Welcome to Madrid! Our guides will meet you at the airport to assist with your transfer to the Intercontinental Hotel, conveniently located in the heart of Madrid. After settling in to the hotel make the most of the remainder of your day by exploring the city on your own and taking in the many festivities of Madrid Gay Pride. Later, gather for a welcome reception at the hotel. (Welcome Reception)
Madrid / Salamanca / Barca d'Alva, Portugal (Embarkation)
Following breakfast at the hotel we leave Madrid and travel overland to Salamanca, a UNESCO world Heritage city. The architectural purity of this charming town has endured through the centuries, during which time its sandstone buildings have acquired the exquisite glow that gives Salamanca its nickname, “The Golden City.” You will have some time on your own for lunch before we embark on a walking tour.
Walk under plateresque arches and past ornately decorated masonry walls as you explore the university. Then visit Salamanca’s extraordinary Old and New Cathedrals. Continue on to Barca d’Alva on the Spanish/Portugal border and board the MS Gil Eanes. Once on board settle into your cabin, explore the ship and enjoy an evening of dinner and Brand g Signature entertainment. (B,D)
After a leisurely breakfast relax and take in the breathtaking views as we sail the Douro river from Barca d’ Alva to Ferradosa. Your lunch will be served in the dining room before we disembark to enjoy our excursion along the Porto wine route. We’ll discover this incredible vineyard extending over 100 km along the Douro river all the way to the Spanish border. We’ll visit San Salvador do Mundo and Sao Joao da Pesqueira, two small towns set among the vineyards in the Rio Torto valley. In Sao Joao da Pesqueira, you will have the opportunity to explore the arcaded main square, the chapel and the white houses with their balconies. You will visit a quinta (wine cellar) to taste the famous Port Wine. We’ll return on board in Pinhao where you have time to freshen up before our evening tour of the family-owned Quinta da Avessada, which produces premium Moscatel. After strolling the grounds and meeting the owner, you’ll partake in a rustic dinner featuring fine local wines and traditional live music. Afterward we will return to the Gil Eanes. (B,L,D)
Pinahao/Peso de Regua
Following breakfast on board, enjoy the rest of the morning taking in the breath-taking views of the Douro River, relax with a book or join us for some fun pool activities. After lunch on board we disembark for Vila Real, where aristocrats built grand palaces during the 16th and 17th centuries. The architecture of the religious buildings is here extremely varied. We’ll take a panoramic tour of the city by coach, followed by a tasting of the local pastry, Cristas de Galo.We’ll then set out to explore Mateus Palace, the most beautiful and astonishing manor in all of Northern Portugal. This 18th-century beauty is set in a hilly landscape reminding us of Mexico. The subtle mixture of granite, white walls and extravagance from the Age of Enlightenment such as ledges covered in statues and Baroque style pilasters is a striking feature. Behind the manor is a delightful garden with box hedges, more statues, and a spectacular 115-foot cedar tunnel. After our tour, we’ll return to our ship for a wonderful evening on board. (B,L,D)
Peso de Regua/Porto
After breakfast on board we leave for our visit to Lamego, a small, picturesque town that is rich in history. Lamego houses one of the most important pilgrimage sites in all of Portugal: the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies (Nossa Senhora dos Remedios Sanctuary). Sitting atop a hill, the sanctuary overlooks the town and you’ll get to discover that this 18th century church stands out with its white façade dominating a baroque staircase with 686 steps ending in a shrine built in the rocaille style and adorned with azulejos. The first stone was laid on February 14th, 1750 and gave way to the construction of a massive temple overlooking the city and providing a breathtaking view over the misty mountains of the surrounding landscape. You’ll get to see it up close on today’s tour and have a chance to admire its gorgeous panels of blue and white tiles. As a treat, you will have an opportunity to try the local sparkling wine and famous country Ham before returning to your ship for a late lunch. This afternoon we have a scenic sailing into Porto. In the evening, enjoy dinner onboard followed by Brand g signature entertainment. (B,L,D)
Today explore the wonderful city of Porto with a Guided tour and wine tasting. Porto, the second largest city in Portugal, stands out from the steep banks of the Douro river with its mixture of grey facades and red tiles interspersed with unusual architectural masterpieces. Its historical center was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. We’ll discover The Palácio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Building), built in 1834 by the city’s Commercial Association. It has remained their headquarters to this day. After climbing up the beautiful granite and marble stairway, we’ll visit the former Tribunal Room, the Golden Room and the Arab Room, decorated in the exotic Moorish Revival style. Afterwards, we’ll visit the Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis), also known as the “Golden Church”. It was originally a modest convent founded by Franciscan monks in the 12th century, before being further altered by prominent Porto families in the 15th and 16th centuries. They were responsible for the Baroque style interior which mingles with the large, elaborate rose window in Gothic style on the main façade in a fascinating mixture of styles reflecting the various eras it went through.
We’ll cross the Dom Luis I Bridge again back to Villa Nova de Gaia for the visit of a wine cellar. Porto’s pride notably stems from its famous wine known the world over, which you will get to taste. We’ll return on board for lunch. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon on board, or explore the city on your own before our Gala Dinner this evening. (B,L,D)
Today enjoy exploring the beautiful historic Guimarães to discover the city’s historical treasures. Its medieval heart is a labyrinth of lanes and picturesque plazas framed by 14th century buildings. Guimarães’ glory was officially recognized in 2001, when UNESCO declared its old town a World Heritage Site. Because of its role in the foundation of the country, the city is known as the “cradle of the Portuguese nationality.” In 1128, major political and military events that lead to the independence and the birth of the new nation took place in Guimarães. We’ll continue on to the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, a medieval estate and former residence of the first Dukes of Braganza. The palace fell into disrepair after the 16th century, which was accelerated when the locals began to use the palace as their personal quarry to build their own homes. The palace was classified as a National Monument in 1910 and has since been restored to its former glory. At the end of our visit, we will return to the ship for lunch.
In the afternoon explore the city at your leisure or join us for a “Douro Hike” We’ll leave by coach for the mouth of the Douro River. Here, you’ll set out with your guide for a hike along the Douro, passing through the traditional fishing village of São Pedro da Afurada. We’ll have a great view of Porto and its famous Ribeira Square before arriving in Vila Nova de Gaia, where the prestigious wine is aged in renowned cellars. We’ll visit a wine cellar and enjoy a tasting*. After our hike, we’ll return to the ship on foot. If you are not up for a hike, relax in the ship’s pool or explore the city at your leisure. After this busy day prepare for our Farewell cocktails and final evening of Brand g Signature Entertainment. (B,LD)
Morning disembarkation. Transfer to Porto airport(OPO) or join the 2-night post cruise extension in Lisbon (B)