When considering an exotic Africa river cruise, a trip down the river Nile is a luxurious way to see the many treasures of Egypt. Nile cruises can be as short as two or three days or last over a week. The ships that cruise the Nile are akin to small cruisers or upscale ferry boats, rather than over the top mega-ships. Because they are navigating a river rather than a large sea or ocean, these vessels are generally quite a bit smaller than a typical cruise ship. Nile cruises generally accommodate less than 200 passengers.
Nile Cruises to Consider
Sonesta Nile Cruises offers upscale, small ships to provide trips along this legendary waterway. With a booking office operating from Cairo, Sonesta Nile Cruises has four Goddess ships dubbed the Nile, Sun, Moon and Star Goddess and two smaller ships, the St. George One and the Dahabeya Amirat. Cruise lengths vary between three and seven nights.
- The Sun Goddess is the largest of the four Goddess ships with 49 standard cabins and four suites. At just 252 feet long, the vessel is still considered tiny by cruise ship standards. They focus on entertainment with a belly dancing show and a Galabaya party where guests are invited to wear traditional Egyptian style clothing.
- The Moon Goddess is a close second in size with 49 cabins and two suites. It offers passengers a jogging track and full gym onboard.
- The Nile Goddess sails with 47 cabins and 6 suites. This ship has full conference room available for business travelers.
- The Star Goddess is an all-suite vessel with 33 suites named for classical music composers. It's upscale decor is complimented with small details like a bottle of wine at check in and in suite dining services.
- The St. George I is the companion ship for the Sonesta St. George Hotel on the east bank of the Nile River in Luxor. It boasts 47 cabins and nine upscale suites. Amenities include in-house dry cleaning and lounge options like a piano bar.
- The tiny Dahabey Amirat only has five cabins and two suites and is used primarily for seven-night sailings. As the premium ship of the fleet, it is fully a refurbished with a retro vibe of the plush luxury and sophistication of the 1920's.
On these ships:
- On the larger ships in the fleet, single cabins are generally available from $300 to almost $700 per night. Double cabins range from $300-$1,000 per night. Suites can double or even triple this base price. On the most luxurious ship, the tiny Dahabey Amirat, rates start at $430 per night for a single cabin and go up to more than $2,800 for suites.
- Rooms include meals and entertainment. In addition to the main dining room service is available for in-suite, private dining.
- All ships in the fleet are equipped with Internet service and have the capacity for international calling.
- Conference rooms are available for business travelers.
Based on reviews of Moon Goddess on TripAdvisor, the trip is a perfect upscale option for seeing the sights. The ship's maximum capacity is 100 passengers, so the service is individually suited and the excursions are also hosted by Sonesta guides one reviewer called "brilliant" and "knowledgeable". This trip is safe and educational for families, yet romantic enough for newlyweds.
Viking River Cruises was voted Best River Cruise Line by Cruise Report in 2012. This internationally based company sails on rivers worldwide. They offer a 12-day Pathways of the Pharaohs cruise sailing round trip from Cairo, Egypt. This Nile River trip is offered as a traditional tour and cruise experience:
- This journey begins with three days of guided tours in Cairo, followed by a flight to Luxor and two days visiting the great tombs before boarding their chartered ship and sailing to major destinations along the Nile and Lake Nasser including Edfu, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Kasir Ibrim and Wadi El Seboua before returning to Aswan and flying back to Cairo.
- The brochure price begins at $3,998 per person double occupancy and incudes all hotels in Cairo, flights within Egypt, tours, onboard meals and beverages. It even includes a camel ride!
- To extend the trip, a four night pre-tour in Israel is available for $1,599 per person. A hosted post-trip to Jordan is available for $1,599 per person.
- With several days spent in each port, the onboard enrichment programs and ability see the sights with their educated and knowledgeable Egyptologist guides remains the focus of the trip. This journey is best for business trips or other adult centered groups.
Past passengers have overwhelmingly positive reactions to the tours. One Cruise Critic reviewer gave a detailed account of the trip and boasted "the trip lived up to our highest expectations." A TripAdvisor reviewer from the United Kingdom sums up the trip with these words "Experiencing the wonderful sights of Egypt as we sailed down the Nile were spectacular."
Uniworld Cruise Lines was ranked one of the World's Best Cruise Lines in 2014 by readers choice picks in Conde Nast Traveler's Gold List. Its River Tosca liner has delivered comfort on the river Nile. However, due to unrest in the area, Uniworld suspended sailings in Egypt in 2013/2014. According to the River Cruise Advisor, this ship is scheduled to resume sailings in late 2015.
This boutique travel company originated in Africa, providing safari lodges and small ship cruises to upscale clientele. They have dedicated four vessels to Nile River sailings. All trips include hosted tours by Egyptologists and are available for three and four night scheduled sailings or seven night charters. The jewel of the fleet is the Sanctuary Nile Adventurer, which is a small, six deck ship with modern decor. On this ship:
- Accommodations include 32 five-star cabins, including suites, deluxe rooms and standard rooms.
- Upscale touches like gourmet cuisine provided by award winning chefs and private pool cabanas are included.
- Routes alternate between four-night journeys from Luxor and three-night trips from Aswan.
Pricing ranges from $400 to $1,500 per person, per night.
Former guests rave about attentive staff and professional experience of the crew and management.
The Royal Rhapsody
The MS Royal Rhapsody is a more budget-friendly option. Year round cruises departing from Luxor or Aswan for three, four or seven nights are available on the vessel. This small 26 cabin vessel is can be booked through Nile-Cruise-Egypt.com, which is based in Cairo:
- Accommodations include four royal suites, two standard suites and a deck with standard double cabins.
- Average per person, per day pricing is about $90 for double occupancy, including standard sightseeing.
- The summer season of May through October has lower pricing than the winter season.
- Holiday bookings for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are premium fares.
- Families with children receive a discounted fare when bunking together.
- Three meals per day are included.
- This is a viable option for an authentic, no frills trip. Review Centre gives the ship 4.7 out of a possible 5 stars, and 93 percent of all reviewers recommend the trip.
Cruise Through History Along the Nile
Most Nile cruises begin in Cairo, near the mouth of the Nile River, and sail south to Luxor or vice versa. No matter which cruise option you choose, you'll have an opportunity to enjoy amazing sightseeing as you travel along this famous river. The Nile River is home to ancient cities containing sites considered wonders of the world.
From the Giza Plateau, the site of the magnificent Great Pyramid, one of the "Wonders of the Ancient World" to the colossal and amazingly preserved Temple of Karnak and Temple of Luxor, ancient history is around every bend of the river. Going beyond the usual cruise ports and experiencing the culture, food and people of Egypt can be an unforgettable vacation.