Nile River Cruises are among Egypt’s top attractions as they allow customers to ply the Nile in style and see ancient ruins. Yet with over 260 mini cruise boats currently in operation on the Nile its hard to know what cruise boat to choose. After all, they all offer nearly the same itinerary between Aswan and Luxor and details online about each boat are extremely vague!
After spending hours researching options and emailing multiple operators I decided to book through Nile Cruise Egypt as I found their staff to be the most responsive (given the time zone differences) and they had the most information available on the different boats on the Nile listed on their website. Throughout the entire process the company was great to work with and they kept every promise they made. My only complaint would be that the company made it sound like the boat was full and if we didn’t book same day we would end up paying more. I later found out from other people who booked the cruise, that Walid, the agent from Nile-Crusie-Egypt sent them the same “book now or the price will expire” email, and they booked the cruise just days before departure!
I booked the newest boat on the Nile, the Grand Princess Amwaj, for $483 per person for a 3 night cruise. It was truly an awesome deal as the fees included lodging, three meals a day, and a tour guide and all entrance fees.
Day 1: Pick up from the Aswan airport and a visit to the High Dam, followed by a boat ride and tour of Philae Temple in Aswan. After the tours we had about 5 hours until the boat departed and since the boat docks in the center of town it was easy to explore Aswan by foot. For additional $20 per person we opted to hirer a boat and visit a Nubian visit and house. That evening around 6pm we departed to Izbat Al Bayyarah where the boat docked for the night.
Day 2: We woke up early and were docked directly in front of Kom Ombo Temple, after a 2 hour tour of the temple and surrounding area, we jumped back on the boat and cruised the Nile from 10am until nearly 4pm. In the late afternoon we arrived in Edfu and toured the ancient Edfu Temple. Our transportation in Edfu was by horse drawn carriage! After our tour the boat departed towards Luxor and went through the Nile locks around 8pm that evening.
Day 3: Another early morning and another ancient temple, but this was the day I was the MOST excited about! We started with a visit to the Valley of the Kings, which was truly breath taking, visited the overly restored Hatshepsut Temple, and ended the tour with a stop at Colossi’s of Memnon. We had an option for an addition $20 per person to visit the other large temples on Luxor’s East Bank, but after 3 days of temple exploring, everyone in our group was “ruined.” If we had done a 7 day cruise the East Bank would have been included for free.
Overall a Nile Cruise is a great way to travel Egypt, see the site, and spend each night in a semi luxurious room. The downside to the cruise is you’re sheltered from the friendly locals and miss out on a lot of the Egyptian culture as instead of being with locals you’re on a boat with wait staff and other foreigners.
Nile Cruise Buyer Beware
Before you book a Nile cruise be sure to ask lots of questions. Each boat is given a 1-5 star rating. Yet, beware that the rating is provided by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and not a third party. This means their 5 star might be our 3 star. Also know that there are a lot of ways the cruise will try to upsell you or you may feel cheated/lied to. A great example is on our boat water was not free; ALL beverages were sold to customers. Thankfully we realized this while still in port in Aswan and also knew we had a mini fridge in our room, so we loaded up on water and beer. We couldn’t drink either beverage outside of our room without occurring additional charges, but at least we had beverages that weren’t US prices despite being in Egypt! Another problem was the internet. We were told the boat had free wi-fi. The boat did have free wifi but it only worked while the boat was moving, not in port. This included the evening hours when the boat was docked. Also the internet was so slow that my T-mobile free international roaming on my cell phone was faster then what the boat offered. Finally in Egypt everyone expects a tip! I undertand tipping, but on a cruise it seems weird to have to tip everyone! The boat expects a tip at the end of the cruise, which is normal, and so does your tour guide. This is not the issue, the odd part is each driver, horse carriage, boat driver, etc expects a tip! On each excursion you need to have a few pounds to politely offer the excursion staff. At the end of the day this is not a huge deal, but it is something you need to be aware of, because if you are like me, and board the cruise with no local currency you’ll be left in an awkward situation and be seeking out an ATM asap!
Grand Princess Amwaj
The Grand Princess Amway is a beautiful cruise boat and from the outside looks newer and nicer than many of the other boats we passed on the river. Here are a few photos from inside the boat with a brief explanation of each photo.
The foyer of the boat includes a small sitting area and a grand chandelier
each room is down one of several hallways
each room has a desk/work station, sitting area, bathroom, safe, closet, TV, universal power plugs and more!
The bathrom has a rainshower (if you’re taller than 6 feet you have to duck), vanity, and toliet
Meal time is done buffet style and like any crusie, there is more food than you can eat!
There is a lounge on board and during the cruise they offer afternoon tea
After each tour/excursion you are greated with tea and hot towels
Overall the Nile River Cruise experience was fantastic and our guide Wael was among the best! I saw some of the most amazing sights of my life and made new friends who could easily be friends for life. The cruise food was of decent to high quality, the staff was fantastic, the boat was very nice and comfortable and despite all the upsells, we were very happy. But more importantly, the cruise provided me with an easy way to see and learn a lot about ancient Egypt and see sites I may have not seen! If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider a Nile cruise!