My lovely experience on the Douro river vegan cruise
In November 2019 I decided to go on the Douro river vegan cruise. It was a very last minute decision to celebrate my 35th birthday there. Alone, without family and friends… but I kind of needed a new adventure after spending a few weeks at home dealing with my grandpa’s loss. After finding out they still had a room available on the vegan cruise, I booked my flights to Porto only 3 days before the cruise.
Vegan cruise on the Douro river
Did you know? The Douro Valley with its vineyards in Portugal was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Carrapatelo’s lock on the Douro river is the highest river lock on the Douro river. It was built from 1964 to 1972 and has a maximum lift of 35 metres (that’s how much the water level changes through the lock).The second highest lock on the Douro River is Valeira’s lock which was finished in 1975. Speaking of views, the Valeira’s lock was my favorite one. The hills around the lock are breath-taking!
What else I loved on the Douro river vegan cruise
- The highlight of the cruise was vegan food. All the meals we were served on the cruise were 100% vegan. No meat, no fish, no dairy, no eggs… no hidden butter… no animal products whatsoever. That’s what I call heaven on Earth! Not having to double check if it’s really vegan made it so much easier and enjoyable. I loved breakfast buffet and lunch, and set up 4-course dinner. We even had afternoon cakes and late night snacks after 10 pm. With all those delicious meals it was very easy to overeat so I tried to get just 2 or 3 meals per day, without snacking much in between. I usually do not snack at all so I didn’t want to change my habits on the cruise. Otherwise I would end up with 5 kg more after just a week trip! And let’s be honest, it was not easy to skip some meals. They were all delicious! I loved exotic fruit, yoghurts, veggie salads, soups, ice cream, paella and even pizza and flat bread.
- It was an all inclusive vegan cruise so food and most drinks were included. Food was more important for me. As I only drink water, fruit smoothies/juices and herbal tea, I didn’t need other drinks, such as alcohol or cocktails. But as the Douro Valley and Porto are famous for their Port wine, other guests onboard the cruise ship could enjoy local wine from the valley.
- Different onboard activities in the afternoon and especially after dinner. We could play games, quiz, watch a crew talent show, traditional Portuguese music, Spanish dance etc. Even if you didn’t go on any excursion during the day, you would not get bored onboard.
- Free yoga classes daily. On most days we could participate in 2 yoga classes, a morning and an afternoon one which were included in the cruise price. Yoga classes were in English, lead by Rose, a French yoga teacher currently living in Hong Kong. We became good friends with Rose which was great as most of other passengers onboard the cruise were couples, families or groups of friends and I was there on my own. I have to admit I made friends with a few nice couples, too. But just so you know, it’s different yoga teachers leading yoga classes onboard vegan cruises, depending on the cruise destinations.
- When we were having dinner, the cleaning ladies left a small chocolate on our beds in the rooms. Such a nice detail compared to most accommodations around the world where, if you receive a night gift, it’s never vegan chocolate so I just always stare at it without being able to eat it. And yeah, I’m a huge chocolate lover so it’s a challenge not having vegan chocolate available when I am craving it. That being said, I repeat, getting a little piece of vegan chocolate every night was a real treat! And as I’ve noticed, I was not the only guest who was grateful for chocolate 🙂
- Getting organic vegan toiletries in the room after check in was much appreciated. Usually when I travel, I carry my own cosmetics as in most accommodations they offer or not vegan ones, or they are full of chemicals so I don’t use them at all. Which is why I was so happy to see vegan cosmetics without chemicals onboard the vegan cruise. We received shampoo, shower gel, conditioner and body lotion. Thumbs up!
- The excursions we could join while anchored were for quite a reasonable price. Sometimes tours on trips like this are very expensive but on this vegan cruise they were fine. Some tours cost even less than 30 euros. I joined a tour to Vila Real, Salamanca and Aveiro and despite of cold weather I enjoyed all the three. The destinations were worth visiting. Very picturesque and with lovely architecture.
- Obviously, it depends on the cruise ship itself as it’s different ships in different destinations. But on this particular one through the Douro Valley region I really appreciated that there was hot water in the shower and heating in the room. Unfortunately we were not lucky with weather and most of the time it was raining, cloudy, cold and windy so after spending time outside I could not be more grateful for a hot shower and heating to warm up in my room. However, I have to say that sometimes it did feel cold in the common areas of the cruise ship. I truly wish it was warmer outside as there was a small swimming pool on the upper deck. I did use it for a few minutes but only to take a photo. Not that I needed to cool down in that windy freezing weather. But what wouldn’t I do for an Instagram photo, right? 🙂
Pozrite si tento príspevok na Instagrame
- All the staff members were helpful, nice, smiling and even funny. I did not have any problem with anyone at all. Thumbs up to all of them for all the hard work they did.
What I’d improve on the vegan cruise:
I am only going to speak particularly about the vegan cruise on the Douro river as I guess that those in other destinations are different. It’s different cruise ship, different staff members, different chefs and local ingredients, different tours to do and places to visit so it’s difficult to generalize. So please take them only as small suggestions from me and some of the cruise passengers I discussed them with onboard the cruise.
I would appreciate:
More gluten-free options when it comes to bread, pastry and cakes in general. It would be so much easier for the cooks to make 1 gluten free option for everyone than making both with and without gluten. It would be also easier for waiters not having to distribute gluten-free to certain guests only. But it’s true that you could ask for gluten-free meals at the beginning of the cruise and you’d get them separately. However, I really believe that gluten is NOT healthy to anyone and it should not make a big part of vegan meals, not even on a vegan cruise. Being vegan is one thing, being healthy vegan is another thing. And gluten does not belong to a healthy vegan diet. Or let’s say based on my own experience and many studies, gluten should be avoided completely.
I’d also expect healthier bread and pastry/cakes, not only made of white flour and mostly whipped cream.
Together with other people I was hanging out with onboard, we all had a big sweet tooth so we would appreciate something sweet for midnight snacks and not everything always only salty/savoury. But on the other hand it made us skip midnight snacks most of the time. At least, I did taste only one midnight snack and skipped the others. In the end, less late night calories were a good thing for me.
Excursions: Sometimes we spent too much time on the bus and not enough time exploring the towns. However, I understand that it depends on the exact destinations and how far the nice places are from the ports.