1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
  4. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection Cruise Reviews

19 Uniworld Middle East Cruise Reviews

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 February 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
Sail Date January 2019
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
Sail Date October 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
Sail Date April 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
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
Sail Date March 2018
Positive: The crew is outstanding: skilled, caring and very good at their jobs. The guide for the "Splendors of Egypt and the Nile" cruise, Mohammed Atilla Abdullah was knowledgeable and personable and gave us a great sense ... Read More
Positive: The crew is outstanding: skilled, caring and very good at their jobs. The guide for the "Splendors of Egypt and the Nile" cruise, Mohammed Atilla Abdullah was knowledgeable and personable and gave us a great sense of the country and its history. He spent a great deal more time on the meaning of the hieroglyphic symbols and not as much on the architecture and function of the temple buildings as we would have liked, but he was very knowledgeable. The size of the cabin was great. However, the shower could have been larger and safer; we would have happily given up the tub to have had a larger shower. The itinerary included most of the important places one would hope to see on such a trip. The Four Seasons was a lovely hotel to stay in while in Cairo. Thank you for allowing the cruise to take place even with the diminished number of passengers. These are challenges that need to be addressed: Docking places for the ship. There were often 40-50 steps that were extremely uneven, without any lighting at all and without railings. In Luxor the danger was compounded by our having to navigate between multiple ships of different heights in total darkness – which happened. There were originally no staff to assist and no plank to make this a slightly less dangerous situation; that improved slightly toward the end of the cruise when one or two people were at the stairs, but it was still dangerous. There was no elevator on the ship – something of which we were not aware until well after we had booked. There were many stairs to be navigated between our cabin on the 3d floor and the dining room in the basement of the ship – and this meant that we often just dragged our belongings with us rather than go back to the room to get them before leaving for the day. One of us is recovering from a broken ankle and frankly, we would not have done this trip if we had realized there was no elevator. Schedule: extremely early mornings, often for no apparent reason. The worst situation was on the last day when we were called at 3:30 in the morning to fly on an early-morning flight to Cairo, only to sit for hours in a smoke-filled lounge at the Hotel while awaiting word that our rooms were finally ready. There was nothing scheduled until the Sound and Light Show that night and it was a total waste of one full day of our time. It would be appropriate for Uniworld to refund of one day of the cost of the cruise to the passengers. Food: the food was just not very good. The soups had their moments and so did the desserts (particularly the apple sorbet, that people ate when they were not feeling well) – but breakfast, the main courses, even the salads, lacked taste and were not appealingly presented. At least not by the standards Uniworld claims. It was a special cruise for us to take and, given the small number of passengers booked on it, we were happy it was not cancelled Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
I so enjoyed my January 19 trip through Cairo and the Nile. It beat my high expectations in endless ways. I am a well traveled person so it was exciting to travel to a country that felt so foreign but still provided all of the luxuries of ... Read More
I so enjoyed my January 19 trip through Cairo and the Nile. It beat my high expectations in endless ways. I am a well traveled person so it was exciting to travel to a country that felt so foreign but still provided all of the luxuries of 5 star travel. I also want to say up front that Uniworld, the Four Seasons hotel and Egypt seemed to go to great extremes to keep this traveling american safe. I felt completely comfortable the whole trip. We received warm hospitality and excellent service beginning to end. In addition a good 100 random Egyptians during my 12 day seemed compelled to come up, say “welcome, we are so glad you are visiting Egypt. Please come back.” Our guide Essam was with us the entire trip. I learned a great deal from him as he brought ancient history to life. In addition to being well educated, he was charming and funny. He made himself available for endless questions. He also held optional extra talks on modern Egypt. I can’t say enough about how much we enjoyed our time with Essam. Just thinking about the sound of his voice caroling us all with “shake a leg” makes me smile. I should also mention the lovely staff on the river cruise. The caring attention to detail and good nature of the crew makes the whole experience unforgettable. Also noted Michelle at the Four Seasons made a trip to a specialty store to get my organic unsweetened soy milk so it was waiting for me on my arrival. Big thanks Michelle. I would like to see Uniworld add a visit to the Bazaar in a Cairo as a tour. I went on my own and really enjoyed it. Other than that the itinerary was flawless. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
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
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
Sail Date January 2018
Uniworld 12 Day Splendors of Egypt and the Nile plus two extra days As an introduction, I am a recently retired, intellectually inquisitive, mid 60’s female traveling alone. I arrived in Cairo at December 7 two days pre tour. Some ... Read More
Uniworld 12 Day Splendors of Egypt and the Nile plus two extra days As an introduction, I am a recently retired, intellectually inquisitive, mid 60’s female traveling alone. I arrived in Cairo at December 7 two days pre tour. Some things I learned: 1) Egyptian prices are great. Everything was inexpensive in comparison to USA prices. Haggling is expected. 2) The protest are over and the Egyptians want tourists to come. I felt very safe everywhere I traveled. 3) The two days before were great. If it hadn’t been Dec 20 I would have liked to stay an additional day. 4) At many sites no photography allowed, but if you pay the guide some photos can be taken (Pyramids, Abu Simbel). Of course many people will smile and motion for you to take their photo or that they will ask to take your photo, but they all want a tip for the pleasure. 5) On the river cruise portion; 2 additional couples joined our Uniworld group with their own guides for 3 nights in Luxor. I had looked at this option through other tour operators (Kensington for example), but as a solo traveler, I wanted to travel with others so joining the Uniworld package tour was better for me personally, but if I was with a traveling companion I might consider this option. 6) The M/V Tosca was great. The crew very nice, the food very good and the cabins very nice. 7) The best thing I did was to download articles about Egypt from National Geographic and Wikipedia to my iPad. There is downtime at airports, flights, bus rides, and when the SAT TV on the boat is not working to read the articles to reinforce and add additional depth to what you are seeing. It made the experience so much better. 8) This was the best trip I have ever taken and I have traveled to 80 countries. Friday December 8-On my own I arranged for Uniworld to drop me off at the Egyptian museum. I paid to see the museum, the Royal mummies, and camera use ($20). A guide quickly approached me and I engaged him for one hour at the cost of about $11 dollars. I learned a lot and then explored the museum for two additional hours. I met our tour's Egyptologist Assem and the van at 1PM and we drove to the old walled Islamic city and walked down a lovely old street with classic period of beautiful Islamic architecture of mosques and cistern/schools. We walked through the bazar past the al-Hussein Mosque and back out (cost $80). I also have to commend the Egyptologist Assem who accompanied Uniworld through the entire tour; he was such a pleasure to have on our journey. He was very smart, competent and passionate about Egypt and Egyptian history. He was an excellent and patient teacher throughout this journey. Saturday December 9-Old Cairo and Souk I arranged to join in with 4 other passengers to do “The Coptic Tour” with a van and Assem. We saw the Hanging Coptic church built on pillars, and a Coptic museum, a Greek Orthodox Church, The Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church that was built over a cave purported to have housed the holy family during their Egyptian exile. We also saw an old synagogue. This was followed by a trip back to the Bazar and a walk to the far side to the tentmaker’s street (cost $60 pp.). Sunday Dec. 10-Cairo Museum and Citadel On the first official day of the12-day tour we met with our group of 25 Americans, consisting mostly of couples 40-70 in age, a family group of four, a couple traveling with friend, and two solo ladies (myself included). This day we went to the Egyptian Museum and had a tour provided by Assem, ( I am glad I had spent 3 hours already). Then we walked over to the Ritz Carleton for lunch, and then boarded the bus for a drive across town to the Saladin Citadel and the Alabaster Mosque. Monday Dec. 11- Flight to Luxor and Temple of Karnak We had a 3 AM wakeup and a 4:30 pickup to head to the Cairo airport to catch the small plane for the 1-hour flight to Luxor. Upon landing we immediately boarded a bus and drove into Luxor for a visit to the Karnak Temple, a 250-acre complex dedicated to the god Amun. The impressive Temple Hall with 134 columns is the world’s largest columnar structure. After the tour we headed to join the M/S Tosca at dock on the east bank of the Nile. We had a brief orientation around 10:30 AM and then were guided to our cabins, followed by lunch. The remainder of the afternoon was free. I had hoped to walk into town, but the ship is docked in a remote area. Luckily the Tosca always has the outside berth (with three empty ships and one other active cruise ship). I had booked an odd number cabin, but was thankfully moved to an even number cabin, which always has the river view. Tuesday. December 12. Temple of Hathor and Temple of Luxor We took our bus to the temple of the cow goddess Hathor in Dendara (south of Qena) on the west bank of the Nile. It is the most complete Greco-Roman temple complex and dates from 100 BCE, although built on much older foundations. There we beautiful painted walls and ceilings with very strong carvings. The Christians later defaced the temple in 300 AD, but not everywhere (above easy reach) and the colors were very beautiful. Returned to the ship for lunch then we went to the Luxor Temple for sunset (3-6 PM), which was so lovely light up at night. After dinner, we had a belly dancer and whirling dervish show. Wednesday December 13. Valley of the Kings The seventeen passengers who opted for the additional $120 hot air balloon excursion left at 4:45 am, boarded a van then a ferry across the Nile, and then a van to the hot air balloons. The balloon held 33 passengers in 8 compartments plus one with the operator. After we lifted off the ride was amazing. Sailing over the valleys of the Nobel’s, the Queens and the workers, but NOT the Valley of the Kings. It gave me a great perspective of the valley and the neighboring valleys. There were 100’s of tombs everywhere. We were airborne for about an hour then landed. It was very interesting to see the crew compress the balloon and contain it, took about 10 men. After we landed, fought off the vendors, and tipped everyone, we took a van to meet up with the bus and the 8 others at the Colossi of Memnon, or more correctly the two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III and drove to the Valley of the Kings. At the Valley of the Kings you have to buy an extra camera ticket ($11), and you are checked rigorously in all the tombs. We saw three tombs. KV 2 (Ramses IV), KV 11 (Ramses III), and KV 14 the tomb built by the Queen Tausert and later taken over by her son Setnakht. The tombs walls were covered with beautiful carvings and colorful paintings. The Valley of the Kings was hot and dusty, but it was amazing; the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Afterwards we went to an alabaster factory/ bathroom stop, prices were very high. We then headed to Deir-el-Bahri and the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, which was amazing. It was approaching 2 pm and we went back to the ship, the drive in the bus was much longer than our early morning the ferry ride across the Nile. There are not a lot of bridges across the Nile. We set sail for Esna locks and arrived in the dark. That night was Egypt dinner and Galabiya party where the crew entertains with dances and music. Very fun. Thursday, December 14, Kom Ombo and Aswan We started the morning at the Kom Ombo temple (gold mountain). This was an important trading center from the east. The Greco-Roman temple (200 BCE- 300 AD) was laid out as two parallel temples. One was dedicated to Sobek the evil crocodile God of the Nile, and the other to the good falcon god Horus. Afterwards there was some shopping time, as we were the only ship docked. The vendors are very aggressive, but they are only trying to live, and tourists are not common. We then set sail to Aswan and had a lecture on Egyptian history and life in modern Egypt by our Egyptologist Assem. The Nile is much larger than I expected somewhere between the Mississippi and the Ohio in size. In Luxor, the strip of green along the Nile was a mile wide, but as we approached Aswan, the green strip was only a few trees. We had a lovely lunch on the upper deck during the sail from Kom Ombo to Aswan. About 3 pm we arrived in Aswan and walked to a nearby felucca for an hour-long cruise around Elephantine Island. The weather was perfect, sunny but not hot. We were serenaded by young boys on surfboards (frère Jacque and the Macarena to name a few tunes). The Nubian crew sold camel bone trinkets (no-one ever passed up an opportunity to try and sell us something!) The Nubian crew was very skilled in docking the felucca, with only sail power to tack against the wind. We then boarded the bus for a short ride to the Old Cataract Hotel, where we were told Agatha Christie spent 6 months writing Death on the Nile (she did stay here, but not that long). We had high tea and watched the sunset. It was lovely. The first Cataract on Nile marks the barrier for Nile navigation. Friday December 15- Aswan This morning we left early and it was nice and cool. We headed to see the nearby granite quarry to see the unfinished obelisk, which cracked and was then abandoned. Then we headed to see the old 1902 British dam and the new 1964 Aswan dam. After that we visited the Greco Roman Philae temple on an island. This is one of the 13 temples moved because of the building of the Aswan dam. You can see the small mostly submerged nearby Island where the temple originally stood. Here there were many vendors (on boat we took to get to the temple and on shore). There was also a stop at the requisite overpriced Aswan Elite perfume store. At 3PM we walked to a small motorboat for a trip to the first cataracts of the Nile. In the past this area would have been a waterfall, but since the building of the dam there are 100s of small-protected islands that have become bird and wildlife sanctuaries. A local guide pointed out the wildlife. Then we went to a Nubian village and visited a home where we learned about how the Nubians were moved to villages when the dam was built. The Nubians are from the south and traditionally darker than the northern Egyptians. The general view is that they are much happier in the new villages with electricity and education. The owner of the house made woven scarves. His handmade scarves were beautiful, inexpensive and a cut above the regular scarves that were found everywhere. I wish I had bought more because his scarves were a unique souvenir. After wards we walked through the village. I had brought small items, Halloween M&M’s, toothbrushes and combs from amenities kits, pens and lanyard chains and freebies that I picked up at professional meetings. I started to pass these out to the children. They were so excitedly grabbing the items and asking for more, they especially wanted the combs. I barely escaped, but I hope they liked them. Saturday December 16- Abu Simbel Today the entire group too the optional tour to Abu Simbel ($295). We took the 10 am flight to Abu Simbel the magnificent rock carved temple that marked the Egyptian southern border with the Nubians. The Aswan airport has extensive security because if the dam were bombed millions of Egyptians would be killed. After a very short flight we arrived at Abu Simbel and the entire plane took a shuttle bus to the Temple and toured for about an hour then got back on the bus, returned to the airport went through various security checks and took the same waiting plane back to Aswan. Very civilized. The Abu Simble consist of four 20 m statues (one missing) of Ramses II and is one of the most beautiful temples in Egypt. Next to it is the temple to his favorite wife Nefertari. Because of thewater behind the Aswan Dam, the temples were carved into 30-ton blocks and reassembled 200 ft. away. I remember this from my childhood and it was a site worth seeing. We were back on the ship by 2 PM and set sail for the Esna locks. It was a lovely afternoon sailing on the Nile. The weather was perfect. Sunday December 17- Esna temple and town We arrived at Esna at 9 am and walked a short distances through the street to see the Esna Temple. The Greco-Roman temple was dedicated to Khnum the creator god who fashioned humans on a pottery wheel. We also visited an ancient oil press and a Coptic church. We left and sailed through the Esna locks and then on to Luxor enjoying the scenery and the final sunset on the Nile. It was a wonderful cruise. That night 16 passengers went to the advertised Luxor Sound and Light show ($38), which was actually held at Karnak Temple. Not sure if I would have gone if I had known it was actually at Karnak, because I had not seen the Karnak Temple at night and would have liked to. However, I chose not to go to the Luxor because I had read that the Luxor S&L show was not worth it, but the ones who went to this excursion did not appear to like the Karnak version any better. However I would have liked to see the spectacular Karnak Temple at night. Monday December 18, return to Cairo and Sound and Light Show This was a leisurely morning. We had to have the luggage out by 9AM, and the bus at 9:45 for the noon flight back to Cairo. The crew gave us a lovely send off, and we knew that the next load of 19 passengers would board for their week-long cruise (as we did seven days before) in several hours. We were in the Four Seasons at 3:30 PM. I ordered room service and several of us left for the Sound and Light Show at the pyramids at 5 PM. Many who had done the Light show at Karnak the night before opted out, but I wanted to see the pyramids, and even in the dusk/dark they were amazing. The show was OK, but it was difficult to follow, as some of the mish mash of historical events they discussed were not even related to Giza. Overall I was happy I went and it was included. Tuesday December 19, Last Day. -Memphis, Saqqara and Giza We left the hotel at 7:15 AM and drove about 40 minutes (20 miles) to the ancient Old Kingdom capital Memphis. This is a huge and ancient (3000 BCE) archeological site, but a very small tourist site. We saw the alabaster sphinx, and the fallen statue of Ramses II. Then we headed to the nearby necropolis called Saqqara. There are numerous tombs and mastabas in this area several pyramids including the famous step pyramid of Djoser (~2600 BCE). There was an interesting museum and we learned about Imhotep the architect of Djoser’s pyramid. After this we went to an expensive carpet factory/toilet break and the drove about 10 miles to Giza. We had a photo stop at Khufu (~2500 BCE) pyramid, and could walk up to the entry, but we did not go in. Then we drove to Menkaura’s pyramid (~2500 BCE) where we could go inside. Again they said no pictures (so I left my camera), but the guard inside allowed photos for a tip. After this we all went for a camel ride ($11) and gave a $6 tip. It was very touristy but memorable. This was followed up with the Sphinx up close and lastly a stop at a very expensive “Cotton shop”. We were back to the hotel at 4:30, where some folks were leaving for the airport in 6 hours! I woke at 2:30 for the 3:30 bus to airport, where we went through three security checks and sat around for an hour for the Lufthansa desk to open, and 21 hours later I was home. I have the most wonderful memories Read Less
Sail Date December 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
Sail Date September 2017
Uniworld's "Splendors of Egypt and the Nile" remains a fascinating itinerary on a super-comfortable ship with an excellent crew that aims to please and food as good as the food on Uniworld's European cruises. As ... Read More
Uniworld's "Splendors of Egypt and the Nile" remains a fascinating itinerary on a super-comfortable ship with an excellent crew that aims to please and food as good as the food on Uniworld's European cruises. As mentioned by cruisers last season, this is the time to visit Egypt as the number of tourists remains relatively low. Security at the airports, hotels and every tourist site is very tight, and we never felt uneasy. An armed guard unobtrusively accompanied us on tours in Cairo as well as on the Nile. From our transport from the Cairo airport (we arrived one day early) to every aspect of the tour and transport back to the airport, Uniworld staff took care of every detail. Our Egyptologist/Cruise Manager Mohamed Ragheb conducted all tours in Cairo and on the Nile and was absolutely excellent. We learned so much from him about ancient Egypt as well as life in modern Egypt. He especially watched out for two passengers who use canes for mobility and who fell walking on uneven ground. After that, a crew member accompanied both on excursions and helped with the tricky transfers onto a felucca and motorboats. The vibe on ship is very informal -- many people wore to dinner the clothes they had worn during the tours, except for the Galabeya night when Egyptian food was featured for dinner and crew and most passengers donned galabeyas, inexpensive for purchase at the ship's boutique. The sun deck has plenty of padded lounge chairs, tables and chairs under a canopy, and a large (for a river ship) pool, but the weather, while warm during the day, was too cool for anyone to be tempted to use it. There were several early days for touring but also more time cruising the river during daytime than on the European itineraries, which was very pleasant. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Egypt was on top of our bucket list and we wanted to get the most out of the experience. I will admit that I was a little apprehensive about going to Egypt and of course all our friends thought we were crazy. I am so glad we went! We had ... Read More
Egypt was on top of our bucket list and we wanted to get the most out of the experience. I will admit that I was a little apprehensive about going to Egypt and of course all our friends thought we were crazy. I am so glad we went! We had sailed with Uniworld a couple years ago in Europe and were so impressed with the ship & the staff, we decided to book with them to go to Egypt. The Uniworld package was very reasonable and inclusive with the exception of alcohol drinks, tips and two optional tours - Hot Air Balloon and the excursion to Abu Simbel. We spent two nights in Cairo at the Four Seasons and then flew down to Luxor to meet the River Tosca. The ship was very nice, I thought the food was excellent and the staff could not have been nicer. We had an official Egyptologist, Akram, travel with us everywhere we went along with a body guard. Akram was a wonderful guide and we all enjoyed traveling with him. The whole time we were in Egypt, I felt very safe and well protected. My feeling was the body guard was there more to make us feel secure rather than for the protection. The Egyptians take security very seriously, much more than the USA. You have to go through a few security lines to get into anything. We did do the optional excursion to Abu Simbel (this is a must), it was phenomenal. I went on the Hot Air Balloon ride in the wee hours of the morning be the Valley of the Kings. This I would recommend as well. Here is my recommendation - go now before the crowds come back! Consider the River Tosca, I was genuinely sad when we departed. Read Less
Sail Date November 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
Sail Date March 2016
I have been on ocean and river cruises before (Viking on the Danube just this summer; Seadream on the Amazon a couple of years ago) but this was probably the best cruise I've ever been on. The Tosca itself is a 2011 50-passenger, ... Read More
I have been on ocean and river cruises before (Viking on the Danube just this summer; Seadream on the Amazon a couple of years ago) but this was probably the best cruise I've ever been on. The Tosca itself is a 2011 50-passenger, three-deck boat. The tours themselves were given by an Egyptian company. The boat was plush compared to the very spartan Viking boat we cruised the Danube with; unlike the much larger Viking boat, the Tosca had a pool (albeit unheated), lots of covered enclosure/beds on the top deck and a workout fitness room. Meals were absolutely great (breakfast and lunch were both buffet style) and the service was impecable. The tour started in Cairo for a day visiting the Citadel, Mohammed Ali mosque and the Egyptian Museum. The next day, we flew to Luxor, visited the Karnak temple complex and then embarked. The next day we visited the Valley of the Kings tombs, then in the afternoon we started the cruise, going up and down the Nile, visiting various temples and various sites (the Nubian village near Aswan, the Aswan dam, tea a the historic Cataract hotel, etc). A flight to Abu Simbel was an option, which everyone took and it was worth the additional $ 290 per person cost. Very professional, classy and friendly all the way around. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
First, I'd congratulate Uniworld for the excellent service on this ship. Tourism in Egypt is down some 95%, and the River Tosca had not sailed in four years until this cruise. There were 20 in our group, on a ship designed for 85. ... Read More
First, I'd congratulate Uniworld for the excellent service on this ship. Tourism in Egypt is down some 95%, and the River Tosca had not sailed in four years until this cruise. There were 20 in our group, on a ship designed for 85. Needless to say, the crew to passenger ratio was pretty high! There are supposedly over 400 river boats on the Nile, and less than 20 were operating at the time of this cruise. Hundreds upon hundred of riverboats are in dry dock along the Nile, representing billions in investment. The Egyptians couldn't have been nicer and more appreciative that we were there. As a baseline for this review, this was our 3rd river cruise (Rhine/Moselle with Scenic, and the Yangtze with Uniworld), and our 16th cruise overall, with about 150 nights shipboard. This review is of the River Tosca ship alone, and not of the overall Uniworld tour. The ship was beautiful and clean. The cabins are exceptionally large. Service was excellent, and the food was very good and always well presented. The menu is more limited than on a large cruise ship, but there were always good choices. Dinners were very good. Lunches are buffets, and also very good. Breakfasts were also buffets, and were, well, breakfast buffets. They do not serve pork in Egypt, so bacon or sausage is made from beef or chicken, and that leaves something to be desired. Service on the ship was outstanding. See above for crew/passenger ratio. The staff was always open and friendly, and always willing to help. As noted above, the cabins were quite large. They have French balconies, not full balconies, which is a drawback. There is a full bath and separate shower, and the shower is small. I would have much preferred a larger shower, or tub/shower combo. Neither my wife or I ever used the bathtub. The ships entertainment shows were decent, but not spectacular. NOTES: 1. There is no elevator. Disabled persons may find this ship difficult. Look at the deck plans when choosing a cabin. We had 216, and it was perfect. 2. The ships are tendered one to another along the river bank. We were the 7th and most outside ship, meaning we had to walk through 6 other ships to get to our ship. We had a beautiful Nile river view from our cabin when in dock, which was on the starboard side. Cabins on the port side viewed directly into another ships cabin, some 5 feet away. Until things change in Egypt, GET A STARBOARD (EVEN NUMBERED) CABIN! 3. Ship has a "fitness" center, which we didn't utilize. I never saw anyone in there, but maybe someone did go there. If you go on this tour, you will have so much walking and climbing that looking for additional exercise seems like punishment. Pool is small but nice. This is the time to see Egypt, with tourism at an all time low. The major sites were relatively empty, considering their capacity. When we were in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, I had about 15 minutes as the only person viewing King Tut's fabulous mask! That's like walking into The Louvre, and finding the Mona Lisa with no other viewers! I continually marveled on how well the ship was run, considering that we were the "guinea pigs" on the first cruise after 4 years of inactivity. Everything worked properly, ran smoothly, food was great, and the staff did an excellent job. Overall, I'd rate the River Tosca with 5 stars! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Background: We are a professional couple...mid 40's. This was his first river cruise and her 2nd, both with Uniworld. We've previously sailed on many ocean cruises, mostly with Princess. We consider ourselves somewhat ... Read More
Background: We are a professional couple...mid 40's. This was his first river cruise and her 2nd, both with Uniworld. We've previously sailed on many ocean cruises, mostly with Princess. We consider ourselves somewhat well-traveled with usually at least one trip out of the country each year. Pre/Post-Cruise Travel: We arranged our own round trip air travel to Cairo on Air France. We booked their Premium Voyageur cabin both ways. This is a three row section between regular coach (Voyageur) class and business (Affaires) class. It provides increased leg room and seat width over coach as well as the same amenity kit and upgraded blankets/pillows as business class. Also, drinks are free in this section but the meals are the same as coach. The shell seats are nice for the fact that the person in front of you cannot recline their seat into your space. However, the seats could use some additional padding and they were not comfortable for sleeping. Both flights were on time and we had no problem transferring at Paris-Charles De Gaulle with a 2 hour layover. We flew in a day early as a precaution against any flight issues and to give ourselves an extra day to adjust to the time change. We booked the extra night at the hotel through Uniworld to ensure that we would be met by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the hotel. Even though it was a significant cost premium over booking the extra night with the hotel directly, we're glad we did it. Our Uniworld representative, Ehab, was extremely helpful when Air France lost one of our bags. He handled all the communication with the Air France representative at the airport and provided them with all of our information so that they could deliver the bag to our hotel (which they did the next day). The return trip was not as smooth. Air France downgraded us on the first leg of the return due to the cabin crew strike. Although they compensated us with a 100 euro voucher, we were not happy sitting in coach when we had paid for a premium cabin. In addition, they broke the lock and zipper on one of our checked bags. It will probably be a while before we fly Air France again. Pre/Post-Cruise Stay: We stayed at the Cairo Marriott Hotel and Omar Khayyam Casino. Uniworld offered us an upgrade to the Four Seasons about 4 months before leaving for a fee. After researching the two hotels, we decided that the change in hotels was not worth the amount they were asking. After talking with a few from our group who paid for the upgrade, we're glad we stayed in the Marriott. They visited our hotel the first day of the tour and said they wished they had saved the money and just kept the Marriott. I believe this will not be a choice going forward because Uniworld has changed the future itinerary to use the Four Seasons exclusively. The Marriott was a very nice hotel. I won't go into a lot of detail here because there are many reviews for the hotel itself on TripAdvisor. The rooms were just average but the grounds were very beautiful, the pool area was very relaxing, and we didn't get sick from any of the restaurants we ate at. General Logistics: Uniworld did a fantastic job with all the logistics involved with this type of tour. The first two nights were in the hotel. Then, on the morning of the third day we flew from Cairo to Luxor where we embarked our ship. After seven nights aboard the River Tosca, we flew back to Cairo for the last two nights back at the hotel. We also did the optional tour to Abu Simbel which required a round trip flight from Aswan to Abu Simbel. All transfers, check-ins, flights, etc. went flawlessly. I don't know how much of that was due to Uniworld's experience and how much was due to the very low numbers of tourists visiting Egypt right now, but either way we were extremely impressed with their handling of all these arrangements. Embarkation: We learned during the trip that only 35 of approximately 400 licensed ships were operating and that most were far from full. Our ship has a capacity of 84 passengers but there were only 20 or so guests onboard at any given time. The embarkation process was very simple since we had a small group and we were already travelling together from the hotel. We all arrived at the ship at the same time and were offered a welcome drink while we were provided some brief information about the ship by our Hotel Manager, Sam. We were then given our room keys and asked if we had traveled with Uniworld previously so they could note which guests are members of the River Heritage Club. We were shown to our rooms where our luggage had already been delivered while we were touring Karnak Temple that morning. The entire process was very smooth and they used the information about previous travel to deliver a tote bag, invitations to a cocktail party, and information about free laundry service for past guests. Ship Info: The ship is beautiful as expected. Common areas are tastefully decorated and the lobby and lounge have a distinctly Egyptian theme. Stateroom -â€" We booked a category 2 room on the 2nd deck. All rooms have French balconies but the category 1 & 2 rooms are slightly larger than the category 3 & 4 rooms. It was nice to have the large sliding door that could be opened for fresh air and stunning views while sailing up and down the river. The room was quite large compared to both ocean cruise staterooms and previous Uniworld experience in Europe. There was a lot of storage space for clothing and the luggage was able to fit nicely under the bed. The bathroom was quite large and included a separate shower and tub and a bidet. The bed was comfortable and we had no issues sleeping once we were fully recovered from the jet lag. There was a refrigerator on one side of the closet and a large safe box on the other. Two bottles of water were provided in the stateroom each night as well as on many tours. We had no shortage of water for drinking, brushing teeth, etc. The chairs were very comfortable...great for sitting and watching the scenery pass slowly by through the sliding door. The power outlets are 220V with European style receptacles so you'll need to bring an adapter to plug in any US plugs and a power converter for anything that must use 110V power without a built-in converter (e.g. curling irons, etc.) Dining -â€" Breakfast was included every day. Lunch and dinner were on your own at the hotel but included on the ship. Breakfast and lunch on the ship were buffet style and dinner was a la carte. While food is very subjective, we found all of the meals on the ship to be very good to exceptional. Like most buffets, it was difficult to maintain the temperature of the dishes sometimes but overall, the buffets were far superior to what we are used to. The a la carte dinners were excellent both in variety and preparation. Prior to the trip, we had read many warnings about mummy tummy. While many in our group did experience bouts of this, we escaped without any symptoms. It is difficult to say why we didn't get sick. At the beginning of the trip, we did avoid many of the things that we were recommended to avoid such as raw vegetables and fruits. But, by the end of the trip, we were eating just about anything they served on the ship. The only difference that we know of is that we took probiotics for two weeks prior to departure and continued them through the trip. Maybe this helped. Of course, we did not drink the water at the hotel or on the ship but we did take ice in our drinks on the ship (not at the hotel). Service -â€" The service onboard River Tosca was exceptional. Again, this may be due to the fact that the ship was only at about 25% occupancy, but our experience with the crew was fantastic. Every crew member was friendly and helpful. They went out of their way to ensure every guest was happy. Nighttime Entertainment -â€" Overall, the night time entertainment was good. You don't really go on a trip like this for the onboard entertainment. The sights are the attraction. In fact, most nights everyone is in bed by 10 pm because of the early morning wake up calls for tours. Even so, Uniworld does try to offer some cultural activities at night. One night there was a whirling dervish and belly dancer show. Another night, there was a Nubian show. And, there were galabeya parties on two separate evenings, where everyone dresses up in Egyptian clothing and dances to Egyptian music. The whirling dervish was fun to watch if you've never seen it before. The belly dancer, however, left a lot to be desired. The Nubian show was fun with good music and dancing. Spa -â€" River Tosca has a small spa on deck 3 with two treatment rooms and one masseur. They offered basic treatments and massages for a good price. A basic 50 minute massage was offered for about $50 US. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to take advantage of the services because of the busy schedule. However, we did get involved in a yoga stretching class on the top deck one evening that included some interesting instruction on Thai massage. Talk about an interesting way to get to know your fellow cruisers. Based on this limited experience, we're pretty sure the massage would have been worth the cost. Tours: This is really what this trip is all about. Visiting all the ancient sights and hearing all the interesting history that is preserved on the temple walls. This is why we go to Egypt! And, we were lucky enough to visit at the right time. Since tourism in Egypt is way down due to the revolution, none of the sights were crowded and in some cases, we couldn't believe how few people we had to share them with. Day 1 -â€" Arrived at hotel. No tours. Relaxed by pool. Day 2 -â€" We met our local Cairo guide, Mohamed, and our tour manager, Ahmed, at 8:00 am. After a brief orientation, we left for the Citadel of Salah al-Din and the Muhammad Ali Mosque (aka Alabaster Mosque). Be sure to dress conservatively for the mosque and wear socks if you don't want to pay $1 US for shoe covers before entering. We just removed our shoes and carried them with us, but others utilized the covers. After leaving the mosque, we visited the famed Egyptian Museum. After a 1 hour guided tour from Ahmed, we were allowed 2 hours to wander around the exhibits on our own. Unfortunately, they do not allow cameras inside so you can't get any pictures of King Tut's mask. And, since the revolution, they have closed the museum store so if you want any pictures/books of the artifacts, you'll have to watch for them at the other sights or check out the ship's store. Still it was one of the most interesting visits of the trip. We paid 100 LE (~$17 US) per person to enter the Royal Mummy exhibit with a total of 22 mummies on display. We felt it was worth the extra cost. It was very interesting to see the progression of techniques from the oldest mummies to the later ones. We returned to the hotel at 2:30 pm and the rest of the day was free time. Day 3 -â€" We left the Marriott at 5:00 am for a 45 minute flight to Luxor at 7:15 am. After landing in Luxor, we went straight to Karnak Temple where Ahmed led a 1 hr guided tour and then left us for 45 minutes to explore on our own. This temple is very large but the most interesting section runs from the main entrance back to the Holy Lake. From there, it was about a 15 minute bus ride to the River Tosca. That night, we purchased our galabeya outfits for the parties later in the cruise. We paid $20 US for his and $30 US for hers complete. Day 4 -â€" We left at 7:00 am for the 1 ½ hour drive to Dendera. This is the longest stretch on the bus. This temple was very interesting. It is extremely well preserved. The ceiling is partially restored to remove the soot that has built up over centuries of open fires as people have used the temple for shelter while traveling up and down the Nile. The colors are very vibrant. We were able to ascend the stairs to the roof and take in the view. This temple also has a very interesting relief of Cleopatra and her son, Caesarian, on the outside. This is the only image of Cleopatra in all of the temples we visited. This temple also had a small crypt underneath that we were able to enter to view some colored reliefs up close. Beware that if you plan to descend into the crypt, you will need to squeeze through a tight space at the bottom so it is not recommended for those with a bad back or bad knees. And, you will be expected to tip the man at the top of the steps who will help you in and out. At 4:00 pm, we walked to the Temple of Luxor. It is known by the locals as the three churches temple because it contains an ancient Egyptian temple, an old inactive Christian church, and an active mosque. Most temples were visited in the morning so it was nice to see a beautiful sunset at the Luxor temple. On the way back to the ship, we stopped at a Papyrus gallery for a quick demonstration of the process and some shopping time. The sales pressure was a bit strong here, but not overbearing. We purchased a 5"X7" hand painted picture of King Tut's mask on papyrus for 200 LE (~$34 US). Day 5 -â€" We left the ship at 7:00 am to go the Valley of the Kings. Again, no cameras allowed here but for about $3 US, you can buy a set of photos from inside several of the tombs. The Uniworld package includes admission to 3 tombs of your choice (out of the ones that are open for visitation). Ahmed recommended the tombs of Ramses III, Ramses IV, and Ramses IX so those are the ones we visited. This is where the reduced crowds were really noticed for the first time. Ahmed mentioned that on past tours, his guests would have to wait 20 minutes to get into each tomb. We had no wait for any of the tombs and there were very few others inside with us. The tomb of Ramses IV still contains his original sarcophagus. The colors inside the tombs are very well preserved. For an additional 100LE (~$17 US), we also entered the tomb of King Tut which still holds his mummy which is exhibited in a glass case for viewing. The tomb itself is quite small with only a portion of three walls painted because he died so young. Even so, we are glad we went in if for no other reason than to say we've been inside King Tut's tomb and seen his mummy. Then we visited the funerary temple of the only queen to be entombed in the Valley of the Kings, Queen Hatshepsut. It has been remarkably restored by a group of Polish archeologists. On the way back to the ship, we had another shopping stop at an alabaster workshop and a quick photo stop at the Colossi of Memnon, two massive statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III standing 60 feet high and weighing 400 tons each. Impressive, to say the least. Day 6 -â€" We opened the curtains on our large window and were welcomed with an amazing view of Kom Ombo Temple just steps from our dock. We left at 7:00 am for the short walk over to the temple. This temple is interesting in that it is dedicated to the crocodile god, Sobek. The reliefs were quite different from what we had seen previously. After the usual guided tour from Ahmed, we decided to walk around the back wall during our free time. We're glad we did. There were several amazingly deep reliefs that were extremely impressive to see. On the way back to the ship, we decided to take a quick pit stop at the snake charmer and get a picture with two cobras, one around her neck and one standing up in front. Fun! Where else can you do something like that? If you decide to do it, don't let him press for too much baksheesh (tip). One 10 LE note is more than enough and even less if you don't sit and hold the snake. After everyone had returned, we sailed the short distance to Aswan. After arriving, we left to tour the unfinished obelisk at the granite quarry, the Aswan high dam, and Philae temple. At the granite quarry, it was interesting to see the process they used in ancient times to carve the massive blocks and break them free from the hillside. Although it did create the largest man-made lake in the world, the high dam was not so interesting but, luckily, we didn't spend much time there. We then took a small boat to the island of Agilqiyyah where the Philae temple was relocated after the construction of the high dam flooded its original location, the island of Philae. The most interesting thing about this temple is the incredible engineering/archeological feat of deconstruction and reconstruction in its new location. Day 7 -â€" We left the ship at 5:30 am for our optional tour to Abu Simbel. The flight was about ½ hour and we traveled directly to the temple from the airport. Abu Simbel is in the far southern part of the country so even at this early time in the morning, it was very hot. It is another temple that was relocated due to the flooding caused by the construction of the high dam and it is even more impressive than Philae temple because it is built directly into the side of a mountain. If you visit, be sure to check out the little side rooms on the right near the front entrance. In one corner you can see where the reliefs were drawn on the wall but not yet carved. It is believed that all work on the temple just stopped when King Ramses II died. There is also a second temple that was relocated to this site. It is the temple for Queen Nefertari, one of the few temples ever built for a non-ruling queen. Although quite expensive ($295 US per person), we feel that this optional tour was worth the price. In the afternoon, we took a very serene trip to the Movenpick hotel via a traditional felucca sail boat. We enjoyed tea and cake on the 13th floor of the hotel's tower and took photos of the city and the amazing Egyptian sunset. Day 8 -â€" We left at 7:30 am for a 1 hour boat ride to a Nubian village. Along the way, we saw a lot of birds, water buffaloes, camels, donkeys, and other various wildlife. Upon arrival, we toured a traditional Nubian home, complete with crocodiles in a tank in the living room for good luck. On the way back out to the boat we were surrounded by children trying to sell Nubian dolls or just get a hand out. Very cute kids. Hard to resist. On the trip back, we stopped at a new hotel in the village for tea and cakes before disembarking in the city for a quick ride to another shopping stop, an essence factory. They had beautiful hand blown glass bottles and pure essence oils for all of the most popular fragrances and to treat a variety of ailments. Day 9 -â€" We left at 6:45 am for a tour of the Temple of Edfu. Since the revolution, Uniworld has been compelled to use local caleches (horses and buggies) to transport guests to the temple. Many people have commented on the poor condition of the buggies as well as the malnourishment of the horses and aggressiveness of the drivers. We consider ourselves lucky because the horse for our caleche, Mario, was small and skinny but not as noticeably malnourished as some others. Also, our driver was very nice allowing each of us to sit up front with him and drive the caleche for a portion of the trip. He was not overly pushy about a tip. That's not to say he didn't ask (several times), but after talking with others in our group, I think he was definitely on the less aggressive side of the scale. The temple is dedicated to the falcon god, Horus, so there are some very well preserved falcon statues at the entrance. Some of the excitement for the temples had worn off by this point but it was still interesting to see. Be aware that Edfu is one of the poorest places you will visit on this type of trip. You need to adjust your expectations and guard your belongings accordingly. A small container of over the counter medicines and a tube of Chapstick clipped onto a bag we were carrying were expertly removed without us knowing. Luckily, it was nothing important. Just beware. Day 10 -â€" We said our goodbyes to the River Tosca and her crew at 7:00 am for a 9:00 am flight back to Cairo. We had plenty of relaxation time in the afternoon before leaving for the Sound and Light show at the Pyramids at 5:30 pm. The bus ride was about 1 hour each way in Cairo traffic and the show lasted 50 minutes. It was interesting to hear the history while taking in these ancient icons. We arrived back at the hotel about 9:00 pm. Day 11 -â€" We left the hotel at 7:30 am to begin our tour of the Pyramids, Memphis, and Sakkara. We had four stops at the pyramids. First we stopped in an area called the panorama for great photos of all three pyramids and a 15 minute camel ride into the desert for photos ($10 US + $1 US for tip). Second, we went to the Small Pyramid where you can go inside if you want to (included in Uniworld tour). Be aware that the descent into the pyramid is quite steep with a very low ceiling so if you have knee or back problems or suffer from claustrophobia, you might want to skip this part of the tour. Third, we stopped between the 2nd Pyramid and Great Pyramid for more great photos and you can actually touch all three pyramids. Finally, we went to the Sphinx for amazing photos with the Great Pyramid in the background. After leaving the Pyramids area, we visited a cotton goods store for our final shopping stop of the trip. They had 100% Egyptian cotton bed sheets, shirts, table cloths, etc. We resisted the urge to buy this time but overall, we thought all of the shopping stops were appropriate and well selected by Uniworld. After the cotton shop, we stopped for lunch at an Egyptian barbecue restaurant ($13 US plus 15 LE for sodas or 30 LE for beer). Then, we were on our way to the ancient capital city of Memphis for a short visit to a small museum of artifacts uncovered in that area. The most impressive piece is a giant statue of Ramses II that is still in amazing condition even though it was found lying on the ground. They have left it the way it was found and built a building around it for viewing and to protect it. And finally, it was time to visit our last destination, the step pyramid of King Zoser in Sakarra. It was very interesting to see all of the smaller pyramids all over the desert and the Great Pyramids of Giza in the far distance. Summary: This was a trip of a lifetime! It is still hard to believe we were actually there, that we actually saw and touched things that are so ancient. It's amazing to think that people were standing in those exact same places over 4500 years ago. Uniworld does an amazing job showing you these wonderful sights in style and luxury. We never felt unsafe and we were always comfortable with our Uniworld guide, Ahmed. We would not hesitate to recommend this itinerary to anyone considering a trip to Egypt to see these fantastic sights. General Tips: 1. Vendors can be very aggressive. In most instances, a continual "no" as you keep walking will eventually work. But, in a few cases, we were forced to become less polite. In our experience, the best approach is to go in ready for the worst and don't let them get to you. 2. One LE is expected as tip in most public restrooms. If they demand more, simply refuse and offer just one LE as you walk out. One LE coins are difficult to get so try to get them as change where you can. You can also ask for change at a bank but in our experience, they will often say they do not have any. Also, you can ask your guide to get some coins and he may be able to get some at some of the sights. 3. Don't fall for the "free" gift routine that many vendors will try on you. Don't accept anything they offer for free. Eventually, they will chase you down and demand money. If you do end up holding one of these "free" gifts, either politely hand it back or, if they won't take it back, respectfully place it on the ground and walk away. Or, just carry it with you until they chase you down and then give it back. 4. People at the sights (including tourist police) will try to get you to take their picture or they will try to lead you somewhere to show you something special. Go ahead if you would like but be aware they are just trying to get a tip. If they show you something you find very interesting or if you really want a picture of them, go ahead and tip. Otherwise, ignore them and look at things at your own pace. 5. There is no WiFi on River Tosca. The only available internet access is via USB air card which may or may not work with your laptop. They do have laptops for use if you don't have a device that can hook up via air card (e.g. iPad) but reports from others in our group is that the internet is extremely slow no matter how you connect. 6. We had good cell phone signal everywhere we went. As long as you have international service, you should have no problem making calls or sending/receiving texts. 7. A good precaution against mummy tummy is to take a probiotic for two weeks before leaving and all during the trip. If you do get sick, Gatorade powder to be added to bottles of water can help with dehydration. Also, Antinal really seemed to help several people who got sick on our trip. From what I know, it is not available in the US, but they were able to have our guide go out and get it for them in any of the big cities in Egypt (Cairo, Luxor, Aswan). Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Pick up at the airport was good but at the Marriott we learned that two of the seven couples on the bus did not have room keys. After the long miserable flight we were all told to wait on the bus while two more room keys were obtained. ... Read More
Pick up at the airport was good but at the Marriott we learned that two of the seven couples on the bus did not have room keys. After the long miserable flight we were all told to wait on the bus while two more room keys were obtained. After 25 minutes waiting people that had keys gave up and wondered to their rooms. Marriott is a beautiful hotel with so-so food and poor service, except for Roy's. The sorry outside patio service is really something to behold. We thought River Tosca is a five star boat with three star food and service. An English speaking crew is a real stretch. Dinner at 7:30 taking 2-2 1/2 hours is excessive after a long day. Buses were neat and clean and the guide good. While on the boat we had 4 of our group of 10 get sick and none ever ate anything off the boat. We were surprised that the best meal we had while gone was dinner on our return Air France flight. Trash is everywhere which we did not recall from a quick Cairo visit 12 years ago. It is amazing to see what the Egyptian people built a few thousand years ago and now they can't pick up their trash. The guides answer to this was that the people really don't care. This is probably the reason work on River Tosca was so shabby when it was delivered new. One member of our group said if the trip was his first Uni-world trip he would not take another one with Uni-world. Doing business in Egypt and maintaining high quality has to be very, very difficult and frustrating. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click