Looking at the riverboats crammed three or four deep along the banks of the Nile in Luxor, you could be forgiven for thinking there was no room for any more, especially given the turbulent time Egypt has had recently.
Nile cruising, however, seems as popular as ever, albeit with some very attractive price offers. Travellers on a budget can reckon on paying from £700 upwards for a week, including flights and excursions, for a basic ship, rising up to £3,000 or more for the ultimate in luxury.
All itineraries include Luxor, Aswan and the temples along the river in between. Optional add-ons include Cairo, Abu Simbel, Lake Nasser and in some cases, the Red Sea resorts and even Jordan.
Discover Egypt has one of the biggest selections of Nile cruises, starting from as little as £699 for a week on the five-star Viking Princess (no relation to Viking River Cruises), including flights, transfers and 10 guided excursions.
The company features some of the very finest Nile cruisers, too; the boutique Alexander the Great had a refit and entered service again in September, while the all-suites Oberoi Zahra offers all the pampering of an exclusive hotel: it’s part of the luxurious Oberoi hotel group. Also on offer are four-day voyages on Lake Nasser.
Shearings offers one ship on the Nile, the same Viking Princess as Discover Egypt, operating round-trip from Luxor, from £699 for a week: surprisingly good value, given that this is a three-year-old ship with a considerable degree of comfort.
Uniworld’s luxurious River Tosca is in its third Nile season, offering cruises between Aswan and Luxor in splendour; the ship is all-suites, only carries 82 guests and has everything from iPod docking stations to a gorgeous teak sundeck with pool. It’s also sold by Titan Travel.
Noble Caledonia has for 2012 chartered the SS Misr. The five-star vessel was once owned by King Farouk of Egypt and is traditional in style, evoking the era of discovery by wealthy Brits visiting Egypt in the late 19th century.
Luxury operator Scenic Tours offers a range of extended Egypt holidays, many of which take in the Nile, Lake Nasser, Cairo and a Red Sea resort. There’s a choice of shore excursions and a series of special events on each holiday, including dinner in a private room overlooking the Nile in the heart of Cairo on the last night.
APT features luxury escorted cruises in Egypt on the Sonesta Moon Goddess, a boutique ship with 49 cabins, each with private balcony. Both APT’s tours include Cairo, Abu Simbel, Aswan and Luxor, while the longer of the two includes Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan.
Tauck’s tours include all sorts of extras: camel rides, a cruise on a traditional felucca at sunset and the chance to see some lesser-known attractions, such as the catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa. The boat is the Nile Adventurer, sailing between Luxor and Aswan.