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18 Uniworld Luxor Cruise Reviews

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
Being out 40th anniversary we chose to splurge and get the Royal Suite (202). While it was definitely bigger, and had more impressive views, it was a big disappointment (and not worth the expensive upgrade). The shower leaked horrendously. ... Read More
Being out 40th anniversary we chose to splurge and get the Royal Suite (202). While it was definitely bigger, and had more impressive views, it was a big disappointment (and not worth the expensive upgrade). The shower leaked horrendously. The soft furnishings were warn and in need of replacing (drapes, furniture, carpets), the marble floor was outdated and generaly there was a poor fit and finish throughout. There was nothing luxurious about it (except your view of the Nile from your comfy bed). The sitting are was the worst - it is in desperate need of updating. You often have to keep the front window blinds closed as that’s the forward crew deck. While it was nice to have a mini fridge, it was plunked in the corner or the room. Again although they supplied extra things like the stocked bar fridge, coffee, tea, small decanters of three hard liquors, they were all presented very cheaply (instead of being on lovely trays or in nice baskets). Bath shampoos etc were locally sourced, which is great, but they smelled awful. Cheap little sewing and shoeshine kits. They could use some help from The Four Seasons in how to outfit a room. Tiling in the bathroom needed regrouting. Towels not that luxurious. But the main issue was with the leaking shower stall (I had a flood the first day). Apparently the other suite -201- has the same issue. I suggested they put a bracket for the hand shower on the wall in the bathtub and use that instead. The room doesn’t have drawer space in the bedroom (another disappointment) so you use the hall closet shelves (cheap, painted white doors with old mismatched hangers), (As there is already a desk in the lounge area they should switch out the one in the bedroom for a chest of drawers. There was plenty of space to store luggage under the bed. The room also adjoins if you had children accompanying you). There is a safe and a blow dryer. Electrical plugs are two-pin 220V. Bottled water is always available (and highly recommended to drink - because of the chemicals they place in theirs). It was nice having butler service which included free laundry, fresh fruit, cookies and chocolates in your room. You also get un upgraded wifi booster. Every evening at 6pm the butler comes and makes you a signature cocktail. Ours - Abe - was very attentive. They do clean your room very well. Although tips are included you do feel obligated to tip your butler for his exceptional service. Also, choose your cabin on the starboard side of the ship as we were frequently rafted on the port side against cement walls or other ships. In general, the whole boat itself needs renovating. Although listed as being “inaugurated in 2009” it looks like it was built in the 1990s). The dark traditional furnishings (with their incredibly uncomfortable deep seat sofas and chairs that require you to fight for pillows to place behind your back) need replacing. The upper deck is nice. We cruised in January so it was cold. It would have been nice if the pool was heated during these off seasons. Although we used the proved towels to keep warm, lap blankets would be nice for chilly afternoons and evenings. There is a cute gift shop that sells some quality stuff. They also sell the native Egyptian dresses & outfits for men for their Egyptian night party (I highly recommend joining in). The crew really made up for what the boat lacked. All incredibly friendly and attentive (I swear they must all review our passport pictures as part of their training as they knew our names!). Again, although tipping is included you do end tipping some individually. Some complaints I heard from other passengers who had cruised other Uniworld itineraries was that they were upset that the wine and beer was only complimentary at meals (and not in the lounge and in deck). And that it did not include cocktails. Some were also saying the wines served were not as good. I also found the food be be just average. In particukar, thei English tea was a joke (tea bags dipped in your cup of hot water; no scones with jam and whipped cream).. Seating for meals is open. There were no table cloths on the tables at breakfast and lunch (which are nice buffets). Evening ambience not great. But again, the servers and waiters were incredible. The absolute best part (which increased my overall score from a 3 to a 4) was the itinerary. It will blow your mind. You are totally immersed in the Egyptian history and culture. Our tour guide (Egyptologist) was an oarcheologist. His name was Assem Omar. He had such interesting facts you couldn’t easily find yourself. His descriptions at the temples and museums made the artifacts come to life. Now, some practical things: Dress in warm layers. January was cold and windy..Sunglasses (although not often used for sun are great during sand storms). Bring an umbrella (if planning on visiting Alexandria as a pre/post excursion). Thermal underwear, thick socks, gloves and scarves were useful. In fact, if you are trying to pack light, for women a good trick is a long sleeve thermal T-shirt under your coat accessorised with different scarves each day. You tend to wear the same things off the boat so the scarf switches it up a bit. (As an aside, we never had to cover our heads in mosques). . On board the ship in the evenings the look is business casual (resort casual I imagine in the summer season). No one dresses up. Closed-toe, sturdy walking shoes are mandatory as there is A LOT of walking on uneven, dirty (and sometimes wet) streets and sandy temples (I ended up throwing mine away at the end). Now . . . Public toilets! You must be prepared with sani-wipes to wipe down toilet seats, packages of Kleenex (as toilet paper is rarely provided, and if it is, a man or woman with grubby hands is dispensing it out to you at the door). There is usually a sink to wash up but rarely soap or paper towels to dry your hands. Hence, more sani-wipes required! And finally, the person “helping” you needs to be tipped (5-10 Egyptian pounds, or failing that $1 USD.) Take a nap sack on the tours but leave it on the coach (it’s very safe). Then have a smaller side bag/purse to just put what you need for that couple hours of touring ($1 USD and/or Egyptian pounds, Kleenex, Sami-wipes, iPhone, credit card, sunglasses). Be aware of pickpockets! Always have your hand on your bag, especially in crowds. No need to bring bottled water off the boat as it’s always available on the coaches. Note: some temples and museums do not allow photography unless you purchase a camera ticket (and they do check to make sure you have one) That takes us to currency. It is handy to have some SMALL denominations of Egyptian pounds (They can be obtained from the ATM machines at the Four Seasons Hotel). They do also take USD in tourist market places. However make sure your US currency is in NEW small denominations. Apparently the Egyptian banks will not accept bills that are old, torn or written on, so the vendors can’t trade them in. One previous post suggested taking lots of $1 US bills. In addition to some larger bills, I took 50 $1 bills and that was barely enough. Credit cards are accepted in higher end shops. Speaking of shopping, personally I did not find much to my liking, except the Egyptian cotton sheets. Ask your tour guide about them (you order in advance and you pick them up when you visit the papyrus making factory. One word of caution about the street vendors and “guides” at the tourist attractions . . They get progressively more aggressive. The vendors obviously want to get you into their shops. If you are not interested, don’t make eye contact and just keep walking and saying “No thank you”. My husband made the mistake of commenting on how nice an object was that was thrust in our faces. Bad move! That vendor followed us out of the market trying to get us to buy it. At that point, unfortunately, you have to be more forceful. They sometimes force a “free gift” into your hand or tuck it under your arm (and I mean forcefully!). Just take it and drop it on the ground, as it’s obviiysky not going to be free. Be careful too as a lot of their wares are made in China. If you are seriously interested in something, enlist the help of your Egyptologist who can verify authenticity and help you negotiate prices. It’s really a shame they are like that. We did take us to one market where the vendors prided themselves in not bothering you and I know they got more sales from our group. The locals that hang out in some of the temples and exhibits try to be nice and help you select the best location for photos or offer to take photos with your phone. But beware! They will ask for money (sometimes holding your phone ransom until you pay). Even our armed security guard (paid already to protect us) kept hinting for a tip after taking a few pictures of us). The worst was at the pyramids. They are continually in your face, almost ruining your experience. In hindsite I should have been more forceful and told them point blank we wanted to be left alone and that if we needed their help we would come look for them. (I’m not sure even that would work but it’s worth a try). Regarding security, we felt very safe. We usually had a plainclothes, armed police officer ride with us. We took approved, secured routes (manned with police checkpoints and bomb sniffing dogs). You go through X-ray machines at each site (including the Four Seasons). Tours: All excellent (with the exception on the Karnak and Pyramid light shows). I recommend all the other optional tours. We were interested in going hot air ballooning over the Valley of the Kings and although it wasn’t a Uniworld excursion they kindly made arrangements for about twenty of us to go. Unfortunately, it was cancelled twice due to high winds. I would recommend it though as I was VERY impressed with the qualifications of their pilots. (They are commercial pilots. They can’t carry passengers by themselves until they have 1000 solo hours). Although the pace of the tour was busy, I personally didn’t find it too onerous. Most mornings were 7:30 pick ups. Often we returned to the boat for lunch and a rest then went out again. In all an incredibly well planned, stress free vacation. All transfers were impeccably organized. No “hitches” along the way. The Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo was lovely (We did expect an upgraded room however but didn’t get one). Also, the hotel does not have a proper gift shop to pick up any forgotten personal items. I hope you find this review helpful. O Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
On all our travels around the world we.had never been to this area of the world and it appeared to be safer now than in the past.This seemed a good way, and place to start. We never felt unsafe even though we clearly had armed security ... Read More
On all our travels around the world we.had never been to this area of the world and it appeared to be safer now than in the past.This seemed a good way, and place to start. We never felt unsafe even though we clearly had armed security with us on all "out trips". Uniworld did a great job with Airport Pick-up, Hotel Choice (Four Seasons) for the pre cruise time and all transportation needs. Our guides,Mohamed (ours group) and Osoma made all the difference in taking this trip from just ordinary to amazing. Their knowlege of the History,Sites, ad how to do this trip were outatanding to say the least. Their organization skills were great. The tousr are not that strenuous, but by the evenings we were "done". Some tours required very early departures after our great breakfast. This kept us out out of the sun and heat, also away from the crowds. Although the ship is not new, it is extremely well kept.clean,and attractive. The rooms are large and are nicely decorated. Odd # rooms always have a river view when docked as opposed to seeing the land side or a rafted other ship. (all ships dock to the North no matter which way they travel) Their are no elevators so the 3rd floor is a hike,but good for the waistline. Food is good,plentiful, although sometimes although unusually spiced. Breads are fabulous. The onboard atmousphere is casual with very little evening activity due to early excursions. The staff was very helpful and pleasant. The only improvement would be better communication skill by the dining room staff. Other staff is a little more conversant. The Abu semel extra excursion was worth the time and effort as was the ballon ride. The extra light show in Luxor wasn't great..(there is a light show included on the itinerary). We do reccomend this trip particularly if you are lucky enough to have our guides. Read Less
Sail Date November 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
We had been interested in visiting Egypt for some time, but were reluctant because of unrest, terrorism, negative publicity, etc. Things seem to be getting better, so we booked with Uniworld because they have a good reputation and we liked ... Read More
We had been interested in visiting Egypt for some time, but were reluctant because of unrest, terrorism, negative publicity, etc. Things seem to be getting better, so we booked with Uniworld because they have a good reputation and we liked the itinerary. Well, if anybody is wanting to go to Egypt, but concerned about safety, I'm here to tell you that there's no reason to worry and not go. I felt 99.9% safe at all times and actually didn't think about it much. Things can happen anywhere at anytime, including in your home town so there will always be some risk, but I felt as safe in Egypt as I have in Paris or anyplace else. You will see signs of heightened security at airports, in towns, etc., but that's a good thing. In fact, at times (and maybe all the time) our tours had plain clothed security guys with us. The Egyptians are very committed to protecting tourists. People are patted down at least twice in the airports. They are much more thorough than the TSA. Splendors of the Nile was a fun and educational experience. We saw many amazing sites and Cairo itself was unique and undescribable. What really made the trip was our extraordinary guide and Egyptologist, Hani. He was a walking encyclopedia of Egyptian history and facts and very kind and considerate of all of us. He also spoke excellent Englsh. He gave a couple of very interesting "lectures" or Q&A sessions. The other bus had Ramadan and I understand that he was very good too. The 4 Seasons Hotel in Cairo was an oasis in the city and extremely nice (they do allow smoking in the lobby and in the restaurants, but it was never overwhelming and they had non-smoking areas in the restaurants; Be sure to ask for a non-smoking room). The hotel has several restaurants and we liked the Italian one, the Chinese one and the Pool Grill. The Riverboat TOSCA was old, but very nice and comfortable. The crew and service was impeccable. I am not a foodie. I found the food to be OK to Good, but not exceptional. Others thought it to be very good. Of course one does not go to Egypt for the food. I always found something that I liked and never left the dining room hungry. This was a busy trip with some early mornings to start tours. We did the optional tour to Abu Simbel which involved a short flight over Lake Nasser. Some of us did the optional Balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings. The trip to Abu Simbel was definitely worth it. If you've never been in a Hot Air Balloon, it's a fun 45 minute trip for a decent price. If you have taken balloon rides before, I would suggest sleeping in a little longer. If you're the least bit interested in visiting Egypt, I would say HESITATE NO LONGER. Of course don't go in their summer which is fast approaching. I recommend booking at least one if not two extra days in Cairo. There's a goot bit in Cairo that's not included with the Uniworld tour (Coptic Cairo, Various Mosques, Moez Street and the Khan al Khalili Bazaar, additional time at the Egyptian Museum, etc.). Plan a trip with Uniworld and ask for Hani. (not that you will necessarily get him, but it doesn't hurt to ask). Read Less
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
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
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
I took the same trip that has been discussed at length in accompanying reviews of the Uniworld Nile October 12-28 cruise, only in my case it was the December 5-16 trip (7 nights on board Tosca). I considered the trip a wonderful marvel in ... Read More
I took the same trip that has been discussed at length in accompanying reviews of the Uniworld Nile October 12-28 cruise, only in my case it was the December 5-16 trip (7 nights on board Tosca). I considered the trip a wonderful marvel in nearly every way, and that it exceeded my expectations at almost every turn. There was only one significant (but not major) disappointment and many unexpected bonuses. A splendid fellow met me at Cairo airport (I arrived by myself, meeting my cousin later that night at our Four Seasons Nile hotel after she arrived on a separate flight), whisked me through the visa station in nothing flat, then through baggage claim and passport control and onto my waiting van. I could not have asked for better help at that crucial first step into the country, which would really have intimidated me if I'd had to do it by myself. And I had a similar degree of assistance getting to the right place at the right time for my return flight 12 days later. I found the River Tosca to be elegant and charming, with amazingly excellent food. Our group was tied for the largest of the season with the one before us, with 20 guests and an additional complement of 4 Norwegians who were traveling with their own guide and transportation, and with whom we had no interaction whatever. We were 6 Canadians, 2 Australians, and 12 Americans. Our guide was named Mohamed and he was absolutely superb: knowledgeable in the extreme, friendly, helpful, warm, genuine, and with a pleasant dry wit. And very easy to understand. Basically just about perfect! And with the Tosca's 40 cabins and a maximum occupancy of 82, we had plenty of room to spread out in. I considered our cabin, 208, to be luxurious even though it was not one of the more expensive ones. There was a lot of space, the beds were comfortable, the appointments were all understated elegance as far as I was concerned, and the bathroom was enormous, with separate shower and bathtub. Nothing not to like! Staff made it clear from the outset that if there was something we wanted that wasn't available, they would make it available. In addition to wonderful lunches with many options to choose from each day, a smaller light lunch was served on the top (outside) deck many days which was a pure delight. Live entertainment was provided in the sumptuous main lounge on several evenings, including folk dancers featuring an astonishing whirling dervish with lighted skirts that seemed at times about to take off into outer space like a spinning UFO. Other nights documentary films relating to our journey were screened. We visited all the major highlights of Ancient Egypt as far as I was concerned (again, refer to full itinerary link, above, if interested). Everything was beautifully organized and because there are so few tourists there now, we never had to deal with long lines or dense crowds! There were a few busloads here and there of foreign tourists but mostly we just saw lots of schoolchildren at the historic sites, mainly primary schoolers, and even a troop of Egyptian Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts at the temple of Hatshepsut. They waved and shouted "Hello! Hello!" to us and giggled with delight when we waved and replied "Hello!" back. A couple of things did not go as scheduled: Because the river level was so low, we did not sail from Luxor to Dendera per our planned itinerary. The boat, we were told, could not dock there because of this. So instead we went by bus, a 90 minute drive in each direction. This was an unavoidable disappointment, but we saw an awful lot of the countryside during that ride and it was fascinating to ride through many towns and villages (all with armed checkpoints at both sides, of course) and the countryside with its farms and open spaces. I considered it almost an even tradeoff, although along with everyone else I felt it made it seem like we just didn't do that much actual cruising on the river. Also, we did not go to Edfu as had been scheduled. Because some people on previous sailings had complained long and loud about the poor condition of the horses used to pull the carts up to the temple and back, now nobody can go. The politics of the local situation are such that if the travel company hired a car or van or bus to bypass the horse cart drivers, it would be like crossing a picket line during a strike and things would get ugly; this was the explanation given. Regardless of what you think about all that, it is presently the case; so the October sailing was the last one of the season to actually get to Edfu. Instead they shunted us off to the nearby town of Esna and its temple. Now many have opined that the Edfu temple isn't all that big a deal, and I can easily imagine that to be the case. However, it is considered a highlight of ancient Egypt due to the state of its preservation, if nothing else, and nobody tries to say the Esna temple is in the same class. I regarded it not so much as an alternative to Edfu but rather as a consolation prize, and I said so to Mohamed. Perhaps, not having seen Edfu to make a comparison, this was unfair; but they had to take us somewhere, and Esna was nearby. Its temple has some unusual columns and nicely preserved colors inside, but its main distinguishing feature in my memory was the tremendous number of pigeons roosting on its exterior and the metal nets they've wrapped around the building to keep them from fouling the interior as well. We also got to spend time walking around through the town, which was interesting if not particularly pleasant. A quick stop at the Coptic Christian church in Esna was really the highlight of that visit for me. Some in our group really enjoyed the town, making the point that it was a more authentic experience of how ordinary Egyptians really live than our brief visit to the Nubian village home of someone whose residence was a tourist showcase. Fair enough, but we saw a good deal of the rest of that Nubian village, too; which was perfectly authentic and perhaps more charming if only because of its rustic nature. A half dozen or so of our group climbed up on the roof of the little river launch which had taken us there that afternoon to revel in the cool evening breeze and glorious Nile sunset on our peaceful return to central Aswan where the Tosca was docked, making it one of the standout experiences of the journey not connected with the iconic antiquities that were the trip's main focus. In conclusion the trip in its entirety was a fantastically wonderful experience, unavoidably tinged by sorrow over the state of the Egyptian tourist industry in particular, and tension over the security of the whole country generally. But in hard-nosed practical terms, this is the time to go and get a great value, without all the crowds of happier times past, and each and every tourist who actually shows up is treated almost as a visiting dignitary. 5 stars for Uniworld, our splendid guide Mohamed, the River Tosca, and all who sailed within her. A weather-related postscript: Some of the October sailing people mentioned uncomfortably high temperatures at some locations. In early December our nights were almost uniformly in the low to mid 60s, days in the 70s. We had bright sun and clear blue skies the whole time except for the briefest of showers one evening at Aswan and a heavy thick fog our last morning in Cairo following 2 days of heavy rain before we got there, which was highly unusual for this time of year. Temperatures were somewhat warmer as we moved south, but in fact I only wore my shorts one day of the entire trip. A mobility-related postscript: There is no elevator on the River Tosca, and the places we went would never be certified ADA compliant. Nevertheless there were a few members in our group using canes and/or walking sticks, who had recently received knee replacements or in one case suffered from acute arthritis, who muddled through successfully at every site we visited. You have to know your limits, but you don't have to be an athlete to get the most out of this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We booked this trip realizing that many people were staying away, but believing based on what we had read, that Egypt is safe. And it was. The people are lovely, the level of security is high. So if you've always wanted to see ... Read More
We booked this trip realizing that many people were staying away, but believing based on what we had read, that Egypt is safe. And it was. The people are lovely, the level of security is high. So if you've always wanted to see Karnak, the Valley of the Kings and the Pyramids, go now while tourism is dead. We went in late October, but I wish we'd gone a bit later--it was quite hot in the south. So do think about climate, and weigh that against the possibility of tourist crowds. In 2016 the crowding issue should not be a problem. Airport pickups and drop-offs were all done very nicely--this was especially appreciated when we arrived in Cairo, since we were not part of a group. Our agent was waiting for us before we even went through security. We got our visas with no problem and he shepherded us through immigration and got us into a minibus for the long ride to Cairo. All other flights during the tour were accompanied by our tour guide. As well as our 7 nights on Tosca, we had two and two nights at the Cairo Four Seasons. A superb hotel, overlooking the Nile. Wonderful experience. We also had tours there, including the Cairo Museum, the Alabaster Mosque, the Pyramids (twice, once at night) and Saqqara. We had our tour guide/egyptologist with us for the whole trip, including flying with us down to Luxor and back. So on to Luxor to board Tosca. Lovely ship. All but two of the cabins are the same size, and they are really big. We'd never done a river cruise, but this cabin was big by ocean standards--over 300 square feet. The other two cabins are double that size, Royal suites. Nicely laid-out, good amenities, bedding. Could have used some more closet space, but really, they were great. A french balcony, which is not very useful since we were frequently rafted with other boats, it was hot, and there were some flies around usually. Still nice to have the floor to ceiling windows when we were sailing. Sometimes when were sailing we would just lie in bed and watch the Nile go by. No elevators on these small vessels. Ours had a capacity of 80, although we were a small group. Sundeck with a really nice pool and lots of shaded areas. I thought the food was great, quite varied and often with a Middle Eastern style. The staff were wonderful and attentive, and very friendly. The ship felt very intimate. There was a masseur and fitness director onboard who was very nice also. All the staff were involved in our entertainment nights, great fun was had by all. I won't go into the myriad excursions of this trip, since I've described them elsewhere, but they were done very nicely. We were taken out early whenever possible to avoid the heat, then came back to the boat for a rest and lunch, then did another excursion in the afternoon or evening. This made for a very nice pacing. The boat stays in Luxor for a couple of days, then wends its way up the Nile towards Aswan, then goes back down to Luxor. We had only two long bus rides, the first day up to Dendara and from Aswan up to the high dam. But seeing Egypt from a bus was fine, we saw a lot on those trips. Otherwise were bussed short distances to the temples and/or tombs. We also had several small boat excursions, which were great, they got us out onto the river to see things from a different perspective. The Nile is a beautiful river, and the desert very present, very close. There was also an optional excursion to Abu Simbel, by air, which we took. As far as we're concerned, this was a highlight of the trip, and a must-see. This place is just amazing, although it was the hottest place of the trip, over 40C that day. I took a small umbrella which came in handy in the heat. There's a fair amount of climbing stairs, and up and down various hills, paths, etc. Take a good pair of walking shoes. And a good hat. Disembarkation was painless since our flight back to Cairo was around noon. Settled back into the Four Seasons for the finale of the trip, our two visits to the Pyramids, the first at night for the Sound and Light show. Hokey, but fun. Our tour guide was great, so knowledgeable, friendly, funny, accommodating. We could not have asked for better. Had a great time and we are so glad we went. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
First, I'd congratulate Uniworld for the excellent service on this ship. Tourism in Egypt is down some 95%, and the River Tosca had not sailed in four years until this cruise. There were 20 in our group, on a ship designed for 85. ... Read More
First, I'd congratulate Uniworld for the excellent service on this ship. Tourism in Egypt is down some 95%, and the River Tosca had not sailed in four years until this cruise. There were 20 in our group, on a ship designed for 85. Needless to say, the crew to passenger ratio was pretty high! There are supposedly over 400 river boats on the Nile, and less than 20 were operating at the time of this cruise. Hundreds upon hundred of riverboats are in dry dock along the Nile, representing billions in investment. The Egyptians couldn't have been nicer and more appreciative that we were there. As a baseline for this review, this was our 3rd river cruise (Rhine/Moselle with Scenic, and the Yangtze with Uniworld), and our 16th cruise overall, with about 150 nights shipboard. This review is of the River Tosca ship alone, and not of the overall Uniworld tour. The ship was beautiful and clean. The cabins are exceptionally large. Service was excellent, and the food was very good and always well presented. The menu is more limited than on a large cruise ship, but there were always good choices. Dinners were very good. Lunches are buffets, and also very good. Breakfasts were also buffets, and were, well, breakfast buffets. They do not serve pork in Egypt, so bacon or sausage is made from beef or chicken, and that leaves something to be desired. Service on the ship was outstanding. See above for crew/passenger ratio. The staff was always open and friendly, and always willing to help. As noted above, the cabins were quite large. They have French balconies, not full balconies, which is a drawback. There is a full bath and separate shower, and the shower is small. I would have much preferred a larger shower, or tub/shower combo. Neither my wife or I ever used the bathtub. The ships entertainment shows were decent, but not spectacular. NOTES: 1. There is no elevator. Disabled persons may find this ship difficult. Look at the deck plans when choosing a cabin. We had 216, and it was perfect. 2. The ships are tendered one to another along the river bank. We were the 7th and most outside ship, meaning we had to walk through 6 other ships to get to our ship. We had a beautiful Nile river view from our cabin when in dock, which was on the starboard side. Cabins on the port side viewed directly into another ships cabin, some 5 feet away. Until things change in Egypt, GET A STARBOARD (EVEN NUMBERED) CABIN! 3. Ship has a "fitness" center, which we didn't utilize. I never saw anyone in there, but maybe someone did go there. If you go on this tour, you will have so much walking and climbing that looking for additional exercise seems like punishment. Pool is small but nice. This is the time to see Egypt, with tourism at an all time low. The major sites were relatively empty, considering their capacity. When we were in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, I had about 15 minutes as the only person viewing King Tut's fabulous mask! That's like walking into The Louvre, and finding the Mona Lisa with no other viewers! I continually marveled on how well the ship was run, considering that we were the "guinea pigs" on the first cruise after 4 years of inactivity. Everything worked properly, ran smoothly, food was great, and the staff did an excellent job. Overall, I'd rate the River Tosca with 5 stars! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
One has to feel sorry for the tourist industry in Egypt, continuing fighting and bombing, has turned tourists away. Bad news never turns us away, we flew down to Luxor and after visiting temples, we boarded the MS Tosca, a Uniworld ship. ... Read More
One has to feel sorry for the tourist industry in Egypt, continuing fighting and bombing, has turned tourists away. Bad news never turns us away, we flew down to Luxor and after visiting temples, we boarded the MS Tosca, a Uniworld ship. We were immediately offered antiseptic, hand washing, towels and a cool drink. The lobby was simple but elegant. We were offered a choice of deck two, better for my legs or deck three with twin beds, one with an extension. The room is quietly decorated and serene. Large windows with bars to make it balcony type. The bathroom has separate shower, which takes some thought how to turn it on, open doors and stand under without getting floor wet! Good storage and cases fit under bed, lighting also took a while for some to work out that if you press long enough they diminish to off. Laundry service out in morning back at night. Breakfast was usual fare, with options for eggs and fresh bread and pastries. Fresh fruit, yoghurt cereals. We were on for five days and lunch and dinner menus kept changing. Egyptian fare to try, very tasty. We had beef one day, but was done the American way, chewy and difficult to cut, management made sure food was not same. The service on Tosca was incomparable, the staff were humorous and plate empty it was gone! They brought food to table from buffet for you and so helpful and caring to more mature people. Abdo the magician entertained us at table, had us all wondering how to move an egg from bottle. The spa centre masseuse was the best I had for a long time! Mohammed of course, he was strong, but felt where your problem was going through every area expertly and I had lots! Told the others and soon he was booked out, all extremely happy, but I had three and shoulders and back muscles all fixed. The ship organises all the tours for you and going into the major sites, we had a guide so didn't need it. Will report on each one on attractions area of TA. Top deck area has small pool and lots of comfy lounges and some out in sun, rest under cover and tables and chairs, most just sat reading books or sleeping after early touring. Staff always attentive. Night time we had an Egyptian night with dancing and Nubian entertainment. We did have one area of huge challenge, 6'8" tall and ceilings lower. Bathroom door less, 16 head bangs is not good! Bent neck is not a good look either. Still, we had fun about it. Other ships we went through at port, were lower still! Egyptians are smaller race! So taller people be aware! I have no hesitation in recommending this ship with its fantastic crew. If you want luxury, style with quiet elegance, this ship is for you   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
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