Cairo (Port Said)
We did the overnight in Cairo. As expected, Egypt is filthy and there is plenty of pollution in Cairo. We saw the pyramids as we entered the city limits, but by early afternoon it was too hazy to see them anymore.
Our first day was a near-disaster. The bus ride to Cairo is about 2.5 hours and the toilet on our bus was practically an emergency-only facility. (Our guide was a "modern" woman, an Egyptologist who was full of fascinating information and didn't sugar-coat her country's shortfalls, but also was very proud of its accomplishments.) Once we reached Cairo, our fist stop was to the alabaster mosque of Mohammad Ali. It is beautiful on the outside, but mosques are considerably less elaborate on the inside than Christian cathedrals. The first thing we realized about our guide is that it is imperative that you keep up with her as she plies you with information, then is off in a flash to the next point of interest, never looking back to see if her group is still with her! We had a few elderly people in our group, so this became quite a problem for them.
The Egyptian museum was quite impressive, although extremely crowded with people (I would hate to see how crowded it is during peak season!). We mostly took in the King Tut exhibit, which was incredible. Wish we had had time to see more of the museum.
Next: check into our hotel and have lunch. We arrived with the rest of the NCL tour buses slated to stay at this hotel (which was, BTW, an impressive, less than 1 year old 5-star hotel). There was a buffet lunch spread on a large patio and tables set up with bus numbers on them. Our group ended up with only two tables instead of four, so our guide had to scramble to correct the problem. Needless to say, we were all tired and hungry by this time (it was 2:30 p.m.), and not pleased by the seeming lack of organization.
We were allowed to rest until 5:30, then whisked away to our dinner cruise on the Nile (nobody was hungry since we had just eaten lunch!). This was a joke. Again, there was confusion as to where our group's tables were set up! No other bus was having this problem! Once situated, our tables had water but no drinking glasses. It took almost the entire cruise to have this rectified! The food was nothing special and the music that accompanied the traditional and belly dancing was excruciatingly loud. To end the Nile cruise, the musicians sang renditions of "Feelings" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You."
The papyrus institute was interesting and we didn't feel too pressured into buying (although we did purchase some prints).
The final stop for the first day was the Sound and Light show at the pyramids. I was tired by that time and I thought the whole thing was a little hokey.
The second day was so much better. We first went to Sakara to see the stair-step pyramids (older than the Giza pyramids). Then to Memphis to see the fallen statue of Ramses (very cool!) and other statues and sarcophagi found in the area. And then off to the Giza Pyramids and Great Sphinx up close. It was an amazing feeling to be so close to such ancient structures. Be prepared: the vendors and other profiteers in the area are very, very aggressive. They will try and offer to take your picture for free, then demand money to give your camera back. Or certain camel rides will take you out a ways and then demand money to bring you back.
If I were to do this again, I would choose two day trips -- one to Cairo to see the pyramids, Memphis and possibly the museum, and the other to explore Alexandria. You can skip the Nile cruise, sound and light show and Mohammad Ali's mosque.