A European river cruise in December?

The cruise program director on the Viking Vili quipped, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Temperatures hovered in the 30s and 40s on our December cruise down the Danube, but it was still warmer than back home in suburban Chicago. In Vienna, I lucked out with a 54-degree day and ditched my puffy coat. December can be a cheaper time to travel. Air and cruise fares dip below those in peak summer season …

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Day 6: Coming full circle in Porto, an incident and final thoughts on Emerald Radiance

As we rounded a bend in Portugal’s Douro River headed toward the first and last port of call on Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Radiance, I could see the Luis I bridge in the distance. The double-deck iron bridge designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame is a Porto landmark. Passing beneath its graceful arches I caught a glimpse of young people jumping off its lowest railing into the river below, a rite of passage …

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Day 5: Life is a feast Portuguese style on Emerald Radiance

No one goes hungry on a cruise, but on our journey down the Douro River on Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Radiance Bill and I not only ate well we got an education in Portuguese food and wine. All Emerald Waterways river cruises include wine and beer at lunch and dinner in the fare, and except for last night’s dinner after our excursion into Spain, the wine comes from the Douro River Region, part of which is a UNESCO …

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Day 4: A day in Spain on Emerald Radiance

It became a running joke, this good-natured rivalry between Portugal and Spain, on Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Radiance. Luis, our Portuguese cruise director, was full of wisecracks and puns in his afternoon briefing as we cruised toward our easternmost port on the Douro River. We’d dock for the night at Vega de Terron, Spain, he told us, but there’s nothing to see, just one house and a coffee bar. Don’t bother. Indeed, the border with Spain on the …

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Day 3: 686 steps heavenward from Emerald Radiance

Emerald Waterways’ new ship Emerald Radiance offers passengers four types of cabins. Top of the line are two Riverview Suites wrapping around the stern on the upper deck with gorgeous views of Portugal’s Douro River on two sides, a spacious sitting area and oversized bathroom with shower and tub. Two slightly less heavenly Owner’s Suites sit next door. At the other end of the price spectrum, Staterooms on the lowest deck have a window and standard bath. …

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Day 2: Ducking through the Douro locks on Emerald Radiance

Cruising the Douro River offered a lesson in engineering as Emerald Waterways’ Emerald Radiance passed through five locks on its way east across Portugal. All five were completed in the 1970s and ’80s for flood control, power generation and ease of navigation from the mouth of the river near Porto to the border with Spain about 210 kilometers away. The largest of the five locks, at the Carrapatelo Dam, was the first built and the difference in …

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Day 1: That new ship smell, Emerald Radiance

Gleaming in the midday sun at the Douro River dock in Porto, Portugal, the Emerald Radiance lived up to its name. The newest in the Emerald Waterways’ fleet of seven river vessels was about to embark on its 11th cruise and my husband Bill and I were happy to step aboard. Like a car driven off a dealer’s lot, it even smelled new and we didn’t see a smudge or scratch on it. Not only was the …

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Looking forward to unraveling the ‘Secrets of the Douro’ on Emerald Waterways’ new ship Radiance

Portugal’s a hot destination this year, popping up on lists of places to visit at Travel + Leisure and Fodor’s among others. My husband Bill and I are looking forward to seeing this slice of the Iberian Peninsula on a river cruise. We’ll be aboard Emerald Waterways’ new ship Emerald Radiance on its new “Secrets of the Douro” itinerary through the Douro River Valley. Meaning “River of Gold” and now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the …

Read moreLooking forward to unraveling the ‘Secrets of the Douro’ on Emerald Waterways’ new ship Radiance

Peeking behind the former Iron Curtain – River cruise opens doors in Eastern Europe

By Katherine Rodeghier  Ten of us sat around a kitchen table in a tidy home in eastern Croatia. Over cake and coffee, our hostess answered questions about life in villages still reeling from the effects of a war that ended on paper more than two decades ago. Fields still laced with land mines. Rampant unemployment. Young people fleeing to bigger cities to find a better life. Suzi Petrijevcanin wasn’t complaining, just telling it like it is to …

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Following Santa’s sleigh around the Caribbean on Oceania Cruises Insignia

This year my husband Bill and I are breaking with our usual holiday tradition. Instead of gathering with family for Christmas and New Year’s, we are boarding a luxury ocean liner and heading south on a 12-day voyage through the West Indies, stopping off at seven islands along the way. When friends who are elbow deep into gift wrap, decorations and recipes for sumptuous holiday meals ask about our plans their reaction is a mix of dismay …

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