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Cruising the Douro on-board the Spirit of Chartwell

( 13 March 2017 )

The Queen's 2012 Jubilee barge, The Spirit of Chartwell, swaps the Thames to cruise the Douro river.

The Spirit of Chartwell

Discover more about Portugal's 'River of Gold', the Douro. Find out more here

Millions cheered and waved as the Queen and the royal family cruised along the Thames aboard the Spirit of Chartwell during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant in June 2012.;

Now that luxury pleasure boat that led the 1,000-boat flotilla, setting a Guinness World Record, has swapped the Thames for the Douro in Portugal.

Discover more about Portugal's 'River of Gold', the Douro. Find out more here

1920s elegance

The Spirit of Chartwell was only built in 2000 but following a multimillion-pound refit in 2009, re-emerged with a classic chocolate and cream livery inspired by the deluxe 1929 Côte d'Azur Pullman Express cars. 

Inside, exquisite Lalique glass panels complete the luxury look.

A royal makeover

Following such a tasteful refurbishment and attention to detail, the Spirit of Chartwell was the perfect choice to be the Queen's flagship during her Diamond Jubilee Pageant.

A further million pound makeover, this time with the royal touch, added crimson banners, layers of gold paint and the Royal Navy's British White Ensign, completing the Spirit of Chartwell's temporary metamorphosis into a royal barge, the like of which hasn't been seen for centuries.

While the royal regalia, including a pair of thrones, are now housed in the Museum of London Docklands, the Spirit of Chartwell retains the regal grandeur that took six months to create. 

A pair of Jubilee edition red velvet chairs designed by Clive Christian, creator of the world’s most expensive perfume, have since been added beneath a replica portrait of Her Majesty.

The River of Gold

Travellers can experience Spirit of Chartwell's opulent surroundings on Saga's Heritage of the Douro Valley, which includes three nights on board this very special vessel. 

Guests will feel like royalty on the state-of-the-art ship as it carries just 30 people, ensuring an intimate atmosphere and attentive service – it's the perfect way to enjoy the ‘River of Gold's’ vineyard-clad banks and to reflect on the vessel's regal heritage. 

Discerning cruisegoers can savour sundowners on deck, sumptuous cuisine in the spacious restaurant and enjoy live music performed on a baby grand piano in the cocktail bar.

All in all, this truly is a voyage fit for a queen!


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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