All shore excursions are included in the trip and typically run a half day. Most activities kick off in the morning after breakfast to beat the heat and the crowds, returning to the boat in time for lunch and a chance to recharge. This allows passengers to check emails, grab a nap or simply snap photos of the local life while cruising by on the Nile. Avoiding the midday sun is crucial on a Nile cruise.
In late afternoon, things kick back into action. Late afternoon excursions and tours run right up until the evening's cocktail hour and dinner, which follows.
Excursions are led by your designated guide/Egyptologist. Each person is assigned to a guide and a group that they stick with throughout the cruise for the excursions. Most excursions involve seeing the great antiquities like the Pyramids and the Sphinx, which includes a quick camera-worthy camel ride in the Cairo desert. Other stops include Dendera, Temple of Horus at Edfu, Valley of the Kings and Queens, Abu Simbel and Luxor.
There are no bike rides or hikes here, nor does the activity deviate much from going to one of these antiquities and getting an incredibly dense and rich history lesson by your Egyptologist. The line runs a tight and timely ship. So, there is no lollygagging after the stop. If you're a photographer, you should start snapping while the guides are talking; otherwise you may miss some pix.
Transport is largely on a very well air-conditioned bus with enough room for everyone to get their own row of seats. Don't be alarmed if you see an armed guard on your bus. It's a precautionary measure that A&K takes to ensure your safety.
Some excursions are reached by a horse and carriage, by a felucca (a traditional sailing boat) or on foot by simply walking off the boat directly to the site. There can be strenuous days, as the trip does involve a lot of walking and, in some cases, on old stone. So, it is not a tour suited for those with mobility issues as the destination is not set up to accommodate them, nor is the boat.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
There is a traditional galabeya party, which has the passengers dressing in traditional clothing and dancing to Arabic music. There's also a belly dancer and a whirling dervish. Additionally, there are meet-and-greets, afternoon teas, shows, movie showings plus a library and game room filled with books in several languages, many based on Egyptian history
During the midday breaks, the boat runs a cooking lesson where passengers learn how to prepare three traditional Egyptian items.
There are also enrichment lectures onboard. The subjects vary based on the Egyptologists giving them and on the political climate. Our talk given by two Egyptologists was about the very rich and interesting political and religious history of the country. It was fascinating and incited more questions than answers in the end, which the lecturers were happy to answer.
Galley (Main Deck 2). This back deck has big round cushy chairs, perfect for flopping into at sunrise with coffee in hand or a wine at sunset or nothing at all, in between. This is where some of the best Wi-Fi on the boat is, and you'll find savvy passengers retreating here to check emails.
Lounge & Bar (Bridge Deck 3): The Lounge & Bar is the hub of the boat and often where people gathered very early for coffee, later in the morning or late in the afternoon before leaving the boat or intermittently to check Wi-Fi or to grab a drink. Cocktails at your own cost are served before dinner. There was never much of a crowd after dinner, as everyone seemed to turn in early to get ready for the next full day**.**
There was a small menu of snacks and an extensive menu of beer, wine, spirits and cocktails that were available all day and into the night at an additional charge. Coffee and soft drinks were also on offer throughout the day (not included).
Sun Deck (Deck 5): The Sun Deck is a great spot to enjoy your coffee in the morning or a drink later in the day. There was a bartender and a small bar setup where drinks and small plates could be ordered before dinner, but these were not included in the fare.
The Sun Deck is home to the small swimming pool, canvas sunshades and lounge chairs. The pool is more of a dipping or relaxation pool. So, don't plan on swimming laps. It's split into two connected sections; with shallow and deeper parts. The deck was abuzz from time to time, but more often than not, you are able to have a corner to yourself.
There is only one lock that the Sun Boat IV goes through on the cruise and it happens at 5 a.m. There were only three or four passengers up early enough to capture it all. Photographers won't want to miss the golden sunrise.
There are laundry services onsite, and it's included for free midway through the trip. In addition, there is a library and game room with books in several languages, many based on Egyptian history.
There are movies available for viewing in your room and if shopping is entertaining for you, there's a small, yet robust gift shop with much higher quality product than what you would see on the street and at a reasonable price.
There's a business center with a computer and free internet available to all passengers in the Lounge & Bar. The Wi-Fi was on and off throughout the cruise. It was best at port, very early in the morning and late at night. Midday when the demand was high and the laptops were out, it was at its weakest.
There's a reception/guest services desk where your guide/Egyptologist can also answer many questions or concerns you may have.
There is a small gymnasium with a treadmill, bike and barbells. There is a massage room on the boat as well. Their massage menu is extensive offering classic, Swedish, deep tissue, foot, back, hand and aromatherapy massages. Treatments last 30, 60 or 90 minutes and prices are quite competitive, ranging between $40 to $90.
The minimum age to sail is 10. The cruise did not lend itself to kids in offerings or ambiance, and you'll rarely find them aboard. Sometimes entire families or extended groups charter the whole boat at once, which seems like a better fit.
* May require additional fees