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Cruise Ratings
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Was absolutely blown away with our experience. Our exceptional Egyptologist guide Hazem Khalaf solidifies our experience . From the moment we arrived in Cairo we were well taken care of! The ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary. Was absolutely blown away with our experience. Our exceptional Egyptologist guide Hazem Khalaf solidifies our experience . From the moment we arrived in Cairo we were well taken care of! The Uniworld staff took very good care of us. The Tosca staff whether it was attentive details to our stateroom or assistance from the front desk. Dining experience from the helm of Chef Hamdy - to Restaurant Manager - Ehab Abdelsamd , to oversee perfection. Well done! Entertainment was unique and everyone joined in the fun:) We loved it! Special thanks and shout out to Mohamed and Sayed for the exceptional relaxing Spa treatments Nothing better than a good massage after a long day touring, including a lot of walking. To Mahmoud (Shopping experience) your pleasant personality and professional knowledge made our jewelry shopping a breeze . Love my purchases! River Tosca is a great ship . Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
I have been wanting to visit Egypt since I was 4 years old. Instability and fear had always held me back until I discovered Uniworld River Cruises. Uniworld has a unique way of always making you feel like you’re a VIP. So was it possible ... Read More
I have been wanting to visit Egypt since I was 4 years old. Instability and fear had always held me back until I discovered Uniworld River Cruises. Uniworld has a unique way of always making you feel like you’re a VIP. So was it possible that Uniworld could possibly provide us the security and comforts of home that we demand in Egypt? The only way that question could possibly be answered was to book the trip and find out first hand. So after much anxiety we did we booked our trip for March 23, and I am all the more thankful and grateful for the decision we made. For us, it was truly that trip of our life time thanks to Uniworld. We arrived at the Cairo airport a day early and was greeted by a smiling and friendly Egyptian holding up a Uniworld sign named Ahab. He grabbed our luggage and the luggage of another Uniworld couple and headed us to the Uniworld Van. He then began to explain all the wonderful things we would be experiencing over the next two weeks and gave us a short Egyptian language lesson. He was funny and knowledgeable and gave us a very positive impression of what was instore. He offered us an optional day trip to the bent pyramid. Any time you meet a 55 year old guide with a high energy cell phone ring tone, you know you are in for a really good time but we had already made other plans. Uniworlds trip includes a visit to the pyramids, sphinx and camel ride, but we were so anxious we booked a private half day exertion via Viator and had a really good guide named Marwa who made certain we had a great time, along with lots of photo opportunities. Our stays at the Four Season Hotel was wonderful. This hotel is well managed and was like an luxury oasis in the middle of the desert. This hotel exhibited very good security and we always felt safe. Our room was magnificent and over looked the Nile River. My wife and I were treated like VIP’s the entire visit and we received exceptional service. The spa was fantastic and the services they provided were extremely professional. We dined at the Italian and Oriental restaurants and the buffet. The food and service at the buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner was our favorite! Since there was 72 people, they divided us into two groups and each assigned a bus and our own Egyptologist. Ours was named Tarek Mostafa and he was absolutely wonderful. Not only was he extremely knowledgeable about Egypt but had good command of the English language, authentic, funny and extremely good dresser. He also made us feel like we were VIP’s the entire trip. My wife and I have traveled to a lot of places in this world and used a lot of guides via Uniworld, Tauck and Viking, but Tarek Mostafa is hands down the best we have ever experienced. I hope you are lucky enough to have him as your Egyptologist. He went out of his way to provide our group with plenty of safe shopping opportunities during a very packed schedule and even helped us negotiate prices with vendors. He will teach you how to deal with locals trying to sell you stuff for one dollar. Every local knew him, and locals treated him with great respect and admiration. If you are lucky enough to get Tarek as your guide, you tell him Pete said hello. I loved the ole majestic Tosca river boat and all the five star staff that they had on board. I thought it was elegant and beautiful just not a quiet as the electric boats Uniworld has in Europe. She parted the waves of the Nile like a knife through butter. I loved all the wood work, comfortable seating and the pictures of old Egypt that hand on the wall. We enjoyed the Egyptian entertainment and dressing up for the Galabeya party. I even learned how to really dance like an Egyptian! We absolutely loved cruising the Nile River from on top of the Tosca. Plenty of comfortable seating and nice relaxing pool. We returned home so dark, that our family thought we had gone to Miami. Expect to see lots of beautiful tall palm trees and tons of banana trees. The only modern machinery you will see is electric pumps to irrigate the miles of farms. I saw lots of fisherman checking trout lines and nets. My favorite were the smiling faces and waving arms of children along the banks of the Nile all happy to see us. Every single day of our trip went as planned and we were always informed throughout the day by our Egyptologist, staff on board the ship and received a printed itinerary of next day’s events in detail. We always felt extremely safe because on every single excursion we had our own embedded guard who wore a three piece suit and holstered an impressive 9mm MP5. In addition, our buses were always escorted by the Egyptian military or police. Everyone waved to us and thanked us for visiting Egypt. I cannot tell you how many people randomly thanks us for coming to Egypt. Not once did we feel unsafe or threatened. We loved the balloon ride and the trip to Abu Simbal. Everything worked like clockwork during the entire trip. We were lucky that the Nile was high enough to cruise to Dendra, and that there were not sand storms or strong winds for us to experience the hot air balloon ride. All the interior Egyptian flights were with Egypt air and they ran smooth and security was extremely good. Expect some early morning wake-ups to avoid the heat, other tourist and sand that can rise up to 13,000 feet during the mid-day. Trust in the process cause these folks are experts when it comes to experiencing Egypt in a safe and comfortable manor. In return, we experienced a perfect trip and a trip of a life time that I will always remember. We left Egypt with a greater knowledge of Egypt and a much better understanding of the Muslim and Christian people who call Egypt home. The last days visit to the pyramids, sphinx and camel ride was as much fun as the first one! I just wish my wife would have let me buy one of those camels for the back yard. Uniworld not only meet our expectations but exceeded them. Ahab, even helped us inside the airport terminal to make sure we made it through security and check our luggage with no issues on the way home. No other company has ever done that for us. These folks treated us like family. If you want to see and experience Egypt first class and feel like a VIP, choose Uniworld’s Splendors of Egypt! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We had great flights and connections from a very cold Mid-western winter and came to Cairo in the evening. We had been told that we would be met by UniWorld rep as we came off the plane, but we kept on walking and just met him at the ... Read More
We had great flights and connections from a very cold Mid-western winter and came to Cairo in the evening. We had been told that we would be met by UniWorld rep as we came off the plane, but we kept on walking and just met him at the customs. As we had e visas, it was easy to enter and went to the baggage claim. We had to wait for quite some time before everyone in our group had collected their baggage. Then we had to wait again to get the bus for us to show up and then we had to use our carts to maneuver over curbs to get our luggage to the bus. It was not the best beginning. We arrived at the Four Seasons where a bomb sniffing dog checked out the bus, then the luggage was put through the X-ray machine, and we walked through the metal detector. We chose to carry our bags ourselves to the room, so we did not have to wait at all. Four Seasons is a lovely hotel as one would expect. There is smoke in the lobby and an ashtray in the room just next to the arrow that points to Mecca (for praying). Buffet breakfast was excellent, and was the only meal that was included in the tour. The morning started early with a meeting for all of us. We were 68 on our tour and were divided into two buses, A and B. We were on bus B which had 35 guests. I was surprised at having that many guests on our bus. I thought UniWorld prided itself on having small groups. 35 is not small. Our guide was Muhamad Abdelrahman and he was excellent. His English was great and easy to understand and his knowledge of the language was such that he could joke with us. He was helpful and kind and I cannot say enough good things about him. We had an issue right away. Most of us wanted to sign up for the Abu Simbel tour which was an add on, optional tour. The person who ran the program in Cairo said right away that there might not be enough spots on the plane for all of us to go to Abu Simbel. There were almost riots among the guests. We all wanted to go there. I think UniWorld should add this to the cost of the tour and include it, so that when we go to Egypt, we know that we will see that great site. (It turned out that all of us did go, but a few went the day after the rest and that was not ideal either). This is the time when we signed up for the optional tours and paid. We signed up for the Abu Simbel tour, the Luxor sound and light show and the Coptic tour (when we came back to Cairo after the river cruise portion). I would skip the Luxor sound and light show, there is one included at the pyramids, go to that one. Luxor show was a snooze, literally. A few signed up for the Cairo Nile dinner cruise and it was a let-down for most of them. (This took place for our group upon returning to Cairo.) The next day was the flight to Luxor. We had early wake up call at 2:30 AM for the flight. We were provided with boxed breakfasts from Four Seasons. Others have described the day to day activities and they were similar for us. The ship, Tosca, features large rooms and bathrooms. I would say though that the ship is looking worn. The food was excellent and they catered to special needs well. The daily excursions started very early in the morning, all of them before 8AM. Uniworld uses the Whisper system so we could wander off a bit and still hear the guide. Being such a large group, it still was a bit frustrating if you were in a narrow passage and in the back, because it was not all clear what you were looking at. Our guide did an excellent job of getting our group to gel and be a group. There was tea served on a few occasions, and other special treats on the ship. There were a few exercise classes with Muhammad Ali, who kept imploring us to “Focus”. Evening entertainment was fun for such a small ship with local shows that involved getting the guests up on the dance floor for Belly dancing and a dance that looked awfully similar to the Conga line. All had fun. Wine and beer and other beverages were included with lunch and dinner, but not otherwise. Drinks were $10 to $15. Tips were included in this sailing, but there was a box for Gratuities on the reception desk, but no mention of it to the guests. We were never told to tip anyone a few dollars, so it was a truly inclusive deal. Vendors in Egypt can be rather persistent, our guide referred to them as “Valley of the Vultures”. In addition to this, some of the guards at the monuments wanted to take our photo, and then required a tip. Some of them asked for your photo pass and then taking a photo and asking for a tip. Just a heads up. Our guide told us to not hand over the camera to anyone. You will need 5 Egyptian pounds to use the rest room. We exchanged money with our guide. Previous reviews have stated that you get an envelope with 5 pound notes. We did not, but were thankful that we could get them from the guide. I had brought tissue paper from home, a good thing because all toilets did not have paper. We were told not to drink any tap water and were provided with bottled water the whole time, even in the Four Seasons. Do no even rinse your toothbrush in the tap water. We did not get sick, but I think a few got a touch of stomach upsets. After spending 7 nights on the ship, seeing so many temples and wonderful antiquities, we flew back from Luxor to Cairo, back to the Four Seasons. All of us got rooms with a view of the Nile. Some even got suites. As the rooms were not ready, there was an optional tour of Coptic Egypt. We thought that was a fantastic tour and highly recommend. The following day was the Great Pyramids. Yes, they are as great as you think, perhaps even better. We were able to climb up a bit and even go into one, with many steps down. We could ride camels in the Sahara, and even though it sounds so touristy, it sure was fun, I think it was $11 per person and then the camel driver expected a tip, which he got of course. WE had armed escort on most excursions, especially in the cities. We could not figure out why there was a siren blasting behind us the whole time, but then realized that it was the escort. There was also an armed guard on the bus. Uniworld really excelled in helping us with departure. We were escorted by a Uniworld representative who looked after us very carefully making sure that we got where we were going and our luggage as well. He stayed with us the whole time. We flew to Tel Aviv for the post cruise extension. The review of that will be on the River Cruise board under “Uniworld Jerusalem Extension”. Overall I was very happy with our trip. Our guide Muhamad Abdelrahman made it the very best he knew how. We felt safe the whole time, and stayed in luxury accommodations. I recommend this trip highly. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
There is much more to Egypt than the pyramids, and Uniworld River Tosca is a great way to see it. We were met at the airport by a Uniworld representative, helped through visa on arrival and promptly transported to hotel. This was ... Read More
There is much more to Egypt than the pyramids, and Uniworld River Tosca is a great way to see it. We were met at the airport by a Uniworld representative, helped through visa on arrival and promptly transported to hotel. This was appreciated because the Cairo traffic was unbelievable! The Four Seasons Hotel was lovely, but it did not seem like we had much time there. We ate in Bella (Italian) and 8 (Asian) restaurants, and both were excellent. We met our Egyptologist, Sameh, at the hotel. He was a real asset to the Egypt experience and brought the sites and history alive. After a day of seeing the Alabaster Mosque and Egyptian Museum, we had a 2:15 A.M. (that is not a typo - 2:15) wake-up call to get flight to Luxor. The Tosca was a pleasant ship. Our room was spacious and comfortable. Food was very good and fresh. Beef was tender and tasteful. All service was excellent, and we were always welcomed back on board nicely. It is an activity filled agenda with lots to see and little down time to enjoy sailing on the Nile. The pace of the tours was a little exhausting with many very early wake ups. The pace seemed to wear on some passengers, and they had to miss some activities. We always felt completely safe there (except for the wild traffic - but we were in a big bus) The men trying to sell you items was the biggest problem especially at the Step Pyramid. Just try to not make eye contact. Some things that would be helpful to know: In January, it was cold!! (did not expect that) Toiletries are olive oil based, so consider bring hand lotion, etc. Take lip balm - very dry there. Galabeya party - I had brought costumes from home because I did not want to have to bargain to obtain one there. However, the ship gift shop had very nice outfits for about $20 and I wish I would have just bought one there. It was a bit of a hassle to obtain small Egyptian pounds (EP). The first floor ATM at Four Seasons was often out of money. There is one on the second floor, but it does not take cash, only debit cards. The hotel could only make limited change. Once we got on the Tosca, we could get 5 pound notes (needed for bathrooms!). Maybe Uniworld could up the charge a few dollars and have some 5 EP available in your packet on arrival. There are various times that one needs additional Egyptian pounds for the tours (for example to buy camera passes, to buy entrance to tombs, pyramids, etc.) It would be nice if Uniworld could print out a list of these so we could plan on how much to take out of ATM. On the last day at the Great Pyramid, not too many of us had 300 EP each left to buy pass to enter. If we had known ahead, we could have had this with us. When booking, get an even numbered cabin - these always face the Nile. When docked the odd numbers sometimes faced right up against a wall or another ship. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
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
11 Helpful Votes
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
10 Helpful Votes
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 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
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 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
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