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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Very comfortable well run ship with an excellent crew. All but four of the cabins on the Ra are suites, with a separate living room and bedroom, and a balcony. The décor is clean Scandinavian, similar to the European long ships. Dining is ... Read More
Very comfortable well run ship with an excellent crew. All but four of the cabins on the Ra are suites, with a separate living room and bedroom, and a balcony. The décor is clean Scandinavian, similar to the European long ships. Dining is at set hours. There is a good variety of foods, including Viking standards (salmon, steak, burger) and middle eastern foods. The fresh made pita bread and hummus was especially delicious. Meals are usually a combination of buffet and menu. There is no room service. There was a pianist/DJ playing pleasant lounge music each evening. There also were special performances by local entertainers. The Ra has a small swimming pool and jacuzzi. The temperature was over 100 F each day of our cruise, so not much traffic in the jacuzzi. The crew of this ship was excellent. Our room steward was most efficient. The bartenders and dining room crew were fun and engaged. A special note about the two tour directors, Ahmed and Ihan. Incredibly knowledgable and outgoing. They made this cruise so much richer. I don't think there is any place in the world that can out shine Egypt for shore excursions. The Great Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza, Valley of Kings and Queens, Temples at Karnak, Luxor, Dendara, Kom Ombo - every one was more than we expected. Notes: Our suite had two very nice TVs, but no programming except soccer. Not even BBC. Children are not allowed on this cruise. The shore excursions require more physical exertion than you might expect if you have been on other river cruises. Sadly, many of our fellow cruisers spent most of the cruise on the ship because they couldn't manage the long walks with steps and very uneven footing. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Being out 40th anniversary we chose to splurge and get the Royal Suite (202). While it was definitely bigger, and had more impressive views, it was a big disappointment (and not worth the expensive upgrade). The shower leaked horrendously. ... Read More
Being out 40th anniversary we chose to splurge and get the Royal Suite (202). While it was definitely bigger, and had more impressive views, it was a big disappointment (and not worth the expensive upgrade). The shower leaked horrendously. The soft furnishings were warn and in need of replacing (drapes, furniture, carpets), the marble floor was outdated and generaly there was a poor fit and finish throughout. There was nothing luxurious about it (except your view of the Nile from your comfy bed). The sitting are was the worst - it is in desperate need of updating. You often have to keep the front window blinds closed as that’s the forward crew deck. While it was nice to have a mini fridge, it was plunked in the corner or the room. Again although they supplied extra things like the stocked bar fridge, coffee, tea, small decanters of three hard liquors, they were all presented very cheaply (instead of being on lovely trays or in nice baskets). Bath shampoos etc were locally sourced, which is great, but they smelled awful. Cheap little sewing and shoeshine kits. They could use some help from The Four Seasons in how to outfit a room. Tiling in the bathroom needed regrouting. Towels not that luxurious. But the main issue was with the leaking shower stall (I had a flood the first day). Apparently the other suite -201- has the same issue. I suggested they put a bracket for the hand shower on the wall in the bathtub and use that instead. The room doesn’t have drawer space in the bedroom (another disappointment) so you use the hall closet shelves (cheap, painted white doors with old mismatched hangers), (As there is already a desk in the lounge area they should switch out the one in the bedroom for a chest of drawers. There was plenty of space to store luggage under the bed. The room also adjoins if you had children accompanying you). There is a safe and a blow dryer. Electrical plugs are two-pin 220V. Bottled water is always available (and highly recommended to drink - because of the chemicals they place in theirs). It was nice having butler service which included free laundry, fresh fruit, cookies and chocolates in your room. You also get un upgraded wifi booster. Every evening at 6pm the butler comes and makes you a signature cocktail. Ours - Abe - was very attentive. They do clean your room very well. Although tips are included you do feel obligated to tip your butler for his exceptional service. Also, choose your cabin on the starboard side of the ship as we were frequently rafted on the port side against cement walls or other ships. In general, the whole boat itself needs renovating. Although listed as being “inaugurated in 2009” it looks like it was built in the 1990s). The dark traditional furnishings (with their incredibly uncomfortable deep seat sofas and chairs that require you to fight for pillows to place behind your back) need replacing. The upper deck is nice. We cruised in January so it was cold. It would have been nice if the pool was heated during these off seasons. Although we used the proved towels to keep warm, lap blankets would be nice for chilly afternoons and evenings. There is a cute gift shop that sells some quality stuff. They also sell the native Egyptian dresses & outfits for men for their Egyptian night party (I highly recommend joining in). The crew really made up for what the boat lacked. All incredibly friendly and attentive (I swear they must all review our passport pictures as part of their training as they knew our names!). Again, although tipping is included you do end tipping some individually. Some complaints I heard from other passengers who had cruised other Uniworld itineraries was that they were upset that the wine and beer was only complimentary at meals (and not in the lounge and in deck). And that it did not include cocktails. Some were also saying the wines served were not as good. I also found the food be be just average. In particukar, thei English tea was a joke (tea bags dipped in your cup of hot water; no scones with jam and whipped cream).. Seating for meals is open. There were no table cloths on the tables at breakfast and lunch (which are nice buffets). Evening ambience not great. But again, the servers and waiters were incredible. The absolute best part (which increased my overall score from a 3 to a 4) was the itinerary. It will blow your mind. You are totally immersed in the Egyptian history and culture. Our tour guide (Egyptologist) was an oarcheologist. His name was Assem Omar. He had such interesting facts you couldn’t easily find yourself. His descriptions at the temples and museums made the artifacts come to life. Now, some practical things: Dress in warm layers. January was cold and windy..Sunglasses (although not often used for sun are great during sand storms). Bring an umbrella (if planning on visiting Alexandria as a pre/post excursion). Thermal underwear, thick socks, gloves and scarves were useful. In fact, if you are trying to pack light, for women a good trick is a long sleeve thermal T-shirt under your coat accessorised with different scarves each day. You tend to wear the same things off the boat so the scarf switches it up a bit. (As an aside, we never had to cover our heads in mosques). . On board the ship in the evenings the look is business casual (resort casual I imagine in the summer season). No one dresses up. Closed-toe, sturdy walking shoes are mandatory as there is A LOT of walking on uneven, dirty (and sometimes wet) streets and sandy temples (I ended up throwing mine away at the end). Now . . . Public toilets! You must be prepared with sani-wipes to wipe down toilet seats, packages of Kleenex (as toilet paper is rarely provided, and if it is, a man or woman with grubby hands is dispensing it out to you at the door). There is usually a sink to wash up but rarely soap or paper towels to dry your hands. Hence, more sani-wipes required! And finally, the person “helping” you needs to be tipped (5-10 Egyptian pounds, or failing that $1 USD.) Take a nap sack on the tours but leave it on the coach (it’s very safe). Then have a smaller side bag/purse to just put what you need for that couple hours of touring ($1 USD and/or Egyptian pounds, Kleenex, Sami-wipes, iPhone, credit card, sunglasses). Be aware of pickpockets! Always have your hand on your bag, especially in crowds. No need to bring bottled water off the boat as it’s always available on the coaches. Note: some temples and museums do not allow photography unless you purchase a camera ticket (and they do check to make sure you have one) That takes us to currency. It is handy to have some SMALL denominations of Egyptian pounds (They can be obtained from the ATM machines at the Four Seasons Hotel). They do also take USD in tourist market places. However make sure your US currency is in NEW small denominations. Apparently the Egyptian banks will not accept bills that are old, torn or written on, so the vendors can’t trade them in. One previous post suggested taking lots of $1 US bills. In addition to some larger bills, I took 50 $1 bills and that was barely enough. Credit cards are accepted in higher end shops. Speaking of shopping, personally I did not find much to my liking, except the Egyptian cotton sheets. Ask your tour guide about them (you order in advance and you pick them up when you visit the papyrus making factory. One word of caution about the street vendors and “guides” at the tourist attractions . . They get progressively more aggressive. The vendors obviously want to get you into their shops. If you are not interested, don’t make eye contact and just keep walking and saying “No thank you”. My husband made the mistake of commenting on how nice an object was that was thrust in our faces. Bad move! That vendor followed us out of the market trying to get us to buy it. At that point, unfortunately, you have to be more forceful. They sometimes force a “free gift” into your hand or tuck it under your arm (and I mean forcefully!). Just take it and drop it on the ground, as it’s obviiysky not going to be free. Be careful too as a lot of their wares are made in China. If you are seriously interested in something, enlist the help of your Egyptologist who can verify authenticity and help you negotiate prices. It’s really a shame they are like that. We did take us to one market where the vendors prided themselves in not bothering you and I know they got more sales from our group. The locals that hang out in some of the temples and exhibits try to be nice and help you select the best location for photos or offer to take photos with your phone. But beware! They will ask for money (sometimes holding your phone ransom until you pay). Even our armed security guard (paid already to protect us) kept hinting for a tip after taking a few pictures of us). The worst was at the pyramids. They are continually in your face, almost ruining your experience. In hindsite I should have been more forceful and told them point blank we wanted to be left alone and that if we needed their help we would come look for them. (I’m not sure even that would work but it’s worth a try). Regarding security, we felt very safe. We usually had a plainclothes, armed police officer ride with us. We took approved, secured routes (manned with police checkpoints and bomb sniffing dogs). You go through X-ray machines at each site (including the Four Seasons). Tours: All excellent (with the exception on the Karnak and Pyramid light shows). I recommend all the other optional tours. We were interested in going hot air ballooning over the Valley of the Kings and although it wasn’t a Uniworld excursion they kindly made arrangements for about twenty of us to go. Unfortunately, it was cancelled twice due to high winds. I would recommend it though as I was VERY impressed with the qualifications of their pilots. (They are commercial pilots. They can’t carry passengers by themselves until they have 1000 solo hours). Although the pace of the tour was busy, I personally didn’t find it too onerous. Most mornings were 7:30 pick ups. Often we returned to the boat for lunch and a rest then went out again. In all an incredibly well planned, stress free vacation. All transfers were impeccably organized. No “hitches” along the way. The Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo was lovely (We did expect an upgraded room however but didn’t get one). Also, the hotel does not have a proper gift shop to pick up any forgotten personal items. I hope you find this review helpful. O Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
After having a great experience with Viking in Russia, my wife and I again chose Viking for our tour of Egypt. We were met at Cairo airport at the arrival gate (before immigration) by Viking's airport representative, Amr, who ... Read More
After having a great experience with Viking in Russia, my wife and I again chose Viking for our tour of Egypt. We were met at Cairo airport at the arrival gate (before immigration) by Viking's airport representative, Amr, who guided us effortlessly through all required formalities and delivered us to our transport. From Cairo airport we were delivered to the Nile Ritz Carlton hotel (fabulous), in which we stayed for three nights while we toured the sights with Viking (pyramids, Citadel, museum and markets). On the fourth day we were flown to the Viking Ra in Luxor. This is a great little ship with all suite cabins, a great lounge and two exterior sun decks. The staff which consisted of both international and local personnel, were fantastic. The restaurant was very comfortable and the food very good. The cruise down the Nile was fantastic and all excursions were well organised and very engaging thanks to our program directors, Amr and Ahmed. We highly recommend the optional excursion to Abu Simbel and also the optional balloon ride over Luxor. Disembarking and returning to Cairo was also very well organised. And the accommodation and food at the Intercontinental CityStars was first rate. Transport back to Cairo airport also went smoothly. The only minor irritation was that some of our luggage was left at Luxor and we had to wait until just before we flew out of Cairo before we recovered it. Overall, a fantastic holiday with a great company. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
On all our travels around the world we.had never been to this area of the world and it appeared to be safer now than in the past.This seemed a good way, and place to start. We never felt unsafe even though we clearly had armed security ... Read More
On all our travels around the world we.had never been to this area of the world and it appeared to be safer now than in the past.This seemed a good way, and place to start. We never felt unsafe even though we clearly had armed security with us on all "out trips". Uniworld did a great job with Airport Pick-up, Hotel Choice (Four Seasons) for the pre cruise time and all transportation needs. Our guides,Mohamed (ours group) and Osoma made all the difference in taking this trip from just ordinary to amazing. Their knowlege of the History,Sites, ad how to do this trip were outatanding to say the least. Their organization skills were great. The tousr are not that strenuous, but by the evenings we were "done". Some tours required very early departures after our great breakfast. This kept us out out of the sun and heat, also away from the crowds. Although the ship is not new, it is extremely well kept.clean,and attractive. The rooms are large and are nicely decorated. Odd # rooms always have a river view when docked as opposed to seeing the land side or a rafted other ship. (all ships dock to the North no matter which way they travel) Their are no elevators so the 3rd floor is a hike,but good for the waistline. Food is good,plentiful, although sometimes although unusually spiced. Breads are fabulous. The onboard atmousphere is casual with very little evening activity due to early excursions. The staff was very helpful and pleasant. The only improvement would be better communication skill by the dining room staff. Other staff is a little more conversant. The Abu semel extra excursion was worth the time and effort as was the ballon ride. The extra light show in Luxor wasn't great..(there is a light show included on the itinerary). We do reccomend this trip particularly if you are lucky enough to have our guides. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
This was our 20th cruise and the most rewarding. Egypts history, archeological sites and hospitality is unmatched worldwide. We were concerned about security but our 34 person tour group was from arrival to departure treated like ... Read More
This was our 20th cruise and the most rewarding. Egypts history, archeological sites and hospitality is unmatched worldwide. We were concerned about security but our 34 person tour group was from arrival to departure treated like royalty. Our four hotels were included and all historic and five star. Our Nile river cruise was also five star and the nicest ship we saw. A pricey trip but with eveything included considering all that we experienced and saw with our expert egyptologist we feel was worth every penny and more. Also our tour guide was with us from day one and provided all of us with the necessary local knowledge and answered all our questions with professionalism. The food was as expected with five star service. We were very pleased with this trip and can,t wait to travel with Scenic cruises again. You get what you pay for so choose the best and you won't be dissapointed. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We had been interested in visiting Egypt for some time, but were reluctant because of unrest, terrorism, negative publicity, etc. Things seem to be getting better, so we booked with Uniworld because they have a good reputation and we liked ... Read More
We had been interested in visiting Egypt for some time, but were reluctant because of unrest, terrorism, negative publicity, etc. Things seem to be getting better, so we booked with Uniworld because they have a good reputation and we liked the itinerary. Well, if anybody is wanting to go to Egypt, but concerned about safety, I'm here to tell you that there's no reason to worry and not go. I felt 99.9% safe at all times and actually didn't think about it much. Things can happen anywhere at anytime, including in your home town so there will always be some risk, but I felt as safe in Egypt as I have in Paris or anyplace else. You will see signs of heightened security at airports, in towns, etc., but that's a good thing. In fact, at times (and maybe all the time) our tours had plain clothed security guys with us. The Egyptians are very committed to protecting tourists. People are patted down at least twice in the airports. They are much more thorough than the TSA. Splendors of the Nile was a fun and educational experience. We saw many amazing sites and Cairo itself was unique and undescribable. What really made the trip was our extraordinary guide and Egyptologist, Hani. He was a walking encyclopedia of Egyptian history and facts and very kind and considerate of all of us. He also spoke excellent Englsh. He gave a couple of very interesting "lectures" or Q&A sessions. The other bus had Ramadan and I understand that he was very good too. The 4 Seasons Hotel in Cairo was an oasis in the city and extremely nice (they do allow smoking in the lobby and in the restaurants, but it was never overwhelming and they had non-smoking areas in the restaurants; Be sure to ask for a non-smoking room). The hotel has several restaurants and we liked the Italian one, the Chinese one and the Pool Grill. The Riverboat TOSCA was old, but very nice and comfortable. The crew and service was impeccable. I am not a foodie. I found the food to be OK to Good, but not exceptional. Others thought it to be very good. Of course one does not go to Egypt for the food. I always found something that I liked and never left the dining room hungry. This was a busy trip with some early mornings to start tours. We did the optional tour to Abu Simbel which involved a short flight over Lake Nasser. Some of us did the optional Balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings. The trip to Abu Simbel was definitely worth it. If you've never been in a Hot Air Balloon, it's a fun 45 minute trip for a decent price. If you have taken balloon rides before, I would suggest sleeping in a little longer. If you're the least bit interested in visiting Egypt, I would say HESITATE NO LONGER. Of course don't go in their summer which is fast approaching. I recommend booking at least one if not two extra days in Cairo. There's a goot bit in Cairo that's not included with the Uniworld tour (Coptic Cairo, Various Mosques, Moez Street and the Khan al Khalili Bazaar, additional time at the Egyptian Museum, etc.). Plan a trip with Uniworld and ask for Hani. (not that you will necessarily get him, but it doesn't hurt to ask). Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We started planning in 2006, and we knew we didn’t want to brave Egypt on our own, so we set our sites on finding the best tour company. My wife, being the five star gal she is, did her homework and determined that Abercrombie & Kent ... Read More
We started planning in 2006, and we knew we didn’t want to brave Egypt on our own, so we set our sites on finding the best tour company. My wife, being the five star gal she is, did her homework and determined that Abercrombie & Kent was the best. By 2015 Egypt looked settled, and we finally booked A&K’s Egypt & The Nile River Tour. Yea! Here are is the synopsis. Please check out my blog and review of the cabin below for more details. The Sunboat (5/5) - We decided at the last minute to upgrade to the Royal Suite on the Sun Boat IV, as it wasn’t that much more expensive. It was fantastic having that deck up on the top of the boat to enjoy the sunrise. We had cabin 408 on the port side. 407 on the starboard side was facing the Nile when we were in port so we would have booked that side had we understood which way the ship faced in port. The ship was kept in immaculate shape and the service was great, but it is an old ship. I still give it a 5 all things considered. Sites (4.75/5) - The itinerary was packed with highlights. The schedule was aggressive and sometimes grueling, but there is probably no other way to cover so much ground in 9 days of active touring. The Valley Of The Kings, Karnak, Abu Simbel, Dendera, and the Egyptian Museum were the show stoppers. I have two criticisms. First, you have a couple of very long days that make it hard to take everything in. Second, and most important, the carriage ride to Edfu Temple was disturbing. They need to put their foot down on the mistreatment of the horses. See details in Day 5 below. Tour Guide (5/5) - If you get Ibrahim as we did, count yourself lucky. Not only was he knowledgeable, he was enthusiastic and entertaining. His little jokes kept us smiling and he never ceased to supply details that really brought everything to life. "Father Abraham", our pet name for him, really took care of us and treated us like his family. I was amazed at the depth of his knowledge, even when he took us on an add-on tour of Coptic Christian sites! Hotels (4.75/5) - The Mena House is rich with history and the view can’t be beat. Also the complex is a small compound, which gives you a lot of safe space to soak up your first days in Egypt. You won't believe how close to the Great Pyramid it is either. That said, it’s old. On the back end, the Four Seasons Cairo Nile Plaza is, well, the Four Seasons. They were renovating however, mostly non-smoking floors (yes, they still smoke in that hotel). They initially booked us on the 7th floor - pretty low and near the noisy street. When we asked for higher floor away from the noise that was also non-smoking, it was a problem. A&K should guarantee a higher floor and non-smoking for their group. This snafu kind of put a damper on our first night there as we didn't get into our final room until about 9:30 pm and we were exhausted. More details below. Food (4.25/5) - Food was the weakest area of the cruise, but still very, very good. The restaurants at the Mena House were excellent (we ate at the Indian place twice!). The food on the boat was very good but not great as I was hoping. I’m comparing this to our suite dining experience on an Celebrity cruise in 2015; which was 5 out of 5 stars. Also the snacks and bag lunches you get on a couple of the long days were genuinely disappointing. Dry stale sandwiches mostly. Four Seasons dining was excellent but really expensive due to the 12% 'service charge' (that is not a tip), and a 14% VAT tax. Transportation (4.5/5) - The transportation was good and efficient. The bus we used had A/C and a bathroom, and they booked a full site bus just for a group of 18 so we had room to spread out. The in-country flights were economy and we just got preassigned seats, so some of the taller members in our group were squashed. But the flights were short so it wasn't so bad. Also, we had 3 hour layover in Aswan waiting to fly back to Cairo, despite there being an earlier flight we could have made. That said, things ran efficiently and in all cases they get you where you need to go on time. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
I took the same trip that has been discussed at length in accompanying reviews of the Uniworld Nile October 12-28 cruise, only in my case it was the December 5-16 trip (7 nights on board Tosca). I considered the trip a wonderful marvel in ... Read More
I took the same trip that has been discussed at length in accompanying reviews of the Uniworld Nile October 12-28 cruise, only in my case it was the December 5-16 trip (7 nights on board Tosca). I considered the trip a wonderful marvel in nearly every way, and that it exceeded my expectations at almost every turn. There was only one significant (but not major) disappointment and many unexpected bonuses. A splendid fellow met me at Cairo airport (I arrived by myself, meeting my cousin later that night at our Four Seasons Nile hotel after she arrived on a separate flight), whisked me through the visa station in nothing flat, then through baggage claim and passport control and onto my waiting van. I could not have asked for better help at that crucial first step into the country, which would really have intimidated me if I'd had to do it by myself. And I had a similar degree of assistance getting to the right place at the right time for my return flight 12 days later. I found the River Tosca to be elegant and charming, with amazingly excellent food. Our group was tied for the largest of the season with the one before us, with 20 guests and an additional complement of 4 Norwegians who were traveling with their own guide and transportation, and with whom we had no interaction whatever. We were 6 Canadians, 2 Australians, and 12 Americans. Our guide was named Mohamed and he was absolutely superb: knowledgeable in the extreme, friendly, helpful, warm, genuine, and with a pleasant dry wit. And very easy to understand. Basically just about perfect! And with the Tosca's 40 cabins and a maximum occupancy of 82, we had plenty of room to spread out in. I considered our cabin, 208, to be luxurious even though it was not one of the more expensive ones. There was a lot of space, the beds were comfortable, the appointments were all understated elegance as far as I was concerned, and the bathroom was enormous, with separate shower and bathtub. Nothing not to like! Staff made it clear from the outset that if there was something we wanted that wasn't available, they would make it available. In addition to wonderful lunches with many options to choose from each day, a smaller light lunch was served on the top (outside) deck many days which was a pure delight. Live entertainment was provided in the sumptuous main lounge on several evenings, including folk dancers featuring an astonishing whirling dervish with lighted skirts that seemed at times about to take off into outer space like a spinning UFO. Other nights documentary films relating to our journey were screened. We visited all the major highlights of Ancient Egypt as far as I was concerned (again, refer to full itinerary link, above, if interested). Everything was beautifully organized and because there are so few tourists there now, we never had to deal with long lines or dense crowds! There were a few busloads here and there of foreign tourists but mostly we just saw lots of schoolchildren at the historic sites, mainly primary schoolers, and even a troop of Egyptian Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts at the temple of Hatshepsut. They waved and shouted "Hello! Hello!" to us and giggled with delight when we waved and replied "Hello!" back. A couple of things did not go as scheduled: Because the river level was so low, we did not sail from Luxor to Dendera per our planned itinerary. The boat, we were told, could not dock there because of this. So instead we went by bus, a 90 minute drive in each direction. This was an unavoidable disappointment, but we saw an awful lot of the countryside during that ride and it was fascinating to ride through many towns and villages (all with armed checkpoints at both sides, of course) and the countryside with its farms and open spaces. I considered it almost an even tradeoff, although along with everyone else I felt it made it seem like we just didn't do that much actual cruising on the river. Also, we did not go to Edfu as had been scheduled. Because some people on previous sailings had complained long and loud about the poor condition of the horses used to pull the carts up to the temple and back, now nobody can go. The politics of the local situation are such that if the travel company hired a car or van or bus to bypass the horse cart drivers, it would be like crossing a picket line during a strike and things would get ugly; this was the explanation given. Regardless of what you think about all that, it is presently the case; so the October sailing was the last one of the season to actually get to Edfu. Instead they shunted us off to the nearby town of Esna and its temple. Now many have opined that the Edfu temple isn't all that big a deal, and I can easily imagine that to be the case. However, it is considered a highlight of ancient Egypt due to the state of its preservation, if nothing else, and nobody tries to say the Esna temple is in the same class. I regarded it not so much as an alternative to Edfu but rather as a consolation prize, and I said so to Mohamed. Perhaps, not having seen Edfu to make a comparison, this was unfair; but they had to take us somewhere, and Esna was nearby. Its temple has some unusual columns and nicely preserved colors inside, but its main distinguishing feature in my memory was the tremendous number of pigeons roosting on its exterior and the metal nets they've wrapped around the building to keep them from fouling the interior as well. We also got to spend time walking around through the town, which was interesting if not particularly pleasant. A quick stop at the Coptic Christian church in Esna was really the highlight of that visit for me. Some in our group really enjoyed the town, making the point that it was a more authentic experience of how ordinary Egyptians really live than our brief visit to the Nubian village home of someone whose residence was a tourist showcase. Fair enough, but we saw a good deal of the rest of that Nubian village, too; which was perfectly authentic and perhaps more charming if only because of its rustic nature. A half dozen or so of our group climbed up on the roof of the little river launch which had taken us there that afternoon to revel in the cool evening breeze and glorious Nile sunset on our peaceful return to central Aswan where the Tosca was docked, making it one of the standout experiences of the journey not connected with the iconic antiquities that were the trip's main focus. In conclusion the trip in its entirety was a fantastically wonderful experience, unavoidably tinged by sorrow over the state of the Egyptian tourist industry in particular, and tension over the security of the whole country generally. But in hard-nosed practical terms, this is the time to go and get a great value, without all the crowds of happier times past, and each and every tourist who actually shows up is treated almost as a visiting dignitary. 5 stars for Uniworld, our splendid guide Mohamed, the River Tosca, and all who sailed within her. A weather-related postscript: Some of the October sailing people mentioned uncomfortably high temperatures at some locations. In early December our nights were almost uniformly in the low to mid 60s, days in the 70s. We had bright sun and clear blue skies the whole time except for the briefest of showers one evening at Aswan and a heavy thick fog our last morning in Cairo following 2 days of heavy rain before we got there, which was highly unusual for this time of year. Temperatures were somewhat warmer as we moved south, but in fact I only wore my shorts one day of the entire trip. A mobility-related postscript: There is no elevator on the River Tosca, and the places we went would never be certified ADA compliant. Nevertheless there were a few members in our group using canes and/or walking sticks, who had recently received knee replacements or in one case suffered from acute arthritis, who muddled through successfully at every site we visited. You have to know your limits, but you don't have to be an athlete to get the most out of this itinerary. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We booked this trip realizing that many people were staying away, but believing based on what we had read, that Egypt is safe. And it was. The people are lovely, the level of security is high. So if you've always wanted to see ... Read More
We booked this trip realizing that many people were staying away, but believing based on what we had read, that Egypt is safe. And it was. The people are lovely, the level of security is high. So if you've always wanted to see Karnak, the Valley of the Kings and the Pyramids, go now while tourism is dead. We went in late October, but I wish we'd gone a bit later--it was quite hot in the south. So do think about climate, and weigh that against the possibility of tourist crowds. In 2016 the crowding issue should not be a problem. Airport pickups and drop-offs were all done very nicely--this was especially appreciated when we arrived in Cairo, since we were not part of a group. Our agent was waiting for us before we even went through security. We got our visas with no problem and he shepherded us through immigration and got us into a minibus for the long ride to Cairo. All other flights during the tour were accompanied by our tour guide. As well as our 7 nights on Tosca, we had two and two nights at the Cairo Four Seasons. A superb hotel, overlooking the Nile. Wonderful experience. We also had tours there, including the Cairo Museum, the Alabaster Mosque, the Pyramids (twice, once at night) and Saqqara. We had our tour guide/egyptologist with us for the whole trip, including flying with us down to Luxor and back. So on to Luxor to board Tosca. Lovely ship. All but two of the cabins are the same size, and they are really big. We'd never done a river cruise, but this cabin was big by ocean standards--over 300 square feet. The other two cabins are double that size, Royal suites. Nicely laid-out, good amenities, bedding. Could have used some more closet space, but really, they were great. A french balcony, which is not very useful since we were frequently rafted with other boats, it was hot, and there were some flies around usually. Still nice to have the floor to ceiling windows when we were sailing. Sometimes when were sailing we would just lie in bed and watch the Nile go by. No elevators on these small vessels. Ours had a capacity of 80, although we were a small group. Sundeck with a really nice pool and lots of shaded areas. I thought the food was great, quite varied and often with a Middle Eastern style. The staff were wonderful and attentive, and very friendly. The ship felt very intimate. There was a masseur and fitness director onboard who was very nice also. All the staff were involved in our entertainment nights, great fun was had by all. I won't go into the myriad excursions of this trip, since I've described them elsewhere, but they were done very nicely. We were taken out early whenever possible to avoid the heat, then came back to the boat for a rest and lunch, then did another excursion in the afternoon or evening. This made for a very nice pacing. The boat stays in Luxor for a couple of days, then wends its way up the Nile towards Aswan, then goes back down to Luxor. We had only two long bus rides, the first day up to Dendara and from Aswan up to the high dam. But seeing Egypt from a bus was fine, we saw a lot on those trips. Otherwise were bussed short distances to the temples and/or tombs. We also had several small boat excursions, which were great, they got us out onto the river to see things from a different perspective. The Nile is a beautiful river, and the desert very present, very close. There was also an optional excursion to Abu Simbel, by air, which we took. As far as we're concerned, this was a highlight of the trip, and a must-see. This place is just amazing, although it was the hottest place of the trip, over 40C that day. I took a small umbrella which came in handy in the heat. There's a fair amount of climbing stairs, and up and down various hills, paths, etc. Take a good pair of walking shoes. And a good hat. Disembarkation was painless since our flight back to Cairo was around noon. Settled back into the Four Seasons for the finale of the trip, our two visits to the Pyramids, the first at night for the Sound and Light show. Hokey, but fun. Our tour guide was great, so knowledgeable, friendly, funny, accommodating. We could not have asked for better. Had a great time and we are so glad we went. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
One has to feel sorry for the tourist industry in Egypt, continuing fighting and bombing, has turned tourists away. Bad news never turns us away, we flew down to Luxor and after visiting temples, we boarded the MS Tosca, a Uniworld ship. ... Read More
One has to feel sorry for the tourist industry in Egypt, continuing fighting and bombing, has turned tourists away. Bad news never turns us away, we flew down to Luxor and after visiting temples, we boarded the MS Tosca, a Uniworld ship. We were immediately offered antiseptic, hand washing, towels and a cool drink. The lobby was simple but elegant. We were offered a choice of deck two, better for my legs or deck three with twin beds, one with an extension. The room is quietly decorated and serene. Large windows with bars to make it balcony type. The bathroom has separate shower, which takes some thought how to turn it on, open doors and stand under without getting floor wet! Good storage and cases fit under bed, lighting also took a while for some to work out that if you press long enough they diminish to off. Laundry service out in morning back at night. Breakfast was usual fare, with options for eggs and fresh bread and pastries. Fresh fruit, yoghurt cereals. We were on for five days and lunch and dinner menus kept changing. Egyptian fare to try, very tasty. We had beef one day, but was done the American way, chewy and difficult to cut, management made sure food was not same. The service on Tosca was incomparable, the staff were humorous and plate empty it was gone! They brought food to table from buffet for you and so helpful and caring to more mature people. Abdo the magician entertained us at table, had us all wondering how to move an egg from bottle. The spa centre masseuse was the best I had for a long time! Mohammed of course, he was strong, but felt where your problem was going through every area expertly and I had lots! Told the others and soon he was booked out, all extremely happy, but I had three and shoulders and back muscles all fixed. The ship organises all the tours for you and going into the major sites, we had a guide so didn't need it. Will report on each one on attractions area of TA. Top deck area has small pool and lots of comfy lounges and some out in sun, rest under cover and tables and chairs, most just sat reading books or sleeping after early touring. Staff always attentive. Night time we had an Egyptian night with dancing and Nubian entertainment. We did have one area of huge challenge, 6'8" tall and ceilings lower. Bathroom door less, 16 head bangs is not good! Bent neck is not a good look either. Still, we had fun about it. Other ships we went through at port, were lower still! Egyptians are smaller race! So taller people be aware! I have no hesitation in recommending this ship with its fantastic crew. If you want luxury, style with quiet elegance, this ship is for you   Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
Viking River Cruise, Egypt and Egyptologist Amr Shaheen are the perfect combination for a trip of a Life Time! From the time my sister and I landed at the Cairo airport until twelve days later when we left Cairo, Viking was there " ... Read More
Viking River Cruise, Egypt and Egyptologist Amr Shaheen are the perfect combination for a trip of a Life Time! From the time my sister and I landed at the Cairo airport until twelve days later when we left Cairo, Viking was there " twenty-four seven." The Viking Representative met us at the baggage claim area and took our luggage to the motor-coach, escorted us the the beautiful Hotel Sofitel El Gezirah and made sure we were checked in properly. Our room's balcony overlooked the Nile River with a wonderful view of Cairo. We had dinner on the patio facing the Nile at one of the hotel's many restaurants. The next morning we met our Egyptologist and Program Director Amr Shaheen. Little did we know he was going to give us the best and most enjoyable tour of Egypt imaginable. His passion for and knowledge of Ancient Egypt was incredible. He made every site we visited come alive and his humor was priceless. Everyone simply could not stop talking about what a wonderful guide he was. The Egyptians and hotel staff were very friendly and welcomed us back after a decline in tourism for a long period of time. Egypt felt very safe, but Viking always had escorts and security for us at every site. Especially in Cairo, where our first two security guards were especially vigilant. This made for a very relaxed and enjoyable visit. American dollars are widely accepted and actually preferred. Be sure to bring plenty of one dollar bills for tipping. We brought $100.00 in ones and should have brought more. We tipped ship crews, hotel staff and bus drivers with American Dollars. Hotel and Ship Charges were put on a credit card. The ship crew must be in cash only, either American Dollars or Egyptian Pounds. Viking River Cruise is the only way to truly see Egypt.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
I likely hold the title for the most trips down the Nile aboard Grand Circle's River Anuket cruise ship, having done so on four separate occasions, I feel I know the ship intimately and highly recommend it. The personnel, and the ... Read More
I likely hold the title for the most trips down the Nile aboard Grand Circle's River Anuket cruise ship, having done so on four separate occasions, I feel I know the ship intimately and highly recommend it. The personnel, and the Egyptian people in general, are always friendly and willing to do whatever it takes to make your trip as pleasant as possible, The cabins are larger than you find on most cruise ships, and are very comfortable, each having two queen sized beds,a TV, phone and small refrigerator. All the cabins are outboard with large sliding glass doors affording unobstructed views as you cruise down the Nile. Breakfast is buffet style with the chefs ready to cook eggs or omelets to order and you can help yourself to cereals, toast, pastries, potatoes, sausage, cheeses, lunch meats, etc. Almost anything you want with the exception of bacon. Lunch is buffet style as well and offers a good variety including some local dishes that should should please most everyone. There is an American style lunch day on each cruise where hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries are the main fare. Dinners are more formal and multi-course, offering the choice of at least two main courses. My wife particularly enjoyed the fresh fish, and though it wasn't on the menu the following night, they prepared it specially just for her. This is just one example of how the ship's crew go out of their way to please. The entire ship is very well maintained. There are no elevators, however the ship is only 3 decks so it's relatively easy to get around. The dining room is located on the lowest deck, and the sun-deck is just above deck 3 with a shade canopy, tables and chairs, and also a bar and swimming pool for those so inclined. There is an large indoor lounge on deck 3 in which teatime is held each afternoon, likely a throwback from the British colonial era. The lounge is where the entertainment takes place in the evenings and passenger participation is part of the fun. One night of the cruise there is a galabeya party where passengers wear local garb. There is a small bar in the lounge as well where you can get a drink or perhaps buy a bottle of wine to take to your room or up on the sun deck. The included tours to the temples and sites along the Nile are like nothing that you will find anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately Grand Circle has temporarily suspended their Egypt tours. Read Less

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