The question about choosing your Nile cruise was always a concern for many tourists, even before the commercialization of this famous route on the Nile in the late eighteen century. But things got a little bit complicated with the arrival of Thomas Cook in Egypt. He was a Baptist missionary born in 1808 in Derbyshire, England who was able to successfully establish a tourism company from organised temperance (anti-liquor) meetings from one town to another. As his company grew with the help of his sons, the company presence in Egypt seemed inevitable, and it started by taking over the Nile cruising industry from Cairo to Aswan. So tourists coming to Egypt for Nile cruises would benefit from discounted prices and a range of options while promising security and high quality service opening up travel to a wider public. And it all came to the choice the tourists would make, so let’s break it down for you so you can choose the right Nile cruise for your next trip to Egypt ?
When is the best time for a Nile cruise ?
Egypt has an arid desert climate with an average temperature of 27.7 degree Celsius along the year so it is generally hot and sunny. As part of the northern hemisphere, seasons in Egypt follow much the same pattern as in Europe and North America, with winter falling between November and February, and the peak summer months falling between June and August. Winters are generally mild with very little precipitation, although temperatures can fall below 10 degrees Celsius at night in some areas, but it is mostly sunny. So it is considered best to plan your Nile cruise during the period between October and April which is the best time to travel to the most exquisite attractions in Egypt. It is not really recommended to travel from June through August-September because of high temperatures, however great deals might be out there waiting for you if you can resist the heat, so make sure to bring your hat, sunglasses, your sunblock and don’t forget to get constantly hydrated.
How to choose your Boat for your Nile cruise ?
“The choice between dahabeeyah and steamer is like the choice between travelling with post-horses and travelling by rail. The one is expensive, leisurely, delightful; the other is cheap, swift, and comparatively comfortless. Those who are content to snatch but a glimpse of the Nile will doubtless prefer the steamer.”A Thousand Miles up the Nile (1877),Amelia Edwards
There are two types of boat, the traditional one known as the dahabiya and the steamer known nowadays as the gasoline and/or diesel engines boats.
The Dahabiya is a (usually) two-masted sailing boat that relies on wind power: it has no engines except for a generator that makes electricity. The authenticity of this type of boat is unmatched, as you cruise down the Nile, the sound of the river splashing against the boat along with the singing of the birds sets a perfect delightful ambiance only for you to enjoy. Additionally the privacy that the dahabiya offers allows you to immerse intimately with the rich culture found on banks of the Nile river. These boats are only about elegance and style, that is what they were built for; four to ten cabins, fully equipped bathrooms, elaborate furnishings, delicious cuisine and servants to do everything and with the necessities of today, such as electricity and Wi-Fi, so you might find them expensive. However the experience is worth it, you have to only embark, relax and imagine yourself as one of the aristocrats or elite travelers during the old times cruising down the Nile river.
As for the steamers known also as cruises, they are like hotels ranging from slightly shabby to sumptuous. No matter your budget you will find a cruise that suits you and rest assure that it is the easiest way to see the Nile with your family and make the most your vacation with “all inclusive” packages, enjoying pool times in between archaeological visits, and sunbathing while watching magnificent scenery on the large rooftop area. And you can also enjoy dinning in restaurants on board and hang out in bars during your free time on the cruise. The downside of the cruise is that the visits to the monuments are almost always seen with large groups and the itineraries are generally inflexible. Boats are almost always moored together, and the sheer volume of traffic means that generators and air-con units overwhelm the peace of the river. However be careful when choosing your cabin on your cruiser, try to avoid the lowest deck. Many boats have decent views from all cabins, but the banks of the Nile are high (and get higher as the river level drops) and you want to see as much as possible so ask for a deck plan when you are booking and make sure you choose a cabin with a good view.
Which route is best and how long is a Nile cruise ?
The main sailing route passes between Aswan and Luxor, while some people insist on going upstream towards the dam in Aswan, the sailors’ route would always be downstream, leaving Aswan and arriving in Luxor. Usually the upstream route takes longer compared to the downstream. Most river Nile cruises routes take up to 3 nights or 4 nights or 7 nights . More exotic trips can occasionally stretch from 10 days to two weeks known as long Nile cruises.
3 nights Nile cruise
This trip usually starts from Aswan to Luxor and on the way you will stop at 2 stops, the 1st stop at Kom Ombo town. and the 2nd stop at Edfu, then you will head to Luxor for an overnight. This route is mostly recommended for those who want to have a glimpse of Egypt’s history in a short time. As you end your trip in Luxor, an additional stay allows you to explore beautiful temples in cities not far from Luxor such as Dendera and Abydos.
4 nights Nile cruise
You start the Cruise from Luxor to Aswan. On the way the cruise ship will stop the same stops as mentioned above but in different order the 1st stop at Edfu And the 2nd stop is at Kom Ombo town. Then the cruise ship will sail to Aswan. This route usually comes with an optional offtrack visit to Abu Simbel temples which are not to be missed.
7-6 nights Nile cruise
Your cruise goes from Luxor to Luxor either from Aswan to Aswan. These routes have nothing new except that on the downstream you will be able to visit the East bank of the river and on the upstream you will visit the West bank of the river and the excursions are usually the same but with longer time to contemplate and admire the sites.
Long Nile cruise
This cruise follows the Nile south from Cairo all the way to Aswan and passes through some of the Nile Valley’s most rural areas where you can really experience traditional Egyptian life along the parts of the Nile additionally to magnificent temples and archaeological sites some which very few tourists are able to see. This incredible cruise usually takes from 13 to 15 days depending on the Nile stream and the places visited. This cruise is recommended for those who have a long vacation and most of all passionate about history.
Lake Nasser cruise
Few tourists know about this cruise, which started operating in the late 70’s when the lake Nasser was formed after the construction of the high dam. It is an incredible journey centered around the Nubian and the Egyptian civilization stretched from Aswan south to Abu Simbel with breathtaking scenery and lesser known temples in between. Lake Nasser Cruises operate like the Nile cruises on 3 or 4 night itineraries, 7 night itineraries are also available. This cruise is recommended for those who already did the Nile river cruise and would like to explore further south of Egypt, but it is still possible to combine both cruises in one trip.
How much does a Nile cruise Cost?
There are varying levels of Nile dahabiya and Nile cruises ranging from cheap to five-star, all-inclusive luxury from world-renown cruise ship operators. So there is no need to worry, you will find something within your budget. However make sure when looking at the prices that all the services are included, many Nile cruises might not include in their pricing items such as accommodation, transportation, and sometimes the meals & water or even the entry passes to the attractions on the itinerary. Finally make sure that you have a minimum privacy during your cruise and avoid being part of a large group when going to the excursions. So take the time to shop around and compare, and keep in mind that traveling during off-season or shoulder season is the best time to get a really good deal on luxury Nile cruises and don’t forget to ask for the deck plan to choose your cabin.
What is the most important factor to consider when choosing your Nile cruise ?
Many will be surprised of the little time they will spend on the boat, because this trip is all about sightseeing and visiting astonishingly beautiful monuments of Ancient Egyptian civilization, so it all comes to an important factor that you should consider as a top priority, your tour guide. Having a good tour guide during your cruise is essential to the enjoyment of the itinerary, unless you are an expert in history, the tour guide is your story teller during your trip. However your tour guide does not only know stories but he will be able to guide and help you to do off track activities in your free time if any such as finding the best restaurants or any leisure activities while keeping you safe and protecting you from fraudulent schemes. So finding a knowledgeable and a friendly tour guide who speaks your language is simply the most important factor when choosing your Nile cruise.