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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
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
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
First, the good: the staff are outstanding. They bend over backwards for your every need because they are so grateful to be back at work since the 2011 revolution. The locals are friendly and also appreciate that tourists are starting to ... Read More
First, the good: the staff are outstanding. They bend over backwards for your every need because they are so grateful to be back at work since the 2011 revolution. The locals are friendly and also appreciate that tourists are starting to slowly return to Egypt. The food on the ship is fabulous. We miss the daily fresh mango, the delicious hummus and the lamb. The onboard activities were fun, especially the Egyptian evening. The rooms are very pretty although the shower is cramped. There's not much of a spa, although my massage was lovely. Make sure to get a room towards the front as engine noise is loud. The ship is supposed to be non smoking. However, when the staff smoke out back, the smoke gets sucked in through the ventilation system so you can often smell it. But after all, you're in Egypt and EVERYONE smokes! Even the nicer hotels have locals smoking in elevators and in doorways. It's so gross. The worst part of this trip (that we are still recovering from a week later!) is the ridiculously early mornings for tour start times. One day we had to get up at 2:00 am!! When you're already struggling with jet lag, it was too much to ask to get up that early. The pace of the cruise is definitely not one to promote relaxation either. You're constantly on the go which gets stressful after about the fourth day. People on our tour, including us, skipped a tour just to catch up on sleep. That's unfortunate since we paid to see all these cool places but were too damn tired to enjoy them to the fullest. In a way, it's unfair to guests. We're in our 50's and fit, so you can imagine what a toll this took on those who were older. My suggestion would be to go to Cairo at least three days prior to the trip so you can climatize and check out some of the temples on your own before embarkation. We did and it helped a little. However, I still say this tour needs some serious revamping to allow passengers more free time on the ship to let all of Egypt's splendor to sink in. The general consensus in our group of 55 was that all the temples and sites we visited blurred together after a while and without down time to process, we all felt we had been deprived of a lot of true enjoyment. By the end, we were all exhausted and anxious to get home. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We choose.this cruise in hopes of seeing all that Egypt has to offer and its amazing history and culture. We flew from the US thus the flight time and time difference leave you a little out of sync. Getting test is critical and being ... Read More
We choose.this cruise in hopes of seeing all that Egypt has to offer and its amazing history and culture. We flew from the US thus the flight time and time difference leave you a little out of sync. Getting test is critical and being organized is a priority. We felt safe during our travels as many safety features are in place. We were able to visit many ket sites that are simply amazing. The Egyptian people are very friendly and want to see a smile on your face. The River Cruise has and outdated ship but very clean. Our main gaol on the ship was to rest and dine. We did not go to Egypt to party and stay up late. The Kitchen Staff goes out of their way all the time on every meal this was surprising the food was good. My only request was that they would offer a package of beverages for free outside of water, tea, or coffee. All drinks are very expensive a small coke cost over 2 dollars. Forget the minibar just water. The rooms were very clean and the service was great. The Bus Rides to destination only offered water traffic was and issue. The 4 seasons Hotel is amazing great rooms make sure you get a high floor to avoid the street noise the Italian restaurant is the best. Pick up to the airport and back was good except for departure you have to leave 4 hours prior to flight. My concern with this trip is we made 4 stops to visit local stores with 30 people on the bus this was a waste of time as we did not travel this far to go to stores they should make this optional I would have rather been at the hotel resting. My biggest concern was when we had locals attached their boat outside our rooms screaming out our window for 45 minutes to buy stuff which was a little to much and concerning. This was on our first day and it happened twice with 2 different boats. I called the front desk multiple times and they told me both time it would take 5 minutes which was not the case. Being upset and concerned about our safety, privacy, and lack of sleep having someone attached to your boat outside your room I was hoping for a more proactive response. The Hotel Manager spoke to me during dinner but his response left a lot to be desired. I mentioned we had flown over 15 hours and the last thing we need is to have someone screaming outside our room latched on to the boat. The Boat crew was over the top nice we had no issues with any one for lack of service. After the first day we had no more issues with the small boats attaching to our Ship. I tried to share in a diplomatic way that we did not travel this far to go into 4 stores with 30 people having to waste about 4 hours time when there is so much more you can be doing that is much more logical. Most of the folks buying stuff was trinkets for friends or family members that you could buy all over the streets of Egypt. Coming from the states were we could buy almost anything from Amazon delivered to your doorstep this was the opposite experience wait fore ever for people to get in and off a bus to go into a store were you are flooded around not having a clue what you are looking at or what it is worth and why the heck do you need it. Everywhere you go in on the Tour you have people trying to sell you stuff our tour guide even thought it was a good idea to have some of the folks come on some mini cruises with us amazing. As far as Egypt is concerned we felt very safe except for the cruise having the boat attached to us. The People are very nice there is a lot of poverty thus they try there best to make a living selling tourist trinkets, garments, it is a rich culture with and amazing history. The River Cruise is well balanced the meals are amazing and the guest blended in well with the crew. The Guides should probably do powerpoint presentations or have in room videos of your daily events for preparation and learning. Having a lecture outside for 30 minuets in the Egypt heat is not good a couple of people passed out. Some of the tours are challenging the guide does not let you know until the day you are there. I do not know if we are spoiled or just take things for granted but with a little coaching this great group of people can have a much more positive outcome for folks who traveled so far to see there great country. the sites were amazing we were blessed with great guest from all over the US and Australia. I only wish we did not waste so much time doing things like leaving 4 hours early to the Airport at Midnight with no traffic or stopping at stores. I am hoping this review helps the folks at UNIWORLD Develop a better game plan as I thing we wasted 2 days of time which is 20 percent of our vacation doing things that could have been avoided. I also heard other guest mentioned that a uniform tip would be helpful rather than having to make multiple stops at banks to pay the Bus driver, Tour guide, Hotel staff etc. Yes we also spent over 1 hour stoping at banks for people to get off the bus to go to a ATM. In summary Egypt is a great place to visit we felt the people were great we only wish that the organization four this amazing country for a tourist to visit had more detail prior to tours and less shopping. I also thing the guides should be more helpful telling the street vendors to give us some space. Prior to leaving get some rest bring lots of small bills and make sure you make time to rest when you get back home. I hope this was helpful and I want to thank all the great people who made a difference in our trip. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
If you have ever wanted to go to Egypt, but, if like me, was apprehensive about safety concerns with unrest and terrorism, put aside your fears and go! Although anything can happen anywhere (vis-à-vis Las Vegas, Paris, Brussels, etc.), ... Read More
If you have ever wanted to go to Egypt, but, if like me, was apprehensive about safety concerns with unrest and terrorism, put aside your fears and go! Although anything can happen anywhere (vis-à-vis Las Vegas, Paris, Brussels, etc.), we felt completely safe at all times as the Egyptian government is committed to security for tourism. If you go to Egypt, you definitely want to go "first class." Fortunately, that is easy to do as the prices there are very reasonable. For our trip we choose Uniworld's Splendors of Egypt & Nile River. You probably will want to arrive in Cairo a day or two early to recover from jet lag, and maybe see some sites in Cairo that are not part of the Uniworld tour. The first couple of nights were at the Four Seasons Hotel which is located in the downtown area on the Nile River. As you would expect at the Four Seasons, the rooms and service was unbeatable. They have a variety of excellent restaurants located in the hotel, including Chinese and Italian. They also have a "pool side" café for burgers, etc., which was very good. From Cairo we flew to Luxor where we boarded the Riverboat Tosca for a week of cruising the Nile River. The Tosca is an older and smaller boat compared to most European cruise riverboats, but never the less, was perfectly adequate for the trip. The rooms were exceptionally large and well appointed. The lounge and dining area was quite satisfactory. The food was well prepared and good quality. I heard no complaints and not aware of anyone who got sick. Overall, both the room and dining services was very good. Being a small boat, the entertainment was limited, but I didn't go to Egypt for night clubs and dinner shows. The boat crew was outstanding being very friendly and eager to please. Of course, the main reason most people go on this trip is to see and explore the sites of ancient Egypt. Our Egyptologist/guide, Hani Komona, was truly exceptional. Aside from his extensive knowledge of Egypt, he was very fluent in English, but beyond that, was very friendly, courteous, and helpful. You felt like he was your friend. The people of Egypt are very hospitable and welcoming, and we didn't encounter a single bad experience there (and they can tell you are American). It's a trip of your lifetime! Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Highly recommend this trip. It was an amazing experience. There were 47 Uniworld customers for the entire 11 days and 17 additional customers (from Uniworld affiliated companies) joined us on the 7 day Nile cruise. Our trip started in ... Read More
Highly recommend this trip. It was an amazing experience. There were 47 Uniworld customers for the entire 11 days and 17 additional customers (from Uniworld affiliated companies) joined us on the 7 day Nile cruise. Our trip started in Cairo on 4 March. There are numerous positive things about our experience with Uniworld. There are also several things Uniworld could improve upon to make this trip even better. Highlights 1. Our guide and Egyptologist, Mohamed Ragheb (also known as Habibi), was the best guide we have had on over 30 trips throughout the world. Mohamed led our group of 24 throughout the trip. Another guide had the other 23 passengers. These are the reasons we were so impressed: --Mohammed was passionate, enthusiastic, and extremely knowledgeable about Egypt and its history. He brought Egypt’s history to life. --He went out of his way to meet each of our needs. He bought medicine for people who needed them. He kept us in the shade on hot days. He bought us fresh bread from the local street bakeries, fresh fruit, and cookies. --He cared about modern Egypt and let us see Egypt as it is today—the rich 10% and the poverty of the lowest 30%. No sugar coating--just a love of Egypt and its people. --He added a special tour to the Bent pyramid and Red pyramid on Day 10 when we returned to Cairo. Without this, we would have waited 5 hours for our rooms at the Four Seasons—-read some of the other reviews. 2. The itinerary was well paced, with sightseeing interspersed with time to relax on the Tosca. But.....be prepared for many early morning wake ups. You will be thankful. Less crowds and less heat. Here are a few highlights. --The pyramids outside of Cairo on Days 10 and 11. Seeing the Bent pyramid and Red pyramid on Day 10 gave us the history leading up to the building of the Giza pyramids. Climbing up and then descending into the burial chamber of the Red pyramid was unbelievable. Day 11 we went first to Saqqara, the stepped pyramid, and its royal tombs. Then onto the great pyramids of Giza——they are clearly the number one wonder of both the ancient and modern worlds. So gorgeous and so mind boggling enormous when you stand right up next to them. Day 11 was not finished. We still had the iconic Sphinx and the solar boat museum—143 feet of rebuilt boat beauty buried for 4300 years. --The Egyptian museum in Cairo. This is the number one museum in the world and it is fabulous, with over 4500 artifacts from King Tut’s tomb alone. A brand new and much improved museum is slated to open in the next couple of months. --Cruising the Nile while sitting on the top deck of the Tosca. The Nile is amazing and its transformation of the desert on both sides for a mile. --Valley of the Kings--We went into 4 tombs with beautiful passageways and carvings which included King Tut’s surprisingly small and unadorned tomb (with his mummy). --Ramses II’s temple at Abu Simbel carved out of a rock face. The building of the high dam forced engineers to move the whole site 200 feet to keep it above the water of Lake Nasser. --The Dendera temple was the most pleasant surprise on our journey with the best preserved colored engravings on the columns and the ceilings. 3. The Tosca was a wonderful traveling vessel. We were in the cheapest room on the reception level, room 106. It was very spacious, well furnished and appointed, with a modern large bathroom and lots of storage space. We had two huge windows looking out over the Nile. We also really enjoyed the sun deck. The service from the crew was wonderful and thoughtful. They were always smiling and welcoming. Things Uniworld could improve 1. Tipping policy is very irritating. On most Uniworld cruises tips are included, whereas on this cruise, no tips are included. It felt like we were constantly being asked to tip everyone including bus drivers, porters, local guides, tour coordinators, etc. We did not have an issue with tipping Mohamed, our fabulous guide or the Tosca crew at the end of the cruise, but seems like Uniworld could take care of all the other small tips. Be prepared to pay $450/couple for tips. 2. Day 10 back into Cairo needs to be fixed. This is one of biggest complaints on reviews. We had to leave the Tosca at 6:00 am to catch an early flight to Cairo. However, the rooms at the Four Season are not available until around 3:00. We were charged an additional $30/person for extra tour (which was fabulous) vs option to sit around hotel for 5 hours waiting for our room. Pay a bit more and get us on later flight or include the additional pyramid tour. 3. Alcohol on the Tosca. Another hidden Uniworld charge only in Egypt and maybe one other place. Egyptian wine on the Tosca ranged from undrinkable to mediocre. Plus Uniworld charged for it! Mixed drinks were watered down and expensive. Beer was fine. Uniworld needs to identify the best Egyptian wines and have them available at a reasonable price. Nearly every customer likes to drink good wine with dinner. You can do better. Need one of your wine experts to take a trip to Egypt and fix it. 4. Survey form can be improved. Very limited room for feedback. Plus survey was done before we saw the Pyramids and final two days in Cairo. 5. Skip the citadel and mosque in Cairo. There has to be something better to do in Cairo. Other positives 1. Four Seasons Nile is truly 5 stars. Large wonderful rooms overlooking the Nile, breakfast, service, lobby, restaurants. 2. Pickup at airport and deliver back to airport could not be better. So easy. 3. Trip worked like clockwork. Buses, guides, tours were always well orchestrated and on time, 4. Always felt safe. Armed guard with us always plus police escorts many places. Egypt takes tourist safety seriously. Other thoughts 1. Get e-visas online from Egyptian government site—this is new!!! So easy and quick. https://visa2egypt.gov.eg 2. Food on Tosca is very good with many choices but do not expect amazing 3. March is a great time to be on this cruise. We were 15 degrees above normal on the cruise and it was over 100 a couple of days. But...Nile river is 60 degrees and cools things off. Main sightseeing is early in am and cool. Lots of shade in temples. Very low humidity. Recently went 7 years with no rain in Aswan. 4. Be prepared for polluted air in Cairo and for haze on the Nile cruise. 5. Be prepared for a trip of a lifetime. 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
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
My wife and I are pretty well-traveled and in our late 60’s. This is our third Uniworld river cruise, with the other two taking place in Europe. For those who have traveled with Uniworld before, I’d rate their European cruises 5 (on a ... Read More
My wife and I are pretty well-traveled and in our late 60’s. This is our third Uniworld river cruise, with the other two taking place in Europe. For those who have traveled with Uniworld before, I’d rate their European cruises 5 (on a scale of 1-5, 5 being best) and Egypt 4. I hope the difference will become clear in the review. We had a wonderful time and felt safe everywhere. Day 1 Arrived in Cairo. Uniworld representative met us as we got off the plane and took us to claim our luggage. Fortunately we had obtained our visa before leaving home; otherwise we would have had to stand in a long line to purchase it before leaving the airport. Several other Uniworld guests arrived at the same time so we were escorted to the bus, luggage loaded and taken to the Four Seasons Hotel. Before the bus was allowed to enter the property, it was stopped and a bomb-sniffing dog walked around the bus. When we entered the hotel, we walked thru a metal detector and our carry-on bags went thru an x-ray machine. We checked-in and our luggage was delivered directly to our room. The room was excellent and overlooked the Nile. We ordered dinner from room service. The only meal at the hotel paid by Uniworld is breakfast. The free wi-fi at the hotel was excellent. Day 2 Following breakfast we had a meeting where we were given an overview of the cruise, introduced to the two Egyptologist (hereafter referred to as guide) who would be with us throughout the cruise, given our “whisper” listening device and given the opportunity to purchase several optional excursions. The listening device allows you to hear your guide’s commentary even if you are fairly far away from him. It consists of a small transmitter that hangs around your neck and a pair of standard size ear buds. HINT: Bring your own ear buds so they are sized to your ears. The supplied ear buds come in one size and several people, myself included, felt they weren’t that comfortable. The devices differed from what we used in Europe in that they don’t need to be recharged each night. The optional excursions: Abu Simbel-$295 per person (Absolutely worth it even though it is an early-morning flight) Luxor Sound & Light Show-$38 per person (We enjoyed it.) Cairo dinner cruise-$73 per person (We didn’t do this excursion.) Hot air balloon ride-$109 per person (I did it and it was wonderful even though you had to get up at 4 am) Alexandria Excursion-$115 per person (Available to guests with extra nights booked. An all-day trip, about 3 hours driving time each way.) Uniworld dropped the ball on this excursion. We knew nothing about it until arriving in Cairo. Our plane reservations were booked so we couldn’t add an extra day. My understanding is that Uniworld works with Spring Tours, an Egyptian tour company, for this cruise and they handle the Alexandria excursion. It would have been nice to have known about this tour ahead of time so plane reservations could have been made accordingly. Our tour group of 32 people (the majority of which were from the United States included four Canadians and one Australian) was divided into two groups, each with their own guide. The guide for our group of 14 was Mohamed Attia Abdalla and he was excellent. He had an excellent command of the English language, very patient, able to answer all of our questions, took wonderful care of our group and always pointed out the closest bathrooms. Both groups saw the same thing but not always at the same time and each group had their own bus. Again, the Uniworld difference shows. A group of 32 would have fit on one bus but Uniworld makes their groups smaller and uses two buses which gives you plenty of room to spread out and have your own seat. We visited the Egyptian Museum, had lunch on our own at the Ritz-Carlton and then visited the Alabaster Mosque before arriving back at the hotel. We had dinner on our own in the hotel’s Chinese restaurant which was excellent. Day 3 We flew to Luxor. The airport security is very tight. You go thru two screenings, both with metal detectors, pat-downs and x-ray machines. Luckily your guide is with you to ease the process. In Luxor we visited the Temple of Karnak and boarded the River Tosca. Day 4 A morning visit to the Dendeara temple complex and an evening visit to Luxor Temple. Day 5 Early morning hot air balloon ride, Valley of the Kings and evening galabeya party onboard. Day 6 Visit Kom Ombo Temple, walk thru town, afternoon felucca ride and high tea at the Old Cataract Hotel. Day 7 Visit Aswan High Dam, Unfinished Obelisk and Philae Temple. Afternoon visit to Nubian village and evening Nubian show onboard. Day 8 Morning visit to Abu Simbel via a short flight. Day 9 Morning visit to Esna Temple and evening Luxor Sound and Light Show. Day 10 Fly back to Cairo, check into Four Season Hotel, evening Sound and Light Show at Pyramids of Giza. Day 11 Visit Memphis, lunch at Mensa House Hotel (on your own), Pyramids of Giza and Great Sphinx. Day 12 Transfer to Cairo International Airport for flight home. The M/S River Tosca This is a beautiful ship with a capacity of 82 passengers. On our cruise there were only 32 people so nothing ever felt crowded. When we boarded, Hotel Manager Sameh Mohamed gave a talk on the facilities on board and said that this ship was completely rebuilt to Uniworld’s standards and it shows. It is elegant but not as over-the-top as are some of their European ships. This was the most beautiful ship I saw on the Nile. I’ve never been on a ship with a cabin as large as we had. Plenty of storage space including a huge closet. Queen size bed was very comfortable. Two chairs, desk with chair. Bathroom included separate tub and shower. The ship has a large lounge area with chairs and sofas, a library, dining room with tables for six or eight as well as tables for two and a spa. The upper deck has a swimming pool, lounges, tables and chairs as well as a large shaded area. I would suggest getting a cabin on the starboard (right) side of the ship because the few times we were docked next to another ship, the starboard side was facing the Nile. The wi-fi was acceptable most of the time but I had my own hotspot which worked very well. The provided bath products are Nefertari which is an Egyptian company. Some of the guests, my wife included, didn’t care for the shampoo as it contains olive oil. I can understand using an Egyptian company and supporting the local economy. Alcohol is not included on this cruise but the cost of drinks on the ship is very reasonable. We had laundry done twice at no cost since we’re River Heritage members but the cost was very reasonable. Every member of the crew was friendly and helpful and went out of their way to make sure everything ran smoothly as is the Uniworld way. Breakfast and lunch was buffet while dinner offered choices from a menu. Breakfast included cereals, eggs cooked to order and other hot dishes but there are no menu choices as in Europe. Lunch included salads, several hot dishes and desserts. Dinner included choices of appetizers, main dishes and desserts. The food was well-prepared and delicious. Some differences from Europe: The orange juice at breakfast was not fresh-squeezed; it tasted more like Tang although it was well-mixed. There were fewer dinner menu choices than offered in Europe. In Europe, every dinner entrée was beautifully plated. On this cruise only a few entrees were plated that way. Each evening you received a daily program listing the next day’s activities but there was no discussion about the next day’s activities during the cocktail hour as there is in Europe. Suggestions for improvement: Uniworld should inform you that the Alexandria excursion is available as an optional extra so plane reservations could be made accordingly. Tips should be included as they are in Europe. Upon our return to Cairo from Luxor, everyone had to wait about three hours in the smoke-filled lobby of the Four Seasons until our rooms were ready. Uniworld should arrange for a morning tour or a comfortable smoke-free conference room in which to wait. Money: In Egypt you tip everyone. Bring $100 in $1 bills for initial tips. At the Four Seasons, use the hotel ATM to withdraw Egyptian pounds. Go to the bank in the mall attached to the hotel and exchange the large bills for five pound Egyptian bills (you will need plenty of five pound bills to tip the bathroom attendants). You cannot exchange U.S. dollars for Egyptian pounds at the bank. The exchange rate is set by the government. Aboard ship you can exchange U.S. for Egyptian. Most street vendors will accept Egyptian or U.S. dollars. Credit cards, U.S. or Egyptian can be used for the hotel, extra-cost excursions and your shipboard bill. Security: We felt safe everywhere we went. One of our two buses carried an armed security guard and at every monument, airport and hotel we went thru at least one or more metal detectors. Police officers and military were visible everywhere and I think Egypt is doing its best to restore tourism. Everyone we met was friendly and happy to have us in their country. Personal Service: I had the opportunity to experience Uniworld’s exceptional service. While stepping aboard a felucca I slipped and twisted my left leg. By the end of the sail my leg was extremely swollen. Our guide assisted me back to the ship and immediately had my leg checked to make sure nothing was broken and got ice on it right away. Hotel Manager Sameh arranged for a local doctor to come to my cabin that evening to check my leg. After an examination he gave me an injection for pain and several prescriptions. I stayed aboard the next morning and the doctor returned to check on my condition. All of this for only $110. I resumed activities that afternoon but every crew member I saw the rest of the trip asked me how my leg was doing. The personal service that you receive from Uniworld keeps us coming back. Activity Level: This is not a trip for the mobility challenged. Our guide explained that December and January are the best months to visit weather-wise but the Nile is at its lowest level which means that you must go up and down a lot of concrete stairs to reach the ship from street level although there were crew members to assist. At the monuments you’re walking over a lot of uneven ground. Street Vendors: They’re extremely aggressive and you will encounter them when you exit every monument. If you show any interest or engage them they will follow you back to the bus. If you want to make a purchase, our guide suggested a starting price of half of what they’re asking. Our guide bargained with vendors several times for members of our group. Photography: Outside photography is permitted everywhere. Inside most of the monuments photography without flash is permitted. In several locations a photography permit is required at an extra cost. Our guide would tell us, we’d pay him and he’d purchase the permit. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Review of Uniworld’s Splendors of Egypt and the Nile arriving in Cairo on January 6, 2018. There are several aspects of the trip for which we would like to laud Uniworld, Spring Tours and the Tosca, but also some opportunities for ... Read More
Review of Uniworld’s Splendors of Egypt and the Nile arriving in Cairo on January 6, 2018. There are several aspects of the trip for which we would like to laud Uniworld, Spring Tours and the Tosca, but also some opportunities for improvement that we have shared.. Having an airport attendant meet our arrival at Cairo and airport transfers to and from the hotel was very much appreciated and started and ended the experience on a positive note. The Four Seasons in Cairo is lovely – large suites or rooms with balconies. Great dining options in the hotel, too. We especially liked Bella and The Bar. Go a day or two before the tour to acclimate to the time change. Special kudos and eternal thanks to our Egyptologist, Mohammed Attia Abdalla. He was supremely knowledgeable, generous and patient while sharing his vast store of information, as well as being gracious, kind and caring. He taught us so much about Egypt’s history, symbolism, religion, culture and the geopolitical situation. He told us several times how he and all Egyptians love their country, and kept us enthralled and entertained. He has a great sense of humor and gave us a tremendous feeling of security. When my husband fell ill, he was the one who located and took us to a pharmacy and explained to the pharmacist what we needed, and later identified and called a doctor. He checked in with us continuously. We were very grateful that he skipped a lot of the sales opportunities – no alabaster or perfume factories for us, thank heavens! Just one stop at a papyrus factory and one for carpets. All of the staff on the Tosca were superior, but Attia is one-of a kind. As for the rest of the staff on the Tosca: they were happy, caring, competent and very kind to everyone. A delightful group! Welcoming, well-trained and excellent service providers. Nice big rooms, although the satellite TV reception was wonky and unreliable (if you even care about TV). Lovely common areas, with the exception of the low, uncomfortable wide sofas. Made for people who don’t need back support – since your back couldn’t possibly reach the back of the sofa unless you were 10 feet tall. And very, very low....you can sit down, but you may not get back up! The itinerary was excellent, although we HATED all the early mornings. I forgot to mention in my letter to Uniworld about the last day of our cruise when we had an crazy early wake-up call to take a flight back to Cairo, only to sit in the lobby of the Four Seasons for 5 hours waiting for our rooms to be ready. But having the opportunity to see the Egyptian museum, the temples of Luxor, Karnak, Hatshepsut, Hathor and Ramses Ramses everywhere, was amazing. My husband said that the giant enormous ego of Ramses II, who put gigantic statues of himself all over Egypt, reminded him of a certain American president. At the Valley of the Kings your ticket allows you to visit three pre-determined tombs. Pay extra and go into the tomb of Seti I, Tutankhamun and whatever Ramses tomb is also optional. Well worth seeing any tombs that are open – they are all amazing. We felt like the tour guide “undersold” the Tut tomb. You really need to see it! The Pyramids and the Sphinx are timeless treasures, and although I climbed all the way to the top of the Great Pyramids, my quads were screaming. The camel ride was a fun photo and memory. All of us paid extra to go to Abu Simbel (well worth it!)and a few did the Hot Air Balloon ride the morning we visited the Valley of the Kings. Everyone who did was thrilled that they took advantage of these opportunities. You can skip the sound and light show at Luxor, since you will see one at Giza the next day. Tips for YOUR trip to Egypt (now is a GREAT time to go!): Your first day at the hotel, get some Egyptian pounds and ask the front desk for 5s (get plenty!), 10s and 20s. Anytime you need to go to the bathroom, except at the large hotels, there will be someone standing outside looking for money (5 LE is the "going" rate). You will also need them to give you toilet paper. A 5-pound note is worth about a quarter, so just plan ahead and keep a supply of 5s and you’ll be fine. I had also read a recommendation to bring a stack of $1 bills, so we did. We went through them all for small purchases and tips. Expect to tip everyone. Even the smallest service will be followed by an outstretched hand. If a local poses for a picture, offers to take a picture or shows you something, walks with you, lends a hand or provides any type of service at all they will expect a tip. By the last day at the Pyramids I had run out of Egyptian pounds and dollar bills so the camel guy didn’t get a tip. I still feel bad about that! Remember, a 20-pound note is worth just over a dollar, so carry 5s, 10s and 20s at all times. Very few places (not even the pharmacy) accept credit cards, and those that did only took Visa or Mastercard. The people are lovely and friendly, and very welcoming, but they are also very poor. 60% of the population has an income equivalent to about $100 US per month. After visiting any monument or temple expect to be mobbed by vendors selling goods. It is their livelihood, and there aren’t many tourists so you certainly understand and empathize, but it can get annoying. We headed for kiosks/stores of those who weren’t quite so aggressive, and made purchases there. Uniworld needs to update their brochure to stipulate that the Tosca does not have any sort of medication available – not even an aspirin. Other cruise ships we’ve been on freely dispensed non-prescription medications like aspirin, motion sickness pills or remedies for tummy trouble. But apparently it is Uniworld’s policy that customers are on their own. Bring any and all medications you may need. Cold and flu, aspirin, Advil, Motrin, bandaids and antiseptic cream – having your own fully-stocked first aid kit is a must. Hand sanitizer was everywhere onboard, but having a small bottle or wipes with you will be helpful. Not all of the bathrooms at tourist sites have running water. The brochure stated that customers would get a single bottle of water a day. In fact, at the Four Seasons in Cairo, and onboard the Tosca and the tour bus each day the staff were very generous with bottled water, and onboard there was also iced tea, sparkling water, coffee etc. Local beer and wine were reasonable, although mixed drinks are expensive. The Tosca needs to improve in-room amenities. They offer a special line called Nefertari, created by an Egyptian dermatologist for her daughter who had many allergies. Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and soap. It is awful stuff, and the shampoo left our hair tacky and feeling unclean, while the rose soap was much too flowery a scent for my husband. Every customer was complaining about it. But we loved the L’Occitane at the Four Seasons. So bring your own shampoo and conditioner. The food onboard was not very special. Breakfast was fine, and I very much appreciated the rotating selection of fruits. Some of the options on the lunch buffet were strange or not recognizable. At other times they offered western options which were interpreted in unusual ways. One day was pizza and hamburgers and while the pizza was ok - vegetarian only but without tomato sauce - the hamburgers were tiny and overcooked. At dinner, some of the veal or beef entrees were tough and inedible. All of the fish entrees, on the other hand, were delicious, although there seemed to be a lot of repetition in the choices. The plating and presentation of the dinner entrees was lovely. Overall, this trip gave us memories for a lifetime and was a wonderful experience. Our fellow travelers were very experienced, mature, and a great group of people. I wish that this trip was all-inclusive, as most Uniworld river cruises are. Again, the prices onboard for beer and wine and laundry services were very reasonable. We recommend Uniworld and the Tosca, and this particular trip to Egypt. Go now, before tourism rebounds! There were no lines for anything we visited. It was sad, to be perfectly honest. The sights were absolutely awe-inspiring and I learned something new every day. We felt safe and protected and were never concerned about security, thanks to all of the precautions put in place. Read Less
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