A Nile cruise was not on my itinerary when I was arranging my trip to Egypt. I was planning a DIY two-week Egypt vacation on a budget, and a cruise didn’t seem to fit into my plan. However, as I looked into hotels in Aswan and Luxor, the best means to get between them, and what to see and do, I came across many forums, and articles recommending a Nile River cruise. So I figured it couldn’t harm to investigate. After all, Egypt was one of my fantasy vacation places, so a Nile River cruise would be worth it to me.
When it comes to Egyptian Nile cruises between Luxor and Aswan, there are, predictably, a plethora of options. Some were simple, with nights spent sleeping under the stars on the decks of local feluccas. Others were five-star hotels with world-class amenities. Of course, there’s also everything in between.
I’m not even going to tell you how much time I spend researching and comparing Nile River trips. I contacted several companies for more information and to inquire about add-ons. I compared the Aswan to Luxor cruises to the Luxor to Aswan cruises, and then the 3-night vs. 4-night cruises. After that, I compared the cruises to my initial DIY method to evaluate which gave the best value, not just in terms of price, but also in terms of what we would get to experience. In the end, I understood that the early comments and articles I read were correct. The finest way to see ancient Egypt is on a Nile cruise.
This is what I found…
The Best ‘Bang for Your Buck’ is a Nile Cruise
There were a million Nile cruises to select from, as I indicated earlier. The Nile cruise we took wasn’t the most luxurious, but it was certainly one of the nicer ones, and far more premium than a simple felucca (we decided to pass on this option due to the lack of onboard restrooms). We took a 5-day, 4-night trip on a lovely ship from Luxor to Aswan, which included all meals (except for drinks, which was a bit weird but they were super cheap). The major reason we chose this tour was because of the positive ratings, the convenient time, and the fact that our package included a private guide. Only my brother and I will have access to a competent Egyptologist. Which seemed a little strange, but also fantastic, because we’re both ancient Egypt enthusiasts.
Doesn’t it sound rather posh? Especially if you’re on a tight budget and want to explore Egypt. What’s more, guess what? For the entire package, we paid $395 apiece. That includes lodging, transportation, three daily meals, tour admission, and a private guided tour of 2-4 sites each day. If that isn’t a deal, I’m not sure what is, especially because our Nile river cruise ended up being less expensive than doing everything ourselves. It was also a lot more pleasurable experience.
*We did end up adding on a few other places, such as Abu Simbel, the light display at Karnak Temple, and the Nubian Village, which increased the prices by a few hundred dollars apiece. But it was well worth it!
It’s So Much Easier to Take a Nile Cruise
Traveling through Egypt on your own isn’t impossible, but it’s also not easy. After spending so much time alone in Southeast Asia, I had a good notion of what to expect and how to interact with the locals. Things like, before getting into a cab, make sure the meter is turned on and agree on a price ahead of time. Don’t bother looking at items unless you’re planning to buy something. Even with that behind me, I had a few of tense moments when traveling through Egypt, and we were continually pursued by shop vendors and touts (not troublesome, just annoying after the first 25 times).
Taking a Nile cruise removed a lot of the perilous situations. I didn’t have to worry about taxis overcharging me. I didn’t have to worry if the self-proclaimed tour guides who offered their services were genuine. I didn’t have to worry about getting on the appropriate bus or getting off at the correct stop. We weren’t pressured to shop nearly as much because I was traveling with a tour for the sites and attractions. I won’t say it was a relief because I prefer having true encounters with locals and being exposed to the daily hustle and bustle, and we felt safe in Egypt, but it was a pleasant break that allowed me to appreciate the experience more. Which I am happy for because our five days on the Egyptian Nile cruise between Luxor and Aswan were the absolute highlight of our two weeks in Egypt. I’m sure some of it has to do with the fact that I was able to simply relax, enjoy, and take it all in without the extra worry of arranging my own transportation, tickets, and guides.
A Nile cruise allows you to see and do more.
We would have done it even if the Nile cruise we chose ended up being more expensive than our original DIY plans. Because taking a Nile boat between Luxor and Aswan provides travelers with the option to see and do so much more.
The scenic cruising is the most visible feature of this. We got to sit on the sundeck and watch the wildlife, rainforest, and desert hills go by instead of cramming ourselves onto a bus to ride down boring old highways or rocky roads. I saw sunset fishermen, farmers with their cow herds, and a lot of gorgeous countryside. As we went through lush green fields, much of the cruise was serene and relaxing. It was a stark contrast to the dusty, noisy towns, and I’m glad I got to see it.
While the cruising was undoubtedly a benefit, we were also able to put on a couple of extra stops that we probably wouldn’t have been able to accomplish if we had planned this leg of the trip on our own if we had gone by land. The majority of travelers who go by land concentrate on Luxor’s attractions before continuing to Aswan. We were able to add Edfu and Kom Ombo to our Nile cruise itinerary, allowing us to visit two more temples: Edfu Temple and Kom Ombo Temple. One of my favorite temples in Egypt is Edfu Temple, which is devoted to the God Horus. While a visit to the peculiar and strangely interesting crocodile museum, which has crocodile mummies among other things, was included in the Kom Ombo temple, which is dedicated to both Sobek and Horus.
A Nile Cruise Isn’t as Expensive as You Might Think
Part of the reason I chose to conduct a DIY Egypt tour rather than join a group tour is because I enjoy meeting and interacting with people. I was afraid that if I took a Nile cruise, I might miss out on this part of my trip. I, on the other hand, did not.
To begin with, my private guide had a large network of local acquaintances and contacts in the places he visited. So my stroll around the market turned into a hands-on lesson on the production of Egyptian cotton scarves and alabaster. Things I probably wouldn’t have discovered if I were on my own.
I was also astonished to see that several Nile cruises are really popular among Egyptians. I’d say that native Egyptians made up more than half of our cruise, and many of them were entertaining and easy to talk to. At supper one night, I made friends with an Egyptian woman who taught me about the many Egyptian delicacies and how to enjoy them. It was just what I had hoped for in terms of local involvement.
Is a Nile Cruise the best way to see the sights? Yes, I believe so. I did a lot of study before choosing this path, and now that I’ve done it, I can’t image doing it any other way. An Egyptian Nile cruise has so much to offer, and there are so many Nile cruise alternatives to choose from that it’s easy to pick one that fits your budget. Our Egypt Nile cruise was the highlight of our Egyptian vacation, and I strongly advise everyone visiting Egypt to take one.
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