My husband and I booked our trip in April of 2021 directly with Uniworld and took advantage of a sale Uniworld was having on the River Tosca ship for the 11-Night Splendors of Egypt & the Nile River cruise starting September 25th. This cruise, in fact, would be the first sailing in 18 months for Uniworld in Egypt since the pandemic had started. We kept our fingers crossed up until the start of the trip, wondering if, in fact, it would take place. We purposely bought travel insurance that covered COVID-related events. Uniworld required all of its passengers to be vaccinated for COVID. After reading multiple reviews we chose to add two additional nights to our trip on the front end. We made those arrangements on our own and stayed 2 nights at the Marriott Mena House in Giza. We also booked a private tour of the Pyramids for the next day. We highly recommend doing this because it gives you an opportunity to adjust to the time change and lets you enjoy the Pyramids in a very relaxing way. We also made our own airline travel arrangements.
The day we flew to Egypt we received an email from Uniworld saying that we had been switched to the brand new boat the SS Sphinx. Uniworld decided to move the River Tosca passengers to the SS Sphinx because of the lower than the usual number of passengers traveling due to COVID. We originally had a Grand Suite on the River Tosca (302) and were assigned a comparable cabin on the SS Sphinx (308). When we first booked our river cruise we were under the impression that we would be staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo. However, when we received our travel documents one month before the trip we noticed we were in fact staying at the Nile Ritz Carlton. Both hotels are equally beautiful and offer great service. Some of the other passengers did stay at the Four Seasons. We had also read ahead of time that Uniworld operates in Egypt through a partnership with Spring Tours. What this means is that some aspects of the cruise are different from the Uniworld European river cruises. One of the main differences is that alcohol is only included at lunch and dinner. Alcohol is available for purchase at any other time. We had read in reviews that you can buy alcohol at the airport duty-free shops during your connection layover on your way to Cairo. Keep in mind that once in Cairo, you will need to fly again to Luxor to board the ship. The alcohol will need to be appropriately packed in the suitcase and checked at the airport.
If you arrive or depart on a different date than the published river cruise dates you are responsible for your own transfer arrangements. Since we had arrived 2 days earlier we booked a private transfer from Cairo airport to Giza. We researched online Tripadvisor reviews to make our selection of car service companies. That transfer cost approximately US$45 plus tips. On Saturday, September 25th we took a US$4.00 UBER plus tip from the Marriott Mena House in Giza to the Nile Ritz Carlton in Cairo. Yes, there is UBER in Cairo and it works well. Do not expect the drivers to speak a lot of English. But the UBER app has a translation feature that translates between English and Arabic. Upon check-in, at the Nile Ritz Carlton, the hotel gave us the envelope with all of the Uniworld river cruise details. We also inquired about COVID tests for the return trip. We found out it was slightly less expensive to book the COVID test through the hotel than through Uniworld. Lunch on Saturday was on our own. We had Afternoon Tea at the Nile Ritz Carlton (only served on Saturdays) which was lovely. Dinner that first night was also on our own. We chose Zitouni the Egyptian restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel which was good. We walked 13 minutes to the restaurant. Word of Caution: You have to be very careful crossing streets in Cairo because of traffic. If you can try to follow a local when crossing the street.
The cabin was very spacious and beautifully decorated. The cabin had two sets of french balconies. The twin beds were brought together to form a King-sized bed. The beds were very comfortable and had beautiful linens. There were two large nightstands on each side of the bed. We had a lovely separate sitting area with a couch, two chairs, 2 end tables, and a coffee table. There was also a dresser with a mirror. The bathroom was very large with a tub, separate shower, and double sinks. I appreciated the magnifying makeup mirror and the hairdryer. The toiletries were lovely. The cabin had two large closets with a safe and plenty of hangers. The room had a minifridge stocked with soft drinks and beer. There was a boiling kettle with coffee and tea options. There was also a large flat-screen TV. I followed advice from previous reviews to reserve an even-numbered cabin on a higher level, closer to the front of the ship. Our Grand Suite cabin was 308.