Thursday, June 18, 2009
A Nile Cruise is absolutely the BEST way to see the historic and important sights of Egypt. Choices range from 3,4 or 7 days and sail from Luxor or Aswan. Luxor is generally a less expensive flight and a nice place to start your Nile adventure. Your stops shouls include: Luxor, Aswan, Edfu, Kom Ombo, and an excursion to Abu Simbel near the bottom of Upper Egypt.
There are nearly 400 boats plying these waters and a choice might be hard at a glance… Whatever you do, DO NOT pick a 4-star rated boat. It will be below standard and less than Motel 6 variety. You must pick at least a 5-star Standard boat which includes these fine boats equated to a standard Shearton Hotel- Emilio Travel’s Domina Prestige, Aurora, Sherry, and the Diamond. If you want a leap forward, pick a 5-star Deluxe boat which equates to a Hyatt, Marriott, or Intercontinental Hotel and includes these fine boats-Amarco 1, Radamis I and II, all of the Travcotel and Jaz Cruises boats, Sun Bay, and Sonesta Sun goddess. The highest category is 5-star Premium/Luxury which is the elite class of boats equating to Four Seasons and includes these fine boats-Abercrombie& Kent Sun Boat III and IV, Oberoi Zahra, Sonesta Star Goddess, and the Sonesta St. George.
My personal pick would be to stay in the 5-star deluxe category to esnure a perfect expereince and afforadable one for most. My personal favorite in this clas is the Amarco 1. It is the only boat that borders into the luxury class, offers a served dinner, has elevator lifts, and has accommodations for handicapped guests. It is priced more afforadably than osme luxury boats but has all the amenities. It also has won-BEST NILE BOAT for a number of years and was completely refurbished form top to bottom in September of 2008.
Going back to the experience though-one must keep in mind that most boats offer limited menus, buffet service for meals, have instant coffee, expect slower than normal service, being tied up with a number of other boats, sometimes a dusty boat-it’s hard to keep them clean since it does not rain and there is always deisel fuel odors from other boats floating around outside. A Deluxe boat eliminates many of these issues but a knowledgeable agent can make the Nile experience GREAT for you if they know and have been on this cruise.
Regardless, this is an incredible, relaxed way to see Egypt. It is a refuge from the hustle and bustle of shopping, sightseeing, and a beautiful trip to take. The Nile region is absolutely beautiful. You can check out my pictures at www.CruiseCenter.Smugmug.com
Most boats have their Egyptologist/guides travel along with the guests to give more insight to guests informally on the boat and help planning any optional tours whch might include, hot-air ballooning in Luxor, A tour to a Nubian Villiage, a visit to the Valley of the Queens or Nobles, etc.. Also, when picking a boat, select one that was built in the last few years or recently refurbished or rebuilt to ensure top quality. The older and less refurbished the boat, the less likely it is you are going to be happy…
The other factor to keep in mind is that most beverages are not included. You will pay for coffee, juice, bottled water, and all alcoholic drinks during non-meal hours. This is standard practice in Egypt. Alcohol is quite expnesive too with drinks ranging $10-$20 USD depending on the grade of alcohol. The quality of bar service is also sketchy. This is an Islamic country where the government really disuades the consumption of alcohol, makes it expensive so the common Egyptioan will not consume, and also pricing keeps many tourists from purchasing. Egyptian alcohol is not very good but their beer is tasty. You may bring your own alcohol on the Nile boats and consume in your stateroom, however, you must purchase this at the arrival duty free airport shop at the Cairo International Airport and bring it in your packed suitcase…. That’s a lot of extra work!!!
You are also limited in your luggage allowance to send through a total of 44 pounds via Egyptair’s standard inra-Egypt flights. This sounds imposing but it is actually easy to do since you wearl light layers throughout the trip. You will want to save some room for exciting Egyptian souvenirs…
Tommorrow, I will cover the sights of the other ports of call-stay tuned!