Editors Note: In 2020, Uniworld will replace River Tosca in Egypt with a new vessel, S.S. Sphinx.
A Nile River cruise has long served as a bucket-list fantasy; even Cleopatra enjoyed her time lolling in splendor as her barge passed her kingdom's already ancient wonders. And, now that Uniworld has brought its brand of luxury cruising to the already-crowded Nile riverboat field, you too can feel like a pasha as experienced tour guides show you the best of Egypt.
Walking into River Tosca, you immediately sense that she's a step up from the other 399 ships licensed to ply the Nile. Beyond the marble floors and chandeliers, there's a rich attention to detail that's carried through all of the public rooms. Shishas (water pipes), lanterns and colonial-era prints add an exotic flair to Uniworld's usual tasteful, upscale decor.
Outside the ship, Egypt can assault your senses; unlike most river cruising destinations, the country is poor, and vendors can be aggressive, which is why the River Tosca offers a welcome respite from the chaos. The mostly Egyptian staff is eager to please, and your Egyptologist guide is always on hand to explain the intricacies of the country, both ancient and modern.
With a packed itinerary, however, you won't be spending too much time onboard. Each of Uniworld's Egypt offerings is heavy on sightseeing trips that are included in your package, and the staff get you up early to avoid the midday heat. You could stay in your room and miss a temple (or two), but you may kick yourself later.
Plus, the hot afternoons are a perfect time to unwind, either in the small pool or with a cup of mint tea under the covered portion of the top deck. Most of River Tosca's affluent clientele have put in as many miles on their body as stamps in their passports; many preferred to nap or get massages in the ship's compact spa. Outbreaks of "mummy tummy" were not uncommon; taking the time to rest, along with some pills from the front desk, restored most passengers within a day or two.
And having that type of service available while navigating Egypt is what sets River Tosca apart from the competition. As the country's revolution continues, travel in Egypt comes with a certain amount of unpredictability -- so it's nice to know that your River Tosca experience will remain smooth sailing.