Get to know our Tour Managers... Fiona Fraser

"Tours can be enlivened and enhanced by interacting with as many people as possible."

May 2020 • Jules Verne

Get to know our Tour Managers...
Fiona Fraser

What is your favourite tour and why?

After much deliberation I have decided upon 'An Iberian River Journey'. I chose this tour because the combination of natural and man-made beauty upon the landscape is truly astounding. As the river charts its way eastwards from Porto the scenery changes from gentle, green riverside slopes to the truly awe inspiring regions of the quintas passing remote, rugged riverbanks en route. It is impossible not to marvel at the sheer beauty of the river banks whether still as nature intended or transformed by the ingenuity and tenacity of generations resulting in terraces that are worthy of producing the top quality wines and ports that the region is renowned for. Rarely does man enhance what nature has provided but on the Douro it is unforgettable for all the right reasons. 

Away from the river there are charming towns and cultural treasures to enjoy: Porto, Pinhau, Lamego and Salamanca are just some you can experience. All of this whilst relaxing and enjoying the exclusive experience that is the Douro Prince, our vessel for this trip. Older but more charming than other ships on the river, it has a character and personality of its own. I am no Duchess but I would venture there is nothing amiss with an older, charming Prince!

What is your best memory of being a Tour Manager?

Enjoying the transformation of JV customers from vaguely interested to avid lock watchers on the Douro river. I include myself in this too. So, what's the big deal? Well the Carrapatelo lock is, quite literally the big deal. It is difficult not to be impressed and bewildered by the size, scale and sheer brilliance of engineering that has transformed travel along the Douro. Chains that seem to have been repurposed from giants' bicycles, engines harnessing the river's energy and colossal, concrete constructs leave one in no doubt that these are locks to be admired and respected. One day in on the tour and already there is a buzz, a frisson of anticipation in the air as we approach one lock after another - it's a joy to experience and a memory to treasure.

What tips/advice would you give to someone who hasn't been on an escorted tour before?

Clothing and footwear - comfort is key. Layers for unpredictable weather - check the weather reports before packing, they will help with decision making.Take your most tried and tested shoes for daytime walking, don't be tempted to take new, unworn shoes. Pack a light jacket (down filled jackets and gilets are perfect). Maybe throw in a rain cape (sartorial suicide but it will keep you warm and dry should you get caught in rain). Lastly, something simple but smarter for the evening, whatever makes you feel good.

During the tour - Whether travelling alone, as a couple or with friends we are all in it together and have chosen a group tour. Tours can be enlivened and enhanced by interacting with as many people as possible. The best tours are those where no two days are the same: choose new dining partners, change seats in the restaurant or on the excursion coach for a new perspective. "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer, richer experience". Eleanor Roosevelt.