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26 Luxor to Middle East Cruise Reviews

WARNING! This review is long. After reserving this cruise almost two years ago, we (group of 8) were a bit concerned if our cruise down the Nile on the Viking Ra scheduled to begin on March 6, 2020, would be cancelled. With Viking’s ... Read More
WARNING! This review is long. After reserving this cruise almost two years ago, we (group of 8) were a bit concerned if our cruise down the Nile on the Viking Ra scheduled to begin on March 6, 2020, would be cancelled. With Viking’s new cancellation policy, at least we could make a decision closer to the scheduled date so that gave us some flexibility with the ever-changing situation. We ended up going as scheduled and were thrilled with the entire trip, itinerary and experience that Viking provided. As soon as the trip began, we heard that Viking was shutting down all cruises for several weeks so this was the last cruise the Ra would take for awhile. We joked that we were shutting off the lights as we left each port. It was hard to think about the many tour agencies and other cruise lines that would be shuttering for awhile and how that would effect the many service people, vendors, guides and staff that we met along the way. Just like in all the countries around the world, their economy will take a hit and the poverty that we witnessed will only get worse. We had made our air reservations through Viking and we were so glad that we did. I’ve always been frustrated by their fees for any changes to the air itinerary even before the trip is booked so we have not always gone with their deal, but we decided to go with them two years ago because we knew with the length of this trip (17 days total with extension to Jordan), we weren’t going to add any more days (we do have to work at some point to pay for our travel! ☺) More on that later. From the moment we arrived at Cairo airport, the Viking staff took over. Someone met us at the arrivals gate and guided us through the areas at the airport. We had gotten our visas online through the government website ($25), another couple had gone through an agency, and the other four just paid for the visa on arrival. As so many others have said, just do it when you arrive. There was no line, they didn’t look at passports, they just asked for $25 USD (cash) and you walked on through. Took all of 2 minutes. Our luggage was taken care of and we really didn’t have to deal with carrying them the rest of the trip. Our Program Director, Hani, met us on the bus and gave a welcome, some history on the bus ride to the hotel and lots of clear and useful direction on ATM’s, restaurants, the information meeting the next morning and how our trip was structured. The Ritz Carlton Cairo was beautiful and in a great location right on the Nile and next to the Egyptian Museum. We had a bite to eat in the lounge and headed to bed. Our other breakfasts and one dinner were at the main floor restaurant and were all very extensive buffets (included in our tour). Our first touring day was the biggest one and after being awakened at 4 by the disco on the Nile or maybe on the small island in the middle of the river, I wasn’t sure how the day would go. We had an orientation meeting at 8 and started touring at 9. We started at the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, then a rug making school before lunch at a hotel buffet. The afternoon was spent on the Giza Plateau where we had time at the great Pyramids, rode a camel and visited the Sphinx. Let me just take a minute to say that Viking provides 2 Egyptologists and they are with you for the entire trip. You are broken into two groups and you stay with your Egyptologist (called Program Directors) the entire time. Our group had Hani and the other group had Tarek. We were so gratified all through the trip to have a Program Director leading us. Not only did they provide general information about each touring day, take care of all entry fees and most tips for the wash rooms, make sure we had the correct information for touring each site and gave us pointers on how to deal with aggressive vendors, but (what they were really trained for) they described, explained and enthused over the tombs, temples and pyramids we saw so that we could really appreciate and understand what we were seeing. Because we had the same Program Director each day, they could build on information they had given us days before and build on the picture that we were seeing of the country they loved. This was one of the few times when I saw the wisdom of going with a structured tour group instead of building a trip itinerary and doing it on our own. Great job, Hani! I’m sure you won’t get much from an in-depth review of each day, but I will insert anything that might be of use to future travelers on this itinerary. Day Two was the Citadel and mosque. Our PD did explain a lot about his personal Muslim faith and what it meant to him and his culture. I thought it was fascinating and insightful and the mosque was beautiful. Later that morning we went to the Egyptian Museum and our PD showed us the highlights. Since it was right next to our hotel, we headed back after lunch at the Ritz Carlton. One couple in our group paid to go into the mummy room and said it was worth it. If you can make it across the street (traffic is insane), there is a government shop (meaning that the prices are fixed) that had some good shopping. Our group booked two cars through the concierge and went to a recommended Middle Eastern restaurant on one of the islands on the Nile. The name of it was Abou El Sid and it had great food, including pigeon! About half of the large group went to the El Kalil market and dinner excursion. I heard mixed reviews. Day Three began early with a 5 am wake up call and bags out by 5:15. We had a buffet breakfast at the hotel and headed to the airport for our charter flight (8 am) to Luxor. As soon as we landed at 9:30, we headed to Karnak Temple. All transportation was seamless and taken care of by Viking. The buses they used throughout were comfortable with plenty of cold water bottles and a bathroom if needed. We headed to the boat at noon and a buffet lunch. Ah, the Ra. Beautiful ship. The common areas were well thought out, the two room suites were spacious and the top deck lounge area so inviting. Before we could get off the bus, medical personnel came on board with a questionnaire and took our temperatures. We had our temperatures taken each morning while we were on the cruise and that information was sent home with us incase there were questions re-entering our home countries. We heard there were 51 people on our tour so we assumed no one had cancelled before the trip but later we were told there were only 46 on the cruise portion, so I’m not sure if some left the tour after Cairo, whether we were not given the right original totals or we forgot someone at the airport. ☺ We were originally surprised more people hadn’t cancelled before the trip with the news that a Nile cruise ship had been struck with COVID-19 the week before After a welcome, port talk and safety drill we headed out to Luxor Temple. I thought it was great to see a temple lit up at night. Day Four was another early morning wake up at 4 am. We hopped on a motor boat for a 10-15 minute ride down the Nile and to the other bank where we took a short van ride to the balloon launching point. Yes, we opted for the Hot Air Balloon ride over the Valley of the Queens. It is something that you book when you arrive in Cairo and costs about $250, I think. I assume they have to wait to see what the weather will be like before they book. Only 13 of the 46 on our cruise did the Hot Air Balloon ride but each participants that I spoke with thought it was the “must do” experience of the trip. We launched on a beautiful, calm, gorgeous morning and were amazed at the sights below us. Such a unique way to see the temples and tombs that we would go inside later that day, plus just the topography and the graphic nature of that swathe of green extending from the Nile and then this sharp boundary where the desert begins. Amazing! Do it!! We had a wonderful breakfast on our return and then headed out to the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Ramses VI’s tomb and Queen Nefartari’s tomb are not to be missed. I think Ramses tomb is an extra fee. We also went into King Tut’s tomb which was an extra price. Our PD downplayed it, but we thought it was worth seeing. We also saw the Collosus of Memnon on the ride back to the boat. After lunch we had free time. During free afternoons our PD’s would sometimes have a talk including topics like – the Arabic language, Women in Egypt, hieroglyphics, ancient Egyptian medicine, etc. After dinner was a belly dancer and a whirling dervish in the lounge. It was hard to watch the belly dancer’s performance and I know that the staff said that they try to tell Viking that no one likes it, but it’s still on the entertainment schedule. You’ve been warned. Day Five we saw Dendera Temple in the morning and had the rest of the day to ourselves as we sailed back up the Nile.. It’s wonderful to sit on that top deck or on your balcony and watch the world go by. Day Six – the men in our group went to the 8 am tour of Esna Temple. We ladies decided to take the village tour and then did some shopping (you do walk by the temple on the village tour). I think enough people have reviewed the crazy, pushy, aggressive behavior of vendors. You get a bit used to it but it always feels rude because eventually you just have to be very firm. One note, if you really want something, just keep walking away. The vendor finally got to the price I was willing to pay for a galabeya (long flowing garment) when I was walking down the steps to the ship (Viking’s dock was right next to the village). Get a tunic or galabeya before Egyptian night on the boat. It was fun to see people wearing these colorful garments at dinner that night. We set sail again and enjoyed a Falafel demonstration in the restaurant. That night was an amazing Egyptian dinner and the Nubian dancers in the lounge afterwards were very entertaining. Interestingly enough, we ran into a sand storm in the afternoon and had to dock at Edfu since all river traffic was stopped by the government. It was only through the hard work of our crew that we got clearance to keep sailing about 5 hours after the storm ended and were able to dock in Aswan the next morning so that those going to Abu Simbel could make their flight. Day Seven – I think it was at breakfast when Karoline, our Hotel Manager, told us the bad news that Jordan had closed its borders and we would not be able to go on our extension trip to Jordan. Our trip was cut short by 4 days. Here is where we were extremely happy that we had done the Viking airfare. By the time we got back from our jaunt to the airport, Viking had rebooked us on a flight out of Cairo for Tuesday and handed us our new flights times. Easy. They were actually better flight times than we originally had and we didn’t have to try and rebook and cancel flights online or over the phone (Karoline said the wait time was sometimes 6 hours on the phone). Our friends (they couldn’t book through Viking because of another reason) tried twice to talk with someone on the phone and after an hour wait were disconnected. They finally were able to use the ships computer to book a flight home and decided to deal with cancelling the original flight and getting the refund later. To Viking’s credit, they worked with all of the passengers whether they had booked their original flights through Viking or not, but those passengers that hadn’t booked with Viking did have to deal with the logistics themselves. Abu Simbel. What can I say. There are no words. Mostly because we only saw the Aswan airport. ☺ We did see the Aswan Dam in a 20 minute stop on the way to the airport. But once we got to the airport, we waited for our plane to come from Cairo. Unfortunately, because of a bad rainstorm the day before, Cairo’s runways were flooded and flights were backed up. (We also heard that all the schools were closed, local transportation cancelled and electricity cut off because of the flooding. Because they rarely get rain, let alone a lot of it, they just don’t have the drainage in the city. Who knew?) After several delays and concerns over another sand storm trapping us in Abu Simbel if we did make it there, our PD called the trip off and we headed back to our ship. The Aswan airport was an interesting morning tour spot with bathrooms that included toilet paper and no attendant to tip, shops that had fixed prices and a free soda at the cafeteria. After a week in Egypt, all three were welcome experiences. The others in our group that didn’t go on the eventful Abu Simbel excursion, said that their boat ride (although too windy for a felucca ride) and market visit were good. That night a few of us (20 or so) went to the Phillea Light Show by boat. There are 5 light shows at sites around Egypt and I was glad to get to go to one. I think our group was divided on how much we liked it. It is very artsy and was trying to showcase the history of the temple in a different way. It was professional and the temple is beautiful as it’s perched on an island, but you do see the temple in the daylight the next day. Day Eight – We had a lovely boat ride to a Nubian village where we visited a local home and the Papyrus Institute before heading back to Phillea Temple. The afternoon was spent cruising before reaching Kom Ombo for a late afternoon tour of the temple and the small crocodile museum. Day Nine – our last day of touring started with a carriage ride to Edfu Temple before sailing back to Luxor. We really enjoyed going through the lock and the activity of the vendors in boats alongside us tossing up their wares…our last experience with the aggressive merchants of Egypt. I believe that this experience is usually seen on the way upriver but because of the sandstorm on our way to Aswan, we went through the lock at night. Day Ten – the next morning we had to have our luggage out by 5:15, then our last breakfast onboard before boarding the bus for the aiport at 6:30 am. We were saying goodbye to an amazing staff onboard the Ra. This was my third Viking river cruise and by far the best staff across the board. Karoline, the Hotel Manager was exceptional. She has been with the company for over 20 years and my only regret is that since she is on the Russia sailings in the summer, we won’t have her on our ship next summer on the Volga. I can only imagine the headaches she had with this last cruise as the craziness around the world with the COVID-19 crisis changed things day to day and she and her staff took care of everything. We passengers have no idea of the turmoil below deck but I’m sure it was a massive effort. My husband had an eye problem during the cruise and she took care of arranging an eye doctor to come to our room and kept us informed. Excellent service. The restaurant staff was also exceptional. Kai and Abdullah were the chefs and we loved the quality and variety of food (wine selection was not up to snuff but that was because of excessive import tariffs, I’m told). Priscilla was the restaurant manager and she was friendly, efficient, welcoming. And that atmosphere was carried through in all of the staff – Wadde, Anastasia, Mohammed and Hussein made each meal so pleasant with their excellent service, pleasant nature and interest in making our meal times relaxing. Although I didn’t spend as much time in the lounge, I do know that the staff I came in contact with there were very pleasant, unobtrusive and efficient. The ship and staff of the Viking Ra have set a high standard for the next two cruises we’ve already booked. Our flight back to Cairo was uneventful and after a buffet lunch at the Intercontinental Hotel (beautiful hotel!), about 20 of us headed out on the Coptic Christian walking tour of Old Cairo. We spent a very interesting afternoon looking at the area and visiting a synagogue and church. When we got back to the hotel, we ladies headed next door to the attached 5 story shopping mall for some shopping before our farewell dinner. Because of the times everyone was heading home, it was an anticlimactic buffet dinner as we all said goodbye and wondered what it would be like back home. Some headed to the airport that evening, but most of us didn’t leave until 3:30 the next morning for our 6:30 am flights. Just some general thoughts on this massive tome: This was the first time that I was truly impressed with Viking. Our other two cruises were nice and we enjoyed them, but if this is the service, attention to detail and staff that is the standard of Viking, I will continue to give them my business. I thought this cruise was very expensive but I will say that I could see where my money went. We had wonderful accommodations at the hotels and on the ship. We had security personnel on every bus, during tours and even some police escorts – a necessary precaution but the areas we went to did not seem unsafe. Tips and entry fees were taken care of by our Program Directors with only a few exceptions. This made for a streamlined tour and faster entries. Having staff assigned to the airports, each hotel and our Program Directors with us the entire trip made all the difference in our enjoyment and the ability to see so much in this jam-packed itinerary. Another plus for Viking is that we never had other boats tied up next to us. We always had our own dock and some of that could have been happenstance but I know that in a few of the towns, Viking has paid to have their own docking space. At Kom Ombo I took a picture of three ships docked against the pier with up to five ships tied up to each of those ships. We were the only ones that had our own docking space. During the sandstorm a ship tied up to us because everyone was forced to dock, but other than that, I was always able to use my balcony and have a nice view. We had rooms 300, 301, 302, and 303. I was really glad that we had a balcony (I believe all the rooms on the Ra do) because I sat out there many times and read, had a drink and watched the shoreline. Our rooms had plenty of storage between the two rooms. There is room under the bed to store your suitcases. The bathroom was the biggest I’ve seen on a cruise ship. Our room steward kept the place spotless and fully stocked. Our only complaint was that most mornings we woke to the sound of chairs being dragged across the floor of the pool deck above us. Maybe the second floor would have been a better choice for rooms. We had to be up early most mornings anyway but it was a negative for those particular rooms. Just an FYI, the odd numbered rooms seem to be most likely to have a view of the Nile rather than the dock. Lastly, others have alluded to the fact that this is a tiring cruise because of the itinerary. We are in our 50’s and some in our friend group were in their 60’s. Some days were longer than others but I don’t think anyone thought the trip was grueling. There is not a lot of time for just casually hanging around but there is free time and I thought the itinerary made the most of getting us to a lot of Egyptian sites, experience some of the culture and making sure we felt like we were on vacation. A few in the larger group needed to use walking sticks, but they kept up fine and never complained. This was not a perfect cruise in description (sandstorm, cancelled Petra excursion, no Abu Simbel excursion) but it was the perfect cruise in actual experience. I commented to our group that I couldn’t think of one fellow traveler in our group of 46 that seemed to be a complainer or challenging in any way. Everyone seemed in good spirits, positive, on time, considerate, rolled with the changes in schedule and pleasant to be around. I highly recommend Viking and the itinerary they have put together. Well done! Read Less
Sail Date March 2020
Sailed southward (upriver) in Master Suite D06 on port side of ship. Overall excellent boat, service & food. Boat Manager Mahmoud Nourelden was ever-present overseeing things (I'm not sure he ever slept). Decent breakfast ... Read More
Sailed southward (upriver) in Master Suite D06 on port side of ship. Overall excellent boat, service & food. Boat Manager Mahmoud Nourelden was ever-present overseeing things (I'm not sure he ever slept). Decent breakfast buffet, good choices for lunch & dinner. Food prepared and presented well. Wait staff was very attentive, though could have been a bit more attentive; orders were sometimes mixed up or missing sides. Room attendants were very careful in prepping room and keeping clean. Cute towel animals each night on our bed - just like Disney World! Remarkably good WiFi while on board; no need to use cell data Suite D06 was HUGE (bathroom bigger than some ship cabins I've seen!) Hot tub on our private deck was a luxury we enjoyed. Though not a big deal, wish we'd been in D08; we always docked port-side, and thus only had river views looking astern; not a big deal. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We chose this cruise as the best way to see the amazing sights in Egypt and to learn about its people. This holiday greatly exceeded our expectations. Michael, our guide was awesome in his knowledge and enthusiasm not just for the temples ... Read More
We chose this cruise as the best way to see the amazing sights in Egypt and to learn about its people. This holiday greatly exceeded our expectations. Michael, our guide was awesome in his knowledge and enthusiasm not just for the temples some of which he had worked on as an Egyptologist but also for giving us a comprehensive overview of Egypt more recently. The hotels in Cairo were excellent and the Ra is like a luxury hotel. The cabin (middle price) had a spacious bathroom and great balcony and sitting area. Food on board is superb with plenty of choice at every meal. The staff cannot do enough for you. All were faultless. On our anniversary they left a bottle of champagne and a charming note in our cabin.The on board talks and entertainment were great. We were the only non American guests and found out that most fellow cruisers had booked 2 years ago. Some had mobility issues but these were seamlessly taken care of by the staff,crew and guides. Only one criticism _ the WiFi was inadequate and patchy. In this day and age, one's expectations are of strong reliable connections. Other than this. Strongly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
This was our second Viking cruise and it was outstanding. We started with the optional Israel pre-cruise land tour. The tour guide, Jo Lane, was knowledgeable and outstanding. We visited all the biblical sites and more. The Dead Sea Scroll ... Read More
This was our second Viking cruise and it was outstanding. We started with the optional Israel pre-cruise land tour. The tour guide, Jo Lane, was knowledgeable and outstanding. We visited all the biblical sites and more. The Dead Sea Scroll Museum and the Western Wall did not disappoint. We stayed at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem which was elegant but somewhat dated. It appears that all Five Star hotels in the Middle East include breakfast. The King David had a fantastic spread every morning. After the 4 nights in Jerusalem, we flew to Cairo very early in the morning and checked into the Ritz Carlton. RECOMMENDATION: Since the first day in Cairo is free, we booked the Pyramid Light and Sound show via private car on TripAdvisor/Viatour a week before. This is really the only chance you will have to see it. We were picked up at 6:00 PM by our guide and driver and driven to Giza. We were given tickets to the show, the guide went inside with us, recommended where to sit and said he’ll be waiting outside for us after the show that started at 7PM and lasted an hour. He was and we were driven back to the Ritz. It was a memorable and great deal for about $52.00 each. The Ritz Carlton hotel was the best one we stayed at. It was very modern and had a great breakfast included each morning. BE ADVISED: Beer and wine in Egypt is moderately priced but spirits are stratospherically expensive! We never looked at the prices but just ordered a “double” martini at the bar at the Ritz. A “double” is misleading, since they pour very small shots, so we ordered a double just to get half a drink by our standards. The price? With service charge, VAT, each drink cost us $67.00!!!!!!!!!!!! The price for the same gin on the Viking RA was the same as the Ritz, so we purchased a beverage package on the ship, which turned out to be a steal. We flew to Luxor to catch the ship. The cruise ship was intimate and very nice. Everyone on the staff was outstanding. We both thought the food was also outstanding. We both did the hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings and it was great. All of the included tours were excellent. The tour busses were first class with a restroom on board. Every single tour bus in Egypt has a government security man on board. They’re well dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie and have a small submachine gun tucked under their jacket! In addition, we had police escorts at many venues. Tourists are so important to Egypt’s economy, the government goes way out of their way to provide security and safety. Everything on this trip was top notch. You never hauled your luggage and there was a Viking person outside and inside each airport to assist. It was a great trip I would recommend to all! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We had been on other Viking Riverboats and knew they would do a great job taking care of us in Egypt. This trip had been on our bucket list for a long time. We had booked it over two years ago. We particularly liked having a small number ... Read More
We had been on other Viking Riverboats and knew they would do a great job taking care of us in Egypt. This trip had been on our bucket list for a long time. We had booked it over two years ago. We particularly liked having a small number of passengers. We got to know everyone. From the time we landed at the airport to the time we went through security to leave we were taken care of. The ports and shore excursions were very well planned. We had two groups and each group had an Egyptian Program Director. They were very knowledgeable. It was an experience of a lifetime. It was mind blowing to see the civilization and know how old everything was. The service on the boat was fantastic. The food was excellent and they accommodated any food choices. There was educational activities that helped us understand the culture and the people. I highly recommend this trip! Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We booked our bucket list cruise to Egypt last August. Having River cruised before and not liking it for various reasons as well as reading some of the reviews on the Tosca we were cautious booking but the only way to really do Egypt is by ... Read More
We booked our bucket list cruise to Egypt last August. Having River cruised before and not liking it for various reasons as well as reading some of the reviews on the Tosca we were cautious booking but the only way to really do Egypt is by the Nile. I have to say we just returned from one of the best ever vacations. The Tosca is a beautiful vessel with old world beauty and charm. I felt like I was in a Bogart movie. The rooms are surprisingly large and the bathrooms terrific albeit the shower is small. The staff cannot do enough for you. The food is wonderful. The Uniworld itinerary covers all the high points and then some. I highly recommend you add the hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings. Our tour guide,Mohamed R far exceeded expectations in both knowledge, compassion and intelligence. Highly recommend Egypt. We always were safe and the Four Seasons in Cairo is also terrific which is where the front and back end of the tour start and end. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
We were met by a Viking representative as soon as we entered the arrivals hall at Cairo airport. But for his help, we might still be mixed up in the chaos there. We got to the Cairo Ritz Carlton about 2 hours after landing and found one of ... Read More
We were met by a Viking representative as soon as we entered the arrivals hall at Cairo airport. But for his help, we might still be mixed up in the chaos there. We got to the Cairo Ritz Carlton about 2 hours after landing and found one of our tour directors waiting for us. He gave us a briefing for the morning before we were taken to our spacious room with a river view. (All the passengers were equally well treated and situated.) We spent two days touring Cairo and Giza. Both tour guides had doctorates and were excellent. On the third morning we took an early flight to Luxor. After a long wait for luggage, characteristic of every Egyptian airport, we were taken on a great tour of the Temple of Karnack, followed by a film at a library (yes, I fell asleep during part of it) and then to the Viking Ra. The cabins are constrained by the size of the locks, something all river boats have to deal with, but were well designed and immaculately kept. There were ample tour activities throughout the time on the ship. In fact, there were so many that one morning we gave in to exhaustion and just slept in. While the lectures in the afternoons and evenings were very good, local entertainment left something to be desired. The food was ample and service was very good. However, the offerings were not up to Viking's European or Asian standards, perhaps constrained by the local supplies. The optional tour to Abu Simel was worth loss of sleep and the fee, as was the balloon trip over the Nile. (We have taken about a half dozen balloon flights, and the landing on the rocky desert was the smoothest we have ever experienced.) After return to Cairo, we took an optional behind the scenes tour at the as yet unopened Grand Egyptian Museum and that was exceptional. Despite being in Cairo in the hottest May in recorded history, this was a very worthwhile trip. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Have always dreamed of seeing the ancient wonders of Egypt, but was hesitant to go until I saw that Viking offered a wonderful package that included three days in Cairo, then a cruise up the Nile from Luxor. The entire trip was ... Read More
Have always dreamed of seeing the ancient wonders of Egypt, but was hesitant to go until I saw that Viking offered a wonderful package that included three days in Cairo, then a cruise up the Nile from Luxor. The entire trip was meticulously planned and organized with a representative waiting for us, as we exited the plane, to take us to the Ritz Carlton. The Ritz is fabulous. Our room overlooked the Nile where we enjoyed watching the party boats at night. The air was unusually clear, and we could actually see the pyramids in the distance from the top floor of the hotel. We, of course, visited the pyramids, the Sphinx, and even rode a camel! Our program director, Yumna, was an expert on Egypt and careful to keep us all on schedule. Her wealth of knowledge helped bring the ancient Egyptians to life for us. Our flight to Luxor was slightly delayed so our tour of Karnak was too short, in my opinion. I would have preferred to spend more time there than to visit the library where we viewed a movie that showed the progression of their ancient civilization. From there, we boarded the Ra. The Ra is a beautiful boat, nicely intimate, but never crowded. I cannot rave enough about the staff who made us feel a valued member of their family immediately. I said to my daughter, my travel companion, that they made you feel like it was your birthday, every day. The ship is beautifully furnished with a restaurant that spoiled us terribly. Each day we visited temples, tombs, Valley of the Kings, little towns, and even Abu Simbel that is not only an amazing miracle of ancient Egypt, but again, a miracle in that they totally deconstructed it and moved it higher to prevent it from being underwater when the big Aswan Dam was built. I was hesitant to visit Egypt, but we never felt unsafe, partly due to Viking’s security, but also due to the Egyptian people who were very welcoming and appreciative of tourists returning after many lean years. The dollar is very strong in Egypt, currently, and the crowds are minimal. Great time to visit, just not in the hot summer months. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This is a fascinating, educational cruise. While there was plenty of down time for relaxation, we enjoyed the excursions very much. Abu Simbal was fantastic and worth the extra expense and travel. Onboard there were Arabic lessons and we ... Read More
This is a fascinating, educational cruise. While there was plenty of down time for relaxation, we enjoyed the excursions very much. Abu Simbal was fantastic and worth the extra expense and travel. Onboard there were Arabic lessons and we learned about hieroglyphics. The Temples along the Nile are fantastic. We enjoyed visiting Luxor Temple as the sun was going down. I learned to sharpen my bargaining skills. There was always a market at each temple. Decide in advance what you are willing to pay for something and stick to it. The vendors are flexible as long as you are firm. On the shore excursions, we traveled in two different groups -- each with a guide and sometimes extra security. The guides were Achmed (the bald) and Achmed (the beard). They each did an excellent job leading excursions and giving talks on board. They had very different styles of presentation, but both guides were excellent. The Ra is a beautiful ship. The food was very good -- both middle eastern and international. Also -- there was always home-made ice cream. The dining room manager - Priscilla - welcomed us at each meal as if we were dining in her home. The wait staff was wonderful. A few did not understand English that well, but we were very pleased. Some nights there was on-board entertainment. We specially enjoyed the Nubian singers and drummers. They had everyone up dancing. It was a great evening. The whirling dervish was also very interesting. The Nile is really special. My advice - Go! We also did the Petra extension. Since we spent 2 nights outside Petra we could spend more time there than the day trippers. Jerash is also fascinating. Hint-- you can get visas for Jordan at the airport through your Jordanian tour director. You don't have to get them in advance. We got visas for Egypt before the trip by applying online through the official site. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The good: - ship is in pretty good shape but is in need of refurbishment - food is excellent! (with the exception of the inedible tenderloin) - ship staff works hard to ensure a great experience - Shaima the massage therapist ... Read More
The good: - ship is in pretty good shape but is in need of refurbishment - food is excellent! (with the exception of the inedible tenderloin) - ship staff works hard to ensure a great experience - Shaima the massage therapist is wonderful The bad: - gym/spa is laughable - rooms are large but the bathrooms are microscopic - shower was so small I had to keep the door open to shower. Needs a spot to place soap etc. it was very poorly designed. The ugly: - Deck 1 smells like petroleum! I alerted the staff and manager (Ahmed) to the toxic petroleum smell in my cabin and all they could do was spray it with room freshener, they suggested i sleep with my cabin door open (unsafe!) or move to another deck. I was unable to move to another deck because of lack of availability of other rooms. Multiple guests were having migraines and breathing problems in Deck 1 rooms. These should be avoided until the environmental concern is addressed. - the tour director told us that soda, water and local wine and beer (to a preset limit) was included. However, this was only in the dining room. All beverages incurred an extra charge in the lounge. This was deceptive for an “all inclusive” as we spent much time in the lounge given this was the only spot with free WiFi. -WiFi was ridiculously poor even if you paid the up charge. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We were in cabin 105 so only a window. All cabins are 2 room suites and lovely. Full size shower. Ship smaller in size so max of 50 people. The chef was a genius and some of the best food on a cruise. We had prime rib roast, lobster, giant ... Read More
We were in cabin 105 so only a window. All cabins are 2 room suites and lovely. Full size shower. Ship smaller in size so max of 50 people. The chef was a genius and some of the best food on a cruise. We had prime rib roast, lobster, giant prawns, lamb.....and my favorite was an Egyptian night with many delights. The tours were wonderful and the guides/egyptologists did a great job of navigating you through The Valley of the vendors. The balloon ride over The Valley of the kings was amazing as was the trip to AbuSimbel. On our return to Cairo some folks set up private tour to inside the Sphinx. We opted to go to the Coptic quarter which was very interesting and the prettiest Coptic Church we have seen. We also did Pretrip Jerusalem which is where I clocked 15000 steps. In Egypt i never made it past 10,000 while touring. You will be walking on stone and uneven terrain so those with bad knees/hips may find things difficult. At first we could not understand why this trip was more expensive than some of the Europe ones but you have a minimum of 2 in country flights. This is the fastest way to get around. We had private security with us daily and large comfortable Viking coaches with extra space between seats for comfort and USB ports and WiFi on the bus....better than the ship Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The itinerary was inviting and did not disappoint. Did the pre trip Israel for 4 nights (King David Hotel)then on to Cairo for 3 nights ( Ritz Carlton Cairo ) then a short flight to Luxor to catch the Viking Ra which was lovely. We had ... Read More
The itinerary was inviting and did not disappoint. Did the pre trip Israel for 4 nights (King David Hotel)then on to Cairo for 3 nights ( Ritz Carlton Cairo ) then a short flight to Luxor to catch the Viking Ra which was lovely. We had cabin 105 and it was near crew/stairs/elevator but very quiet and a beautiful 2 room suite. The Egyptologist guides were top notch and took care of bathroom tips along the way. The only thing you had to pay was “camera” fees at some sites to take photos inside. They told you well in advance so you could get money in local currency. The ship staff were guided by seasoned Viking reps who did an outstanding job with training the local Egyptian staff. Drinks a bit prucey due to Egyptian taxes but I brought 3 bottles of Italian wine and a bottle of Jamison’s Irish whiskey with no issues. The local wines were fair. The bus drivers on “Viking” bus stay with you so you tip them at the end. There is also a restroom on the bus. Water in bottles is handed out on bus and ship and you should never need to purchase any. Temps in late Dec were perfect high 60-low 70’s. Food on the boat was great with the Egyptian night offering a ton of tasty treats. We used ATM’s along the way to get local currency’s and brought $100 in Dollar Bills and never had a problem with any being accepted. We did the optional Balloon ride over The Valley of King/queens and it was amazing. Also did optional trip to Abu Simbel via short plane ride, which was well worth it. We had security with us who watched over us and never felt worried, or unsafe. We ventured on our own into a couple of markets in Cairo and Aswan and had no problems. Please do not hand money to kids in the street as it encourages begging from tourists. There is a school visit so bring things like pencils crayons coloring books to donate. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
First, the good: the staff are outstanding. They bend over backwards for your every need because they are so grateful to be back at work since the 2011 revolution. The locals are friendly and also appreciate that tourists are starting to ... Read More
First, the good: the staff are outstanding. They bend over backwards for your every need because they are so grateful to be back at work since the 2011 revolution. The locals are friendly and also appreciate that tourists are starting to slowly return to Egypt. The food on the ship is fabulous. We miss the daily fresh mango, the delicious hummus and the lamb. The onboard activities were fun, especially the Egyptian evening. The rooms are very pretty although the shower is cramped. There's not much of a spa, although my massage was lovely. Make sure to get a room towards the front as engine noise is loud. The ship is supposed to be non smoking. However, when the staff smoke out back, the smoke gets sucked in through the ventilation system so you can often smell it. But after all, you're in Egypt and EVERYONE smokes! Even the nicer hotels have locals smoking in elevators and in doorways. It's so gross. The worst part of this trip (that we are still recovering from a week later!) is the ridiculously early mornings for tour start times. One day we had to get up at 2:00 am!! When you're already struggling with jet lag, it was too much to ask to get up that early. The pace of the cruise is definitely not one to promote relaxation either. You're constantly on the go which gets stressful after about the fourth day. People on our tour, including us, skipped a tour just to catch up on sleep. That's unfortunate since we paid to see all these cool places but were too damn tired to enjoy them to the fullest. In a way, it's unfair to guests. We're in our 50's and fit, so you can imagine what a toll this took on those who were older. My suggestion would be to go to Cairo at least three days prior to the trip so you can climatize and check out some of the temples on your own before embarkation. We did and it helped a little. However, I still say this tour needs some serious revamping to allow passengers more free time on the ship to let all of Egypt's splendor to sink in. The general consensus in our group of 55 was that all the temples and sites we visited blurred together after a while and without down time to process, we all felt we had been deprived of a lot of true enjoyment. By the end, we were all exhausted and anxious to get home. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
If you have ever wanted to go to Egypt, but, if like me, was apprehensive about safety concerns with unrest and terrorism, put aside your fears and go! Although anything can happen anywhere (vis-à-vis Las Vegas, Paris, Brussels, etc.), ... Read More
If you have ever wanted to go to Egypt, but, if like me, was apprehensive about safety concerns with unrest and terrorism, put aside your fears and go! Although anything can happen anywhere (vis-à-vis Las Vegas, Paris, Brussels, etc.), we felt completely safe at all times as the Egyptian government is committed to security for tourism. If you go to Egypt, you definitely want to go "first class." Fortunately, that is easy to do as the prices there are very reasonable. For our trip we choose Uniworld's Splendors of Egypt & Nile River. You probably will want to arrive in Cairo a day or two early to recover from jet lag, and maybe see some sites in Cairo that are not part of the Uniworld tour. The first couple of nights were at the Four Seasons Hotel which is located in the downtown area on the Nile River. As you would expect at the Four Seasons, the rooms and service was unbeatable. They have a variety of excellent restaurants located in the hotel, including Chinese and Italian. They also have a "pool side" café for burgers, etc., which was very good. From Cairo we flew to Luxor where we boarded the Riverboat Tosca for a week of cruising the Nile River. The Tosca is an older and smaller boat compared to most European cruise riverboats, but never the less, was perfectly adequate for the trip. The rooms were exceptionally large and well appointed. The lounge and dining area was quite satisfactory. The food was well prepared and good quality. I heard no complaints and not aware of anyone who got sick. Overall, both the room and dining services was very good. Being a small boat, the entertainment was limited, but I didn't go to Egypt for night clubs and dinner shows. The boat crew was outstanding being very friendly and eager to please. Of course, the main reason most people go on this trip is to see and explore the sites of ancient Egypt. Our Egyptologist/guide, Hani Komona, was truly exceptional. Aside from his extensive knowledge of Egypt, he was very fluent in English, but beyond that, was very friendly, courteous, and helpful. You felt like he was your friend. The people of Egypt are very hospitable and welcoming, and we didn't encounter a single bad experience there (and they can tell you are American). It's a trip of your lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Highly recommend this trip. It was an amazing experience. There were 47 Uniworld customers for the entire 11 days and 17 additional customers (from Uniworld affiliated companies) joined us on the 7 day Nile cruise. Our trip started in ... Read More
Highly recommend this trip. It was an amazing experience. There were 47 Uniworld customers for the entire 11 days and 17 additional customers (from Uniworld affiliated companies) joined us on the 7 day Nile cruise. Our trip started in Cairo on 4 March. There are numerous positive things about our experience with Uniworld. There are also several things Uniworld could improve upon to make this trip even better. Highlights 1. Our guide and Egyptologist, Mohamed Ragheb (also known as Habibi), was the best guide we have had on over 30 trips throughout the world. Mohamed led our group of 24 throughout the trip. Another guide had the other 23 passengers. These are the reasons we were so impressed: --Mohammed was passionate, enthusiastic, and extremely knowledgeable about Egypt and its history. He brought Egypt’s history to life. --He went out of his way to meet each of our needs. He bought medicine for people who needed them. He kept us in the shade on hot days. He bought us fresh bread from the local street bakeries, fresh fruit, and cookies. --He cared about modern Egypt and let us see Egypt as it is today—the rich 10% and the poverty of the lowest 30%. No sugar coating--just a love of Egypt and its people. --He added a special tour to the Bent pyramid and Red pyramid on Day 10 when we returned to Cairo. Without this, we would have waited 5 hours for our rooms at the Four Seasons—-read some of the other reviews. 2. The itinerary was well paced, with sightseeing interspersed with time to relax on the Tosca. But.....be prepared for many early morning wake ups. You will be thankful. Less crowds and less heat. Here are a few highlights. --The pyramids outside of Cairo on Days 10 and 11. Seeing the Bent pyramid and Red pyramid on Day 10 gave us the history leading up to the building of the Giza pyramids. Climbing up and then descending into the burial chamber of the Red pyramid was unbelievable. Day 11 we went first to Saqqara, the stepped pyramid, and its royal tombs. Then onto the great pyramids of Giza——they are clearly the number one wonder of both the ancient and modern worlds. So gorgeous and so mind boggling enormous when you stand right up next to them. Day 11 was not finished. We still had the iconic Sphinx and the solar boat museum—143 feet of rebuilt boat beauty buried for 4300 years. --The Egyptian museum in Cairo. This is the number one museum in the world and it is fabulous, with over 4500 artifacts from King Tut’s tomb alone. A brand new and much improved museum is slated to open in the next couple of months. --Cruising the Nile while sitting on the top deck of the Tosca. The Nile is amazing and its transformation of the desert on both sides for a mile. --Valley of the Kings--We went into 4 tombs with beautiful passageways and carvings which included King Tut’s surprisingly small and unadorned tomb (with his mummy). --Ramses II’s temple at Abu Simbel carved out of a rock face. The building of the high dam forced engineers to move the whole site 200 feet to keep it above the water of Lake Nasser. --The Dendera temple was the most pleasant surprise on our journey with the best preserved colored engravings on the columns and the ceilings. 3. The Tosca was a wonderful traveling vessel. We were in the cheapest room on the reception level, room 106. It was very spacious, well furnished and appointed, with a modern large bathroom and lots of storage space. We had two huge windows looking out over the Nile. We also really enjoyed the sun deck. The service from the crew was wonderful and thoughtful. They were always smiling and welcoming. Things Uniworld could improve 1. Tipping policy is very irritating. On most Uniworld cruises tips are included, whereas on this cruise, no tips are included. It felt like we were constantly being asked to tip everyone including bus drivers, porters, local guides, tour coordinators, etc. We did not have an issue with tipping Mohamed, our fabulous guide or the Tosca crew at the end of the cruise, but seems like Uniworld could take care of all the other small tips. Be prepared to pay $450/couple for tips. 2. Day 10 back into Cairo needs to be fixed. This is one of biggest complaints on reviews. We had to leave the Tosca at 6:00 am to catch an early flight to Cairo. However, the rooms at the Four Season are not available until around 3:00. We were charged an additional $30/person for extra tour (which was fabulous) vs option to sit around hotel for 5 hours waiting for our room. Pay a bit more and get us on later flight or include the additional pyramid tour. 3. Alcohol on the Tosca. Another hidden Uniworld charge only in Egypt and maybe one other place. Egyptian wine on the Tosca ranged from undrinkable to mediocre. Plus Uniworld charged for it! Mixed drinks were watered down and expensive. Beer was fine. Uniworld needs to identify the best Egyptian wines and have them available at a reasonable price. Nearly every customer likes to drink good wine with dinner. You can do better. Need one of your wine experts to take a trip to Egypt and fix it. 4. Survey form can be improved. Very limited room for feedback. Plus survey was done before we saw the Pyramids and final two days in Cairo. 5. Skip the citadel and mosque in Cairo. There has to be something better to do in Cairo. Other positives 1. Four Seasons Nile is truly 5 stars. Large wonderful rooms overlooking the Nile, breakfast, service, lobby, restaurants. 2. Pickup at airport and deliver back to airport could not be better. So easy. 3. Trip worked like clockwork. Buses, guides, tours were always well orchestrated and on time, 4. Always felt safe. Armed guard with us always plus police escorts many places. Egypt takes tourist safety seriously. Other thoughts 1. Get e-visas online from Egyptian government site—this is new!!! So easy and quick. https://visa2egypt.gov.eg 2. Food on Tosca is very good with many choices but do not expect amazing 3. March is a great time to be on this cruise. We were 15 degrees above normal on the cruise and it was over 100 a couple of days. But...Nile river is 60 degrees and cools things off. Main sightseeing is early in am and cool. Lots of shade in temples. Very low humidity. Recently went 7 years with no rain in Aswan. 4. Be prepared for polluted air in Cairo and for haze on the Nile cruise. 5. Be prepared for a trip of a lifetime. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
My wife and I are pretty well-traveled and in our late 60’s. This is our third Uniworld river cruise, with the other two taking place in Europe. For those who have traveled with Uniworld before, I’d rate their European cruises 5 (on a ... Read More
My wife and I are pretty well-traveled and in our late 60’s. This is our third Uniworld river cruise, with the other two taking place in Europe. For those who have traveled with Uniworld before, I’d rate their European cruises 5 (on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best) and Egypt 4. I hope the difference will become clear in the review. We had a wonderful time and felt safe everywhere. Day 1 Arrived in Cairo. Uniworld representative met us as we got off the plane and took us to claim our luggage. Fortunately we had obtained our visa before leaving home; otherwise we would have had to stand in a long line to purchase it before leaving the airport. Several other Uniworld guests arrived at the same time so we were escorted to the bus, luggage loaded and taken to the Four Seasons Hotel. Before the bus was allowed to enter the property, it was stopped and a bomb-sniffing dog walked around the bus. When we entered the hotel, we walked thru a metal detector and our carry-on bags went thru an x-ray machine. We checked-in and our luggage was delivered directly to our room. The room was excellent and overlooked the Nile. We ordered dinner from room service. The only meal at the hotel paid by Uniworld is breakfast. The free wi-fi at the hotel was excellent. Day 2 Following breakfast we had a meeting where we were given an overview of the cruise, introduced to the two Egyptologist (hereafter referred to as guide) who would be with us throughout the cruise, given our “whisper” listening device and given the opportunity to purchase several optional excursions. The listening device allows you to hear your guide’s commentary even if you are fairly far away from him. It consists of a small transmitter that hangs around your neck and a pair of standard size ear buds. HINT: Bring your own ear buds so they are sized to your ears. The supplied ear buds come in one size and several people, myself included, felt they weren’t that comfortable. The devices differed from what we used in Europe in that they don’t need to be recharged each night. The optional excursions: Abu Simbel-$295 per person (Absolutely worth it even though it is an early-morning flight) Luxor Sound & Light Show-$38 per person (We enjoyed it.) Cairo dinner cruise-$73 per person (We didn’t do this excursion.) Hot air balloon ride-$109 per person (I did it and it was wonderful even though you had to get up at 4 am) Alexandria Excursion-$115 per person (Available to guests with extra nights booked. An all-day trip, about 3 hours driving time each way.) Uniworld dropped the ball on this excursion. We knew nothing about it until arriving in Cairo. Our plane reservations were booked so we couldn’t add an extra day. My understanding is that Uniworld works with Spring Tours, an Egyptian tour company, for this cruise and they handle the Alexandria excursion. It would have been nice to have known about this tour ahead of time so plane reservations could have been made accordingly. Our tour group of 32 people (the majority of which were from the United States included four Canadians and one Australian) was divided into two groups, each with their own guide. The guide for our group of 14 was Mohamed Attia Abdalla and he was excellent. He had an excellent command of the English language, very patient, able to answer all of our questions, took wonderful care of our group and always pointed out the closest bathrooms. Both groups saw the same thing but not always at the same time and each group had their own bus. Again, the Uniworld difference shows. A group of 32 would have fit on one bus but Uniworld makes their groups smaller and uses two buses which gives you plenty of room to spread out and have your own seat. We visited the Egyptian Museum, had lunch on our own at the Ritz-Carlton and then visited the Alabaster Mosque before arriving back at the hotel. We had dinner on our own in the hotel’s Chinese restaurant which was excellent. Day 3 We flew to Luxor. The airport security is very tight. You go thru two screenings, both with metal detectors, pat-downs and x-ray machines. Luckily your guide is with you to ease the process. In Luxor we visited the Temple of Karnak and boarded the River Tosca. Day 4 A morning visit to the Dendeara temple complex and an evening visit to Luxor Temple. Day 5 Early morning hot air balloon ride, Valley of the Kings and evening galabeya party onboard. Day 6 Visit Kom Ombo Temple, walk thru town, afternoon felucca ride and high tea at the Old Cataract Hotel. Day 7 Visit Aswan High Dam, Unfinished Obelisk and Philae Temple. Afternoon visit to Nubian village and evening Nubian show onboard. Day 8 Morning visit to Abu Simbel via a short flight. Day 9 Morning visit to Esna Temple and evening Luxor Sound and Light Show. Day 10 Fly back to Cairo, check into Four Season Hotel, evening Sound and Light Show at Pyramids of Giza. Day 11 Visit Memphis, lunch at Mensa House Hotel (on your own), Pyramids of Giza and Great Sphinx. Day 12 Transfer to Cairo International Airport for flight home. The M/S River Tosca This is a beautiful ship with a capacity of 82 passengers. On our cruise there were only 32 people so nothing ever felt crowded. When we boarded, Hotel Manager Sameh Mohamed gave a talk on the facilities on board and said that this ship was completely rebuilt to Uniworld’s standards and it shows. It is elegant but not as over-the-top as are some of their European ships. This was the most beautiful ship I saw on the Nile. I’ve never been on a ship with a cabin as large as we had. Plenty of storage space including a huge closet. Queen size bed was very comfortable. Two chairs, desk with chair. Bathroom included separate tub and shower. The ship has a large lounge area with chairs and sofas, a library, dining room with tables for six or eight as well as tables for two and a spa. The upper deck has a swimming pool, lounges, tables and chairs as well as a large shaded area. I would suggest getting a cabin on the starboard (right) side of the ship because the few times we were docked next to another ship, the starboard side was facing the Nile. The wi-fi was acceptable most of the time but I had my own hotspot which worked very well. The provided bath products are Nefertari which is an Egyptian company. Some of the guests, my wife included, didn’t care for the shampoo as it contains olive oil. I can understand using an Egyptian company and supporting the local economy. Alcohol is not included on this cruise but the cost of drinks on the ship is very reasonable. We had laundry done twice at no cost since we’re River Heritage members but the cost was very reasonable. Every member of the crew was friendly and helpful and went out of their way to make sure everything ran smoothly as is the Uniworld way. Breakfast and lunch was buffet while dinner offered choices from a menu. Breakfast included cereals, eggs cooked to order and other hot dishes but there are no menu choices as in Europe. Lunch included salads, several hot dishes and desserts. Dinner included choices of appetizers, main dishes and desserts. The food was well-prepared and delicious. Some differences from Europe: The orange juice at breakfast was not fresh-squeezed; it tasted more like Tang although it was well-mixed. There were fewer dinner menu choices than offered in Europe. In Europe, every dinner entrée was beautifully plated. On this cruise only a few entrees were plated that way. Each evening you received a daily program listing the next day’s activities but there was no discussion about the next day’s activities during the cocktail hour as there is in Europe. Suggestions for improvement: Uniworld should inform you that the Alexandria excursion is available as an optional extra so plane reservations could be made accordingly. Tips should be included as they are in Europe. Upon our return to Cairo from Luxor, everyone had to wait about three hours in the smoke-filled lobby of the Four Seasons until our rooms were ready. Uniworld should arrange for a morning tour or a comfortable smoke-free conference room in which to wait. Money: In Egypt you tip everyone. Bring $100 in $1 bills for initial tips. At the Four Seasons, use the hotel ATM to withdraw Egyptian pounds. Go to the bank in the mall attached to the hotel and exchange the large bills for five pound Egyptian bills (you will need plenty of five pound bills to tip the bathroom attendants). You cannot exchange U.S. dollars for Egyptian pounds at the bank. The exchange rate is set by the government. Aboard ship you can exchange U.S. for Egyptian. Most street vendors will accept Egyptian or U.S. dollars. Credit cards, U.S. or Egyptian can be used for the hotel, extra-cost excursions and your shipboard bill. Security: We felt safe everywhere we went. One of our two buses carried an armed security guard and at every monument, airport and hotel we went thru at least one or more metal detectors. Police officers and military were visible everywhere and I think Egypt is doing its best to restore tourism. Everyone we met was friendly and happy to have us in their country. Personal Service: I had the opportunity to experience Uniworld’s exceptional service. While stepping aboard a felucca I slipped and twisted my left leg. By the end of the sail my leg was extremely swollen. Our guide assisted me back to the ship and immediately had my leg checked to make sure nothing was broken and got ice on it right away. Hotel Manager Sameh arranged for a local doctor to come to my cabin that evening to check my leg. After an examination he gave me an injection for pain and several prescriptions. I stayed aboard the next morning and the doctor returned to check on my condition. All of this for only $110. I resumed activities that afternoon but every crew member I saw the rest of the trip asked me how my leg was doing. The personal service that you receive from Uniworld keeps us coming back. Activity Level: This is not a trip for the mobility challenged. Our guide explained that December and January are the best months to visit weather-wise but the Nile is at its lowest level which means that you must go up and down a lot of concrete stairs to reach the ship from street level although there were crew members to assist. At the monuments you’re walking over a lot of uneven ground. Street Vendors: They’re extremely aggressive and you will encounter them when you exit every monument. If you show any interest or engage them they will follow you back to the bus. If you want to make a purchase, our guide suggested a starting price of half of what they’re asking. Our guide bargained with vendors several times for members of our group. Photography: Outside photography is permitted everywhere. Inside most of the monuments photography without flash is permitted. In several locations a photography permit is required at an extra cost. Our guide would tell us, we’d pay him and he’d purchase the permit. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Review of Uniworld’s Splendors of Egypt and the Nile arriving in Cairo on January 6, 2018. There are several aspects of the trip for which we would like to laud Uniworld, Spring Tours and the Tosca, but also some opportunities for ... Read More
Review of Uniworld’s Splendors of Egypt and the Nile arriving in Cairo on January 6, 2018. There are several aspects of the trip for which we would like to laud Uniworld, Spring Tours and the Tosca, but also some opportunities for improvement that we have shared.. Having an airport attendant meet our arrival at Cairo and airport transfers to and from the hotel was very much appreciated and started and ended the experience on a positive note. The Four Seasons in Cairo is lovely – large suites or rooms with balconies. Great dining options in the hotel, too. We especially liked Bella and The Bar. Go a day or two before the tour to acclimate to the time change. Special kudos and eternal thanks to our Egyptologist, Mohammed Attia Abdalla. He was supremely knowledgeable, generous and patient while sharing his vast store of information, as well as being gracious, kind and caring. He taught us so much about Egypt’s history, symbolism, religion, culture and the geopolitical situation. He told us several times how he and all Egyptians love their country, and kept us enthralled and entertained. He has a great sense of humor and gave us a tremendous feeling of security. When my husband fell ill, he was the one who located and took us to a pharmacy and explained to the pharmacist what we needed, and later identified and called a doctor. He checked in with us continuously. We were very grateful that he skipped a lot of the sales opportunities – no alabaster or perfume factories for us, thank heavens! Just one stop at a papyrus factory and one for carpets. All of the staff on the Tosca were superior, but Attia is one-of a kind. As for the rest of the staff on the Tosca: they were happy, caring, competent and very kind to everyone. A delightful group! Welcoming, well-trained and excellent service providers. Nice big rooms, although the satellite TV reception was wonky and unreliable (if you even care about TV). Lovely common areas, with the exception of the low, uncomfortable wide sofas. Made for people who don’t need back support – since your back couldn’t possibly reach the back of the sofa unless you were 10 feet tall. And very, very low....you can sit down, but you may not get back up! The itinerary was excellent, although we HATED all the early mornings. I forgot to mention in my letter to Uniworld about the last day of our cruise when we had an crazy early wake-up call to take a flight back to Cairo, only to sit in the lobby of the Four Seasons for 5 hours waiting for our rooms to be ready. But having the opportunity to see the Egyptian museum, the temples of Luxor, Karnak, Hatshepsut, Hathor and Ramses Ramses everywhere, was amazing. My husband said that the giant enormous ego of Ramses II, who put gigantic statues of himself all over Egypt, reminded him of a certain American president. At the Valley of the Kings your ticket allows you to visit three pre-determined tombs. Pay extra and go into the tomb of Seti I, Tutankhamun and whatever Ramses tomb is also optional. Well worth seeing any tombs that are open – they are all amazing. We felt like the tour guide “undersold” the Tut tomb. You really need to see it! The Pyramids and the Sphinx are timeless treasures, and although I climbed all the way to the top of the Great Pyramids, my quads were screaming. The camel ride was a fun photo and memory. All of us paid extra to go to Abu Simbel (well worth it!)and a few did the Hot Air Balloon ride the morning we visited the Valley of the Kings. Everyone who did was thrilled that they took advantage of these opportunities. You can skip the sound and light show at Luxor, since you will see one at Giza the next day. Tips for YOUR trip to Egypt (now is a GREAT time to go!): Your first day at the hotel, get some Egyptian pounds and ask the front desk for 5s (get plenty!), 10s and 20s. Anytime you need to go to the bathroom, except at the large hotels, there will be someone standing outside looking for money (5 LE is the "going" rate). You will also need them to give you toilet paper. A 5-pound note is worth about a quarter, so just plan ahead and keep a supply of 5s and you’ll be fine. I had also read a recommendation to bring a stack of $1 bills, so we did. We went through them all for small purchases and tips. Expect to tip everyone. Even the smallest service will be followed by an outstretched hand. If a local poses for a picture, offers to take a picture or shows you something, walks with you, lends a hand or provides any type of service at all they will expect a tip. By the last day at the Pyramids I had run out of Egyptian pounds and dollar bills so the camel guy didn’t get a tip. I still feel bad about that! Remember, a 20-pound note is worth just over a dollar, so carry 5s, 10s and 20s at all times. Very few places (not even the pharmacy) accept credit cards, and those that did only took Visa or Mastercard. The people are lovely and friendly, and very welcoming, but they are also very poor. 60% of the population has an income equivalent to about $100 US per month. After visiting any monument or temple expect to be mobbed by vendors selling goods. It is their livelihood, and there aren’t many tourists so you certainly understand and empathize, but it can get annoying. We headed for kiosks/stores of those who weren’t quite so aggressive, and made purchases there. Uniworld needs to update their brochure to stipulate that the Tosca does not have any sort of medication available – not even an aspirin. Other cruise ships we’ve been on freely dispensed non-prescription medications like aspirin, motion sickness pills or remedies for tummy trouble. But apparently it is Uniworld’s policy that customers are on their own. Bring any and all medications you may need. Cold and flu, aspirin, Advil, Motrin, bandaids and antiseptic cream – having your own fully-stocked first aid kit is a must. Hand sanitizer was everywhere onboard, but having a small bottle or wipes with you will be helpful. Not all of the bathrooms at tourist sites have running water. The brochure stated that customers would get a single bottle of water a day. In fact, at the Four Seasons in Cairo, and onboard the Tosca and the tour bus each day the staff were very generous with bottled water, and onboard there was also iced tea, sparkling water, coffee etc. Local beer and wine were reasonable, although mixed drinks are expensive. The Tosca needs to improve in-room amenities. They offer a special line called Nefertari, created by an Egyptian dermatologist for her daughter who had many allergies. Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and soap. It is awful stuff, and the shampoo left our hair tacky and feeling unclean, while the rose soap was much too flowery a scent for my husband. Every customer was complaining about it. But we loved the L’Occitane at the Four Seasons. So bring your own shampoo and conditioner. The food onboard was not very special. Breakfast was fine, and I very much appreciated the rotating selection of fruits. Some of the options on the lunch buffet were strange or not recognizable. At other times they offered western options which were interpreted in unusual ways. One day was pizza and hamburgers and while the pizza was ok - vegetarian only but without tomato sauce - the hamburgers were tiny and overcooked. At dinner, some of the veal or beef entrees were tough and inedible. All of the fish entrees, on the other hand, were delicious, although there seemed to be a lot of repetition in the choices. The plating and presentation of the dinner entrees was lovely. Overall, this trip gave us memories for a lifetime and was a wonderful experience. Our fellow travelers were very experienced, mature, and a great group of people. I wish that this trip was all-inclusive, as most Uniworld river cruises are. Again, the prices onboard for beer and wine and laundry services were very reasonable. We recommend Uniworld and the Tosca, and this particular trip to Egypt. Go now, before tourism rebounds! There were no lines for anything we visited. It was sad, to be perfectly honest. The sights were absolutely awe-inspiring and I learned something new every day. We felt safe and protected and were never concerned about security, thanks to all of the precautions put in place. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Uniworld 12 Day Splendors of Egypt and the Nile plus two extra days As an introduction, I am a recently retired, intellectually inquisitive, mid 60’s female traveling alone. I arrived in Cairo at December 7 two days pre tour. Some ... Read More
Uniworld 12 Day Splendors of Egypt and the Nile plus two extra days As an introduction, I am a recently retired, intellectually inquisitive, mid 60’s female traveling alone. I arrived in Cairo at December 7 two days pre tour. Some things I learned: 1) Egyptian prices are great. Everything was inexpensive in comparison to USA prices. Haggling is expected. 2) The protest are over and the Egyptians want tourists to come. I felt very safe everywhere I traveled. 3) The two days before were great. If it hadn’t been Dec 20 I would have liked to stay an additional day. 4) At many sites no photography allowed, but if you pay the guide some photos can be taken (Pyramids, Abu Simbel). Of course many people will smile and motion for you to take their photo or that they will ask to take your photo, but they all want a tip for the pleasure. 5) On the river cruise portion; 2 additional couples joined our Uniworld group with their own guides for 3 nights in Luxor. I had looked at this option through other tour operators (Kensington for example), but as a solo traveler, I wanted to travel with others so joining the Uniworld package tour was better for me personally, but if I was with a traveling companion I might consider this option. 6) The M/V Tosca was great. The crew very nice, the food very good and the cabins very nice. 7) The best thing I did was to download articles about Egypt from National Geographic and Wikipedia to my iPad. There is downtime at airports, flights, bus rides, and when the SAT TV on the boat is not working to read the articles to reinforce and add additional depth to what you are seeing. It made the experience so much better. 8) This was the best trip I have ever taken and I have traveled to 80 countries. Friday December 8-On my own I arranged for Uniworld to drop me off at the Egyptian museum. I paid to see the museum, the Royal mummies, and camera use ($20). A guide quickly approached me and I engaged him for one hour at the cost of about $11 dollars. I learned a lot and then explored the museum for two additional hours. I met our tour's Egyptologist Assem and the van at 1PM and we drove to the old walled Islamic city and walked down a lovely old street with classic period of beautiful Islamic architecture of mosques and cistern/schools. We walked through the bazar past the al-Hussein Mosque and back out (cost $80). I also have to commend the Egyptologist Assem who accompanied Uniworld through the entire tour; he was such a pleasure to have on our journey. He was very smart, competent and passionate about Egypt and Egyptian history. He was an excellent and patient teacher throughout this journey. Saturday December 9-Old Cairo and Souk I arranged to join in with 4 other passengers to do “The Coptic Tour” with a van and Assem. We saw the Hanging Coptic church built on pillars, and a Coptic museum, a Greek Orthodox Church, The Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church that was built over a cave purported to have housed the holy family during their Egyptian exile. We also saw an old synagogue. This was followed by a trip back to the Bazar and a walk to the far side to the tentmaker’s street (cost $60 pp.). Sunday Dec. 10-Cairo Museum and Citadel On the first official day of the12-day tour we met with our group of 25 Americans, consisting mostly of couples 40-70 in age, a family group of four, a couple traveling with friend, and two solo ladies (myself included). This day we went to the Egyptian Museum and had a tour provided by Assem, ( I am glad I had spent 3 hours already). Then we walked over to the Ritz Carleton for lunch, and then boarded the bus for a drive across town to the Saladin Citadel and the Alabaster Mosque. Monday Dec. 11- Flight to Luxor and Temple of Karnak We had a 3 AM wakeup and a 4:30 pickup to head to the Cairo airport to catch the small plane for the 1-hour flight to Luxor. Upon landing we immediately boarded a bus and drove into Luxor for a visit to the Karnak Temple, a 250-acre complex dedicated to the god Amun. The impressive Temple Hall with 134 columns is the world’s largest columnar structure. After the tour we headed to join the M/S Tosca at dock on the east bank of the Nile. We had a brief orientation around 10:30 AM and then were guided to our cabins, followed by lunch. The remainder of the afternoon was free. I had hoped to walk into town, but the ship is docked in a remote area. Luckily the Tosca always has the outside berth (with three empty ships and one other active cruise ship). I had booked an odd number cabin, but was thankfully moved to an even number cabin, which always has the river view. Tuesday. December 12. Temple of Hathor and Temple of Luxor We took our bus to the temple of the cow goddess Hathor in Dendara (south of Qena) on the west bank of the Nile. It is the most complete Greco-Roman temple complex and dates from 100 BCE, although built on much older foundations. There we beautiful painted walls and ceilings with very strong carvings. The Christians later defaced the temple in 300 AD, but not everywhere (above easy reach) and the colors were very beautiful. Returned to the ship for lunch then we went to the Luxor Temple for sunset (3-6 PM), which was so lovely light up at night. After dinner, we had a belly dancer and whirling dervish show. Wednesday December 13. Valley of the Kings The seventeen passengers who opted for the additional $120 hot air balloon excursion left at 4:45 am, boarded a van then a ferry across the Nile, and then a van to the hot air balloons. The balloon held 33 passengers in 8 compartments plus one with the operator. After we lifted off the ride was amazing. Sailing over the valleys of the Nobel’s, the Queens and the workers, but NOT the Valley of the Kings. It gave me a great perspective of the valley and the neighboring valleys. There were 100’s of tombs everywhere. We were airborne for about an hour then landed. It was very interesting to see the crew compress the balloon and contain it, took about 10 men. After we landed, fought off the vendors, and tipped everyone, we took a van to meet up with the bus and the 8 others at the Colossi of Memnon, or more correctly the two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III and drove to the Valley of the Kings. At the Valley of the Kings you have to buy an extra camera ticket ($11), and you are checked rigorously in all the tombs. We saw three tombs. KV 2 (Ramses IV), KV 11 (Ramses III), and KV 14 the tomb built by the Queen Tausert and later taken over by her son Setnakht. The tombs walls were covered with beautiful carvings and colorful paintings. The Valley of the Kings was hot and dusty, but it was amazing; the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Afterwards we went to an alabaster factory/ bathroom stop, prices were very high. We then headed to Deir-el-Bahri and the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, which was amazing. It was approaching 2 pm and we went back to the ship, the drive in the bus was much longer than our early morning the ferry ride across the Nile. There are not a lot of bridges across the Nile. We set sail for Esna locks and arrived in the dark. That night was Egypt dinner and Galabiya party where the crew entertains with dances and music. Very fun. Thursday, December 14, Kom Ombo and Aswan We started the morning at the Kom Ombo temple (gold mountain). This was an important trading center from the east. The Greco-Roman temple (200 BCE- 300 AD) was laid out as two parallel temples. One was dedicated to Sobek the evil crocodile God of the Nile, and the other to the good falcon god Horus. Afterwards there was some shopping time, as we were the only ship docked. The vendors are very aggressive, but they are only trying to live, and tourists are not common. We then set sail to Aswan and had a lecture on Egyptian history and life in modern Egypt by our Egyptologist Assem. The Nile is much larger than I expected somewhere between the Mississippi and the Ohio in size. In Luxor, the strip of green along the Nile was a mile wide, but as we approached Aswan, the green strip was only a few trees. We had a lovely lunch on the upper deck during the sail from Kom Ombo to Aswan. About 3 pm we arrived in Aswan and walked to a nearby felucca for an hour-long cruise around Elephantine Island. The weather was perfect, sunny but not hot. We were serenaded by young boys on surfboards (frère Jacque and the Macarena to name a few tunes). The Nubian crew sold camel bone trinkets (no-one ever passed up an opportunity to try and sell us something!) The Nubian crew was very skilled in docking the felucca, with only sail power to tack against the wind. We then boarded the bus for a short ride to the Old Cataract Hotel, where we were told Agatha Christie spent 6 months writing Death on the Nile (she did stay here, but not that long). We had high tea and watched the sunset. It was lovely. The first Cataract on Nile marks the barrier for Nile navigation. Friday December 15- Aswan This morning we left early and it was nice and cool. We headed to see the nearby granite quarry to see the unfinished obelisk, which cracked and was then abandoned. Then we headed to see the old 1902 British dam and the new 1964 Aswan dam. After that we visited the Greco Roman Philae temple on an island. This is one of the 13 temples moved because of the building of the Aswan dam. You can see the small mostly submerged nearby Island where the temple originally stood. Here there were many vendors (on boat we took to get to the temple and on shore). There was also a stop at the requisite overpriced Aswan Elite perfume store. At 3PM we walked to a small motorboat for a trip to the first cataracts of the Nile. In the past this area would have been a waterfall, but since the building of the dam there are 100s of small-protected islands that have become bird and wildlife sanctuaries. A local guide pointed out the wildlife. Then we went to a Nubian village and visited a home where we learned about how the Nubians were moved to villages when the dam was built. The Nubians are from the south and traditionally darker than the northern Egyptians. The general view is that they are much happier in the new villages with electricity and education. The owner of the house made woven scarves. His handmade scarves were beautiful, inexpensive and a cut above the regular scarves that were found everywhere. I wish I had bought more because his scarves were a unique souvenir. After wards we walked through the village. I had brought small items, Halloween M&M’s, toothbrushes and combs from amenities kits, pens and lanyard chains and freebies that I picked up at professional meetings. I started to pass these out to the children. They were so excitedly grabbing the items and asking for more, they especially wanted the combs. I barely escaped, but I hope they liked them. Saturday December 16- Abu Simbel Today the entire group too the optional tour to Abu Simbel ($295). We took the 10 am flight to Abu Simbel the magnificent rock carved temple that marked the Egyptian southern border with the Nubians. The Aswan airport has extensive security because if the dam were bombed millions of Egyptians would be killed. After a very short flight we arrived at Abu Simbel and the entire plane took a shuttle bus to the Temple and toured for about an hour then got back on the bus, returned to the airport went through various security checks and took the same waiting plane back to Aswan. Very civilized. The Abu Simble consist of four 20 m statues (one missing) of Ramses II and is one of the most beautiful temples in Egypt. Next to it is the temple to his favorite wife Nefertari. Because of thewater behind the Aswan Dam, the temples were carved into 30-ton blocks and reassembled 200 ft. away. I remember this from my childhood and it was a site worth seeing. We were back on the ship by 2 PM and set sail for the Esna locks. It was a lovely afternoon sailing on the Nile. The weather was perfect. Sunday December 17- Esna temple and town We arrived at Esna at 9 am and walked a short distances through the street to see the Esna Temple. The Greco-Roman temple was dedicated to Khnum the creator god who fashioned humans on a pottery wheel. We also visited an ancient oil press and a Coptic church. We left and sailed through the Esna locks and then on to Luxor enjoying the scenery and the final sunset on the Nile. It was a wonderful cruise. That night 16 passengers went to the advertised Luxor Sound and Light show ($38), which was actually held at Karnak Temple. Not sure if I would have gone if I had known it was actually at Karnak, because I had not seen the Karnak Temple at night and would have liked to. However, I chose not to go to the Luxor because I had read that the Luxor S&L show was not worth it, but the ones who went to this excursion did not appear to like the Karnak version any better. However I would have liked to see the spectacular Karnak Temple at night. Monday December 18, return to Cairo and Sound and Light Show This was a leisurely morning. We had to have the luggage out by 9AM, and the bus at 9:45 for the noon flight back to Cairo. The crew gave us a lovely send off, and we knew that the next load of 19 passengers would board for their week-long cruise (as we did seven days before) in several hours. We were in the Four Seasons at 3:30 PM. I ordered room service and several of us left for the Sound and Light Show at the pyramids at 5 PM. Many who had done the Light show at Karnak the night before opted out, but I wanted to see the pyramids, and even in the dusk/dark they were amazing. The show was OK, but it was difficult to follow, as some of the mish mash of historical events they discussed were not even related to Giza. Overall I was happy I went and it was included. Tuesday December 19, Last Day. -Memphis, Saqqara and Giza We left the hotel at 7:15 AM and drove about 40 minutes (20 miles) to the ancient Old Kingdom capital Memphis. This is a huge and ancient (3000 BCE) archeological site, but a very small tourist site. We saw the alabaster sphinx, and the fallen statue of Ramses II. Then we headed to the nearby necropolis called Saqqara. There are numerous tombs and mastabas in this area several pyramids including the famous step pyramid of Djoser (~2600 BCE). There was an interesting museum and we learned about Imhotep the architect of Djoser’s pyramid. After this we went to an expensive carpet factory/toilet break and the drove about 10 miles to Giza. We had a photo stop at Khufu (~2500 BCE) pyramid, and could walk up to the entry, but we did not go in. Then we drove to Menkaura’s pyramid (~2500 BCE) where we could go inside. Again they said no pictures (so I left my camera), but the guard inside allowed photos for a tip. After this we all went for a camel ride ($11) and gave a $6 tip. It was very touristy but memorable. This was followed up with the Sphinx up close and lastly a stop at a very expensive “Cotton shop”. We were back to the hotel at 4:30, where some folks were leaving for the airport in 6 hours! I woke at 2:30 for the 3:30 bus to airport, where we went through three security checks and sat around for an hour for the Lufthansa desk to open, and 21 hours later I was home. I have the most wonderful memories Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Full disclosure - I was delighted when I saw that tour companies were returning to Egypt. My experiences while there - seeing the pyramids, the Valley of the Kings, and other monuments - were a dream come true. Viking provided cruise ... Read More
Full disclosure - I was delighted when I saw that tour companies were returning to Egypt. My experiences while there - seeing the pyramids, the Valley of the Kings, and other monuments - were a dream come true. Viking provided cruise directors who were Egyptologists and renowned archaeologists. The guides provided enough background on the history and mythology of Egypt to help us understand what we were really seeing at the monuments. The accommodations and meals at the hotels before and after the cruise were excellent. My husband and I felt completely safe while traveling with Viking. They provided armed guards to be with us at all times, as well as National police, who accompanied us on some of the long journeys. However, I do not recommend that anyone travel to Egypt with Viking until they "get their act together" and provide a ship of their own for this tour. Just two weeks before the trip began, we were informed that the Lake Nasser portion of the tour had been cancelled due to "technical problems." This turned out to be the failure of Viking to secure an appropriate ship for that portion of the cruise. We lost four days of the tour that many people were specifically looking forward to. Instead, we were flown to the Abul Simbel temple on one day, and returned via a 3-hour bus drive across the desert. The ship - The Mayfair - was far below expectations for a Viking cruise. The usual excellent Viking cuisine was reduced to dinners that were obviously pre-cooked and re-heated just before service. Many of the meats were tough and inedible. We had "splurged" on a cabin on the top tier, only to discover that there was absolutely no wi-fi on that floor! We had to get dressed and go downstairs to a lobby if we wanted to check email, etc. The usual amenities - plush towels, plenty of electrical outlets, evening entertainments - were barely available. Overall, the Egyptian people, including the staff on the ship, were gracious and welcoming. Everyone in Egypt seems happy to that tourism is returning. You can get great bargains at the bazaars (as long as you're ready to play the "bargaining game," and for now the vendors are happy to accept American dollar bills for just about anything. Be ready for rather aggressive vendors and begging - the women at the Nubian village we visited were especially aggressive. In conclusion, Egypt is ready for its tourists again. The Nile River is magical, with stunning views. The monuments and museums are well maintained and safe. I strongly recommend visiting, but make sure that Viking will keep its promises about the usually superb quality of their cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We have been on a number of Viking River cruises in Europe, and in China; always enjoying their quality and high standards. So when it looked like a relatively safe time to visit Egypt, we knew we were in for a great adventure and ... Read More
We have been on a number of Viking River cruises in Europe, and in China; always enjoying their quality and high standards. So when it looked like a relatively safe time to visit Egypt, we knew we were in for a great adventure and "bucket list" tour. Viking did an outstanding job from the arrival days in Cairo, by putting the 65 of us up in the Cairo Ritz located downtown on the Nile River; to our later visit to Abu Simbel. Most of us had been with Viking before, and really appreciated Akmed our tour guide and all the Viking support staff along the way. It was a bit different not having Viking ships and staffs for the Nile and Lake Nasser segments; but the tour and sites made up for them. The food and level of service on both ships was not to Viking standards; but overall we received a very acceptable quality with both. The really important point to mention, is that we felt very safe on the entire trip. We had a police officer on our buses, and security on the tours. Never did we fear for our safety. Viking did an outstanding job of "blending" the security staff in a way to make them almost part of the tours. Also, my wife and I walked about 5 blocks from our Cairo hotel to a local Egyptian restaurant for an authentic meal. We felt very safe, and enjoyed mixing in with the locals and enjoying a great meal! We also went out on our own later, and felt totally safe. The Egyptian people were very warm and friendly, even helping us with directions when we got lost. This Viking trip to Egypt is outstanding, and everything we could have hoped for! Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Uniworld's "Splendors of Egypt and the Nile" remains a fascinating itinerary on a super-comfortable ship with an excellent crew that aims to please and food as good as the food on Uniworld's European cruises. As ... Read More
Uniworld's "Splendors of Egypt and the Nile" remains a fascinating itinerary on a super-comfortable ship with an excellent crew that aims to please and food as good as the food on Uniworld's European cruises. As mentioned by cruisers last season, this is the time to visit Egypt as the number of tourists remains relatively low. Security at the airports, hotels and every tourist site is very tight, and we never felt uneasy. An armed guard unobtrusively accompanied us on tours in Cairo as well as on the Nile. From our transport from the Cairo airport (we arrived one day early) to every aspect of the tour and transport back to the airport, Uniworld staff took care of every detail. Our Egyptologist/Cruise Manager Mohamed Ragheb conducted all tours in Cairo and on the Nile and was absolutely excellent. We learned so much from him about ancient Egypt as well as life in modern Egypt. He especially watched out for two passengers who use canes for mobility and who fell walking on uneven ground. After that, a crew member accompanied both on excursions and helped with the tricky transfers onto a felucca and motorboats. The vibe on ship is very informal -- many people wore to dinner the clothes they had worn during the tours, except for the Galabeya night when Egyptian food was featured for dinner and crew and most passengers donned galabeyas, inexpensive for purchase at the ship's boutique. The sun deck has plenty of padded lounge chairs, tables and chairs under a canopy, and a large (for a river ship) pool, but the weather, while warm during the day, was too cool for anyone to be tempted to use it. There were several early days for touring but also more time cruising the river during daytime than on the European itineraries, which was very pleasant. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Egypt was on top of our bucket list and we wanted to get the most out of the experience. I will admit that I was a little apprehensive about going to Egypt and of course all our friends thought we were crazy. I am so glad we went! We had ... Read More
Egypt was on top of our bucket list and we wanted to get the most out of the experience. I will admit that I was a little apprehensive about going to Egypt and of course all our friends thought we were crazy. I am so glad we went! We had sailed with Uniworld a couple years ago in Europe and were so impressed with the ship & the staff, we decided to book with them to go to Egypt. The Uniworld package was very reasonable and inclusive with the exception of alcohol drinks, tips and two optional tours - Hot Air Balloon and the excursion to Abu Simbel. We spent two nights in Cairo at the Four Seasons and then flew down to Luxor to meet the River Tosca. The ship was very nice, I thought the food was excellent and the staff could not have been nicer. We had an official Egyptologist, Akram, travel with us everywhere we went along with a body guard. Akram was a wonderful guide and we all enjoyed traveling with him. The whole time we were in Egypt, I felt very safe and well protected. My feeling was the body guard was there more to make us feel secure rather than for the protection. The Egyptians take security very seriously, much more than the USA. You have to go through a few security lines to get into anything. We did do the optional excursion to Abu Simbel (this is a must), it was phenomenal. I went on the Hot Air Balloon ride in the wee hours of the morning be the Valley of the Kings. This I would recommend as well. Here is my recommendation - go now before the crowds come back! Consider the River Tosca, I was genuinely sad when we departed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
What are you crazy? That's what everyone said when I told them I booked a cruise down the Nile! Well they were all wrong. This trip was more wonderful than I could have ever expected. Avalon was great! The hotels were 5 star and the ... Read More
What are you crazy? That's what everyone said when I told them I booked a cruise down the Nile! Well they were all wrong. This trip was more wonderful than I could have ever expected. Avalon was great! The hotels were 5 star and the boat was lovely. Food was excellent and entertainment was fun. Don't miss Egypt just because of all the bad press. I traveled by myself and was never afraid of anyone or anything. The tour guide, Mohammed was very knowledgeable and a lot of fun. He made ancient Egypt come alive! I can't put into words just how wonderful this trip was. Don't miss out just because of what others might say. I'm a woman in my 60's that has to travel solo ( my husband will not travel, at all ), I didn't let anyone discourage me. I saw the Pyramids, Sphinx, Luxor Temple and other wonders of the ancient world. If I can, I will be going back someday. For me, it truly was a trip of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I have been on ocean and river cruises before (Viking on the Danube just this summer; Seadream on the Amazon a couple of years ago) but this was probably the best cruise I've ever been on. The Tosca itself is a 2011 50-passenger, ... Read More
I have been on ocean and river cruises before (Viking on the Danube just this summer; Seadream on the Amazon a couple of years ago) but this was probably the best cruise I've ever been on. The Tosca itself is a 2011 50-passenger, three-deck boat. The tours themselves were given by an Egyptian company. The boat was plush compared to the very spartan Viking boat we cruised the Danube with; unlike the much larger Viking boat, the Tosca had a pool (albeit unheated), lots of covered enclosure/beds on the top deck and a workout fitness room. Meals were absolutely great (breakfast and lunch were both buffet style) and the service was impecable. The tour started in Cairo for a day visiting the Citadel, Mohammed Ali mosque and the Egyptian Museum. The next day, we flew to Luxor, visited the Karnak temple complex and then embarked. The next day we visited the Valley of the Kings tombs, then in the afternoon we started the cruise, going up and down the Nile, visiting various temples and various sites (the Nubian village near Aswan, the Aswan dam, tea a the historic Cataract hotel, etc). A flight to Abu Simbel was an option, which everyone took and it was worth the additional $ 290 per person cost. Very professional, classy and friendly all the way around. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was truly an incredible journey and it turned out to be everything the write-ups said it would be and more. Viking's Egyptian personnel were wonderful, they were on duty 24/7 and made it seem as if they were having the time of ... Read More
This was truly an incredible journey and it turned out to be everything the write-ups said it would be and more. Viking's Egyptian personnel were wonderful, they were on duty 24/7 and made it seem as if they were having the time of their lives just being there for you. Amr Shaheen, the Viking Egyptologist and tour leader was possibly the most knowledgeable, outgoing and personable guides we have ever had the pleasure to travel with. By the end of the second day of the trip, which began at the Sofitel El Ghizarah in Cairo, he established a bond with our group that stayed solid throughout the trip. Friends told us not to go because of the unrest in the Middle East, however due to Viking's security personnel, and Egypt's heightened military presence, we felt safe during the entire journey. We traveled on non-Viking ships, the Mayfair and the Omar Khayham, both ships have recently been refurbished and were clean and comfortable. There are no words to explain the many once in a lifetime moments we experienced, hot air ballooning over the Valley of the Kings, riding a camel into the desert, touring the archeological museum, a trip through the streets of the bazaar in Cairo, staring into the face of the Sphinx, wandering through the temples, learning about cartouches, and on and on until the brain reeled. This is a trip not to be missed. There was one thing that drove me crazy and that was the lack of local cuisine and a fine dining option. The meals were all buffet and although the quality of the food was good, it was pseudo-European/American style, three starches, meats drowned in gravy and heavy on desserts. The cost of the cruise shouldn't have had us dining cafeteria style, with no other options. Middle Eastern grilled meats, appetizers and, soups are excellent and much more suited to the climate than well cooked pot roast in gravy with mashed potatoes. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015

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