Uniworld Boutique River Cruises was the first North American river cruise company to introduce ships to the Douro River in Spain and Portugal. This river valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the vineyards along the river are spectacular.
On March 22, 2013 in Porto, Portugal, the company launched a new Douro River ship, the Queen Isabel. This new ship replaced the Douro Spririt, which Uniworld inaugurated in 2011. American actress and spokes model Andie MacDowell is the godmother. The amenities on this Douro River ship may be slightly different than those on one of the larger ships sailing on European Rivers and owned by Uniworld.
The Queen Isabel sails Uniworld's two itineraries for Uniworld on the Douro River. The first is an 11-day cruise tour from Lisbon to Porto, with ports of call along the river in both Spain and Portugal. The second river cruise itinerary is almost identical to the first, but this cruise tour is 13 days and includes two days in Madrid. Both itineraries include stopovers at multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Queen Isabel is named for one of Portugal's most beloved queens. Queen Isabel, who lived from 1428-1496 and was the mother of Spain's Isabella I of Castile and Aragon. If the name Isabella I sounds familiar, it's probably because she was the wife of King Ferdinand of Spain and sponsored Columbus' voyage to the new world.
Cabins and Suites on the Queen Isabel Douro River Cruise Ship
The Queen Isabel has a capacity of 118 guests who stay in riverview staterooms and suites. The staterooms on the Upper Deck have full balconies, those on the Main Deck have French balconies, and the Lower Deck cabins have panoramic windows. All staterooms and suites have hotel beds, built-in closets, hair dryer, safe, individual thermostat, flat-screen TV, radio, alarm clock, iPhone/iPod charger and player, and bottled water. The baths feature L'Occitane en Provence bath and body products, plush towels, waffle bathrobes, and slippers.
The ship has two Upper Deck suites measuring 323 square feet, 23 Category 1 staterooms on the Upper Deck measuring 161 square feet, and 16 Category 2 and 3 staterooms on the Lower Deck, which also measure 161 square feet.
Common Areas on the Queen Isabel Douro River Cruise Ship
Public areas on the Queen Isabel include an indoor observation lounge with full-service bar, outside bar, restaurant with an outside dining area, sun deck with swimming pool, boutique, and fitness and spa area. A complimentary self-serve coffee and tea bar is always open, and the ship has free Internet and WiFi access.
I've been on four other Uniworld ships--the S.S. Antoinette, River Beatrice, S.S. Catherine, and River Tosca. All of these provided luxurious, memorable river cruise experiences. I'm sure the Queen Isabel meets the high Uniworld standards and she certainly sails in a scenic part of the world.