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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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
What a trip of a lifetime! Uniworld's Splendors of Egypt and the Nile was one of my most memorable vacations due mainly to our Egyptologist, Mohamed Ragheb, the fabulous staff on the River Tosca and the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel ... Read More
What a trip of a lifetime! Uniworld's Splendors of Egypt and the Nile was one of my most memorable vacations due mainly to our Egyptologist, Mohamed Ragheb, the fabulous staff on the River Tosca and the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel overlooking the Nile River in Cairo. I have traveled to about 50 countries on 6 continents and this trip offered one of the best itineraries with staff offering the most attentive service ever. It's my 8th cruise (all ocean until this river cruise) and I will definitely be river cruising again. Mohamed just made ancient Egypt come to life with his tales about the pharaohs, heiroglyphics and gods/goddesses. He was extremely knowledgeable, well-educated and was able to answer just about any question about Egypt immediately. He was also very funny and charming, with no air of academic pretentiousness. Every day there were several items on the itinerary to look forward to; I thought I might get bored with too many temples, mosques, pyramids, etc. but each day seemed to be more fascinating than the last. The Uniworld itinerary did a good job of mixing ancient Egyptian sites with felucca (sailboat) rides on the NIle, a Nubian Village visit, and High Tea at the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile. There are a lot of included excursions, virtually all of the major sites. Definitely climb into the Great Pyramid to the tomb with the sarcophagus if you are physically able to, and take the camel ride in Giza. I also recommend going on nearly all the optional excursions, especially the optional excursion to Abu Simbel...what an experience! We signed up for the hot air balloons into the Valley of the Kings, but unfortunately there was a sandstorm and we were unable to go. We did both sound and light shows, but not the dinner cruise as we elected to go to Khan Al Khalili (the grand market in Cairo) on our own instead. Also, we did the optional Coptic Christian church tour upon returning to Cairo (after the Nile River cruise) with the other tour guide Akrum (for the group on Bus B, since we were on Bus A) who was also excellent. We got to see where the Holy Family stayed when they fled to Egypt on this Coptic Christian tour. The quality of the food, the staff and the small group experience (with a wonderful group of fellow travelers) was remarkable. My only suggestion on the food is to offer more Egyptian options for each meal since they were the most delicious (even though they can be special ordered I don't like to create a fuss and generally will eat what's served.) The ship River Tosca has an understated elegance. It was a bit dated, but that was hardly noticeable given the size of the cabins (over 300 square feet) and the quality of the service. The staff was so attentive to every detail and really tried to make the experience special for everyone. They were willing to cook off-menu items if you asked. They went out of their way to go above and beyond what I have experienced on other larger cruises (Viking, Celebrity, Princess, etc.) The 90 minute massages were also good for only about $45 USD. The transfers to and from the airport went extremely smoothly, and the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo was just so lovely. I was a little nervous about safety before going, but having now returned from Egypt it seems as safe as anywhere in the world. There is almost no petty crime. The risk of terrorism exists, but that can happen anywhere (Barcelona, Paris, New York, Washington DC) and the likelihood of that happening is extremely low. The Egyptian government seems very committed to keeping tourists safe, and provides armed guards to protect tourists in some venues. I personally felt very safe and protected at all times with Mohamed and the entire Uniworld staff. Bring lots of $1 bills for tips and bathroom attendants. Also a lot of the items to buy in the souks cost $1. The US dollar goes very far in Egypt so it's a great time for Americans to go. In fact, several Egyptians we met were very happy to see that Americans are coming back, and said so. There are a lot of early mornings, but the sights are much less crowded and the temperature is more comfortable then. After the morning tours, typically there is time in the afternoon to rest/nap on the boat or in the hotel before the late afternoon/evening excursions. So while it's busy it is not overwhelming, even if you do nearly all the optional excursions. Truly this was one of the most magical trips, due in great part to our Egyptologist Mohamed Ragheb. He was charming, friendly, funny and brilliant, and made exploring ancient Egypt a very colorful and memorable experience! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We have been on 2 other Uniworld river cruises in Europe prior to this Egypt trip. The sights were spectacular and we met lots of nice people. A couple of things you should know if you are looking at this trip. - The Abu Simbel trip ... Read More
We have been on 2 other Uniworld river cruises in Europe prior to this Egypt trip. The sights were spectacular and we met lots of nice people. A couple of things you should know if you are looking at this trip. - The Abu Simbel trip was not $295 as we were told before the trip, but $324. This is a must trip. - As River Heritage Club members, we each received complimentary laundry, although we were told by the Uniworld L.A. office that we would not. - The Egyptian wine served on the ship was not drinkable. We met a Canadian passenger who managed to get some South African wine served for the three of us. Not sure how she did that, but we were not going to say no. The South African wine was at least drinkable. Uniworld really should be able to have better wines, but I understand we were in an Arab country… - The Uniworld staff couldn’t have been nicer! - The Springs Tours staff were OK, but not the quality of the Uniworld staff. - Our egyptologist(Hani) was wonderful...Gracious, kind, knowledgable and very patient. - The River Tosca was old, but very clean. Cabins were huge…although Uniworld’s ships in Europe are much nicer. We heard the River Tosca will be replaced next year. - Suggestions to Uniworld: > Make the 4 days of the Cairo touring at the beginning or at the end of the cruise; 2 days in Cairo on each end of the trip was too much flying back and forth. > The “wake-up” hours were not reasonable (one morning we had to get up at 2:30a.m. to catch a flight). Many days had an unreasonable wake-up time causing us to not have a proper breakfast(a box breakfast on the bus). Don't know why this is. Perhaps all companies in the region have these unreasonable hours. - The Four Seasons was fabulous. We were in beautiful rooms facing the Nile. We had room service lunch on the balcony one day. Staff were wonderful. - The air in Egypt, especially Cairo, is extremely polluted. - Be prepared for lots of litter. - January temperatures were perfect for us. Never too hot. You just need to be aware of what you are getting into. We had read CruiseCritic reviews and sort of knew what to expect, but we naively thought Uniworld would have corrected these issues by the time we took the trip. All in all this is a fabulous trip and we are so happy that we were able to see the wonderful sights before we leave this world. Uniworld is a top notch cruise company. I would have given the trip a 5 star, but when compared to Uniworld's European cruises, I had to give it a 4 star rating. 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
13 Helpful Votes
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
5 Helpful Votes
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
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I have always wanted to see the pyramids in Egypt, the sphinx, and many of the temples. This seemed like a safe time to visit. The cruise along the Nile was excellent. The staff of the Tosca was very good. We felt very welcoming among ... Read More
I have always wanted to see the pyramids in Egypt, the sphinx, and many of the temples. This seemed like a safe time to visit. The cruise along the Nile was excellent. The staff of the Tosca was very good. We felt very welcoming among the staff. Security was good at all times. We had armed guards on our excursions and police cars followed our bus. What was poor was our Egyptologist. He was very knowledgeable about the history of every site. There were 34 on a ship that holds 80. Having just one Egyptologist for 34 people was not sufficient. He never presented any pre -excursion talks at dinner so until we boarded the bus or walked to the sites, we didn't know whether we would walk 10 yards or 100 yards, whether we would climb uneven stairs (plenty to climb) or walk on uneven stones (plenty of those too). He never watched out for the stragglers (heat exhaustion was pretty common) and only counted us when we were on the bus. Several were sick due to heat and diet I assume and he never asked where they were or how they felt. He catered only to those who shopped and appeared to have money. Sitting on a bus for 45 minutes while 3 women shopped is not my idea of fun. What free time we had, he never told us what we could see on our own. He did take the shoppers shopping quite often and several couples to dinner places while the rest of us made due at the Cairo hotel. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
General Background: Uniworld’s Nile River cruise in early February 2017 was a wonderful 12 day experience. This trip included 4 nights in Cairo at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel and 7 nights on Uniworld’s MS Tosca Nile River boat. ... Read More
General Background: Uniworld’s Nile River cruise in early February 2017 was a wonderful 12 day experience. This trip included 4 nights in Cairo at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel and 7 nights on Uniworld’s MS Tosca Nile River boat. The boat sailed from Luxor to Aswan so we had to fly round trip from Cairo to Luxor and back again. There were some optional tours offered – Alexandria for early arrivals, Abu Simbel for $300 US, Karnak Sound and Light show for $38US, and a Cairo Nile River dinner cruise for $73 US. Now is an excellent time to do a Nile River cruise as Egypt has recently devalued its pound resulting in a favorable exchange rate for tourists; a trip in the early months of the year takes advantage of cooler temperatures (20-24 degrees C daytime with cooler early morning and evening temperatures); Egypt is safe for travelling in organized groups – even so tourist police accompany travelers; Uniworld offers an excellent busy itinerary using good English speaking Egyptologists; and MS Tosca, Uniworld’s river boat used exclusively by Uniworld, has excellent accommodation and food. No one got digestive problems on our trip. Additionally, if you like small group travel, now is the time to go as we only had 23 North Americans on our trip. The boat has accommodations for many more. There were several travellers in our group who had their tour dates changed in order to make a viable tour group for this departure date in February. The itinerary: Uniworld delivered on its advertised itinerary with only a few changes. We were bussed from Luxor to see the temple at Dendera which was more interesting than sailing on the low river as I got to see the villages and people up close. Secondly, Esna Temple was substituted for Edfu Temple because the company did not like how the horse and carriage people treated their horses – a necessary transportation as walking to the temple from the dock was not an option. Thirdly, we made additional visits to local craft shops not included in the printed itinerary. These visits usually started with a demo about the making of the product followed by shopping time. Craft shops visited included a carpet making school, an alabaster shop, a papyrus shop, and a perfume essence shop. There were no guided tours of bazaars. Most of us were satisfied with the goods offered by the vendors in front of each attraction as well as the tourist souvenirs the ship had for sale in its gift shop. The itinerary was a busy one with little free time on the boat – so it was a good use of our sightseeing time. From Cairo we were bussed to see the Egyptian Museum, the Mohammed Ali Mosque, the Giza pyramids, the sphinx, and solar boat museum; then on to Sakkarah to see the Zoser pyramid complex; next, to Memphis to see Ramses II statue and the alabaster sphinx. We also had an evening outing to the Giza pyramids to view the Sound and Light Show. We flew to Luxor on Egypt Air where we boarded the River Tosca. In Luxor we had a guided tour of Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, and Dendera Temple. We visited the Valley of Kings to see 3-5 tombs, Hatshepsut’s temple, and a photostop at the Colossii. Next we sailed to Kom Ombo to see the temple and then sailed to Aswan for 2 nights. Here, we visited a Nubian village, sailed in a felucca to see the birdlife in the marshes and enjoy afternoon tea in the Old Cataract hotel, saw the High dam (a photostop), the Philae Temple complex, and the unfinished obelisk. We opted for the Egypt Air flight to Abu Simbel for a morning visit to the temple there and were back on the boat for lunch. On our return sail to Luxor we stopped at Esna to visit the temple. We returned to Cairo by air. At each attraction we had 2 hours visiting time. The Egyptologist, Ahmed Taher, a young local man with excellent English and ability to talk interestingly about the reliefs, temple construction, the timeline of the pharaohs, the gods, used about 1 hour to point out interesting reliefs and then allowed us to roam around the sites for an additional 1 hour. This was a good balance for me. IMO, it would be an idea to do some pre-reading about ancient Egypt and the sights to be visited. The temples were usually in a ruinous state with incomplete reliefs that no longer had any color or just spotty coloring. Even so it was amazing to see these reliefs which were usually large – 4-5 feet inside the temple walls and much larger on the outside pylons. It was also interesting to compare the relief drawings done at different times in ancient Egyptian history - from the time of the true earlier pharaohs to the more recent Greco-Roman pharaohs. The size of these temples and the huge slabs of stone that were used to construct them were also an amazing sight. At the Valley of the Kings, we could choose which 3 tombs we wanted to visit as 3 tombs were included in the entry ticket. There was time to see at least 2 others, but these needed to be paid for from our pocket at the ticket window. Each tomb, depending on how long one lingered, took about 12 minutes to walk through. The tombs were well maintained with board walks, wide tunnels that were brightly lit (no crouching), and the hieroglyphics and images had good color. Usually there was a huge empty granite sarcophagus in the burial chamber. The walls were filled with images of the funeral procession, the gods that will provide protection in the afterlife, the offerings made, and the hieroglyphics are the prayers for the dead. The pharaohs expected to be resurrected and spend time in the heavens – their mummified remains view a starry filled sky – their destination. The stop at the Giza pyramids allowed us to walk into the smallest pyramid (takes about 25 minutes with some crouching), a 30 minute camel ride ($20 US), a 20 minute visit to the solar museum (pay 110 LE out of one’s pocket for this optional visit), and some time to walk around the pyramids to closely examine their construction. Seeing the pyramids up close made me marvel at their construction using 4 foot tall stone blocks. The sphinx was a photostop as was its memorial temple – just slabs of stone and rectangular columns – nothing special. The Giza pyramids sound and light show was included in our itinerary. The 1 hour show starts at 7pm, is in English, and guests sit on plastic chairs. Sit on the far right hand side facing the Sphinx as that is where the “screen” for the show is. The show talks about the building of the Giza pyramids, the pharaohs who built them and why they built them. Evenings are cool in Cairo so dress warmly for this show. Zoser’s step pyramid complex in Sakkara was a short stop. Here we also saw Unas’s pyramid and temple complex but not the Imhotep Museum. In Memphis we saw the prone remains of a huge broken statue of Ramses II and the smaller alabaster Sphinx. Uniworld tends to use river docks outside of the central part of the village, the exception being Esna and Kom Ombo where we walked to the temples. Thus it was rather impossible to walk into town to see museums in Luxor and Aswan on one’s own. A greyhound type bus (good condition, comfy seats, toilet on board) was used to take passengers from the dock to the temples/attractions. We could safely leave our totebags on the bus while we went sightseeing. The driver was tipped on his last day with us in Luxor as he dropped us off at the airport at the rate of 3$ US per day. Tipping expected for Tosca crew was $8-$10US per day and was paid when we left the ship in Luxor. The Egyptologist expected to receive $8-$10US per day as well and was paid the last day of the trip in Cairo. The company provides envelopes to place these tips in. Ship Information: Uniworld has exclusive use of the MS Tosca. It has a dining room below the 2 decks for staterooms. The sundeck is located on the top deck with loungers and a small pool with cold water but looked inviting and clean. The sundeck was a great place to relax in the late afternoon before getting ready for dinner, but when the boat was sailing, it was rather cool and windy up there. The ship provided excellent accommodation and we had no complaints. The ship had a reputation with our Egyptologist as being one of the best ships on the Nile for accommodation and food. The ship had a spacious lounge with many seating areas each with a coffee table holding lovely picture books of Egypt. Another small room held a few shelves of fiction paperback books; puzzles and games were included in this library area as well as a computer. Free wifi was available throughout the ship, but service did vary. The small gift shop was an alternative way to buy tourist souvenirs and the selection was great from T-shirts, traditional Egyptian folk dress, tote bags, statues, alabaster objects, gold jewelry. The owner had shops in Luxor and Aswan so could supply sizes, colors, and special jewelry orders. Dining: The ships’s dining room was spacious with a variety of table sizes, but our small group used the tables set for 8. Breakfast and lunch were buffets while dinner, from 7pm-9pm, was a la carte with 4 courses offered. The buffet had pre-prepared hot/cold foods, but also a station where the chef prepared individual requests. There were lots of foods to select from ranging from different meats and vegetables a good variety of salads, and sliced fruits. Everything was delicious! Chicken breast, grilled salmon, and beef were available each night in case you didn’t like the entrees that were offered. Wines ran about 250 LE a bottle. Afternoon tea each day included delicious finger sandwiches often with smoked salmon or caviar as trim and plates of cookies and squares as well as sliced fruit. Service and food were excellent. As we left the ship for morning excursions, the ship manager even encouraged us to take along whole fruits to tide us over until lunch and bottled water was also offered. On our return from excursions, the welcoming crew offered our hands a squirt of sanitizer, a cold wash cloth, and a cold drink. Our welcome aboard the ship drink at the beginning of the cruise was a champagne cocktail. Other alcohol drinks available at the bar in the lounge had to be paid for. Dress throughout the ship was smart casual with women opting for trousers and tops and leaving at home dresses and high heels. Men didn’t wear jackets for dinner. Fitness and Spa: There was a masseuse along who provided massage services. He also looked after the fitness machines (a couple of bikes and walking machines). This fellow provided 1 keep fit session on the sundeck one morning while we were sailing. These services were not ones I used. Ship Entertainment: After dinner was over at 9pm, there was local entertainment for about 30 minutes. Singers, dancers, a whirling dervish entertained those who could still keep awake. Embarkation and Disembarkation: A Uniworld company representative met us as we exited the plane at Cairo airport. He accompanied us through immigration, baggage pickup, and passport control. We were glad we had purchased an Egyptian entry visa at home as we certainly did not want to stand in line for it after our long flight. We were the only couple to be transported to the hotel in the minivan, but upon leaving we had additional couples who also had early flight departures. Transfers went very smoothly with the representative dealing with overly assertive airport personnel. The airport is new and is a nice place to wait for departures. Buying food is not an option at the airport – dubious hygiene practices. Wash room attendants expect a tip so keep some small Egyptian bills for the airport. Know that the airport double checks its security of all passengers. That means removing not only outer jackets, but also belts, shoes, hats, jewelry, wallets, handbags, electricals, hand luggage, luggage to be checked in –all go into bins/the conveyor belt and pass through the X-ray machine. Then each passenger gets a full body frisk before picking up one’s belongings. A guard wanted to look inside my purse to examine the money I was leaving with. One guard had trouble reading my ticket/flight information. Thank goodness for the Uniworld rep who quickly sorted out these guards. Hotel Accommodation: Uniworld uses the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel Nile Plaza in Cairo which was one reason I opted to use Uniworld. This hotel is centrally located to the Egypt Museum and the pyramids thus reducing travelling time. It also is located in a posh embassy area along the Nile with rooms offering excellent Nile River views both during the day and night time as well as the setting sun. Our hotel room was clean, spacious, with comfy beds using crisp white linens and duvets; the bathroom was spa like with soap bars at every washing area and fluffy white towels. Terry cloth gowns and slippers added to the spa like touch. There was a safe, coffee/tea making facilities, complimentary bottled water, a small fridge for cold pop, and even adaptors for the appliances that didn’t fit the electrical plugs. The room had a large work desk, 2 desk chairs and a comfortable upholstered chair with ottoman. The flat screen TV had many channels offering programs in a variety of languages and a sheet provided this station information. The balcony was spacious and came with 2 comfortable chairs that had thick seated cushions. The hotel had several elegant dining options at reasonable prices, but we chose to have Room Service deliver our dinners and only used their restaurant for magnificent buffet breakfasts which were included in our package. Breakfast boxes were handed out as a poor substitute for the buffet breakfast on our early morning departures to the airport. Dinner entrees for fish, beef, chicken, lamb arranged from 155 to 270 EGP. Room service was excellent and prompt (within 30 minutes)! Meals were wheeled in with a red rose bud in the vase and a table clad with a white tablecloth and cloth napkins. The food was hot being retrieved from a warming oven under the moveable table. Servings were generous. Even a bread basket was included on the table. We dined either on our balcony or beside the sliding glass door with views of twinkling lights out across the Nile. Room service dinners were an excellent option for tired travellers. Another advantage of this hotel was that it had a small bank branch on its premises as well as 2 ATM machines for getting Egyptian money. IMO, it’s best to come with American dollars, GBP, or Euros in hand to exchange rather than using a bank card to withdraw money. The small bank, open from 11am -8pm, had a variety of lower bill denominations which were more useful than too many 200 EGP notes. Be prepared to offer a small tip (1 to 5EGP notes) to bathroom attendants at each stop on the trip. This hotel also had a spacious pool area with inviting aqua colored water and loungers. A poolside grill restaurant was conveniently located here. Staff spoke English, were numerous, and very helpful. The hotel used sniffer dogs to check incoming vehicles and every guest went through airport security type checks for bags at the entrance. This hotel was an oasis and I only wish we could have had more time to make better use of its facilities. I loved their multiple extravagant flower arrangements on the table facing the entrance – 4 dozen roses tied in one bunch which were repeated several times with different vases interspersed with other flowers! It was a wonderful Valentine display! Summary: Uniworld has an excellent product with its Nile River Cruise. The itinerary was wonderful, the stateroom was comfortable with no issues, the food was varied, delicious, and timely, the service was outstanding, the Egyptologist was personable, informative, efficient and well organized. Do not hesitate to book a Nile River Cruise through Uniworld even though company representatives focus more on their European destinations at their presentations. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
We got home last night from the long flights from Cairo. It was well worth the effort. Our Uniworld Nile River Cruise experience in Egypt was as if we were on a 5 star VIP private tour with an expert Egyptologist. Hatem was very ... Read More
We got home last night from the long flights from Cairo. It was well worth the effort. Our Uniworld Nile River Cruise experience in Egypt was as if we were on a 5 star VIP private tour with an expert Egyptologist. Hatem was very knowledgeable and led our group through the historical sites holding our attention every minute of the trip. He watched out for us and we felt very safe and secure throughout. Before and after the cruise we stayed overnight in the Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza. It was part of the cruise package. We had room service dinner on our balcony overlooking the Nile and Cairo both evenings. Upon visiting the sights the only thing we experienced that was uncomfortable was desperate attempts of the souvenir vendors selling their wares. Our guide insulated us from the hassle. As we were transported, in AC comfort, from site to site people and children waved friendly waves. Everything was excellent. The chef on board met every request. The staff was friendly, efficient and very competent. The food and presentation was perfect. Seeing the infrastructure designed for the huge tourist industry sit idle was bad for Egypt but a big advantage for us. There were no lines, no waiting anywhere. I would do it again it was a bargain and a once in a lifetime experience. Not very ADA accessible at the sites if you have walking issues, lots of stairs and rough paths along with the heat of Egypt. After all, the sights were built and designed thousands of years ago. It is one of the must see places in the world. Read Less
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