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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
Positive: The crew is outstanding: skilled, caring and very good at their jobs. The guide for the "Splendors of Egypt and the Nile" cruise, Mohammed Atilla Abdullah was knowledgeable and personable and gave us a great sense ... Read More
Positive: The crew is outstanding: skilled, caring and very good at their jobs. The guide for the "Splendors of Egypt and the Nile" cruise, Mohammed Atilla Abdullah was knowledgeable and personable and gave us a great sense of the country and its history. He spent a great deal more time on the meaning of the hieroglyphic symbols and not as much on the architecture and function of the temple buildings as we would have liked, but he was very knowledgeable. The size of the cabin was great. However, the shower could have been larger and safer; we would have happily given up the tub to have had a larger shower. The itinerary included most of the important places one would hope to see on such a trip. The Four Seasons was a lovely hotel to stay in while in Cairo. Thank you for allowing the cruise to take place even with the diminished number of passengers. These are challenges that need to be addressed: Docking places for the ship. There were often 40-50 steps that were extremely uneven, without any lighting at all and without railings. In Luxor the danger was compounded by our having to navigate between multiple ships of different heights in total darkness – which happened. There were originally no staff to assist and no plank to make this a slightly less dangerous situation; that improved slightly toward the end of the cruise when one or two people were at the stairs, but it was still dangerous. There was no elevator on the ship – something of which we were not aware until well after we had booked. There were many stairs to be navigated between our cabin on the 3d floor and the dining room in the basement of the ship – and this meant that we often just dragged our belongings with us rather than go back to the room to get them before leaving for the day. One of us is recovering from a broken ankle and frankly, we would not have done this trip if we had realized there was no elevator. Schedule: extremely early mornings, often for no apparent reason. The worst situation was on the last day when we were called at 3:30 in the morning to fly on an early-morning flight to Cairo, only to sit for hours in a smoke-filled lounge at the Hotel while awaiting word that our rooms were finally ready. There was nothing scheduled until the Sound and Light Show that night and it was a total waste of one full day of our time. It would be appropriate for Uniworld to refund of one day of the cost of the cruise to the passengers. Food: the food was just not very good. The soups had their moments and so did the desserts (particularly the apple sorbet, that people ate when they were not feeling well) – but breakfast, the main courses, even the salads, lacked taste and were not appealingly presented. At least not by the standards Uniworld claims. It was a special cruise for us to take and, given the small number of passengers booked on it, we were happy it was not cancelled Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
I so enjoyed my January 19 trip through Cairo and the Nile. It beat my high expectations in endless ways. I am a well traveled person so it was exciting to travel to a country that felt so foreign but still provided all of the luxuries of ... Read More
I so enjoyed my January 19 trip through Cairo and the Nile. It beat my high expectations in endless ways. I am a well traveled person so it was exciting to travel to a country that felt so foreign but still provided all of the luxuries of 5 star travel. I also want to say up front that Uniworld, the Four Seasons hotel and Egypt seemed to go to great extremes to keep this traveling american safe. I felt completely comfortable the whole trip. We received warm hospitality and excellent service beginning to end. In addition a good 100 random Egyptians during my 12 day seemed compelled to come up, say “welcome, we are so glad you are visiting Egypt. Please come back.” Our guide Essam was with us the entire trip. I learned a great deal from him as he brought ancient history to life. In addition to being well educated, he was charming and funny. He made himself available for endless questions. He also held optional extra talks on modern Egypt. I can’t say enough about how much we enjoyed our time with Essam. Just thinking about the sound of his voice caroling us all with “shake a leg” makes me smile. I should also mention the lovely staff on the river cruise. The caring attention to detail and good nature of the crew makes the whole experience unforgettable. Also noted Michelle at the Four Seasons made a trip to a specialty store to get my organic unsweetened soy milk so it was waiting for me on my arrival. Big thanks Michelle. I would like to see Uniworld add a visit to the Bazaar in a Cairo as a tour. I went on my own and really enjoyed it. Other than that the itinerary was flawless. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We chose this cruise because we had already done a Uniworld cruise in Europe and thought it may deliver the same standards. It didn't. The ship is OK. It's nothing special. The cabin (Heritage Suite) was OK. The food was OK but the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had already done a Uniworld cruise in Europe and thought it may deliver the same standards. It didn't. The ship is OK. It's nothing special. The cabin (Heritage Suite) was OK. The food was OK but the complimentary Indian wines were below par. The entertainment was good. The ships crew were very good. Almost every time you turned a corner there was one of the ship's crew with a hand sanitiser. It didn't help. Of the 22 passengers all but 4 were sick for at least a day. Some 3 days. It certainly takes the shine off the enjoyment of the voyage. The crew tried very hard to make an uncomfortable situation more enjoyable. Overall I was disappointed with the cruise. Apart from an inspiring visit to Mother Teresa's Orphanage and possibly the Hari Krishna's (currently under construction) Temple there is not a lot to see along the Ganges. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
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 ... 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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 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 ... 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
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
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. ... 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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
The cabins were beautiful with a lot of amenities. I loved the heated towels and fresh flowers among many other delightful amenities. Breakfast and lunch were buffets .They were both really good especially the lunch. The lunches were the ... Read More
The cabins were beautiful with a lot of amenities. I loved the heated towels and fresh flowers among many other delightful amenities. Breakfast and lunch were buffets .They were both really good especially the lunch. The lunches were the best I ever had on all of my 26 cruises of many cruise lines.I have to say dinner is just okay,but the desserts were wonderful!! our tours were very good some days we were able to do more than one tour..when Uniworld says all inclusive they are not kidding...free WiFi fee alcohol as much as you want whenever you want it.specialty coffee included cookies and candies out 24 7 Transfers well organized.The entertainment at night is rather boring and the gym is terrible. I never saw a gym so small.. I did like that they offered free washer and dryer services.they even provided laundry detergent.The movie theater was nice to offering 3 differnt movies everyday. it was really a great cruise.They just need some better entertainment and a better gym. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
The ship itself is very nice. It looks and feels new. The decor is almost entirely green and white with accents of gold and silver (mirrors). The overall effect is very feminine. I would have appreciated a bit less flamboyance, but ... Read More
The ship itself is very nice. It looks and feels new. The decor is almost entirely green and white with accents of gold and silver (mirrors). The overall effect is very feminine. I would have appreciated a bit less flamboyance, but of course individual taste always vary. The modern art on the walls is very strange for a cruise ship-subjects range from motherhood to murder. But again, of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That said, the Leopard lounge was a bit more subdued than the rest of the vessel-though, oddly, the ship's pool is only accessed by going through the lounge. The glass surrounding the pool turns opaque when someone goes in, though you must wave your hand at a sensor every so often or else it begins to clear up again, presenting you in a "fishbowl" of sorts. No hot tub on board, though there was an adequate gym. The fairly roomy cabin has the same kind of decor as the rest of the ship. A nice feature is a power window that rolls down to provide a lot of fresh air and viewing from the room. There is a lot of useful storage in the room. The beds were comfortable. Free WiFi worked only sporadically, but then on most cruise ships you must pay for something similar so no complaints there. The other guests are just what you'd expect: mostly Americans, with the balance mostly native English speakers. Retired professional types. Older crowd, in bed by 10 or 11. Entertainment was good. There was a pianist/soloist duo that were the "in house" talent supplemented on occasion by some local performers who were also very good. The staff were always very accommodating and helpful. The food was very good, though occasionally the wait staff needed a bit of prodding to bring out the coffee refills. Coffee was weak on some days. Excursions were professional and the buses left on time. The guides were knowledgeable and, at times, witty. I don't think the extra-cost tours are worth the money. More time in port would be appreciated, especially in the larger/more famous cities. I think it would have been worth it to stay a bit longer even if a smaller port was eliminated. I did appreciate the all-inclusive aspect of the cruise. There isn't anything badly "wrong" with Uniworld, but at this price point there are a lot of options worth exploring. I would consider going again but also keep myself open to other ships. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Wanted to see the Douro River and Portugal. Chose this ship because it was small and reviews were good. It was lacking in many things: bathroom had black mold and smelled. Ship needs renovation. Even smelled like diesel fuel at ... Read More
Wanted to see the Douro River and Portugal. Chose this ship because it was small and reviews were good. It was lacking in many things: bathroom had black mold and smelled. Ship needs renovation. Even smelled like diesel fuel at times. Front desk was unfriendly and unhelpful. Food was hit and miss -- some meals weren't even hot! Had two very disappointing dinners -- the dining room staff did try to make it up by bringing me chocolate covered strawberries. The cruise director did not speak English well-- pronounced with Portuguese sounds. He was not especially friendly and did not explain things well. His projector with pictures of what we would see tomorrow seemed silly-- want to see it in person first! Wasted time instead of explaining times of tours, etc. in a clearer way. Piano player was good. Only a couple of nights of other entertainment. Tours were average- some interesting, some not. On the plus side: The dining room and lounge staff were super nice, friendly, helpful. Tour guides were good (in Lisbon and the tours off the ship). Bottom line: don't expect personal service and excellent food even though it is such a small ship and it is NOT a luxury boutique like they claim. Intercontinental in Lisbon was nice-- but only one restaurant in the large hotel. First night had to have dinner in bar because didn't know to make reservations. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2017
From the moment i stepped aboard the beautiful ship, i felt completely at home. The personnel at uniworld are simply magnificent and helpful. They eased my mind about going solo for the first time to europe and were completely ... Read More
From the moment i stepped aboard the beautiful ship, i felt completely at home. The personnel at uniworld are simply magnificent and helpful. They eased my mind about going solo for the first time to europe and were completely correct. I requested a special bread at dinner thinking it wouldn't be noticed or fulfilled, never even mentioned it to the restaurant manager and lo and behold, he brought it to my table without even being asked, even calling me by name! How in the world did he know, i never gave him or the staff my name. That is one example of the superior royal treatment the passengers receive every day. The front desk was warm and helpful and allowed me to borrow a phone to call my husband to let me know id arrived safely on the ship(my verizon phone didn't work in paris). That was just another example. The fitness director, elena, found out i was up for a walking hike to the eiffel tower and personally escorted me, giving me tips all along the way. We not only saw the beautiful tower but also took a river cruise tour afterwards (her treat and idea) It was a fabulous start to the trip of a lifetime even before i got to my room. Once in the cabin i almost fainted at the beautiful savoy bed (made in england), the picture window, the heated marble floors in the bathroom and best of all, the gorgeous bouquet my uniworld advisor sent me welcoming me to the ship, it was simply stunning and a complete surprise, her name is eileen too. Laila at uniworld also eased my butterflies about traveling to europe and was so encouraging and helpful, she also made me feel completely comfortable about going solo. i cannot say enough great things about the Uniworld group, the ships, the staff and the royal treatment they provide, all with a big smile, each and every day, Thanks so much for giving me the dream trip of a lifetime. I"ll book another as soon as i get the money together for another. Read Less
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