We recently returned from our Nile River cruise on the Viking Ra, October 1.
It was an amazing, eye-opening experience! We traveled with dear friends, booked the cruise almost 2 years ago while on another cruise. Our husbands were thrilled, almost giddy with excitement at the thought of seeing the pyramids. The wives were a bit apprehensive and remained so until we arrived in Egypt. Yes, we did have armed security on the bus with us. In several locations we had police escorts in front and/or behind the bus. But really, at no time did we feel unsafe. Not even when some news outlets were exaggeratedly or falsely reporting "chaos" in Cairo the first few days we were there. We were in the location cited... No chaos! We were, however, unprepared for how extremely poor, beyond anything we had ever seen before!, Cairo and Egypt in general is. There is an enormous, enormous difference between what you see driving around and what you experience. Also, maybe because of the sand storms? it just seems so much...dirtier? I understand, I mean, how do you clean up after a sand storm? Especially since there will be another one right around the corner. But they also tend not to finish buildings, which lends an almost post-apocalyptic feel to the landscape.
The Cairo hotels, the Nile Ritz Carlton pre-cruise and the Intercontinental City Star post-cruise were wonderful. Although the buffet was more extensive at the Intercontinental, I thought the food was better at the Ritz. Both rooms were beautifully appointed and very comfortable. Both had tight security.
See above for greater detail. I found this hard to rate because the cabin and bathroom LOOKED very nice, but the problem with fuel smell while sailing was a serious concern.
One interesting thing we did learn on board is that the Ra is actually at least 30 years old and was refurbished to Viking standards. When we booked our cruise we were told it was a new ship being built. Perhaps only the passenger areas were rerurbished and an outdated ventilation system explains the infiltration of a fuel odor? Traveling with 2 engineers, there was talk of carbon monoxide infiltrating the cabin and questions about whether there were carbon monoxide detectors available, questions which were not understood or answered.