet includes instructions for reaching the ship by taxi.

Following our safety drill, Captain’s welcoming reception and dinner we’ll climb to the Sun Deck. For a special treat that’s not part of a normal cruise, while we enjoy dessert the ship will cruise past the lights of the city to reach the river’s outlet to the sea. From the harbor entrance you’ll be able to look out onto vast Atlantic and lift your glass to Prince Henry, Porto’s favorite son. The discovery of the New World was launched from the mouth of the Douro.

Does Porto merit a second day of exploration? According to a just-finished survey of world travelers Porto was rated Europe’s Best Destination! This morning we’ll break into small groups for professionally-guided morning tours that include cultural interpretation plus a a strategic bakery stop for culinary discovery.

You’ll return to the ship in time for bike building (or rental bike acceptance) and late lunch. A free afternoon in Porto precedes our early evening cast off. On a river too narrow for after-dark navigation we’ve obtained today’s final reservation for our ship’s passage through the first of the Douro’s five towering river locks. These locks are not only the tallest in Europe, one Douro River lock exceeds combined lift of a transit through the Panama Canal. Our after-dinner tie-up in Entre os Rios gives you a chance to stroll through the lively streets of ancient cobblestone village.

Santana’s no-repacking cycling cruises have become famous for their astounding array of daily choices. On the Douro, where we’ve reserved midday tie ups that allow our ship to stop and provide a buffet lunch, the plan is our best ever. Most days will include a choice of three breakfast-to-lunch routes. Longer morning routes find additional miles by climbing above the river on paved low-traffic roads that wind through the vineyards. A fourth cycling option includes a brief truck and bus shuttle to reach the shortest route’s tallest summit. This makes the easiest daily option a mostly-downhill ride.

On any morning you don’t care to ride you can sleep in or relax while the ship cruises through beautiful scenery to reach the dock where it serves lunch. Or, to enjoy inland sights without pedaling you can disembark with the riders and hop aboard Sergio’s picture window bus. Because Sergio’s coach isn’t a sag-wagon that sweeps bike routes, instead of trailing the slowest riders it has time to get to the best sights enjoyed by cyclists, plus additional attractions farther from the river. When you add them up, there are typically six ways to get to ate lunch. All are included. There’s never a need to pay extra or make reservations.

While enjoying your onboard buffet lunch you can decide how you’d like to spend the second half of your day. Choices include additional miles of riding, Sergio’s Coach to visit afternoon attractions, or staying aboard while the ship cruises to the walkable town at the end of the afternoon rides. It’s your vacation and no previous cycling tour has ever provided a wider range of daily options. This supportive and friendly event is especially well suited for couples with unmatched abilities or desires.

As an example, on the day that starts from Entre os Rios the longest AM option is 44 miles with approximately 4,000 feet of climbing. Medium is 37 miles with ~3,000 feet. Short is 32 miles with ~2,500 feet. Boosted short is 19 miles without any long or steep climbs. The post-lunch ride along the river adds 21 miles and a 1,000 feet to reach our overnight stop in Peso de Regua, everyone’s favorite town on the Douro.

On the following day a choice of four morning rides reach our lunch in Pinhao after 16 to 39 miles. In this UNESCO-heritage wine region (one of two in the entire world) most of us will cycling amazing miles through terraced vineyards high above the river. Sergio’s coach will transport non-riders to Mateus Palace.

Today’s after-lunch cycling or coach destination is a guided tour and tasting at a hilltop “Quinta” famous for award-winning ports. Back aboard, our pre-dinner cruises passes through a scenic gorge to find yet another tall lock, where we’ve secured the day’s final reservation. During dinner we’ll reach a one-cantina settlement that doesn’t appear on maps.

The fifth day starts with a dawn cruise to reach Portugal’s final lock, where we’ve secured the earliest ascent. Today’s morning rides start at 8am or 10am from Pocinho or Barca de Alva. Either way, the Douro above this final Portuguese port forms the border between Spain and Portugal. On both sides of the border our scenic rides of 22-55 miles pass through nationally protected wilderness areas.

In Spain most will stop to savor a nationally-famous cervesa. Longer rides climb out of the magnificent gorge and provide opportunities to sample the local fare in additional villages. Late this afternoon our ship will untie and cruise downriver from Vega de Terron, Spain’s only port on a long and illustrious wine river the Spaniards call the Duero, which explains the origin of prized reds labeled Ribera del Duero.

By day six many of you will be ready for the beautiful climb from Ferradosa, where the Douro has carved a deep canyon. Unlike most of this tour’s extended climbs (that average a bit more than 4 percent) the toughest five miles of the vacant-road climb from Ferradosa are a constant 6%. Those who resist the temptation to pedal to the canyon’s rim will enjoy the ascent in the reclining seat of a coach, which will be trailed by our truck full of blanket-wrapped bikes.

While most will enjoy the mostly downhill 20-mile continuation to our onboard buffet in Folgosa, avowed climbers will find two additional summits and reach the ship after 54 miles. If long riders stop for an earlier lunch and miss the boat to Folgosa, their afternoon finish to Peso de Regua (the fabulous overnight port that merits our return visit) is an easy 8 miles.

Our seventh day provides six ways to reach lunch. Most options, including the one with the fewest miles of pedaling, stop for a professionally-guided walking tour of Lamego, a medieval wine town with churches, art, and a pilgrim’s trail that served as the coronation sight for Portugal’s first king.

The mostly downhill finish to Caldas de Aregos provides time for a late lunch and bike packing. To reach Porto this same evening (which allows earliest flights out on the day we embark), we secured the last scheduled passage through the Douro’s final lock.

The eighth day, includes free disembark shuttles to Porto’s OPO International Airport, which recently won a top-3 ranking from European flyers. Friendly and efficient, OPO is served by all three airline alliances, hosts a daily nonstop TAP/United flight from Newark, and is a hub for both Ryanair and EasyJet. The airport’s bike-capable luggage storage facility plus $99 roundtrip flights to over 50 cities make it too easy to stow your heavy luggage and visit another spot in Europe.

MS Gil Eanes

Douro River 2021

Croisi’s MS Gil Eanes launched in late 2015, and is named after a famous Portuguese navigator and explorer of the 14th century. This new boutique sized vessel has beautiful accommodations, a picturesque lounge, and a sun deck with a 360 degree view.

The soundproofed rooms on this brand new ship have large view windows, a private bath, and individual thermostat. The non-suite staterooms on this efficiently scaled river cruiser are just wide enough for king width bedding which can be separated into a pair of twins. Either way, these beds face the view windows! Six “compact” rooms (shown in orange on the deck plan) have the same width and bedding, but lose the dressing area, desk, chair and half the closet space. All staterooms on the upper two decks have floor to ceiling windows that open to a french balcony. The top deck rooms offer slightly better views and (when tied up) a bit more privacy due to their height above the docks. The ship’s four Suites (shown in blue on the deck plan) have enough additional room for a seating area and couch. The two Terrace Suites enjoy a spacious outdoor seating area offering a 270 degree view.

Frequently Asked Questions

Douro River 2021

Q: What are the exact dates?

A: April 21 to 28, 2021. An 8-Day/7-Night Cycling Cruise.

Q: Why April?

A: The dates for Santana’s Douro River Cycling Cruise were hand selected for the best cycling weather possible in the regions we’ll be exploring. Jan and I decided to opt for dates in April, when the weather is mild, temperatures are in the low 70’s, and the beautiful vineyard laden hills are the greenest they’ll be all year long.

Q: What’s the cost?

A: Due to the current strength of the dollar and the wonderful offer Croisi gave us for our encore Douro River cruise, our pricing for this 8-day cycling cruise starts at $3,199 per-person. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE. Our reservations page shows pricing of available staterooms.

Q: What’s “Early-In” Pricing?

A: To manage the risk of chartering entire cruise ships, couples who commit early are rewarded with discounts of up to $1,000 per stateroom. Lowest pricing in every category is limited to the first few rooms. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE.

Q: What about tipping?

A: Jan and I don’t accept tips. A comprehensive “cruise extras” fee of $400 per-person includes a long list of off-ship activities, admissions, interpretive guides, sight fees, and ride support (gps route files, morning shuttles to give casual riders a head start, and an SOS van driven by a pro mechanic). Mandatory shipboard gratuities of $120 per-person includes valet bike handling.

Q: Are there differences between the staterooms?

A: Certainly. The Gil Eanes features deluxe bedding and spacious floor plans. All of the staterooms have a private bathroom, air-conditioning with adjustable thermostat, and are soundproofed. All Gil Eanes staterooms are located on the exterior, and offer exquisite views or balconies.

Q: How are staterooms assigned?

A: In any sub-category all rooms are identical. Using the PayPal timestamp, those who reserve earliest get the conveniently located staterooms closest to the front of the ship. If friends desire a pair of adjacent staterooms the timestamp of the first reservation determines the location of both rooms. Out of fairness to all our guests, we will not take requests for specific room numbers. Those who book early obtain prime positioning.

Q: Are rental bikes available? 

A: Yes. If you own a nice bike that fits, however, bringing it with you is relatively easy and inexpensive. More info on this in Bill’s Travel Tips. Single bike rental rates are about $450 per person for this event, includes delivery to embark and retrieval at disembark. We will update you on rental bike pricing about 45 days prior to embark.

Q: How do we get to and from the tour?

A: Detailed info by April ’20. Those who arrive and leave on the embark and debark days will receive FREE Airport transfers.

Q: How many miles each day?

A: In addition to our daily pair of zero-mile options (cruising on the ship or grabbing a seat on our Panoramic-Window coach), every day has multiple cycling routes. Anyone who can ride 30 flat miles will be able to enjoy all eleven days of cycling. If you prefer hills or want to ride 60 (or more) miles a day, we’ve got you covered. At each morning’s breakfast you’ll get a map charting the day’s cycling routes and recommended stops. During a brief route talk you’ll hear about each route’s grades and difficulty. Santana’s vets have learned to love and rely on their handlebar-mounted gps unit. Costing as little as $160, these touch-screen marvels prevent the age-old problem of getting lost or riding unplanned miles. Santana supplies free electronic mapping and route files. Simply select the route and follow the highlighted map.

Q: What’s the next step?

A: A near-immediate sell-out of this event is anticipated. Early-in pricing is limited to the first few rooms in each category. Pricing listed on the Stateroom Reservations section is the current pricing. Refresh your browser to see any changes that may have occurred if you delay booking after loading this page. To lock-in availability and the lowest pricing on a RISK-FREE basis, reserve your space through our PayPal portal. PayPal’s secure website is open 24 hours per day, accepts all major credit cards, and automatically adjusts for remaining stateroom availability. Reserving your spot is RISK-FREE. In each category the prime location staterooms will be assigned in the same order as the time stamp of your booking.

Q: What do you mean by RISK-FREE?

A: When you use your credit card and book through PayPal, we’ll give you 14 risk-free days to think it over and clear your schedule. If you change your mind, send an email to Matt@SantanaAdventures.com within two weeks to cancel the PayPal transaction and obtain a full refund. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.

Q: What if we change our minds after 14 days?

A: Because full-boat charters are binding, non-cancelable contracts, Jan and I will only enter into this charter based on your confirmed-through-PayPal commitment. In effect, we undertake a huge risk by guaranteeing full payment on your behalf. After entering into this obligation, we cannot afford for you to back out—for any reason. This is no different than the clear written policy that existed for all except one of Santana’s prior chartered-ship cruises (this charter will be our 64th!). While preparing for our 2009 Danube event I neglected to include the following proviso. That’s the year a group of friends, after verbally agreeing to pay in full and then stringing Jan along for many months, decided to cancel their plans. Lesson learned! Here it is (again) in writing:

Santana’s acceptance of your registration and non-refundable deposit for this event is subsequent to your agreement to pay the remaining balance in full. While Santana allows limited refunds on rallies and tours, Santana’s cruises are non-cancelable and non-transferable. When the possibility of paying yet not attending is unacceptable, Jan and I recommend Travel Guard trip insurance. For the past 20 years hundreds of our clients have relied on Travel Guard coverage without complaint. An informative application will be mailed with your invoice; and further information is available online. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.

Q: Have you ever relaxed your refund policy?

A: Jan and I have willingly resold a number of fully prepaid staterooms for a fee of $1000 per room—which was waived when a vacating couple found someone to take their place. When there has been more than one pending resell request, those who paid-in-full earliest had their space resold next. Using this non-guaranteed method (which is grossly inferior to trip insurance) Jan and I have cheerfully refunded over $500,000 in otherwise non-refundable and non-transferable cruise fares. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.

Q: What’s the difference between a SAG-wagon and Santana’s SOS/treasure vans? 

A: Most tour companies use SAG-wagons that haul luggage and “sweep” the route between overnight stops. The drivers refill water-bottles, fix flat tires, and retrieve riders who can’t manage the easiest route between the widely spaced hotels. The problem, of course, is that the roving vans tend to be annoying until you actually need help. At that point it’s common to wait for two or more hours until one shows up. Although SAG drivers can fix a flat, they don’t have the tools or know-how to handle serious mechanical problems. Instead, they drive you to a bike shop (which explains why SAG-wagons disappear for hours at a time). This tour’s SOS van is driven by a pro bike mechanic who brings tools and spares. When you phone him with the coordinates from your GPS, he’ll arrive in a flash to get you back in the saddle. Because Santana expects participants to fill their own bottles, fix their own flats, and choose a ride they can finish, our SOS drivers are underworked, and have time to retrieve your shopping treasures.

Q: Does the Gil Eanes have WiFi?
Will there be menu selections for vegetarians, vegans and picky eaters?

A: Yes to all of the above.

Q: Are beverages included on the Star Breeze?

A: Beer & Wine are complimentary at Dinner. Soft Drinks, Coffee, Espresso Drinks, and Juice are all complimentary at meal times.

Q: What if we have more questions?

A: The easiest way to get help is by phoning or emailing Matt, who is happy to help answer your questions.
+1 (949) 677-7896        Matt@SantanaAdventures.com

Q: What if I run into problems with Reservations or PayPal?

A: The easiest way to get help is by phoning or emailing Matt, who is happy to help guide you.
+1 (949) 677-7896        Matt@SantanaAdventures.com

Stateroom Reservations

Douro River

April 21 to 28, 2021

Full Cancellation policy appears below. Your deposit signifies an acceptance of those terms.

Stateroom Category Description Fares Status
Terrace Suite Spacious Suite with a private terrace $5199* Wait List
Balcony Suite Spacious Suite with a french balcony $4699* Wait List
A-Deck Stateroom Top-Deck Stateroom with a french balcony $4099* Wait List
B-Deck Stateroom Mid-Deck Stateroom with a french balcony $3799* Wait List
B-Deck Economy Compact Mid-Deck room with a french balcony $3599* Wait List
C-Deck Stateroom Main-Deck Stateroom with a fixed window $3399* Wait List
C-Deck Economy Compact Main-Deck room with a fixed window $3199* Wait List
* Fares are Per-Person & Double-Occupancy
* Fares are set at time of purchase, and are otherwise subject to change based on availability.
* Please note that the number of rooms in each category is limited and unchangeable.

Please Note:
Stateroom Prices are per person, double occupancy
Deposits listed below are per stateroom, up to two participants

PayPal Deposits

Stateroom Selection
Bedding Preference
Contact Phone Number
Note: Deposits are Per-Stateroom and include 2 Participants
Our comprehensive “cruise extras” fee of $400 per person covers all port fees, a long list of off-ship activities, admissions, and guides. Shipboard gratuities of $120 per-person will be collected at the time of the event.
Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions. Your initial deposit is refundable for 14 days. Unless you cancel in writing within that 14 day period, the following Scary Cancellation Policy applies to Santana’s chartered cruise events:
Because cruise ship charters are binding, non-cancelable contracts, Jan and I will only enter into this charter based on your confirmed-with-a-deposit commitment. In effect, we undertake a huge risk by guaranteeing full payment on your behalf. After entering into this obligation, we cannot afford for you to back out, for any reason. This is the same policy that existed on all of Santana’s cruises for the past 9 years.
Santana’s acceptance of your registration and non-refundable deposit for this event is subsequent to your agreement to pay the remaining balance in full. While Santana allows limited refunds on Rallies and Tours, Santana’s Cruises are non-cancelable, non-transferable, and non-refundable. When the possibility of paying yet not attending is unacceptable, Jan and I recommend Travel Guard Trip Insurance. For the past 20 years hundreds of our clients have relied on Travel Guard coverage without a single complaint. An informative application is available upon request; and further information is available online.