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DESTINATIONS CRUISE | RESTARTING RIVER


top tip


River cruising is exempt from the current Foreign Office advice against cruise, but country-by- country restrictions still apply. Check the latest advice before booking or travelling


GETTING THERE


TAP Air Portugal is flying once a day from Heathrow to Porto until October 24, with twice-daily departures from Gatwick scheduled from October 25. Prices start at £67 return including taxes. agents.flytap.com


BOOK IT CLOCKWISE FROM


RIGHT: Gil Eanes on the Douro in Porto; Lamego; a cabin on Gil Eanes


PICTURES: CroisiEurope/Denis Merck


COVID PROTOCOLS Other tweaks to onboard life became apparent during our sailing. Each passenger ‘bubble’ had been assigned a dining table to be used at each mealtime. No food – apart from basic nibbles – was served on the sun deck, and the pool was closed. All meals were taken in the main dining room, which


crew in personal protective equipment deep-cleaned afterwards. For more than an hour three times a day, the room was stripped and every item, right down to the salt and pepper grinders, was disinfected. During meals, crew members took the opportunity to wipe every door handle so they didn’t disturb passengers at other times. Some of the passengers I spoke to, many of whom had sailed with CroisiEurope before, commented that pre- Covid cruises had been livelier – understandable given that capacity across the fleet has been capped at 75%. A spare cabin on the bottom deck is kept vacant in case a passenger develops Covid symptoms and is forced to self-isolate; fortunately, it hadn’t been required on this year’s shortened season. Reflecting on Gil Eanes’ successful summer so far,


cruise director Susana Melo says: “I am surprised by how passengers have reacted. The only thing that’s different really is that they’re now wearing masks.”


LIFE ASHORE Shore excursions were as enjoyable as ever, bar the obligatory face masks. Once, passengers could expect


24 24 SEPTEMBER 2020 TRIED & TESTED


CroisiEurope offers a six-night Douro cruise on board Gil Eanes starting at £833 per person based on travel in November 2021, including meals, drinks, excursions as specified and onboard entertainment. Flights not included. croisieurope.co.uk


GIL EANES CroisiEurope


This 66-cabin ship would normally hold 132 passengers, but capacity has been capped at 75% due to Covid restrictions. It may not have multiple dining venues, a gym or, temporarily, a pool, but the ship more than makes up for this with style and space. Cabins have a bright, contemporary feel and delightful blue colour


scheme. Outdoor spaces can be found at the bow and on the top deck, where there is a huge parasol for passengers to sit under when the sun is high. Sunloungers also line the impressive outdoor deck. The dining room, located on the main deck, has large windows to


maximise the light and allow passengers to marvel at the passing sights along the Douro.


REVIEWED BY Harry Kemble


to travel on a single coach – now 51-seat buses are laid on and no more than 30 passengers occupy each one to ensure they can socially distance. Fortunately, passengers can still explore destinations such as the delightful towns of Régua and Pinhão on their own when they leave the protective rules on the ship. “You can go by yourself,” says Melo. “You can catch a taxi. But you must wear a mask at the monuments and inside restaurants. We must make sure passengers respect the [Portuguese] protocols. I am responsible for that.” CroisiEurope really should be applauded. All changes have been implemented sensitively and,


despite remaining in a bubble at meals and being asked to wear a mask onboard, you still feel firmly ‘on holiday’. The river cruise sector may have faced a bleak future just a few months ago, but the operator is leading the way for other lines plotting their comebacks.


² travelweekly.co.uk


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