Centuries of wine-growing history and timeless Port traditions along an enchanting "river of gold"… white-painted quinta estates lined with terraced vineyards… art and architecture royally inspired and the joys of tapas in Madrid… Lisbon's treasures from the Age of Discovery and beyond…Cruise through the heart of one of the world's oldest and most beautiful wine regions on a 12-day journey between Lisbon and Madrid, featuring a 7-night cruise aboard Tauck's new riverboat ms Andorinha , custom-designed for exploring Portugal's "golden" Douro River. Visit quintas for wine tastings, hike through vineyards and villages, and discover the UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto, where the Douro kisses the Atlantic and timeless Port traditions steal your heart. Spend two nights each in Madrid, Spain's bigger-than-life capital, with its bar culture and bevy of baroque and belle époque architecture – and Lisbon, gate to the "New World," enticing with palaces aplenty and azulejos chronicling life from Moorish times to present day...
Tour begins: 5:30 PM, The Westin Palace Madrid. A transfer is included from Madrid-Barajas Airport or Madrid's Atocha Station to The Westin Palace, Madrid, commissioned by King Alfonso XIII in 1912 and located in the heart of the city's renowned art triangle with easy access to its three most famous museums, El Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza. Settle in and join your fellow travelers for a welcome reception and dinner tonight at the hotel.
Take a guided one-mile walk – or a short drive – to Madrid's 18th-century Royal Palace, home to a succession of Spanish kings from Charles III to Alfonso XIII, and reigning today as the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family in name only. Your visit to this 2,000+ room jeweled palace, by square feet Europe's largest palace, takes you on a journey through history and time-honored splendor with a local guide as you view rooms and salons overflowing with art treasures and antiques, and gilded, floor to ceiling, with fine fabrics, magnificent mosaics, crystal chandeliers and more. Highlights may include the Reception Room, the State Apartments, the Armory, the Throne Room, the Banquet Room and the Royal Pharmacy. Head-turning art welcomes you to the Museo del Prado, one of the world's premier art museums with over 4,000 works of art masterpieces, including works by iconic Spanish artists Goya and Velázquez, many of them acquired by kings through the ages. Tapas tantalize with small bites of local culinary fare on a tasting walk with an expert guide who knows where to find the best samples of this regional specialty.
Drive to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Salamanca for free time and a guided walking tour of its ancient heart, viewing the "living room of Salamanca," the elegant arcaded Plaza Mayor, its stunning 12th-century Romanesque Cathedral, and its esteemed 800-year-old university, one of the oldest in the world. Cross the border into Portugal, where Tauck's brand new riverboat, ms Andorinha, is docked on the Douro and awaiting your arrival. Settle into your cabin and enjoy dinner onboard at your leisure tonight.
A choice of shore excursions today includes a walk in pretty Pinhão, nestled in the heart of port wine country, with a visit to its historic tile-covered train station, a vision of blue and white Azulejo tiles, or an active hike through the sloping terraced vineyards that surround this town. Return to your riverboat for an afternoon cruise to Folgosa where dinner tonight entices with a special culinary experience at DOC, an acronym for "Degustar Ousar Comunicar" (translated: "Taste, Dare, Communicate"), savoring gourmet cuisine by acclaimed Portuguese chef Rui Paula who delights in marrying traditional dishes with contemporary fare along with the Douro's famous wines.
Its historic role in the production of port wine is written on the landscapes you'll see today when you step off the boat into Peso da Régua for a day of discovery. An important transport junction, this is where barrels of wine were boarded onto traditional rabelos bound for Gaia in the 18th century, where the wine was aged in local lodges. This morning, you have a choice of a visit to the Douro Museum, set within the restored Casa da Companhia Velha building, once part of Real Companhia Velha (Royal Oporto Wine Company), chartered in 1756. On your guided visit to the museum, you'll explore its exhibits chronicling the history, culture and traditions of the Douro River Valley region, from the cultivation of grapes on the vines to the processes involved in the production of Port wine and its distribution around the world. Alternatively, visit the historic town of Lamego (dating back to the Middle Ages), renowned for its viticulture and production of sparkling wine. This afternoon, you have a choice of a guided tour of 18th-century Casa de Mateus, a Baroque masterpiece you may recognize from the label on bottles of Mateus Rosé, and its fantasy garden of manicured hedges and dignified statues. Or, if you choose, join a local guide for a visit to a local wine-making estate called a quinta, rewarding with a port cocktail making class. Return to the riverboat late day.
The wine growing regions of the Douro surprise visitors with an array of vintages, young and old. Discover them at a wine tasting at a quinta in a Vinho Verde vineyard where they specialize in green wines uniquely produced here. Green refers to its age not its color; the grapes they use for these wines are typically consumed within three to six months after bottling and can be red, white, or rosé. Chart a course for Porto this afternoon.
Culturally rich and historically charming, Porto's pleasures are diverse and delightful, blending old and new to reveal a fascinating portrait of the city through art and architecture, wine and food, and waterfront views that take your breath away. Explore the city by land, river and air when you ride a historic tram from Foz Quarter through the upper part of town and board a water taxi that takes you across the river for a cable car ride to the top of the Luiz I Bridge, rewarding with panoramic views. If you prefer, join a local guide for a tram ride and a robust walking tour of Porto's historic center with stops to taste local culinary treats. Your day concludes with a tasting visit to a port wine cellar in Gaia.
Disembark your riverboat in Porto this morning for a drive back in time to Coimbra, Portugal's medieval capital for more than a century. A walking tour along the tiered cobbled lanes of this hilltop city brings you to its esteemed university, founded here in 1537, where its caped students evoke images of Harry Potter's Hogwarts School, its majestic buildings line squares steeped in history and cloistered arcades lead to architectural showpieces beautiful to behold. Learn about student life, past and present, and university traditions still in play today. Enjoy free time for lunch and exploring before continuing on to Lisbon for a two-night stay.
Crafted atop seven hills over centuries, Lisbon is home to cobbled lanes, castles in the clouds and maritime monuments that pay lasting tribute to Portuguese explorers like Vasco da Gama who changed the world. City sightseeing today discovers landmark places steeped in history, including Eduardo VII Park. Trade Square, the Monument to the Discoveries and Jeronimos Monastery where Vasco da Gama and Portugal's kings are buried, and visits the National Coach Museum. After enjoying time at leisure, join us for an exclusive royal dinner at 18th-century Queluz National Palace, a blend of Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical architectural designs graced with gardens inspired by French styles.
Centuries of wine-growing history and timeless Port traditions along an enchanting "river of gold"… white-painted quinta estates lined with terraced vineyards… art and architecture royally inspired and the joys of tapas in Madrid… Lisbon's treasures from the Age of Discovery and beyond…Cruise through the heart of one of the world's oldest and most beautiful wine regions on a 12-day journey between Lisbon and Madrid, featuring a 7-night cruise aboard Tauck's new riverboat ms Andorinha, custom-designed for exploring Portugal's "golden" Douro River. Visit quintas for wine tastings, hike through vineyards and villages, and discover the UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto, where the Douro kisses the Atlantic and timeless Port traditions steal your heart. Spend two nights each in Madrid, Spain's bigger-than-life capital, with its bar culture and bevy of baroque and belle époque architecture – and Lisbon, gate to the "New World," enticing with palaces aplenty and azulejos chronicling life from Moorish times to present day...
Traveling with Peace of Mind
Our commitment never wavers – to earn your trust by always doing the right thing. As we explore the world together again, this will be more important than ever as we adapt to living and traveling in the presence of COVID-19.
Tauck is 95-years young this year, and our ability to weather many storms over the decades is a result of our values and beliefs – as a family and as a family-owned and led company. In addition to the guiding light of these values, our extensive experience, local knowledge and global support network help to ensure your safety on every Tauck journey. Building upon our bedrock of award-winning guest care, we have worked tirelessly to prepare for your return following the COVID-19 hiatus in travel. With guidance from leading experts, including the CDC and WHO, together with our internal Global Response Team and, most importantly, with feedback from thousands of our guests, we have redefined how we will conduct our experiences as we resume travel.
Tauck is Prepared for the Unexpected
For decades, Tauck has operated in over 70 countries in all 7 continents. Over this time, our staff and network of supplier partners have always been there to support our guests and team on the road. Our guests travel with a comprehensive, built-in support system that starts with the care and local knowledge of our Tauck Directors and extends to our network of partners around the world, including hoteliers and transportation companies.
At the core of our ability to quickly and effectively respond to the unexpected is our Global Response Team - a group of over 50 employees across all departments who stand ready to spring into action around the world. This team has plenty of experience, from weather events, high and low water on rivers, earthquakes, volcanic ash, civil unrest and work stoppages. They have also dealt with past virus outbreaks including the SARS and Zika viruses.
The Tauck Travel Well Pledge
Before we operate tours and cruises, all Tauck employees, our supplier partners and our guests will take Tauck’s Travel Well Pledge.
As a company, we will follow our enhanced protocols with diligence and rigor; review them frequently as the landscape changes and always make common-sense decisions grounded in purpose and pride. We embrace these new and necessary measures to combat COVID-19 and will do our very best to provide the Tauck care we have been honored to deliver for 95 years.
OUR NEW HEALTH & SAFETY PROTOCOLS
Consistent with our commitment to the well-being of our guests, we are implementing enhanced health and safety protocols. These protocols may vary by geographic regions and will certainly evolve over time, as science and society respond to new realities:
Prior to interacting with guests, each member of Tauck’s field staff is trained in enhanced protocols and participates in a personal health screening.
Once on tour, our Tauck Directors and supporting staff are responsible for maintaining these protocols with a special focus on cleanliness and physical distancing. They will relay critical information regarding requirements, advise when protocols are mandatory – such as wearing a face covering in group settings – and help facilitate guest care through communication with appropriate parties should a guest become ill on tour. All Tauck staff will adhere to the same requirements.
When joining a Tauck journey, every guest is responsible for their own health and, in turn, the protection of their fellow travelers, the Tauck staff, our suppliers and the places we visit. Guests will pledge to follow the direction of the Tauck staff and adhere to health and safety protocols.
Guests are expected to wear face coverings in all group settings, to wash their hands frequently and to adhere to supplier and government regulations. While supplies of face coverings, gloves, and hand sanitizer will be available, guests are asked to bring such personal items for their own comfort.
Small is BIG
For many years, Tauck has emphasized and invested in more choices of activities, resulting in smaller groups for activities like sightseeing and events. This is consistent with our mantra that “Small is Big” – small groups and smaller ships with fewer guests.
We initially focused on these elements to improve the guest experience. Yet today they take on an additional dimension; small group experiences and more personal space are critical in providing the peace of mind our guests expect. Accordingly, we are offering even more small group experiences and limiting guest numbers across all of our journeys.
We have been working diligently with our partners to be prepared to welcome you back when the time is right.
Tauck has worked meticulously with our global supplier partners to plan for every itinerary following the hiatus in travel. All partners, whether they be a hotel, museum, small ship/riverboat, restaurant or other partner, have been thoughtful about how to provide a Tauck experience in this environment.
And while it's impossible to list all of the enhanced health and safety protocols for the hundreds of Tauck partners across the globe, we would like to share a representative sample of what you can expect:
Our hotel partners all have world-class health and safety protocols. However, these guidelines may vary depending on local situations and regulations. Here are some typical examples:
Ships and Riverboats
We have worked closely with our cruise partners to ensure the best possible health and safety protocols and to ensure the care and service you expect from Tauck:
Sightseeing and Local Activities
Many of our experiences are exclusive and/or private and that’s important in taking care of you. Whether it be a guided tour, a visit to an iconic museum or private home, a musical performance, or any other special Tauck activities, we are applying the same rigor to health and safety protocols:
Tauck has always been known for a la carte dining; having more freedom to decide when and with whom to dine now has more value than ever. Additionally, our partners whether they be hotels, ships, special venues or restaurants, are raising their already rigorous hygienic standards. Here are some examples:
Keeping on-tour transportation safe is a major focus of our team who has worked with hundreds of partners to ensure continuity in health and safety protocols:
Our Supplier Partners are ready for you
Tauck is proud to have worked closely with our partners around the world, many of them for decades, to deliver the quality, comfort and safety you expect. Whether it be hotels and resorts, riverboats and small ships, restaurants, event venues or transportation companies, their meticulous health and safety protocols reflect their leadership and well-earned respect in the travel industry. The following are some select health and safety protocols. We will update these on a regular basis.
In addition to our supplier partners, we have also been actively engaged with global travel organizations to standardize health and safety protocols throughout the travel industry. TourCare is one example:
TourCare are health and sanitation guidelines developed by the tour industry's major global associations: the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), The Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) and the European Tourism Association (ETOA). Tauck, and our supplier partners, meet and exceed these guidelines that require members to adhere to the highest standards in the industry.
The Tauck experience was everything we expected it to be. We also appreciated the warm reception as their first cruise on the Danube since the Covid shutdown. Their professional staff navigated the travel restrictions as we moved from country to country and overall elimated those worries for us. Their were 52 (of a possible 130) passengers on board so to say we were given VIP treatment is an understatement. We loved the crew on board the MS Joy as well as the talented Cruise Director and Tour Directors. The experience that they created for us is the reason why we will continue to travel with Tauck and recommend them to others. On a negative note, I was disappointed in the hotel selection in Prague. The InterContinental where we had originally been booked was under renovation. We were shifted to the Hilton which was average at best. Additionally as a Category 7 traveler, we were put in a standard room. Other Category 7 travelers were upgraded to the premium floors which I found irritating.
Tauck is absolutely top notch! They treated us like absolute Royalty on the ship. I would without a doubt highly recommend Tauck for your next vacation.
Very good itinerary and great on board staff, including the Cruise Director, who was immensely helpful when my partner became ill with bronchitis. Local guides in Colmar, Stuttgart, and Amsterdam were very, very good too. Food and drink were plentiful and well-prepared.
This trip was wonderful. Tauck experience is over the top and enjoyed every minute.
Tauck is incredible. I would recommend them to anyone. They think of details I would never have imagined... down to the coins it takes to use a restroom at one of the Christmas markets in Salzburg.
Although our trip was changed due to unforeseen events (low water) Tauck came together to make it better than we could have expected.. many competitors canceled but Tauck made it happen !!!
Truck as usual did a superb job
Once you take a Tauck tour, you'll never go with another Operator. The Tauck experience was incredible and totally worth the money. Can't think of one thing to complain about or would change.
Tauck is everything they promise and more. The room was wonderful, the food was outstanding, the guides were knowledgeable and fun to be with.
It was the first of - I hope- many. Excellent organization and staff.
Enjoyed all aspects of the Tauck Cruise.
It is wonderful to have every detail taken care of with a smile on the face of the staff.
The Tauck riverboat was fabulous! We were three in the room and it was large with a beautiful walk-in closet and new lovely bathroom. The Pullman Hotel near the Eiffel Tower was disappointing. The room for three was minuscule and the staff at the front desk were not helpful. If there was a knowledgable concierge, we never found him. The location was poor for metro to get to main sights around the city. We put that on our Tauck survey as well. Cruise director and all tour guides were exceptional. Highly recommend Tauck Bridges and we're looking forward to the Bridges trip we booked for next April. Thanks Affordable Tours!
We love Tauck, they are so professional and handle all the "little" details.
It had rained earlier and when Tauck lowered the metal gangplank, they did not dry it off. My husband slipped and seriously injured his knee. There were no medical facilities whatsoever on the ship; no aspirin, no "wraps" or other help. Luckily, one of the other passengers gave us an Ace Bandage wrap she had brought and another gave us some pain pills. Tauck should have had people standing by to help us down the gang plank and they certainly should have dried it first. We have been on the Tauck Galapagos Islands tour and even with all the disembarkation on slippery, wet rocks, Tauck provided people to hold our arms etc so that no one ever slipped.
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