Getting ready to turn heads on Portugal’s Douro River in 2021, ms Andorinha will be defying the standard industry practice of maximizing passenger capacity to boost revenue by carrying fewer guests than any other vessel currently operated by a major line on the Douro. Explains CEO Dan Mahar, “At Tauck, we measure success by the quality of the experience we provide our guests. One of the best ways to ensure a warm, relaxing and engaging ambiance on board is to avoid crowding too many guests into a limited space.”
“We purpose-built ms Andorinha to accommodate just 84 Tauck guests, versus up to 112 passengers – or 33% more people – on other cruise lines’ Douro ships of the same approximate size.” Boasting eco-friendly technologies and innovative outdoor amenities on the Sun Deck, ms Andorinha is spacious and welcoming – the reconfigured Atrium really makes an impact when you walk into the lobby, enabling much more light. The floor-to-ceiling windows in the lounge also let in more light – but not the heat! Great care was taken to find glass that would keep cool temperatures inside. You’ll see little touches throughout – from tiles, to colors, to fabrics – which reflect the natural environment of Portugal. In the cabins, the beds are comfortable, the bathrooms are intelligently designed, the storage very good, and we’ve included some design elements that are distinctive to the Douro – including the cabins at river level, bright and spacious, creatively designed to allow in maximum light. The sky lounge and its hydraulic system for raising and lowering are unlike anything on any riverboat, anywhere in the world.”
And about the name andorinha… Swallows (andorinhas) have a special place in Portuguese culture. Migratory birds, small and graceful, they mate for life, and no matter how far they travel, they always return to the same nest – andorinhas are romantic symbols of home, love, and faithfulness. In the 19th century, Portuguese sailors often had these birds tattooed on their arms for good luck, to insure their safe return home.
Artist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (1846-1905) recalled seeing those dark silhouette tattoos as a boy in Lisbon, and much later in life, they inspired him to create small ceramic andorinhas at his studio in Caldas da Rainha that soon became popular all over the country. By then Pinheiro himself was a beloved figure – a humorist, illustrator, sculptor, and cartoonist; in 1875 he created the first Portuguese comic strip Zé Povinho, featuring a peasant everyman character who became iconic in Portuguese pop culture. He later opened a ceramics factory, Fábrica de Faianças das Caldas, that produced pottery and azulejos of his own design, including figurines of street people and characters from everyday life.
You’ll see andorinhas everywhere, in various sizes and colors, sometimes given as tokens of love, sometimes hung on walls and windows in shops, cafés, and homes, sometimes alone, and sometimes in flocks.
Would love to ecolored Portugal and go to Fatima
Looking to take a Duro River excursion then into Spain the second half of 2022. Have travelled with Tauck to Ireland and loved it.