Avalon Alegria Review: Is a Portugal Douro River Cruise for You?

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Take a look inside the new Avalon Alegria and discover what it is like to glide along the Douro Valley.

The Avalon Alegria docked Douro Valley, Portugal
See the Douro Valley from a different perspective aboard the Avalon Alegria

** To save $100 per person on European cruises in 2024 and 2025, simply mention INSIDETRAVELLAB at the time of booking.**

The Avalon Alegria in Review on the Douro

Alegria, in Portuguese, means happiness and that’s a fair description of how I felt as we boarded, in spite of all the rain.

Why? Well, first of all because Porto itself is one of Portugal’s finest cities, ribero boats bobbing between terracotta banks. It’s always a joy to come back.

Second, because I was reuniting with friends I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic.

And third, because, in my experience, an Avalon cruise is an abundantly joyful thing.

You’ll be amazed at how much there is to see and do on a river cruise along the Douro

Why take a river cruise in Portugal?

We’ll get to the in-depth review of the ship in a minute (plus a handy video so that you can see for yourself.) We’ll also cover the disclosures (I was invited aboard this cruise for review purposes as a travel writer but as ever, as always, I keep the right to write what I like.)

But let’s not keep you in suspense any longer. Here are the highlights of this kind of travel:

  • River cruising in Europe is a fantastic idea. It brings you right to the heart of the action. There’s no long queue to disembark, no realising you’re at least an hour out of town, plus you can watch the scenery drift by. It’s sometimes almost close enough to touch.
  • Avalon run great river cruises that link in with local culture. From the decor to the food to local music to local cooking classes on board, your time on the ship never feels like time wasted, hidden away from the country you’re visiting.
  • The Douro Valley is stunning.
  • Avalon’s Panoramic Suites means you have floor to ceiling windows, which open, to watch the Douro glide by.

Right. Let’s get into the details.

Why Cruise The Douro Valley

Renowned worldwide for its stunning terraced vineyards, which produce the world class Port wine, the Douro Valley offers a sensory feast for visitors.

Porto, the gateway city, is one of Portugal’s best, with a UNESCO World Heritage riverside Old Town and multiple wineries offering a taste of port. Look out for dazzling ceramic tiles, futuristic concert halls and a whole lot more in this article on unusual things to do in Porto.

As you wind your way along the Douro River, you’ll see steep green slopes with terraced vineyards, historic quintas (estates) and picturesque villages with traditions galore.

It’s a place for lazing and sipping wine, lacing up boots and hiking or cycling, or standing in quiet contemplation on cobbled streets and sanctuaries, soaking up the architecture and living culture of Portugal’s past.

Reception desk aboard the Avalon Alegria in the Douro Valley, Portugal
Even the reception is luxurious!

The Avalon Alegria in Review

Launched in 2024, the Avalon Alegria carries only 102 passengers on this 262 foot ship in a combination of 14 Staterooms, 37 Panorama Suites.

The best thing? You can slide back the floor to ceiling window to make your whole room the balcony…

The Panorama Suite

It makes sense to talk about this room the most because it’s simply so beautiful when you move it along the Douro.

The key feature is the floor to ceiling window, which slides open so that your entire room is a balcony. Better yet? The bed faces this window, so you can lie with your feet up and watch the world glide by.

At 200 square feet, the Panorama Suites are more than 30% larger than the industry standard, with the usual amenities like wifi, hairdryer, spare blankets, a minibar and all that too.

Check out the Avalon Alegria specs here and take a more detailed look in the video below:

The club lounge aboard the Avalon Alegria with a view of the Douro, Portugal
The club lounge is the perfect place to relax with cake and coffee

Club Lounge

I love this section of the ship, although the access any time cookies and cakes may mean you need to pack elasticated trousers.

It’s a quiet lounge with more floor to ceiling windows and a self-service tea and coffee station.

The Avalon Alegria specialises in local delicacies

Dining Room and Food Options

The dining room is stylish, with a small buffet area for breakfast and lunch and an a la carte option for dinner. Yet what am I saying? While that’s the main setup, you can mix and match practically the whole thing throughout the day.

You can order breakfast or lunch a la carte. And if you don’t fancy a sit down, three or four course dinner in the evening, you can dine from the buffet in the Panoramic Lounge upstairs. That’s a perfect option if you want an early night or want to head off the ship to explore the local area (along the Douro, ships aren’t allowed to sail by night so you have lots of opportunities to sample local nightlife.)

You will always find local specialties on board, not just generic food. But that said, if you long for a taste of home, there’s always a get out of hunger jail free card with the option to order a hamburger or something like that.

There’s no fixed seating plan and tables come in different shapes and sizes. So, you can make friends and be sociable. Or stay solitary or romantic.

The pool and sun deck on the Avalon Alegria, Douro Portugal
A pool and a sun deck? Yes please.

The Sky Deck

Alas, we got little use out of this beautiful area when we sailed due to the freakish bad weather. But the Douro is uusally drenched in sunshine over the summer and then you’ll be glad for the space to stretch out on the sun deck and dip in the pool. Avalon also hold grills on the top deck when the weather is good, which brings a party-like atmosphere.

Another plus point? There are enough space for everyone on the ship to fit into both the Panoramic Lounge and onto the Sky Deck. So there’s no need to bagsy your lounger with a towel first thing in the morning (as if you would do that.)

Observation Deck

I’m actually not convinced that this is the “right” name for this space but it’s worth mentioning it all the same. It’s next to the Panoramic Lounge and is more sheltered than the open air Sky Deck.

Exterior of Guimares Pousada Mosteiro. in Portugal
Excursions are tailored to your individual interests


I love Avalon’s approach to excursions. Groups are small and excursions are themed into Classic, Discovery and Active (think cycling, hiking and kayaking.)

They use local guides and there’s no queuing to get on and off the ship.

Plus, several excursions have inbuilt surprises – like local Portuguese delicacies at one museum or a surprise fado performance at another.

Excursions are also included in the trip price, so you don’t have to juggle the numbers as you go along.

Headphones and Landmine Design from Avalon and the Lighthouse Project


The Globus Lighthouse project describes all the ways that the company tries to make travel a force for good and decrease the negatives as much as possible. Initiative include partnering with local groups like the Landmine Project and eliminating single use plastic on board (refillable water bottles are provided, or you can bring your own.)

So, was everything perfect?

Of course not, nothing ever is. One thing to note is that there is an age limit for children (over 8 only) and even then, it might be a better idea to wait until the tweens as there are no interconnecting family rooms.

State room on the Avalon Alegria in the Douro Valley, Portugal
Sleeping in style

How to make it happen

You can book a river cruise with Avalon Waterways right here. If you mention the code INSIDETRAVELLAB you can get a discount of $100 per person for cruises in 2024 and 2025 so it’s worth making a note of that!

Read more about my experience with Avalon on the Danube here.

Also, check out our solo cruise tips to make the most of travelling alone and download this free cruise packing checklist to make sure you’re prepared.

Watch the Avalon Alegria Review Video Here:

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