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River cruising in Egypt is making a big comeback, offering cruisers the chance to experience the rich history and culture of the region.

After a number of false starts in the wake of  troubles in the region, most of the major lines have returned and demand is strong.

Small wonder, with amazing sites like the Pyramids of Giza, the temples that line the banks of the river and the bustling sights and sounds of the Khan Al Khalili Grand Bazaar.

Lines like APT, Scenic, Evergreen Tours, Viking River Cruises and Uniworld all offer itineraries there around January to May and September to December during the year.

We compare the shorter 10 to 11-night Cairo roundtrip itineraries that spend a few days in Cairo as well as sailing the Nile to see what they offer. Many lines also offer itineraries that combine tours to Jordan and Israel which can go up to 25-nights.

Some lines have their tours focused on the historical highlights of Egypt, but others also offer more cultural experiences such as visits to the local markets, performances and dinner with a local family.

APT

What’s included

All inclusive

24-hour butler service

Unlimited beverages, including fine wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, specialty coffee and tea, and mineral water

Fully escorted touring, Signature Experiences and shore excursions

Complimentary Wi-Fi

Return airport transfers and porterage

All gratuities

Extra perks

2020/21 air offer: up to $700 air credit per couple to Egypt, valid until December 31, 2019

The details

10-day ‘Egypt Discovery

Ship: Oberoi Philae

Date: October 3, 2020

Price: from $11,795

The itinerary

Day One: Cairo

Arrive in Cairo. Enjoy a welcome dinner and begin the adventure with a two-night stay at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza.

Day Two: Cairo

Explore the city’s diversity with the line’s Freedom of choice sightseeing options. They include visits to the Islamic citadel, Saleh-el-Din, The Hanging Church, Abu Serga and Ben Ezra Synagogue in Coptic Cairo. The Gayer Anderson Museum and Cairo’s Egyptian Museum also houses famous Egyptian artefacts and a selection of Islamic art and antiquities. End the day on a high note as you take in the bustling atmosphere and colours of Khan Al Khalili Grand Bazaar or the Tent Makers Bazaar.

Day Three: Abu Simbel, Aswan

Fly across the Nubian desert to arrive at Abu Simbel, where guests can find World Heritage-listed temples dedicated to Ramesses II and his beloved Nefertari which date back to the 13th century BC.

Day Four: Aswan

Embark Oberoi Philae for your four-night cruise on the Nile River. You can enjoy lunch on board or venture out to sample the local offerings. A motor boat is available to take you to the Nubian Museum complex which is located on a clifftop. Return in the evening for a special cocktail reception and dinner on board.

Day Five: Kom Ombo, Aswan

Today you’ll get to visit the biggest dam in Egypt, the Aswan High Dam. It collects water from Lake Nasser which is also one of the world’s largest artificial lakes. Next, head to Angilka Island in the reservoir of the dam to see goddess Isis at the Philae Temple. The town of Kom Ombo also has an unusual twin temples that is shared by the god Sobek and Horus.

Day Six: Edfu, Essna, Luxor

Begin this morning with a visit to a well preserved ancient Temple of Edfu, which is dedicated to Horus the falcon god. You will get some time to relax on board as the ship sails on to the ancient city of Esna in the afternoon, before docking in Luxor in the evening.

Day Seven: Luxor, Valley of the Kings

There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about Egyptology in Luxor as you get to explore the West Bank and the Valley of the Kings. Discover the tombs of renowned pharaohs like Tutankhamun and Ramesses VI. Other notable sights also include the Mortuary Temple of Ramessess III, Medinet Habu, and the massive stone statues, Colossi of Memnon.

On the east bank, experience the diverse heritage in the area, which has been home to three different religions over the centuries. Highlights include the temples on the riverbanks, and other ancient archaeological sites like the Karnak and Luxor Temple.

Day Eight: Cairo

Disembark the ship and fly back to Cairo and enjoy a Sound and Light show that is projected on to the pyramids in the evening. Return to Four Seasons for a two-night stay.

Day Nine: Cairo, Pyramids of Giza, Memphis, Sakkara

Continue your explorations of Cairo with one of the Seven Wonders of the World, The Pyramids of Giza where you can get impressive views of the Sphinx. Next, visit the ruins of Memphis, which was once a capital, and see the world’s oldest stone pyramid in Sakkara. Conclude your adventures with a farewell dinner

Day 10: Cairo

Depart Cairo after breakfast.

Evergreen Tours

What’s included

Four-nights on board MS Hamees, four-nights in Cairo, one-night in Luxor

Two drinks served with lunch and dinner on board as well as tea and coffee facilities in all cabins

Nine excursions and four ‘You’re Invited’ local experiences

Complimentary Wi-Fi

Airport transfers to and from your hotel

All tipping and gratuities

Extra perks

Book and deposit on a 2020/21 Evergreen and Jordan River Cruise and Tour of 15 days or more by January 31, 2020 and enjoy your flights included.

The details

10-day ‘Cairo & Ancient Egypt

Ship: MS Hamees

Date: October 3, 2020

Price: from $4,675

The itinerary

Day One: Cairo

Arrive in Cairo and transfer to your hotel for a one-night stay.

Day Two: Cairo to Luxor

Fly from Cairo to Luxor and visit the open air temple complex of Karnak. The pillars of the temple ruins feature ancient hieroglyphs and you will also get to see pillars that fill the expansive space at the hypostyle hall in the Precinct of Amun-Ra.

Day Three: Luxor

Embark MS Hamees and explore the sights of the west bank of the River Nile this morning. This includes visits to the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor as well as the Valley of Kings.

Day Four: Luxor – Dendera – Luxor

Cruise to Dendera to see one of the best-preserved temple complexes in Egypt the Hathor Temple, dedicated to the goddess of love, joy and beauty. Return to Luxor to visit the hieroglyphs of Luxor Temple.

Day Five: Luxor – Esna – Kom Ombo – Nile Cruising

Weave down River Nile today as you seek out the astronomical scenes at the Esna Temple as well as learn how temples are dedicated to different gods at Kom Ombo. A lively evening awaits with a galabeya party, which is filled with Egyptian delicacies, music and dancing.

Day Six: Aswan – Abu Simbel – Aswan

Fly to Abu Simbel to visit UNESCO Heritage-listed Abu Simbel temples that were built by Rameses II. Return to Aswan in the afternoon for a guided boat tour on the Nile.

Day Seven: Aswan to Cairo

Disembark the ship this morning, followed by a visit to the Philae temple complex where you’ll find a series of relocated ancient temples. Fly to back Cairo in the afternoon for a three-night stay which will conclude the trip.

Day Eight: Cairo

Visit the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx. You can continue the day’s exploration with an optional tour to the Sakkara Pyramids or return to your hotel for a rest before joining a home-hosted dinner with an Egyptian family in the evening.

Day Nine: Cairo

Visit the Egyptian Museum to see relics discovered in Tutankhamun’s tomb, in addition to ancient scrolls, religious artefacts and solid gold funerary masks. In the afternoon guests can also go on an optional tour to the Cairo Citadel.

Day 10: Cairo

Depart Cairo after breakfast.

Scenic

What’s included

All inclusive

One exclusive Scenic Enrich experience, two Sundowners events, six Freechoice activities

Full escort by Scenic Tour Director, expert Egyptologist and local guides

Complimentary Wi-Fi

Return airport transfers

All tipping and gratuities

Extra perks

Partner flights included for 2020 bookings.

The details

11-day ‘The Treasures of Egypt

Ship: Sanctuary Sun Boat III

Date: October 2, 2020

Price: from $9,395

The itinerary

Day One: Giza, Cairo

Arrive in Giza and transfer to your hotel for a two-night stay. Enjoy your first sundowner event with drinks and canapés as the sun sets over the Pyramids.

Day Two: Giza, Cairo

Visit the essential sights, the Pyramids of Giza, the 20 metre limestone statue of the Sphinx. The Solar Boat Museum also houses a restored cedar wood barge that dates all the way back to 2500BC. Catch the light show at the Pyramids in the evening.

Day Three: Giza to Luxor

Fly to Luxor and spend the day discovering the antiquities in the Luxor Museum followed by a walk though the colourful local markets.

Day Four: Luxor, Embark cruise

Guests are offered an optional hot air balloon flight in the morning, this requires pre-booking. Cross to the West Bank and visit the famous Valley of the Kings, see the impressive monument to Queen Hatsheput as well as the temple of Ramses III. Return to Luxor in the afternoon to get on board Sanctuary Sun Boat III and continue your explorations with a tour to the open-air temple complex of Karnak and be impressed by the rows of pillars in the Hypostle Hall. Celebrate the start of your cruise with the second sundowner event on board.

Day Five: Dendera

Travel to Dendera to the Hathor Temple, dedicated to the goddess of love, joy and beauty. Marvel at the vibrant hieroglyphics on the roof before returning to Luxor to visit the Luxor Temple. In the evening, watch the mesmerising moves of a Nubian dancing performance.

Day Six: Kom Ombo

Follow the river south to arrive at Kom Ombo temple in the afternoon, which is dedicated to Sobek the crocodile god. A fun evening awaits with a colourful Galabeyya party filled with Egyptian delicacies.

Day Seven: Aswan

Reach Aswan, the home of the Nubian people. See the Osiris temple complex of Philae, then visit the stone quarries to learn about ancient carving techniques and see the enormous unfinished obelisk. A leisurely afternoon awaits as you spend your last moments on board and take a felucca cruise on the Nile. A farewell Gala Dinner is held in the evening.

Day Eight: Aswan

You can choose between visiting a traditional Nubian village, take a motorboat t the upper reaches of the Nile or visit the botanical gardens today. Enjoy a one-night stay in Aswan as you indulge in pre dinner drinks at The Terrace, followed by an elegant dinner at restaurant 1902.

Day Nine: Aswan – Cairo

Fly to Abu Simbel and visit one of Egypt’s most magnificent monuments, the enormous World Heritage-listed temples of Ramses II and his wife Nefertari, rescued from the rising waters of the Aswan Dam. Later, fly to bustling Cairo for your two-night stay.

Day 10: Cairo

Discover the artefacts displayed in the Egyptian Museum, including those from Tutankhamun’s tomb, followed by a choice of a tour of Islamic Cairo, Old Cairo or the ancient site of Sakkara.

Day 11: Cairo

Depart Cairo after breakfast.

Viking River Cruises

What’s included

Beer, wine & soft drinks with onboard lunch and dinner, 24-hour specialty coffees, teas and bottled water

One complimentary shore excursion in every port of call

Enrichment lectures

Free Wi-Fi

All gratuities

The details

12-day ‘Pharaohs & Pyramids

Ship: Viking Osiris

Date: October 4, 2021

Price: from $7,795

The itinerary

Day One: Cairo

Arrive in Cairo and transfer to your hotel for a three-night stay.

Day Two: Cairo

Visit the world’s oldest step pyramid at Sakkara, and after lunch proceed to the Giza Plateau to see the Great Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menaure. Conclude the day with a visit to the Sphinx statue.

Day Three: Cairo

Drive up a rocky hill to visit the Cairo Citadel, whose great dome dominates Cairo’s skyline and continue to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. One of its most celebrated collection includes the Tutankhamen Gallery which contains the famous gold mask. Enjoy lunch and the afternoon on your own and in the evening, guests have the option to join a guided tour of Cairo’s famed outdoor bazaar, that Khan el-Khalili.

Day Four: Luxor, Embark cruise

Fly to Luxor and visit the ancient city of Thebes followed by a visit to the Luxor Temple. Proceed to embark your cruise ship and enjoy lunch on board before continuing on an excursion to the Karnak Temple, Luxor Heritage Centre which has an interactive showcase of Egypt’s history. The Luxor Library also houses 10,000 books on Egyptian history.

Day Five: Luxor

Guests are offered an optional hot air balloon ride to catch the sunrise. This requires pre-booking and is at additional cost. Start your day at the Valley of the Kings and also get privileged access to the tomb of Queen Nefertari. Another highlight is the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, one of Egypt’s few female rulers and most successful pharaohs. Return to the ship for lunch as the ship sails of Qena.

Day Six: Qena

Tour the Dendera Temple, one of Egypt’s best-preserved temple complexes. Highlights include main temple Hathor, dedicated to the goddess of love, joy and beauty.

Day Seven: Esna

Disembark at Esna to visit the temple dedicated to the god Khnum, a water god and seek out the well-preserved columns of the Hypostyle Hall. Afterwards you can head to Esna Village to tour the town and enjoy the markets.

Day Eight: Aswan

Today, you can choose to visit the Aswan High Dam, visit a local market and take a scenic Nile cruise on a felucca, a traditional Egyptian wooden sailboat. Or join an optional excursion to Abu Simbel to admire the Great Temple of Ramses II, Egypt’s longest-ruling pharaoh. In the evening, there is also an optional light show at the Philae Temple as the ship spends an overnight in Aswan.

Day Nine: Aswan

Visit the elementary school at the Nubian village and the Philae Temple before returning on board for lunch and scenic cruising down the Nile. Arrive at the Kom Ombo temple, dedicated to two gods, Sobek and Horus.

Day 10: Edfu

Arrive in Edfu and discover the Temple of Horus, which has a pair or black granite statues at its entrance. Otherwise, you can visit the local market with the chef and hear his plans for the tasting menu this evening.

Day 11: Luxor

Disembark in Luxor and head for your flight back to Cairo.

Uniworld

What’s included

All inclusive

Unlimited choice spirits and wines

Complimentary shore excursions

In-suite butler service

Free ship wide internet and Wi-Fi access

All scheduled airport transfers

All gratuities onboard and onshore

Extra perks

Save 10 per cent when you book by 30 September 2019 and pay in full.

The details

12-day ‘Splendors of Egypt & The Nile

Ship: S.S. Sphinx

Date: October 3, 2020

Price: from $8,799

The itinerary

Day One: Cairo

Arrive in Cairo and transfer to your hotel for a two-night stay.

Day Two: Cairo

Visit the Citadel of Salah al-Din, take in the intricate ceiling and Turkish-style interior of the Alabaster Mosque and Egyptian Museum which houses treasures once buried with the boy king Tutankhamen.

Day Three: Cairo to Luxor, Embark ship

Take in the gigantic columns and avenues lined with stone sphinxes at the Temple of Karnak. Tour the grounds and soak in the insights with a local guide that is a trained Egyptologist.

Day Four: Dendera

In Dendera, visit the Temple of Luxor on the site of ancient Thebes, the once flourishing capital for Egypt’s New Kingdom. You’ll also get a chance to see the temple dedicated to the goddess of love and beauty, Hathor.

Day Five: Luxor to Kom Ombo

Take in the towering Colossi of Memnon, then visit the temple of one of Egypt’s rare female pharaohs, the Hatshepsut Temple. Finally head to the Valley of the Kings, the royal burial place for nearly 500 years, with the mummified remains of Tutankhamen on display.

Day Six: Kom Ombo to Aswan

Visit the Kom Ombo Temple dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and falcon god Horus, featuring a display of 300 mummified crocodiles. Next, hop aboard a small boat for a bird watching excursion and tea with a Nubian family.

Day Seven: Aswan

Marvel at the modern engineering of the Aswan High Dam then go on and discover the Unfinished Obelisk and the Philae Temple. In the afternoon, catch a ride on traditional Egyptian sailboat, the felucca, then tuck into afternoon tea at a famous hotel depicted in Agatha Christie’s novel Death on the Nile.

Return on board for dinner and enjoy a Nubian show with traditionally attired performers, live music and dancing after.

Day Eight: Aswan to Edfu

You get to spend the day at leisure or join an optional excursion to see the temples of Abu Simbel.

Day Nine: Esna to Luxor

Discover the Temple of Esna and learn how it is one of the last great Egyptian temples ever built. It was buried under debris for many centuries before it was discovered.

Day 10: Luxor

Disembark in Luxor and head for your flight back to Cairo. Enjoy the Sound and Light Show at the Pyramids of Giza this evening.

Day 11: Cairo

Take a close look at the ancient Memphis sites you viewed from afar last night, including the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Sphinx and the Sakkara.

Day 12: Cairo

Check out of your hotel and transfer to the Cairo International Airport for your flight home.