From its establishment until today, the DouroAzul’s mission has been to make available on Land, Water and Air the means capable to surpass the customer’s expectations in the discovery of our heritage.
To reinforce the leadership of river cruises in Portugal and especially on the Douro River.
The “money for value” philosophy is present in all stages related to the Customer/DouroAzul relationship.
Customer focus, Honesty, Team Spirit, Professionalism, Rigour and Discipline.
The DouroAzul history shows a path followed for over 16 years, revealling a huge capacity in operating cruises on the Douro River and giving the opportunity to its Customers to discover a Heritage, unique in the world.
A young Portuguese man, described already at the time as a «visionary», with a strong sense of entrepreneurship and deep roots in Northern Portugal; breathing since an early age the smell of the ocean and river, combining his passion for the river with the good service rendered to his customers, Mário Ferreira established the company Ferreira & Rayford Turismo, Lda. with the purchase for the waters of the Douro of his first ship, the Vistadouro with capacity for 130 passengers, equiped with most modern navigation systems, with the aim of promoting cruises on the Douro River and exploring the surrounding heritage.
Due to the clear success and growing demand for his services, Mário Ferreira, in order to meet the expectations of his costumers, purchases a new company, the DouroAzul – Sociedade Marítimo- Turística, S.A. adding to his portfolio a new ship, the Princesa do Douro, with capacity for 170 passengers.
That same year he implements in the company new market approach strategies. Together with other great decisions, Mário Ferreira shows a growing interest in the conquest of foreign markets, as the Douro is not only Douro but also Duero. Therefore, he purchases a new ship, the first Hotel-Ship, the Altodouro, with capacity to lodge 48 people (24 double cabins) attracting an interest and curiosity never seen before and beginning to operate one-week cruises.
This year was a time of true growth for the company and demand for its cruises. To strengthen its strategies in attracting new foreign markets, the Douro River becomes richer. A new Hotel-Ship arrives, the Invicta, with capacity to lodge 80 passengers (40 double cabins).
The DouroAzul of strong traditions and deep roots in the Douro River, takes the initiative of remembering old glory times of the Douro Region by adding to its fleet a typical boat of the Douro River, that in the past used to transport Port Wine casks until Vila Nova de Gaia, where the wine was stored. It arrives then the boat Cenários do Douro, a replica of the historical Rabelo Boats, with capacity for 80 passengers.
Still that year, DouroAzul invested in the purchase of a big ship with capacity for 360 passengers and named Douro Azul.
Mário Ferreira, with a quite broad market vision, creates a new company, the Helitours, specialized in Air Tourism that comes to fill a gap in a quite demanding market and thus expand its services. Helitours operates in several business areas such as passengers’ transportation, transportation of urgent goods, medical emergency transportation (transportation of ill people without qualification such as INEM – National Institute of Medical Emergency), tourism rental by performing helicopter fights over Oporto and the Douro Region, air observation and coordination, as well as photography and aerial filming.
With the market leadership as far as the operation of cruises on the Douro is concerned and always with an investment philosophy in service quality, DouroAzul purchased another ship, named Milénio, the most modern ship for one-day cruises allowing having cruises with 250 passengers aboard.
Following the operational strategies and widening the range of its business, DouroAzul invests in Luxury Tourism in order to attract new audiences, interested in a luxury and refined privacy, beginning to sail not only on the Douro River but also along the whole Portuguese seashore and purchases the yacht Enigma, with capacity for 10 people in several double cabins.
In order to answer the great demand and offer diversity DouroAzul had two new Hotel-Ships built – the Douro Queen and the Douro Cruiser – to complete the fleet on the Douro River.
It was the beginning of the operation of the new Hotel-Ships – Douro Queen and Douro Cruiser. Both do one-week cruises, as other Hotel-Ships, as well as other shorter special services.
It was the beginning of the Douro Prestige, a new type of service, in which the company aims at offering programs made according to the customers’ dreams. It is an excellence service meant for unique moments and special events «tailor-made» according to the customer’s imagination.
DouroAzul receives the award for best stand at the Lisbon Travel Market.
The businessman Mário Ferreira purchases all the capital of the DouroAzul, SGPS.
DouroAzul invests in thematic activities in its cruises.
During May, all passengers have had the opportunity to try the best cherries of the Douro Region having been given a box during the cruise.
On Children’s Day, DouroAzul has promoted a contest for schools allowing the students to win tickets for the Yellow City Cruises. During the months of July and August took place the «Cruzeiros da Alegria» (Joy Cruises) and the passengers were surprised by the performance and entertainment of the Banda da Praça da Alegria (Band that performs on the TV show Praça da Alegria).
In November was organized a theme dinner for Travel Agents from all over the country, the «Douro Pirates» aboard the Douro Azul ship, with the participants dressed for the occasion and welcomed by the famous Mai Tais, the typical drinks of the Caribbean Islands.
DouroAzul and the Future
DouroAzul is growing and standing out as one of the main tourism companies both at the regional and national levels; with a wide range of services rendered and with strategic planning to take the Brand abroad.
Bearing in mind to increase the business area where it operates and therefore internationalize its Brand and Services, it will expand its activity to the Brazilian market, namely in the Amazonas River operating cruises between Belém and Manaus, with one-week programs in this wonderful famous river.