The Nile is the world's longest river, traveling more than 4,000 miles through northeastern Africa and emptying into the Mediterranean Sea at Egypt's coast. Many itineraries combine a cruise on the Nile with one or more hotel stays that place you in close proximity to Egypt’s numerous ancient attractions.
All the day-to-day travel details are handled for you, and Scenic's upfront price covers accommodations, many meals, guided sightseeing and more.
The 15 Best Nile Cruises in Egypt: Luxury Sailing from Luxor to Aswan
If you’re planning a trip to visit Egypt , of course, you’ll have to visit the Nile River! It’s the longest river in the world, spanning 11 different countries, and is incredibly important to Egyptians for both sustenance and transportation. And the best way to see the Nile is from aboard a luxury cruise sailing between the ancient cities of Luxor and Aswan.
But finding the best cruise to fit your travel plans can be difficult. They travel on specific weekly schedules and have a set itinerary – usually 3, 4, or 7 nights. Information and reviews on Booking.com are limited and since most cruises are fairly pricey, it’s important to understand what you’ll be getting for your money.
So we’ve compiled a list of the top 9 Nile River cruises to make planning your vacation in Egypt a breeze. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).
The Best Luxury Nile Cruises in Egypt
1. alexander the great nile cruise.
The Alexander the Great Cruise is a gorgeous cruise ship offering a 4-night Nile River cruise that departs every Monday from Luxor, and a 3-night Nile cruise that departs every Friday from Aswan. This Nile cruise even offers a free airport shuttle service!
Everyone on staff is incredibly helpful and attentive. If you’d like to pamper yourself during your Nile cruise you can take advantage of the spa services, including a hot spring bath and various massage treatments. And meals are fabulous, with both traditional and international cuisine options. And you’ll love the various evening entertainment that is fun for the whole family!
This luxury Nile cruise ship has an outdoor pool surrounded by comfortable lounge chairs for spending warm days relaxing in the sun. Rooms are spacious, clean, and well-appointed with a tv, premium bedding, a private bathroom, and a mini-bar. It’s definitely worth upgrading to a room with a balcony so you can enjoy the views from the privacy of your own room.
Guests especially love the guided tours along the banks of the Nile River. They will take you to the sites and explain the history in a way that is interesting and easy to digest.
Check Prices on Hotels.com
2. Sonesta Star Goddess Cruises
The Sonesta Star Goddess Cruise is an ultra-luxurious cruise sailing the Nile River between Luxor and Aswan for 4 or 7 nights leaving each Monday. The ship features plenty of activities for guests onboard, including a swimming pool, fitness center, and a spa with a hot tub and sauna. And with 24-hour room service, you’ll have every amenity available during your cruise.
Bedroom suites are large and comfortable with nice bedding, satellite televisions, bathtubs, and large windows to keep them bright and airy. You can enjoy a glass of wine at sunset on your private balcony overlooking the banks of the Nile.
You’ll love to indulge in a massage, body wrap, or a pedicure during your cruise. There’s nothing quite like relaxing in a spa while gazing out over the Nile!
Take advantage of the onboard shopping to pick up a few Egyptian gifts for your friends back home. The ship has a main dining area, a sun deck, and a lounge with a dance floor for the evening entertainment. They can also arrange your daily tours of the various sites along the Nile.
3. M/S Esplanade Cruise
The M/S Esplanade Cruise is a chic, lavish ship offering 4 or 7-night Nile River cruises each Monday from Luxor, and 3 or 7-night Nile cruises from Aswan each Friday.
The most impressive feature of this Nile River cruise in Egypt is the beautiful outdoor pool which is surrounded by comfortable loungers and day beds. It looks so pristine and inviting and is the perfect place to cool off after a long, hot morning exploring the Egyptian ruins.
The spacious rooms have air conditioning, a flat-screen television set, coffee and tea-making facilities, a desk, a hairdryer, and many amenities you may need during your cruise. Your stay on this luxurious cruise ship also includes 2 bars, a sauna, and a rooftop terrace.
All of the public seating areas are decorated with a creative flair and are a great place to hang out and meet new friends from all over the world!
4. Mövenpick Royal Lily Cruise
The Mövenpick Royal Lily Cruise offers either a 4-night Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan, or you can choose to make the trip a 7-day round trip affair! Of course the more nights you can spend on this luxury Nile River cruise line, the better!
The deluxe cabins are about 22 square meters and have two twin beds, large windows and bright, cheery decor. Of course, your room will also be appointed with air conditioning, a flat-screen television set, a minibar, and other amenities you’ll need during your stay. A telephone enabled with international calling is also available in your room.
You’ll appreciate the beautiful outdoor swimming pool, the spacious sun deck, the fitness center, and the sauna and spa facilities. The food is divine and you’ll be treated like royalty by the lovely staff at the Mövenpick. They’ll make your Nile cruise unforgettable!
Check Prices on Booking.com
5. Sonesta Moon Goddess
The Sonesta Moon Goddess Cruise sets sail each Saturday for 3 or 7 nights from Luxor to Aswan. This modern, luxury cruise ship will be your home away from home as you sail down the Nile River, enjoying the sites and sounds from the comfort of your private room.
The cruise ship is outfitted with a gorgeous outdoor swimming pool, a large sun terrace, a fitness center, a relaxing spa, and a bar serving up refreshing cocktails. Enjoy a massage, a facial, or a body scrub while you sip champagne and cruise down the Nile.
The food is delicious and super fresh. The helpful staff can help you in arranging a transfer to and from the airport, as well as any local excursions.
Rooms are simple and classic with comfortable beds, large private bathrooms, plenty of amenities, and private patios. Free toiletries, a tv, a minibar, a private bathroom, and turndown service are just a few of the amenities that you can enjoy. You’ll want to wake up early to catch the sunrise from the comfort of your own room!
6. Oberoi Philae Nile Cruise
The 5-star Oberoi Philae Nile Cruise offers 4-night and 6-night cruises down the Nile between Aswan and Luxor. The friendly staff at the ship tour desk can assist in booking your airport transfer, any daily excursions, and anything else you may need during your stay onboard.
During your Nile cruise, you can take advantage of the fitness center, the terrace with beautiful views of the banks of the Nile, and the lovely spa services which include Thai massage, facials, and body scrubs.
The large rooms have modern decor and come outfitted with a television set, a minibar (stocked with some free items!), coffee-making facilities, a bidet, bathrobes, and a desk. The beds are so comfortable that you won’t want to get up in the morning!
Be sure to book your stay on the Oberoi Philae Nile Cruise well in advance because this one books up fast!
7. MS Chateau Lafayette Nile Cruise
The MS Chateau Lafayette Nile Cruise departs from Luxor every Monday for four nights and from Aswan each Friday for three nights. The staff is exceptional and provides you with a 24-hour help desk and room service.
The cruise also offers multiple packages to make your cruise experience exceptional. The cruise offers Sightseeing, Happiness, Felucca Breakfast, and Honeymoon/Anniversary packages.
The Sightseeing Package includes transfers to sights, such as the High Dam, Karnak Temple, Valley of Kings, Philae Temple, Abu Simbel, and the Luxor Temple in an air-conditioned bus and includes the entrance fee.
The cruise provides different spacious room types, including standard twin rooms and deluxe king suites. The rooms are nicely furnished and clean, and each morning, you’ll be able to enjoy the yummy breakfast buffet. The cruise is also outfitted with a fitness center, sauna, swimming pool, bar, and restaurant that you can enjoy during your cruise time.
8. Nile Goddess Cruise
The Nile Goddess Cruise offers 4 or 7-night Nile cruises beginning every Monday between Luxor and Aswan. This beautiful ship has classic decor with dark wooden furniture and traditional touches throughout. You’ll forget that you’re on a ship cruising down the Nile River and not in a 5-star resort!
The Nile Goddess features a rooftop pool with plenty of room for lounging in the sun. Also a fitness center, a peaceful spa with a sauna, and even a nightclub. The lounge is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail at the end of the day, and you’ll love the delicious dishes served for onboard breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The air-conditioned rooms have simple but comfortable decor, a minibar, and a satellite television set. Upgrade to a suite to enjoy a separate seating area and a private balcony.
9. Oberoi Zahra Nile Cruise
The Oberoi Zahra offers luxury 5 or 7-day Nile cruises departing from either Luxor or Aswan. You’ll want to check the sailing calendar on their website for specific dates of embarkation. The service that you’ll receive onboard is absolutely impeccable from the moment that you’re greeted until the time that you leave. Take advantage of the free airport shuttle!
The daily excursions are both fun and informational. And you’ll appreciate that they try to time your arrival to avoid the crowds.
The ship has a large and refreshing outdoor pool and a spa where you can indulge in a relaxing spa. You’ll love the evening entertainment after enjoying a delectable meal in the onboard restaurant. Rooms are well-appointed with a minibar, an electric kettle, a large bathroom, and bathrobes. If you want to really treat yourself, opt for a suite with a private deck and hot tub!
10. Nile Carnival Cruise
The Nile Carnival Cruise departs from Luxor every Thursday and from Aswan every Monday. The staff is super friendly and accommodating, and the rooms are clean and spacious, with nice views of the river.
The Nile Carnival Cruise features a restaurant and a bar, packed lunches, snack bar, and it offers both a continental and buffet breakfast. The rooms are equipped with a private bathroom, flat-screen TV, and air-conditioning, and there are room, laundry, and ironing services available.
You’ll also be able to relax during your time on board as the cruise has a spa and wellness center that offers massages, beauty services, manicures, and hair treatments. Once you’re done getting pampered, you can enjoy the rooftop swimming pool, hot tub, sun terrace, and game room!
11. Jaz Crown Prince Nile Cruise
The Jaz Crown Prince Nile Cruise departs from Luxor every Saturday for 4-7 nights and every Wednesday from Aswan for three nights. The cruise has an outdoor swimming pool and sun terrace so you can relax and admire the river views from the deck.
The rooms include standard twin and single cabins with air conditioning, a private bathroom, a flat-screen TV, and a mini-bar. The cruise also offers an optional Sightseeing Package for an additional price that includes a visit to the Karnak and Luxor Temples, Valley of the Kings, the Botanical Garden, and the Abu Simbel Temple, among other sites.
Each morning you can enjoy the breakfast buffet, and every evening, you’ll love having tea time on the sun deck. After dinner at one of the restaurants, you can attend one of the shows or parties, including a belly dance show, a Nubian show, a cocktail party, or the Galabya party, depending on the itinerary.
12. M/S Esmeralda Nile Cruise
The M/S Esmeralda Nile Cruise departs from Luxor each Monday for 4-7 nights, and it departs each Friday from Aswan. The cruise features a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, spa, gym, and sun deck. In the evenings, you can attend one of the shows, including belly dancing, Tanoura, and Oriental and Heritage music entertainment.
The rooms on the M/S Esmeralda Nile Cruise include twin cabins, king-sized beds, and presidential suites equipped with an LED TV, a mini bar, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a safety box. Plus, you can even enjoy a private jacuzzi in the presidential suites!
The Garnet restaurant offers a great breakfast buffet with a good selection, and in the evenings, you can enjoy some delicious International dishes, including Chinese, Italian, Oriental Egyptian, and more. The restaurant is beautiful, and you’ll be able to enjoy your meals with a view of the Nile.
The cruise’s itinerary will take you to the Valley of the Kings and Queens, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut on the West Bank, the Edfu and Kom Ombo temples, the High Dam, the Temple of Philae, and the unfinished Obelisk.
13. Movenpick SS Misr Steamer Nile Cruise
The Movenpick SS Misr Steamer Nile Cruise departs on Mondays from Luxor for 4-7 nights and from Aswan on Fridays for three nights. You’ll immediately enjoy the old-time decor throughout the cruise ship as it was built in 1918 by the British Royal Navy. It was turned into a luxury steamer for King Farouk.
The Movenpick SS Misr Steamer offers four cabin options, including the standard, superior, senior suite, and panorama suite. No matter which cabin you choose for your Nile cruise adventure, you’ll enjoy large and panoramic balconies, air-conditioning, and a private bathroom. Other amenities include a TV, a minibar, and a safety deposit box.
You can also savor great quality drinks and cocktails at the Dhabiyyat Bar, and the Marasem Restaurant offers gourmet dishes, so you’ll feel like royalty! After you’re done exploring, you can relax on the large sun deck while sipping your favorite drink next to the swimming pool.
Check prices on Booking.com
14. Movenpick MS Sunray Nile Cruise
The Movenpick MS Sunray Nile Cruise departs from Luxor each Thursday for 4-7 nights, and it departs from Aswan each Monday for three nights. The cruise features elegant and traditional designs, and it is equipped with a swimming pool, a sundeck with a recreational area, and reading and playroom.
You can choose between the standard, superior, and junior or senior suites with panoramic windows for you to see the Nile. All cabins have air-conditioning, a private bathroom with a bathtub and hairdryer, a TV, a minibar, and a safety deposit box.
You can enjoy your international meals and breakfast buffet at the main restaurants, and the lounge bar offers afternoon tea and cocktails. You can also enjoy snacks and drinks on the sun deck while you take in all the monument views as you cruise down the Nile.
15. Steigenberger Legacy Nile Cruise
The Steigenberger Legacy Nile Cruise departs from Luxor on Mondays for 4-7 nights and from Aswan every Friday for three nights. You’ll love the luxurious and modern decor across the cabins and the cruise boat!
The surprisingly stylish rooms are equipped with controllable air-conditioning, a minibar, a safe, a private bathroom, and a balcony with sliding doors that open up to the main and upper decks.
Explore the ship, and you’ll find a restaurant, bar, and lounge, where you can enjoy meals and drinks. The restaurant also offers options for vegetarians, and the staff is very friendly and kind.
When you’re not taking in the Nile views, you can soak up the sun on the sun deck, splash around in the pool, and sip poolside drinks at the bar. There’s also a souvenir shop, a fitness center, and a beauty salon onboard, so you’ll have everything you need for a comfortable stay!
We hope you have a wonderful cruise down the Nile River!
Want more help planning your trip to Egypt? Check out our favorite travel guides!
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About the Author:
Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag. Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her! These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.
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2 thoughts on “the 15 best nile cruises in egypt: luxury sailing from luxor to aswan”.
Many thanks for great information!
Based on the review here, we booked on the Sonesta Moon Goddess March, 2023. We were disappointed. The rooms were indeed classic and comfortable. The carpets in the hall were old and stained. The HVAC systems in the room did not work properly despite engineering’s best efforts. Hot water was often hard to come by. The most disappointing element was the food. This was served buffet style, and almost never maintained hot. It was as if I had returned to my high school cafeteria. The staff were attentive and tried to please.
The review above does not reflect on the current state of affairs.
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Here’s what it’s like to take a Nile cruise in 2022
Oct 16, 2022 • 7 min read
Plan your trip of a lifetime in Egypt with this guide to cruising on the Nile © Lauren Keith / Lonely Planet
Egypt is nothing short of a miracle. Though the forbidding Sahara encroaches from every direction, the Nile River splashes a verdant green ribbon through the country, sometimes managing to push the desert sands only a few hundred feet back from the riverbank.
One of the world’s longest and most legendary rivers, the Nile travels more than 6500km (4100 miles) through five countries, but it’s most closely connected with Egypt. And indeed, so much of Egyptian history has unfolded along the Nile that nearly all of the country’s major cities and ancient tombs and temples are located along this lush life-giving artery.
The ancient Egyptians used the river as a highway, dispatching trade and military expeditions and toting statues of their gods between temples. The 5th century BCE Greek historian Herodotus famously called Egypt the “gift of the Nile,” and even now, millennia later, cruising the Nile is still the best way for travelers to see Egypt’s gifts for themselves.
Ready to embark on the trip of a lifetime? Here’s what you need to know about picking the best Nile river cruises.
Why are so many travelers talking about Egypt in 2022?
Nowhere else in the world is the past so intertwined with the present than in Egypt, and 2022 promises to be a blockbuster time to experience them both.
Lonely Planet named Egypt one of the top 10 countries to visit this year , and the long-anticipated Grand Egyptian Museum is expected to open in November to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun , the famous golden pharaoh and “boy king.”
September marked 200 years since the Rosetta Stone was translated, which revealed the meanings of the hieroglyphs and recaptured knowledge that had been lost for centuries. New archaeological discoveries continue apace in Luxor, Saqqara and elsewhere that keep rewriting history.
Tourism hit a record high in Egypt in 2019 and was expected to grow even more in 2020, but we all know what happened then. Like many places, tourism in Egypt has now entered recovery mode, making the coming months a great – and still relatively quiet – time to visit.
Some Nile cruise companies continued construction projects that have seen new boats launched on the river, including the August 2022 debut of the Viking Osiris , a brand new 82-passenger vessel built specifically to navigate the Nile.
Why you should take a Nile cruise when you visit Egypt
While cruises might get a bad rap elsewhere in the world, traveling by boat on the Nile is a time-honored tradition that stretches back to the pharaonic era.
Along the riverbanks, life carries on in the way that it has since time immemorial: mudbrick houses poke out from behind the foliage, children wave excitedly at passing ships, a lone man paddles a blue-painted canoe piled high with alfalfa for his hungry livestock, palm trees heavy with golden dates sag as they await the harvest.
In a fast-paced world, opportunities to simply sit back and watch life glide by are few and far between. Sitting outside on the Osiris ’s balcony traveling at the speed of the river, I felt like I was watching a slow travel TV show – at once both an outside spectator and also completely immersed in it.
In ancient times, mastering the river helped rulers unite the country, and most temples are built within easy reach of the water. Sure, Egypt’s modern-day road and rail network can transport you to these temples overland, but if you skip a cruise on the Nile, the magic of the journey will certainly be missing.
How to choose a Nile cruise itinerary
The vast majority of Nile cruises operate in both directions between Luxor and Aswan in southern Egypt, making stops in Edfu, Kom Ombo and sometimes other small towns.
Which Nile cruise you pick depends on the usual two travel constraints: your budget and your time. Certain boats sail only on certain days, and Nile cruises can be as short as three days, but more commonly last five days.
Most luxury cruises on the Nile, including Viking’s Nile cruises, require signing up for a full Egypt-wide itinerary that starts and ends in Cairo , an excellent option for first-time visitors.
With little signage at historic sites and prices always open to negotiation, Egypt is a tricky place for independent travel. Unless you want to spend your precious vacation time bargaining with taxi drivers and tour guides everywhere you go, it’s best to join a tour for your first visit and leave the logistics to someone else.
What I liked in particular about Viking’s Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary is that it includes two unusual stops that aren’t standard ports of call for most Nile cruises.
The ship travels north of Luxor to Qena for passengers to disembark and visit the gorgeous Temple of Hathor at Dendera , where the ceilings have recently been cleaned, exposing beautifully painted zodiac symbols and the warped body of the sky goddess Nut, who swallows the sun every night and gives birth to it the next morning.
The boat also stops in Esna for the Temple of Khnum , a small but wonderfully preserved structure. Look up to spot the column-topping capitals, each of which has a colorfully decorated, unique bouquet of palm fronds, bunches of grapes, lotus flowers and papyrus shoots.
In Luxor, you’ll get private access to the show-stopping tomb of Nefertari – arguably the most beautiful burial site in the entire country (and certainly the most expensive at LE1400, about US$72) where nearly every square inch is painted in stunningly vibrant bas-reliefs – as well as the chance to see the stark dichotomy of Egypt’s landscapes from the sky in the basket of a gently drifting hot air balloon.
Tours of the temples and tombs are led by local expert Egyptologists who explain and translate the meanings of the hieroglyphs before your very eyes.
A few companies offer Nile cruises from Cairo, but these sailings are rare, usually operating just once a month – if at all – and take significantly longer because of the distance involved. But you’ll get the chance to check out off-the-beaten-track tombs and temples between Cairo and Luxor that see few visitors.
What is it like on board the Viking Osiris ?
Decked out in a sleek Scandi color scheme of blond wood and blue textiles that are drenched in natural light thanks to huge floor-to-ceiling windows across much of the ship, the Viking Osiris is an oasis of calm that’s a treat to return to after a long and dusty day of exploring.
The cruise ship has 41 cabins across three decks, plus two upper levels with an indoor/outdoor dining space with windows that fold away for al fresco evenings, a cozy bar and lounge with a resident piano player in the evenings, an infinity-style pool at the back of the boat and a sun deck for days of lazy lounging.
Travelers can check out books from the on-board library’s exquisite collection to read up on Egyptian history on their voyage.
The guest rooms are surprisingly spacious, with comfy hotel-like beds, plenty of wardrobe and storage space, and good-sized bathrooms. Many staterooms come with balconies.
The ship is partially powered by solar panels, and you can see how much electricity is being generated by the sun as well as the carbon dioxide savings on a screen inside.
What travelers should know before visiting Egypt
Almost all nationalities need a visa to visit Egypt , which you can get on arrival at the airport or apply for online in advance if you’d rather skip the line. The cost of a single-entry Egyptian tourist visa is USD$25, payable in cash at the airport or by card online.
Egypt is a traditional, Muslim-majority country, so both men and women should dress modestly when visiting. For tips on what to pack, local etiquette and more, check these 14 things to help you plan your visit to Egypt .
Lauren Keith traveled on the Viking Osiris cruise by invitation from Viking River Cruises .
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- Complimentary Brochures
Nile River Cruises
There would be no Egypt without the Nile. Discover the civilization that rose along its banks, starting with Cairo, the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Explore Luxor’s legendary temples and tombs, then cruise to Aswan, stopping in ancient Edfu, Kom Ombo and more. A true travel milestone.
Pharaohs & Pyramids
Cairo to cairo, $25 deposit*, highlights of the nile river.
Follow the timeline of Egyptian civilization, beginning in Cairo and culminating with a spectacular Nile River cruise from Luxor to Aswan and back. Let your imagination soar as your ship meanders through panoramic desertscapes, fertile farmlands, colorful villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites that preserve the ancient glory of Egypt’s greatest temples, palaces and tombs. Included excursions in every port reveal highlights like these:
- The pyramids and the Sphinx, the only Ancient Wonders of the World still standing
- Cairo’s Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, featuring the treasures of King Tutankhamen
- Luxor’s Karnak Temple complex
- The Necropolis of Thebes, Egypt’s largest repository of pharaonic tombs
- Luxor Temple, with its sphinx-lined avenue
- Privileged Access to the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens
- The graceful temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt’s only female pharaoh
- The temple of Hathor at Dendera
- Aswan’s atmospheric souk
- Nubian village and school visit
- The romantic, waterbound Temple of Isis at Philae
- Horse-drawn calèche tour to Edfu’s Temple of Horus
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Best Nile cruises
Wednesday September 6 2023, 11:00am
Sailing through timeless landscapes on a cruise is the best way to see the River Nile. It’s one of the richest destinations on earth and has long enticed and seduced travellers, from pharaohs and prophets to modern-day adventurers, to say nothing of fictional Agatha Christie characters. Sailing on the world’s longest river, which flows through 11 African countries for 4,100 miles before spilling out into the Mediterranean, is a breathtaking experience, and there are more cruise lines plying the Nile than ever.
So which one to take? The majority of itineraries cover the Upper Nile — a section of the river in southern Egypt known for the country’s most impressive and important ruins and archaeological discoveries, such as the Valley of the Kings in Luxor — and end some 150 miles downstream in Aswan. The trick is to find the right way to explore this amazing river, whether that’s aboard a brand new riverboat, a restored paddle steamer or a luxury dahabiya modelled on a traditional sailing boat. Here are the best Nile cruises.
Main photo: traditional felucca boats on the Nile at Luxor (Getty Images)
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Our travel journalism is written and edited by independent experts to inform, inspire and advise our readers about the best choices for your holidays. We also feature properties and itineraries from a specially selected list of trusted operators. These buttons and adverts are clearly signposted, and provide direct links through to external sites. If you click and buy a product, we may earn revenue.
1. MS Darakum, book via Riviera Travel
Best for watching the world go by Those who like to take the long route and stay on a boat for the duration of their Egyptian adventure in Egypt will enjoy a cruise on the 52-cabin MS Darakum. Thanks to its very low draft, it is one of the very few vessels that can sail from Cairo to Luxor. After an intoxicating few days in the capital, exploring its markets, mosques and ancient wonders, it’s time to travel south. The beauty of covering a much longer distance than a traditional Nile cruise is the extra time it allows to simply sit and watch the world go by. Riviera Travel’s Wonders of the Nile itinerary is sprinkled with long and leisurely sailing days where there’s little to do except relax on the sun deck and gaze out at the small farms and date plantations, before retreating inside to attend the fascinating onboard lectures.
Passengers 104 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome Y Price £££
2. MS Movenpick Royal Lily or Royal Lotus, book via Exodus
Best for ticking off the sights All of Egypt’s most significant sites are given adequate attention on Exodus’ nine-day premium Nile cruise. After time in Cairo and a short flight to Luxor, it’s time to board for a voyage through 7,000 years of history. The traditional-style ships include large royal suites and very high levels of service and comfort throughout. As well as all the usual big hitters, there are plenty of offbeat options that make this an eye-opening choice for the curiously minded traveller. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the impressive seventh-century St Simeon Monastery, the nearby traditional Nubian village and the chance to see Cleopatra’s unfinished obelisk.
Passengers 126 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome N Price ££
3. MS Nile Plaza, book via Titan Travel
Best for cruising in style The MS Nile Plaza first took to the water in 1990 but was refurbished a few years ago to modernise the onboard amenities and bring a new lease of life to the decor. The interiors, including the 55 spacious cabins, are tasteful, with rich wooden panels and neutral tones broken up by art deco-inspired light fixtures and calming house plants. Titan Travel’s eight-day Egypt’s Timeless Riches trip includes a voyage on the four-star MS Nile Plaza, starting and ending in Luxor. It begins in spectacular style with visits to the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens before setting sail to Edfu and onwards to Aswan.
Passengers 110 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome N Price ££
4. Oberoi Zahra, book via Hotels.com
Best for maxed-out luxury Devotees of the namesake hotel chain can enjoy the brand’s luxury on the water aboard the plushest boat on the Nile. The modern and minimalist Oberoi Zahra enjoys prime position at its private mooring spot on the banks of the corniche in Aswan. Its elevated approach doesn’t end there. As well as offering trips to the temples of Edfu and the island of El Nabatat on itineraries that include a four-day trip from Luxor, the boat has plenty to keep guests entertained, from a library and games room to a gym and open-air pool. At night, astrology lectures reveal how the night sky influenced life in Egypt in the past. The 27 cabins are tasteful, and decorated in a natural colour palette; both of the suites have a private terrace and a hot tub.
Passengers 54 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome N (minimum age is 12) Price £££
5. Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau, book via Sanctuary Retreats
Best for families and groups of friends This 164ft-long traditional dahabiya sailing boat may be small but it is perfectly packaged. The first of its kind on the Nile, it is available through Sanctuary Retreats for private charter with personalised week-long itineraries to suit specific interests. This cruise is a great option for families or groups of friends looking for privacy and flexibility. On board there is a heated plunge pool and six individually designed cabins influenced by the country’s culture, geography and heritage, including the white Farouk Suite on the upper deck, where the decor is inspired by Egyptian royalty. Guides can be arranged according to guests’ interests — from food to history.
Passengers 12 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome Y (aged over ten) Price £££
6. SS Sudan, book via Original Travel
Best for Agatha Christie lovers One of the most historic and atmospheric vessels to ply the Nile’s waters, this celebrated 19th-century steamer once welcomed Agatha Christie aboard. It is widely believed that it was that trip in 1933, accompanying her husband on an archaeological mission, which paved the way for one of her most accomplished murder mysteries. Following Kenneth Branagh’s 2022 adaptation of Death on the Nile , the SS Sudan is the perfect ship for fans of the Queen of Crime; there are cabins named after Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot. The boat exudes opulent period charm, from the teak decks and parquet flooring to the brass bed frames in many of the rooms. Guests also have exclusive access to a network of expert archaeologists who will help bring the historical ruins to life.
Passengers 46 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites Y Children welcome Y Price £££
7. SS Sphinx, book via Uniworld
Best for first-timers The SS Sphinx showcases the very best of Egypt, both old and new, in the utmost comfort. Uniworld’s 11-night Splendours of Egypt & The Nile itinerary provides the perfect introduction to Egypt. The Cairo-to-Cairo trip begins with highlights that include the Pyramids of Giza, as well as tea with a Nubian family and even a spot of fishing and birdwatching. The onboard experience is no less delightful, with 42 suites decked out with Egyptian art, hand-carved furniture, a massage room, swimming pool and two gourmet dining rooms. Trips include guided tours of the Egyptian Museum and sailing on a felucca.
Passengers 84 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome Y Price £££
8. SS Misr, book via Noble Caledonia
Best for traditionalists Misr, which means “Egypt” in Arabic, is a propeller steamer that has long enjoyed a romance with this country. Built in Preston in 1918 by the Royal Navy, in 1938 it was converted into a luxury yacht that played host to King Farouk, the country’s penultimate monarch. The vessel has now been fully restored to its former glory, and its three, four and seven-night trips are known for celebrating local food — and there’s a rather regal feeling inside the main Marasem restaurant, with framed photos of past royalty dotted about and waiters smartly dressed in attire that takes its inspiration from the glory days of Farouk. The food is largely international but local flavours are celebrated in dishes such as bessara, a local dip made from fava beans.
Passengers 45 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites Y Children welcome Y Price ££
9. MS Esplanade, book via Mayfair Cruises
Best for R&R A sophisticated option, focusing on the Upper Nile, the MS Esplanade offers cruises of up to seven nights (minimum three nights) that take in both the east and west banks of Luxor, the Horus temple at Edfu and even the mummified crocodiles of Kom Ombo. When it comes to relaxation, guests can spend time in the hushed spa on the lower deck or relax on one of the shady poolside cabanas on the breezy top deck.
Passengers 150 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome Y Price ££
10. La Flaneuse du Nil, book via Authentic Hotels
Best for return visitors For those who have already sailed the Nile and may be looking for something different, La Flaneuse du Nil is a tempting alternative. While most boats travel north from Aswan towards Luxor, this intimate five-day cruise heads south into Lake Nasser bound for the rock-cut temples of Abu Simbel. Powered by sails and tugs, just like the original dahabiyas that were once a regular sight on the waterway, this cosy vessel showcases the subtle beauty of the vast man-made reservoir that straddles Egypt’s border with Sudan. The boat sails at a leisurely pace, with stops for lake swims, sunset hikes and solitary mornings on quiet beaches, as well as guided trips to some of the most impressive ancient wonders Egypt has to explore.
Passengers 14 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome Y (aged over six) Price ££
11. Sanctuary Sun Boat III, book via Sanctuary Retreats
Best for fun on the river An extremely attractive boat, and one of the few vessels to (occasionally) cruise from Cairo to Aswan, the Sanctuary Sun Boat III takes its inspiration from the glamour of the 1920s and 1930s. Think ecru tones, four-poster beds draped in the finest Egyptian linen and entertainment in the form of belly dancers and whirling dervishes. There are modern touches, too, with air conditioning and a swimming pool on the Cleopatra Oasis sundeck: the perfect spot on which to sip a hibiscus juice and watch the world go by.
Passengers 36 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome Y (aged over ten) Price £££
12. RV Da Vinci, book via CroisiEurope
Best for value With its understated style, the RV Da Vinci is a good choice for passengers who want to travel in more contemporary surroundings. Built in 1993 and fully refurbished since, it offers a comfortable base to travel on the classic route from Luxor or add on a few days in Cairo. CroisiEurope’s eight-day Land of the Pharaohs cruise includes excursions to all the headline sights, such as the Valley of the Kings and Temple of Kom Ombo, and options to book others such as a breathtaking balloon ride over the Nile Valley or the evocative sound and light show at Karnak. At the end of the day, enjoy a final cocktail as the sun goes down — all drinks are included in the fare.
Passengers 108 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome Y Price £
13. River Tosca, book via Uniworld
Best for children Luxury line Uniworld has expanded its family-friendly Generations programme with an all-new multigenerational itinerary in Egypt. The adapted version of its 11-night Splendours of Egypt and the Nile holiday is aboard the River Tosca and includes child-friendly menus and two dedicated family hosts to oversee activities for junior cruisers aged four to 12 and teen cruisers. Alongside famous sights such as the Pyramids of Giza, the Valley of the Kings and Karnak, activities include a football match with local children and some of the ship’s crew, sand dune boarding, swimming in the Nile, exploring the river by bike and traditional felucca, and a behind-the-scenes visit to the captain’s wheelhouse. While youngsters are having fun with the onboard hosts, adults can relax on the sun deck with its shaded cabanas and swimming pool.
Passengers 82 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome Y Price £££
14. MS Radamis II, book via Travel Department
Best for solo travellers If you’re fed up with being stung by single supplements, don’t want to set sail with loved-up couples, or simply just enjoy travelling alone then check out the Travel Department’s dedicated single sailings. The company charters this comfortable ship which has 75 cabins, and for solo travellers it makes for an exclusive and intimate holiday. The sun deck bar is a top spot to mingle over cocktails with newfound friends and enjoy barbecues. The supplement-free solo itineraries take in a seven-night Nile cruise, with included shore trips to the Temple of Horus, the Valley of the Kings, the High Dam and the temples of Karnak and Luxor. At the end of the cruise you’ll fly and flop with a couple of days of relaxation in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. The tour operator also uses the vessel for its escorted group tours on the Nile.
Passengers 150 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome Y Price ££
15. Sonesta Dahabeya Amirat, book via Sonesta
Best for groups You can sail the Nile in style on this twin-masted dahabiya, which harks back to the graceful travel of bygone times. Inspired by the 19th-century vessels used by royalty and aristocrats, this intimate and sophisticated 14-passenger ship is the smallest in the fleet owned by the international Sonesta hotel group. It’s a wonderful choice for extended families or groups of friends who want to book an entire ship for an exclusive holiday. Sumptuous cabins are decked out in blue, gold and cream and guests can wallow in baths after a busy day sightseeing. The ship goes back and forth on week-long trips between Luxor and Aswan and wherever possible sails under wind power.
Passengers 14 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome Y Price £££
Two ships to look out for in 2024
16. tui al horeya, book via tui.
Best for home comforts Tui River Cruises is launching its first Nile ship in November 2024. Charter flights from Gatwick and Manchester are being laid on to dovetail with the sailings, which are aimed squarely at the British market. The five-deck ship is being fully refurbished for Tui and seven-night round-trip sailings from Luxor will include two excursions to the Temple of Horus in Edfu and the Temple of Kom Ombo. Other optional shore tours will be available to purchase, such as the atmospheric sound and light show at Karnak and a visit to a Nubian village. Tui Al Horeya will have a top-deck pool and an area for alfresco dining on warm Egyptian nights.
Passengers 145 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites N Children welcome N Price £
17. AmaLilia, book via AmaWaterways
Best for being pampered AmaLilia, set to sail on the Nile in 2024, would impress even the most discerning pharaoh with its marble bathrooms, heated pool, massage treatments — and even a nail bar. Its suites are stylish and contemporary, and the decor throughout the ship has an understated elegance, showcasing Egyptian ornaments and artwork. Thoughtful itineraries will take guests on excursions to often-overlooked places, including the sacred city of Abydos — a necropolis for the earliest Egyptian kings, where the mortuaries include the Temple of Seti I, completed in 1279BC — and the Abdeen presidential palace for lunch. AmaLilia is an almost identical ship to AmaWaterways’ first Nile ship AmaDahlia, with the addition of more plush suites.
Passengers 72 Private guides Y Private access to historical sites Y Children welcome Y (aged over four) Price £££
Additional reporting by Jeannine Williamson
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Splendors of Egypt & the Nile
12 days | cairo to cairo.
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Cruise the Nile in a manner once reserved for queens and pharaohs.
For 12 adventure-filled days, experience Egypt and the Nile’s most wondrous sites in style and luxury. * Wander amongst the towering ruins of the Temple of Karnak, the world’s largest ancient religious complex, and the entrancing Temple of Luxor. Follow in the footsteps of renowned scholars and explorers as you venture forth into the Valley of the Kings, the ancient burial grounds of Egyptian royalty.
This captivating itinerary begins and ends in Cairo, where you’ll visit the famous Egyptian Museum and its unrivaled collection of pharaonic artifacts. Journey to Giza to gaze upon the mighty ancient Pyramids and the Sphinx.
Generations Family Program (select River Tosca sailings) : These cruise/tours feature unique, fun-filled adventures for youngsters and are packed with culturally and historically significant experiences. There will also be an opportunity to meet local children—if your family would like to bring a gift to share with the children (such as school supplies, books, balls or games) it is welcomed.
This program is an active one, including plenty of walking and early starts on most days to take advantage of the favorable morning weather. Flights between Cairo and Luxor may require wake-up calls at 5:00am or earlier. Please contact your travel advisor or Uniworld Reservations for additional details.
*Note: Due to cultural differences and other factors, the beverage policy for our Egypt program differs from our European programs. Please see our Terms and Conditions for more details.
Uniworld - The TreadRight Foundation People Project In Jordan
When you travel with Uniworld on our 2022 Jordan pre-cruise/tour extension you are helping to support local communities through our partnership with The TreadRight Foundation. See how you can make travel matter for the Jordanian women of the Iraq al-Amir Women’s Cooperative.
- Cairo to Cairo (S.S. Sphinx)
- Cairo to Cairo (River Tosca)
Jordan Pre-Cruise Extension
- 3 nights at The St. Regis Amman hotel (or similar)
- 1 night at Palmyra Mazayen camp (or similar)
- 1 night at Al Manara, a Luxury Collection Hotel (or similar)
- Breakfast daily, 2 lunches, 1 dinner
- All service charges, taxes, and porterage
- Explore Jordan—4 days of excursions
- All transfers and transportation
- Flight between Amman and Cairo
- Services of a local host/guide
Uniworld - The Iraq al-Amir Women’s Cooperative
When you travel with Uniworld on our Jordan pre-cruise/tour extension you are helping to support local communities. See how you can make travel matter for the Jordanian women of the Iraq al-Amir Women’s Cooperative.
Click here for full details.
Arrive at Cairo International Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, a Uniworld representative will be on hand to greet you and escort you to your hotel. Guests who have booked the S.S. Sphinx will be staying at the opulent Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza, while guests who have booked the River Tosca will be staying at the stunning Nile Ritz-Carlton (or similar).
Masterpiece Collection Providing the most all-inclusive luxury to our guests is the heart and soul of our brand and that will never change. Yet sometimes our guests want something that goes even "above and beyond" our included experiences. In light of this, we now offer guests a curated selection of optional excursions, available for an additional charge.
NOTE: ALEXANDRIA EXCURSION REQUIRES AN EXTRA NIGHT STAY. Once the largest and most prosperous city in the world, Alexandria is a can’t-miss destination for your Egypt tour. Embark on a sightseeing expedition to the National Museum, Pompey’s Pillar, and Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque. You...
NOTE: ALEXANDRIA EXCURSION REQUIRES AN EXTRA NIGHT STAY. Once the largest and most prosperous city in the world, Alexandria is a can’t-miss destination for your Egypt tour. Embark on a sightseeing expedition to the National Museum, Pompey’s Pillar, and Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque. You will see the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa—one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. The Catacombs are the largest and most important burial site in Egypt and, due to the time period of its construction, contain Roman, Greek and Egyptian artistic styles. You will also see Citadel of Qaitbay from the outside. Afterwards, you’ll have time to yourself to break for lunch or explore Alexandria on your own. NOTE: ALEXANDRIA EXCURSION REQUIRES AN EXTRA NIGHT STAY. We strongly recommend that you book the extra night through Uniworld, however you can book the extra night on your own if you are sure to book your stay at the same hotel included in your cruise/tour package.
*Masterpiece Collection are optional experiences that go above and beyond our daily selection of included excursions and can be booked for an additional fee. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be pre-booked. Please note that requests to pre-book must be made by calling our Reservations Team no later than 6 days prior to departure and are subject to availability. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in USD. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change. Masterpiece Collection excursions may not operate if they occur on a holiday or if they require a minimum number of participants and that minimum is not met.
The ancient quarter of Cairo is intense—the colors, the sounds, the density of people—and it’s likely been this way for thousands of years. Your local expert will show you a 12th-century citadel, the beautiful Alabaster Mosque and an unsurpassed collection of priceless artifacts, including mind-boggling treasures once buried with the boy king Tutankhamen.
Citadel of salah al-din, alabaster mosque and egyptian museum.
Your tour of this historic city includes a visit to the Citadel of Salah al-Din, a massive compound containing mosques and museums and offering breathtaking views of Cairo. Founded in the seventh century by Arab conquerors, the Fatimid dynasty rulers made Cairo their capital and named it al-Qahira...
Your tour of this historic city includes a visit to the Citadel of Salah al-Din, a massive compound containing mosques and museums and offering breathtaking views of Cairo. Founded in the seventh century by Arab conquerors, the Fatimid dynasty rulers made Cairo their capital and named it al-Qahira (“the Victorious”). The great sultan Salah al-Din built his citadel in the 12th century as a government center and bulwark against invading armies of Crusaders. Located high above the eastern end of Cairo on El-Moqattam Hill, the citadel was the home of Egypt’s rulers for more than 700 years and is one of the oldest attractions in the city.
After the Ottoman ruler Muhammad Ali seized power in the 1800s, he restored the walls of the citadel and built numerous palaces, schools and government buildings inside. His masterpiece was the great Alabaster Mosque, also known as the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, which you’ll have an opportunity to visit. Its two slender minarets were Muhammad Ali’s declaration of independence from Istanbul, as Ottoman law decreed that only a sultan could build a mosque with two minarets. The mosque’s expansive Turkish-style interior is lit by a beautiful array of lamps suspended from the intricately decorated ceiling.
You’ll also visit the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, established in 1900 and by far the most impressive collection of Egyptian antiquities and pharaonic treasures in the world. Located in the heart of Cairo, the museum displays an astonishing number of objects. Ancient Egyptian history began with the founding of the Old Kingdom around 3100 BC and lasted 3,000 years, until Alexander the Great conquered the country in 332 BC and ended the rule of the pharaohs. The museum’s galleries are laid out in roughly chronological order as you move clockwise along the ground floor.
Note: Photography of any kind is forbidden inside the museum, including digital cameras, cell phones and camcorders.
Cairo, Fly to Luxor (Embark) Cruising the Nile River, Dendera
Prepare to be amazed at the legendary Temple of Karnak, a massive and absolutely astounding site, with gigantic columns, broad avenues lined with stone sphinxes and halls of truly epic proportions. This evening, you’ll revel in a Welcome Reception and Dinner onboard.
Note: Flights to Luxor depart early in the morning to take advantage of more favorable weather and traffic conditions, and to optimize tour scheduling.
Before dinner onboard this evening, guests will be treated to a folkloric dance performance. A local band of dancers, in traditional costumes representing different Egyptian districts, will perform a Whirling Dervish show.
Temple at Karnak
After a short flight to Luxor on the east bank of the Nile, you can stroll through the grand avenues of sphinxes and halls of gigantic columns of the magnificent Temple of Karnak. This vast complex, situated about 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) from the Temple of Luxor, was originally established during...
After a short flight to Luxor on the east bank of the Nile, you can stroll through the grand avenues of sphinxes and halls of gigantic columns of the magnificent Temple of Karnak. This vast complex, situated about 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) from the Temple of Luxor, was originally established during the Middle Kingdom (1991-1633 BC), and various dynasties over the next 1,300 years continued to expand it. Karnak is a massive and simply astounding site, reflecting the combined achievements of many generations of ancient builders—as many as 80,000 laborers took part in its creation during the 19th Dynasty alone.
Buried under sand for a thousand years, the UNESCO- designated Karnak complex is composed of three main temples, smaller enclosed temples and several outer temples. The largest of these is dedicated to Amun, a great pharaonic god. Enter the main compound, the Precinct of Amun, through the Great Court, and continue on to the dazzling Great Hypostyle Hall—sometimes called the Hall of Columns—an imposing forest of 134 enormous sandstone columns in the form of papyrus stalks.
Later, you’ll board the magnificent S.S. Sphinx or the elegant River Tosca and set sail for beautiful Dendera. Enjoy a Gala Reception and dinner onboard this evening.
Dendera, Cruising the Nile River, Luxor
Like its twin shrine, the Temple of Karnak, the Temple of Luxor stands on the site of ancient Thebes, the once flourishing capital of Egypt’s New Kingdom. It was built over hundreds of years and even in ruins it is still an extraordinary place. You’ll also visit the Temple of Hathor, dedicated to the goddess of love and beauty.
Temple of hathor.
The impressive Temple of Hathor at Dendera was dedicated to the goddess of love and beauty. The temple dates to Egypt’s Ptolemaic era, when the heirs of Alexander the Great ruled over Egypt and adopted Egyptian culture and religion as their own. Built between 125 BC and AD 65, it is one of...
The impressive Temple of Hathor at Dendera was dedicated to the goddess of love and beauty. The temple dates to Egypt’s Ptolemaic era, when the heirs of Alexander the Great ruled over Egypt and adopted Egyptian culture and religion as their own. Built between 125 BC and AD 65, it is one of the best-preserved temples in all of Egypt and features a rare bas-relief of Cleopatra with Caesarion, the son she bore to Julius Caesar.
Return to Luxor for some free time before visiting the ancient Temple of Luxor.
Temple of Luxor
Enter the temple through the great pylon—a ceremonial gateway—where two enormous statues of Ramses II still stand, along with a pink granite obelisk (its mate stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France). Continue on to an enormous interior courtyard, where the Abu Haggag Mosque ...
Enter the temple through the great pylon—a ceremonial gateway—where two enormous statues of Ramses II still stand, along with a pink granite obelisk (its mate stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France). Continue on to an enormous interior courtyard, where the Abu Haggag Mosque once stood atop the ruins of the temple. You can still see a ghostly remnant of the mosque on the east side of the courtyard, high above the columns, its arched doorway opening into thin air.
The temple’s chief architects were Amenhotep III (Egypt’s “Sun King,” also known as Amenophis III) and Ramses II, and it was constructed over hundreds of years, beginning around 1400 BC. It was dedicated to the “father of all life,” the god Amun, sometimes referred to as Amon or Amon-Ra. Ancient Egyptians came to the temple to pay tribute to this god during the Opet Festival, celebrated during the annual flooding of the Nile. Once a year, a great feast was held and the statue of Amun was transported via a small sailboat from the Temple of Karnak to the Temple of Luxor. (Stages of the festival are depicted in friezes along the Temple of Karnak’s grand processional colonnade, the construction of which was started by Amenhotep III and finished by his grandson, Tutankhamen.)
At the rear of the temple is the Sun Court of Amenhotep III, as well as the Bark Shrine that was rebuilt by Alexander the Great (who is depicted bare-chested on the walls). The Luxor Temple complex is at its most stunning at sunset, when it is illuminated with the golden glow of the setting sun.
Luxor, Cruising the Nile River, Kom Ombo
The word “colossal” will take on a whole new meaning after today’s excursion to the gigantic twin statues known as the Colossi of Memnon. And that’s just the beginning—you’ll also visit the temple of one of Egypt’s rare female pharaohs as well as the Valley of the Kings, used as a royal burial place for nearly 500 years and where the mummified remains of Tutankhamen are on display.
After dinner onboard tonight, guests will enjoy a Galabeya Party with music, dancing and singing by crew members. Guests are encouraged to bring their own Galabeya clothing.
Colossi of Memnon, Hatshepsut Temple and Valley of the Kings
Get an up-close view of two gigantic statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, better known as the Colossi of Memnon. Sixty feet (18 meters) tall and gazing eastward toward the rising sun, the statues depict Amenhotep seated on his throne. Carved next to his legs are his mother and his wife, with side...
Get an up-close view of two gigantic statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, better known as the Colossi of Memnon. Sixty feet (18 meters) tall and gazing eastward toward the rising sun, the statues depict Amenhotep seated on his throne. Carved next to his legs are his mother and his wife, with side panels depicting the god of the Nile, Hapi. The figures originally sat in front of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III and are believed to have surpassed even Karnak in size. Unfortunately, the temple itself was slowly dismantled over the centuries to provide building materials for new temples; the twin Colossi continue to stand guard nonetheless, just as they have done for the past 3,400 years.
The Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri is another highlight today. One of Egypt’s rare female pharaohs, Hatshepsut is considered by historians to have been one of the most successful rulers of ancient Egypt. Both the setting and the construction of her temple make it unique among the landmarks of Egypt; built into the face of steep cliffs at the basin, the temple is made of limestone instead of sandstone, unlike any other funerary temples of the New Kingdom period. Hatshepsut’s successor, Thutmose III, attempted to remove her name from the temple, and many images of the queen were damaged or destroyed during his reign.
You’ll also visit one of the most famous archeological sites in the world—the remote and barren Valley of the Kings, used for royal burials for nearly 500 years. Much of our understanding of Egyptian mythology has been garnered from these ancient chambers, located about four miles (seven kilometers) inland on the west bank of the Nile. It was here that the bodies of great pharaohs such as Ramses II and Thutmose III were once laid to rest and where the mummified remains of the boy king Tutankhamen are still on display. The idea for establishing this royal burial ground is thought to have originated with Thutmose I, who opted to conceal his tomb far from his mortuary temple in an effort to deter tomb robbers. Subsequent pharaohs did the same, changing a tradition that had endured for close to 2,000 years.
Within the tombs and along the walls of the Valley of the Kings, inscriptions from the Book of the Dead provided instructions on how the pharaohs could safely journey to the next world and avoid the dangers that lay on the way. For the sake of preservation, only a handful of the most interesting tombs are open to visitors at any given time.
Return to the ship and set sail for Kom Ombo. Tonight, don your galabeya (traditional Egyptian attire, samples of which will be available for purchase onboard if you’d like to participate but didn’t bring your own) for a festive onboard party featuring traditional Egyptian music.
Kom Ombo, Cruising the Nile River, Aswan
After visiting a temple dedicated to a crocodile god today (don’t miss the display of some of the 300 mummified crocs found in the local area), hop aboard a small boat for a bird-watching excursion along the Nile.
Kom Ombo Temple
The Kom Ombo Temple, unlike most ancient Egyptian temples, is dedicated to two gods—the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Horus the Elder. Construction began under the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-145 BC) and continued under later rulers, most notably Ptolemy XIII (47-44 BC), who...
The Kom Ombo Temple, unlike most ancient Egyptian temples, is dedicated to two gods—the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Horus the Elder. Construction began under the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-145 BC) and continued under later rulers, most notably Ptolemy XIII (47-44 BC), who built the inner and outer hypostyle halls. Several of the 300 crocodile mummies discovered in the vicinity are displayed inside the temple.
Bird-watching boat ride
After a scenic cruise to Aswan, take a small boat along the banks of the Nile on a bird-watching excursion. Watch out for colorful native birds, different species of herons, kingfishers, vultures, sunbirds and other wildlife that thrive in the marsh grass along the riverbanks.
Today is an epic day, filled with wonders from start to finish. You’ll visit a marvel of modern engineering—the Aswan High Dam—as well as the Unfinished Obelisk and the beautiful Philae Temple complex, which was moved from one island to another back in the 1970s. But wait, there’s more. You’ll also take a ride in a felucca —a traditional Egyptian sailboat—and enjoy afternoon tea at a famous hotel depicted in Agatha Christie’s novel Death on the Nile .
Aswan High Dam, Unfinished Obelisk and Temple of Isis
The Aswan High Dam, completed in the 1970s, is a marvel of modern engineering that boasts some truly epic dimensions—it is 11,800 feet (3,597 meters) long; 3,215 feet (980 meters) wide at its base; and 304 feet (93 meters) high—with a reservoir capacity nearly five times that of the...
The Aswan High Dam, completed in the 1970s, is a marvel of modern engineering that boasts some truly epic dimensions—it is 11,800 feet (3,597 meters) long; 3,215 feet (980 meters) wide at its base; and 304 feet (93 meters) high—with a reservoir capacity nearly five times that of the Hoover Dam. You’ll also visit the Unfinished Obelisk, commissioned by Queen Hatshepsut yet never completed due to a flaw discovered in the stone. If completed, it would have been the largest and heaviest obelisk ever attempted, weighing more than two million pounds (907,185 kilograms).
Another highlight today is the beautiful Philae Temple complex, originally situated on the island of Philae. It was painstakingly transferred to the island of Agilika after the construction of the Aswan High Dam to save it from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, a daunting UNESCO-funded endeavor that took 10 years to complete. The three principal monuments on the island all date from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods—the Kiosk of Trajan, the Temple of Hathor and the Temple of Isis.
Note: Guests are welcome to climb around the Unfinished Obelisk, but please note the climb is physically demanding.
Boat ride in traditional Nile River felucca and afternoon tea at the Old Cataract Hotel Aswan
Today you will sail serenely down the Nile in a felucca — a small traditional boat with large triangular sails—a wonderful way to experience the river as Egyptians have for a thousand years. Later, relax over afternoon tea at the historic Old Cataract Hotel Aswan, a colonial-era gem that ...
Today you will sail serenely down the Nile in a felucca — a small traditional boat with large triangular sails—a wonderful way to experience the river as Egyptians have for a thousand years. Later, relax over afternoon tea at the historic Old Cataract Hotel Aswan, a colonial-era gem that counts Winston Churchill and Princess Diana among its former guests. This famous hotel was depicted in Agatha Christie’s acclaimed mystery novel Death on the Nile .
Note: Feluccas are wind-powered and thus will operate only if weather conditions permit.
Aswan, Cruising the Nile River, Edfu
Spend the day at leisure or join us for an optional excursion to see the magnificent temples of Abu Simbel.
Temples of Abu Simbel
The Temples of Abu Simbel were constructed by King Ramses II—one of Egypt’s most celebrated Kings. Built in 1244 B.C., Abu Simbel sat on the west bank of the Nile River for 3,000 years. In the 1960s, the entire temple complex was dismantled and rebuilt on a higher hill to accommodate Aswan High Dam—a remarkable effort co-operated by the Egyptian government and UNESCO. Today, the temples are still one of the most recognizable ancient sites in Egypt. From Aswan, you will take a short flight to Abu Simbel. Once arriving on site, your guide will give you a history of the temple. Afterwards, take time to marvel at the exquisite detail as you wander through the temples yourself. Don’t forget to take pictures! You will then take a flight back to Aswan.
Esna, Cruising the Nile River, Luxor
On today’s excursion, you’ll learn how the Temple of Esna was buried under debris for many centuries and is one of the last great Egyptian temples ever built. Your Egyptologist guide will share all sorts of fascinating insights about this significant cultural site and show you the façade bearing the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded in Egypt.
Temple of Khnum
The Late Roman Temple of Esna lies on the west bank of the Nile about 34 miles (55 kilometers) south of Luxor. Buried under debris for many centuries, the temple is just a short walk from the ship through the local market. It dates from the Ptolemaic and Roman period (180 BC to AD 251) and is one...
The Late Roman Temple of Esna lies on the west bank of the Nile about 34 miles (55 kilometers) south of Luxor. Buried under debris for many centuries, the temple is just a short walk from the ship through the local market. It dates from the Ptolemaic and Roman period (180 BC to AD 251) and is one of the last Egyptian temples ever built. Visitors can see two large inscriptions praising Khnum, the ram-headed god of creation, who fashioned mankind on a potter’s wheel from the clay mud of the Nile. There’s also a hypostyle hall with 24 pillars and a ceiling depicting Egyptian astronomical figures and Roman zodiac signs. On the temple’s western wall, look for images of Horus, the god of victory, and Khnum, dragging a net full of fish. At the foot of this façade are the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded in Egypt.
Luxor - Sound & Light Show
One of the most popular shows in Luxor, the sound and light show details the history of the ancient city of Thebes in words, lights and music. This show is split into two parts. During the first, you will walk around Karnak temple while listening to the narration about the history of the temple and Thebes. Discover the fascinating stories and achievements of Egypt’s pharaohs while walking their same steps. The dramatic finale takes place with you seated at the Sacred Lake. At the end of this exciting show, you will be taken back to your ship.
Luxor (Disembark), Fly to Cairo
Disembark in Luxor and transfer to the airport for your return flight to Cairo. Then, check in to your luxury hotel where you’ll have time to relax before dinner.
Note: Flights to Cairo depart early in the morning to take advantage of more favorable weather and traffic conditions, and to optimize tour scheduling.
It’s a day of Bucket List Moments today as we venture to Ancient Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a number of amazing monuments to see—including the enigmatic Great Sphinx. You’ll have a thrilling opportunity to view the pyramids from an up-close perspective, the only way to fully appreciate their remarkable size and grandeur.
Ancient Memphis sites, including the Pyramids of Giza with small pyramid entry, the Great Sphinx and Sakkara visit
Venture forth to Ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt’s Old Kingdom and now a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing a number of extraordinary monuments. You’ll see the colossal statue of Ramses II and the Alabaster Sphinx, as well as the Step Pyramid of King Zoser (or Djoser) in ...
Venture forth to Ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt’s Old Kingdom and now a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing a number of extraordinary monuments. You’ll see the colossal statue of Ramses II and the Alabaster Sphinx, as well as the Step Pyramid of King Zoser (or Djoser) in nearby Sakkara, the oldest pyramid in the world and the prototype for all subsequent pyramids. The ancient architect and sage Imhotep initially designed the pyramid as a single story, then later added five more levels and covered the structure with a shell of fine limestone. In front of the pyramid, Imhotep built a stone structure containing a wooden box with two peepholes; peer inside and you’ll see a life-size painted statue of King Zoser. The peepholes were created to allow the king’s ka (life spirit) to communicate with the outside world.
At the Giza Necropolis, the face of ancient Egypt—the Great Sphinx—awaits your visit. With the body of a crouching lion and the head of a man, it is the largest monolith statue in the world. Experts believe that the Sphinx (known to the early Arabs as Abu al-Hol, “Father of Terror”) was built in the 26th century BC during Khafre’s reign, perhaps as a portrait of the pharaoh himself. Unfortunately, much of this monument has either eroded or been deliberately destroyed over the years. Some of its facial features are no longer intact, such as the beard and the nose—the latter of which was not shot off by Napoleon’s soldiers, as widely believed, but chiseled away many centuries earlier. A number of excavations in modern times have removed the sand that built up around the Sphinx over the centuries and kept much of it buried. Despite its timeworn condition, the Sphinx still kneels gracefully as it has for thousands of years, looking toward the east with an enigmatic smile.
Today you’ll also visit the only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza. Beholding these legendary structures up close lets you appreciate their stone masonry and awe-inspiring architectural precision. Until as recently as the 19th century, the oldest and largest of the three pyramids—Khufu—was the tallest building in the world; when it was completed around the 26th century BC, it stood about 50 stories high.
Check out of your hotel and transfer to the Cairo International Airport for your flight home, or extend your trip with a memorable optional extension in Jerusalem.
The Red Sea Post-Cruise Extension
The Red Sea area is one of the best places in the world for diving, snorkeling and sea sports. Discover why on this post-cruise/tour extension to our Egyptian river cruises, during which you’ll stay at a remarkably elegant resort in Sharm El Sheikh.
Please note: A local host will be with you throughout the itinerary to facilitate flights, excursions, hotel changes and any other needs guests may have.
- 3 nights at the Sharm El Sheikh at Four Seasons Resort (or similar)
- 1 night at the Waldorf Astoria Cairo Heliopolis (or similar)
- Breakfast daily
- Explore Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Dahab City, and Sea Scope Submarine
- Flights between Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh
The Uniworld Cup
Step off the ship and head to a nearby field to play a sport the whole world has in common: soccer (or football, as it’s known in most countries outside the US). Take this chance to bond with young locals, your fellow passengers and the ship’s crew over a friendly match.
Only available on sailings that belong to the Generations Program .
Generations Only available on sailings that belong to the Generations Program .
The west bank of Luxor is known far and wide as a great outdoor museum, attracting visitors from all over the world. What fewer people see, however, are the hidden gems tucked away nearby—the villages that locals call their homes. Explore one for yourself today, and even meet some of the...
The west bank of Luxor is known far and wide as a great outdoor museum, attracting visitors from all over the world. What fewer people see, however, are the hidden gems tucked away nearby—the villages that locals call their homes. Explore one for yourself today, and even meet some of the village’s children.
Note, if you’ve brought gifts for local children, now is your opportunity to share them!
Surfing the Dunes
Get ready for an afternoon of active exploration, starting with a trip down the Nile on a motor boat. Your Nubian guide will point out local bird and animal species as you go. Arrive at some sand dunes to try your hand at sandboarding, then cool off with a swim in the river.
Join your fellow guests and the crew in the lounge for a game party—if you’re lucky, you might just win a prize!
Aye Aye Captain
Meet the ship’s captain in the wheelhouse to see how he sails the boat and listen to the story behind his career.
Biking the Nile
Pedal the banks of the Nile in Luxor for an invigorating outdoor activity in a wonderfully memorable setting,
A Country Club Outing
Head to Sakkara, a village near the pyramids at Giza, to spend a couple hours soaking up the sun at a local country club. You’ll play a game of soccer with your fellow guests, take a dip in the pool and rest for lunch at the club before heading back to the hotel.
- Meals onboard prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
- 11 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 8 dinners
- Welcome & Farewell Receptions
- Complimentary house wine, local beer, soft drinks, tea, and coffee will be served during lunch and dinner onboard
- 8 days of excursions, all fully hosted by English-speaking trained Egyptologists
- 7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the gorgeous S.S. Sphinx or the elegant River Tosca
- Lavishly appointed riverview staterooms and suites
- 4 nights in Cairo at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza or at the Nile Ritz-Carlton (or similar)
- 1 country: Egypt
- 12 UNESCO World Heritage sites
- Services of an experienced Egyptologist
- Cultural enrichment
- Group Transfers are included on arrival and departure days (please see terms and conditions for transfer guidelines)
- Flights included between Cairo and Luxor
- Gratuities for onboard and onshore personnel (ship staff, crew, Cruise/Tour Manager or Egyptologist, local experts, drivers) are included both during the cruise/tour as well as on any pre- or post-cruise land extensions
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Cruising the River Nile: Pros, Cons, and Recommendations
Angus McComiskey/Getty Images
Traditionally, a Nile cruise was considered the centerpiece of an Egyptian vacation, evoking romantic images of idyllic days spent drifting in luxury between the country's ancient sights . In Victorian times, a Nile cruise was the only way to see some of Egypt 's most outstanding ancient temples. Modern visitors have more options available to them; and while Nile cruises are still popular, some find themselves put off by the idea of being confined on a boat for the majority of their vacation. The river is much busier now than it was in the past, and with more than 200 cruise boats plying their trade, there are lines to get through the locks and to dock at each disembarkation point.
Let's weigh the pros and cons of a Nile cruise so that you can decide whether or not it's a good fit for your visit to Egypt.
What to Expect
Most Nile cruises start in Luxor and visit the popular sites of Esna, Edfu, and Kom Ombo before disembarking in Aswan. Other itineraries fly directly to Aswan and work their way north down the Nile to the same sights. Most cruises will last at least four nights. There are many different vessels to choose from, ranging from traditional paddle steamers (best suited to those that favor history and authenticity) to luxurious modern cruise ships (geared towards those for whom creature comforts are a priority). Your budget and personal preferences will determine which cruise you choose, although opting for a cabin with air-conditioning is advised during the scorching summer months .
Most cruise companies employ the services of an Egyptologist, who will guide your group around the ancient sights you visit along the way. Days start early to avoid the intense heat of the afternoon; and as such, all cruises tend to operate on a similar schedule (which can lead to overcrowding at the docking sites and at the temples themselves). Modern vessels typically have a swimming pool so that you can cool off after your morning explorations; while some provide nightly entertainment in the form of belly dancing shows or themed dress-up evenings. Food on board is usually excellent, ranging from generous buffets to set dinner menus. Make sure to find out what's included before choosing your operator.
Despite the changes brought about by the progression of time, a Nile river cruise is still one of the most popular ways to see Egypt's ancient sights. Part of that is tradition, and part of it is practicality; after all, many of the most famous sites are located directly on the river, making a cruise the easiest way to travel between them. At night, many of the temples and monuments are illuminated, and the sight of them from the water is simply breathtaking. During the day, the rural scenes you'll see whilst traveling from place to place have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years.
Despite the early morning starts (and depending on which vessel you choose), cruises can also be wonderfully relaxing. While sailing, you'll be able to get a sense of the country without having to deal firsthand with the chaotic roads, busy city streets, and persistent hawkers for which Egypt is famous. Although the sites you'll visit along the way are inevitably crowded, arriving in a large group can make some travelers feel more comfortable. You'll also benefit from the knowledge of an expert guide, both in terms of navigating the touts and in terms of understanding the fascinating history of the temples themselves.
For many visitors, the main drawback of a Nile cruise is not the influx of vessels, nor the crowding at the sites (the latter is unavoidable whether you visit them as part of a cruise or not). The main disadvantage is the inflexibility of a cruise; the fact that you have to operate on a set schedule that dictates when you visit a temple, how long you get to spend there, and what you see whilst you're there. If you want to spend more than a few hours exploring the untold wonders of the temple complexes at Luxor, for example, you may wish to travel there independently or with a land-based guide.
These days, overland tours are equally easy to arrange and allow for more flexibility. You can even hire a car or take public transport if you don't want to be part of an organized tour at all. Many cruise itineraries focus solely on the most popular temples, leaving out worthwhile smaller sights like Abydos and Dendera. Alternatively if your time in Egypt is limited, you may prefer to focus on one or two sights rather than spending much of your vacation in transit on the river. The sheer amount of time spent on board can also be a drawback if you're traveling with young children, or if you find out too late that you don't enjoy the company of your fellow cruise mates.
Audley Travel's five-night itineraries aboard the Steam Ship Sudan offer the last word in exclusivity and Victorian-era refinement. The steamship, which was constructed in 1885 for King Fouad, was the direct inspiration for Agatha Christie's famous novel Death on the Nile and is still decorated in flawless Belle Epoque style. In each of its 18 cabins and five suites, period antiques range from brass beds to vintage telephones. And although the ship is now operated by a hybrid diesel/steam engine for optimum quietness, you can still view the original pistons and paddle wheels. Dining aboard the Steam Ship Sudan includes generous buffet breakfasts and lunches and stately four-course dinners.
Despite its traditional exterior, the Oberoi Philae offers 22 cabins and suites decorated in the same style you might expect from a contemporary 5-star hotel. Each one includes a pillow-top mattress, high-speed WiFi, a multi-pressure shower, and 24-hour butler service. If you're feeling particularly decadent, splurge on a suite with its own private terrace, complete with a sun lounger and heated whirlpool tub. There are two restaurants to choose from, one for gourmet international cuisine, the other for light meals and beverages at the edge of the ship's temperature-controlled outdoor swimming pool. Other luxuries range from a movie theater and dance floor to a salon and spa treatment rooms.
Budget travelers should consider booking a felucca cruise like the ones offered by On The Go Tours . Feluccas are traditional Egyptian sailboats, the like of which have plied their trade on the Nile for centuries. They are wind-powered and as such have a more fluid itinerary; while their smaller size allows them to dock at places of interest that don't have the infrastructure for larger cruise ships. There is no luxury on a felucca cruise; you will sleep on deck in a sleeping bag that you bring with you; the food is basic and amenities are limited to a toilet and shower on the accompanying support boat. However, the experience is probably one of the most authentic (and certainly the cheapest) on the river.
Best for Families
Being trapped on a boat for an extended period of time can be challenging for families, especially if they include young children. This 10-day itinerary from Abercrombie & Kent gives you the best of both worlds with some land-based adventures in addition to a four-night Nile cruise. Your journey from Luxor to Aswan aboard Sanctuary Sun Boat IV is accompanied by an A&K Child Activity Coordinator whose job it is to keep your little ones entertained en route. The itinerary also includes plenty of interactive, hands-on fun that doubles as cultural education, from felucca sailing trips to camel rides, henna painting, and bread baking. A themed dinner and onboard costume party lets the kids dress up in traditional robes known as galabeyas .
The Last Word
Ultimately, whether or not a Nile cruise is the right choice for you depends on your personal preferences. If you like the idea of a cruise , the sheer variety of available options means that you're likely to find a vessel and/or operator to suit your needs. If the drawbacks listed above sound like deal-breakers for you, you're better off saving your money and organizing an alternative option instead.
Updated and re-written in part by Jessica Macdonald
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Sanctuary Sun Boat III
- Cabins & Suites
- Cruise Itineraries
- Getting There
- Sailing Dates
The Sanctuary Sun Boat III is an intimate river cruise boat representing the ultimate in luxury Nile cruises. Style, comfort and refinement are reflected throughout, with white and ecru tones combined to create warmth and depth. This elegant Egypt cruise boat accommodates up to 36 guests on three, four and seven night cruises.
Evoking the heyday of Egypt’s past, the Sanctuary Sun Boat III has several times been voted among the top 100 most beautiful boats in the world by Condé Nast readers. Modelled on the opulent era of the 20s and 30s, this graceful cruiser has exquisite facilities from delicious gourmet dining in the restaurant to sipping refreshing cocktails around the pool area on the sun deck, or enjoying afternoon tea in the stunning lounge. The Sanctuary Sun Boat III has 18 beautifully designed unique cabins which include two royal suites and two presidential suites.
WHY THE SANCTUARY SUN BOAT III
- Has several times been voted one of the top 100 most beautiful boats in the world by Condé Nast readers
- Choice of three to eight night itineraries, led by best Egyptologists
- Award-winning chefs
- Only 18 cabins, allowing for an intimate and personalised Nile cruise
Please enquire for more information on rates, inclusions and exclusions.
Other Cruise Ships in Egypt
The Sanctuary Nile Adventurer is widely regarded as one of the best boutique ships on the epic Nile, and named as one of National Geographic’s ‘Journeys of a lifetime’. With just 32 cabins, the ship has been decorated in a modern, comfortable style and provided a taste of genuine 5-star luxury on a timeless river.
Furnished in a contemporary chic style, with an Art Deco influence, the modern fittings and cutting edge technology on board the boutique Sanctuary Sun Boat IV are combined with sophisticated public areas with luxurious teak flooring for an elegant finish.
Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau is a stunning dahabiya, available only for private charter. Tailor your cruise and each day’s sightseeing by choosing from an à la carte style itinerary led by our renowned Egyptologists. An oasis of calm, the Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau is reminiscent of the glamour of old-world sailing.
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Egypt river cruises.
If cruising is your preferred way to explore the world, check out our selection of river cruises in Egypt . With a selection of cruise ships varying in comfort and style, it is easy to find a holiday package that meets your idea of experiencing a great Nile river cruise .
250+ river cruises through Egypt with 3,586 reviews
- River Cruise
- Fully Guided
- Christmas & New Year
4 Days 3 nights 5 stars Nile Cruise Aswan to Luxor
"Fantastic tour package with a wonderful guide! Would definitely recommend. I booked..."
5 Days – 4 Nights Nile Cruise 5* From Cairo by Flight
"This was an amazing tour absolutely recommend it to everyone! Our tour guide Ana’s..."
- In-depth Cultural
15 Days Ancient Egypt & Lake Nasser Cruise
"Thanks for the wonderful service you gave us during our trip to Egypt and Jordan..."
Tailor-Made Luxury Egypt Tour with Dahabiya Cruise
- Book With Flexibility This operator allows you to rebook your dates or tours with them for free, waiving change fees.
River Nile Story - 4 Days 5 stars Nile Cruise Aswan to Luxor with meals and Sightseeing
"This trip was pure happiness. I'll have wonderful memories of it. Everything was..."
"Overall, I loved the trip. It was a fantastic time and I would recommend Egypt to..."
River Nile Cruise For 4 Nights From Luxor to Aswan ( Opt. Balloon & Abu Simbel )
"Khaled the tour guide was good. Temples were interesting. I especially enjoyed the..."
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From Luxor 5 Days 4 Nights Nile Cruise WITH GUIDED TOURS + FREE GIFT TOUR "ABU SIMBEL TEMPLE"
"Egypt is one of the most places you must visit even one time for life, An unforgettable..."
- 10% deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.
Nile Cruise 4 days 5 stars including internal flights
"We took a 4-days Nile tour, that was fantastic! Our guide Christine is really intelligent,..."
Marvelous the Nile River Tour 5Days Between Luxor and Aswan – 5 Days
Egypt Dahabiya Nile Cruise and Abu Simbel 7 days tour
"The best way to see the Nile. Our guide was excellent. The only downside was my expectation..."
Egypt & Nile Cruise - Return Domestic Flights Included
- $20 deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.
Splendours of Egypt (Classic, Summer, 12 Days)
"Thank you, Insight Vacations, for making our dream come true! We have had a fantastic..."
5 Days 4 Nights Cruise from Luxor to Aswan
"Great cooperation and great service."
5 Days Nile Cruise from Luxor to Aswan Including Abu Simble
- Float from Cairo to Aswan in the river where no mainstream liners are found, the tranquil waters call for a ride on a luxury felucca or traditional dahabiya.
- Pyramids : Ride a camel and fall in love with these majestic wonders of the ancient world.
- Luxor : With a mysterious ambiance that is amplified by the historic temples, statues that guard the entrance and huge pillars that loom overhead as you walk in the footsteps of King Tut.
- Valley of the Kings : You can’t help but feel like Indiana Jones in this royal burial site. Home to the great names of Egyptian history and their elaborate preparations for the next world.
- Abu Simbel : Guarded by impressive statues, these great sandstone temples will leave you speechless.
- Edfu : Wander through the sandstone walls of the Temple of Horus and experience the impressive power of past rulers.
- Red Sea : Kick back and relax as you take in the stunning views of these great waters from the beaches of Hurghada.
- Hop off your boat and take a sunrise balloon trip from Luxor! There’s something about floating silently above the temples that is such a magical experience.
- No matter what time of year you visit, Egypt gets hot, obviously, you’re in the desert! Bring a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen and make sure you stay hydrated with bottled water.
- You should definitely add the word “baksheesh” to your vocabulary, which means “tip”. You’ll hear this one a lot and it will be expected for anything and everything. Tipping locals for their services is expected and a way of life in Egypt.
- Make the most of your cruise ship facilities. After spending your days exploring temples and tombs in the desert heat, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a hot cup of tea watching the palm trees pass you by.
- Remember to pack clothes for both hot and cold weather, as the nights can get chilly. Also remember that Egypt is a muslim country, so men are required to wear trousers and women should also “cover up”. A wardrobe of loose capris and blouses should do nicely!
- Head to the top deck in the evening. There’s nothing quite like watching the sunset over the dusty desert sand from your river cruise while sipping Arabic coffee and watching your hair dance as the wind blows.
- There are many cruises that sail along the Nile with Uniworld, Scenic and Emerald Waterways offering a luxurious travel experience.
River Cruises in Egypt Reviews
"We requested a guide in Spanish for the entire tour and they sent us Anas who is..."
"Egypt is a unique place, it should be on every ones bucket list. Accommodation, food,..."
"Great trip. Wonderful sights, excellent guides, great accomodation"
"A great way to see all the temple through out the River Nile ,, The cruise was really..."
"This trip was a life long desire. I went with my wife at end of October 2018. The..."
"My experience with this tour has been great! We have covered all the main sights..."
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The Best Way To See The Nile River Is By Cruise, Here's What To Know Before You Book
When to go, what will passengers see, and how long is the cruise? All your Nile River cruise questions, answered.
There's no other river in the world that's as long, or as interesting as, the Nile. The sights that one will see while sailing down this incredible waterway will remain with them forever, from the Great Pyramids of Gîza to Cairo's ancient settlements. It's truly a cruise back in history to a time when life was still primitive and the Egyptians ruled all that they could see .
With that being said, there are some things to know before booking a Nile cruise. Questions such as 'how long will it take?' and 'what will passengers see?' are two of the most commonly asked, but there are so many more to answer before booking a trip.
What Can One Expect To See When Cruising Down The Nile?
It seems that there's no shortage of sights when it comes to visiting Egypt, in general, but since this river runs through more than one city, there is an overwhelming number of interest points. Examples of stops along the way on any given itinerary might include:
- Cairo. For most, this ancient city will be the first stop. This is also where the most famous pyramids in all of Egypt are found, those of Gîza , AKA the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World.
- Luxor. Unfortunately, cruises from Cairo to Luxor only travel high-water points during the year, and many boats halted travel during the 1990s. However, some itineraries do include this stop and if they don't, it's always possible to take a day tour there from Dendara. Luxor was once home to great pharaohs such as Tutankhamun and Ramses II and is currently home to a wide array of ancient artifacts and monuments.
- Aswân. Arguably one of the most scenic stretches of the Nile, Aswân features unique rock formations along the river that give it a unique landscape compared to the rest of this waterway. This is a major point of interest for Nile cruises and visitors will likely have the chance to explore for at least one day off the boat, seeing things such as the Temple of Isis, the High Dam, and the Unfinished Obelisk.
Related: For The Love Of Food And Cruises: These Are The Best European Luxury Liners For Foodies
How Long Does It Take To Cruise The Nile River?
Despite the fact that it is the longest river in the world, the Nile doesn't take that long to sail, at least not with today's itineraries. Passengers will be looking at a trip length that doesn't go much beyond that of any Caribbean cruise, with the exception of days added for any side-trips or added excursions.
For example, the Nile tour offered by National Geographic is 11 days in total, with part of the trip including a flight from one part of the Nile to another to finish the cruise. Many others are shorter, with as few as one day and one night spent cruising.
- Boats cover distances very quickly on the Nile
- The average sailing time is about four hours per day.
When Should You Go And In Which City Should You Depart?
Choosing when to cruise the Nile is a bit of a catch-22. There's a good time and a better time, both of which come with their own pricing options that can fit into one's budget. For those who choose to cruise during the hottest time of the year - between June and August - temperatures well into the 90s and 100s are to be expected.
The trade-off during this time is that cruise tickets are often the cheapest. Alternatively, the winter months between December and March are at the height of Egypt's tourist season, thus resulting in the most expensive cruise tickets. Those choosing to go between the spring and fall months can look forward to temperatures that are tolerable, mid-range pricing, and enough daylight to see most historic locations.
- Most Affordable: Between June and August
- Best Weather: Between December and March
- Fewer Tourists: Between September to November / April and May
The unique thing about Nile cruises is that they can depart from various ports along the river, depending on the length and itinerary passengers wish to see. Of these ports, two cities are the most popular for departure: Luxor and Aswân.
Benefits Of Each Port Of Departure
Luxor: Passengers will likely have an extra day added to their itineraries if they leave out of Luxor. The reason behind this is that the current is much stronger in this part of the Nile, so the time it takes to power through its waters is slightly longer.
Aswân: This is the more popular choice for passengers on the Nile. The trip from Aswân is shorter as captains are not fighting the current, which means it's more affordable without having to stay the extra day.
Next: The Best River Cruises In The World
The Nile is the world's longest river, traveling more than 4,000 miles through northeastern Africa and emptying into the Mediterranean Sea at Egypt's coast. Cruises on the Nile are frequently incorporated into longer land-based trips that usually travel round-trip from Cairo. Along the way, guests see some of the country's most treasured antiquities.
Walk through the Luxor Temple, for example, which was built about 3,000 years ago and is especially beautiful when lighted at night. Philae Temple was carefully dismantled during the construction of the Aswan Dam and moved to a nearby island. Four giant stone statues of Ramses II flank the temple at Abu Simbel.
The Valley of the Kings was the final resting place of Egyptian pharaohs, including young king Tutankhamun. You'll see treasures excavated from Tutankhamun's tomb at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Other excursions to look forward to include a visit to the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx and a sunset cruise in a traditional wooden sailboat called a felucca.
On your cruise, all the day-to-day travel details are handled by experienced tour directors who accompany you during the entire trip. At each stop, sightseeing guides show you the sights and share the history behind them. Cruises are easy to budget, too, as so much is included in one price that you pay up front, including riverboat accommodations, hotel stays, many meals and activities ashore.
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Overview Secrets of Egypt & the Nile
3-night cairo pre-cruise, 7-night cruise roundtrip luxor, 1-night cairo post-cruise, cruise from :, countries: egypt, rivers: nile, secrets of egypt & the nile at a glance.
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A Scenic River Cruise Along the Nile
- by Steve Sindiong
- February 6, 2023 September 25, 2023
A cruise along the Nile River is the perfect, relaxing way to experience the relics of ancient civilizations, while watching life go by in present day Egypt.
There are dozens of cruise ships and companies that offer anywhere from three to seven day cruises along the Nile, traveling between Luxor and Aswan with stops along the way. Cruisecritic is one of my favorite websites for searching for cruise deals, following reviews of cruise companies and ships, and checking out photos and deck plans of specific ships.
As part of a larger tour package to Egypt provided by Gate1 Travel , we spent four days cruising the Nile River aboard the MS Esplanade . After flying from Cairo to Luxor, and spending the night in a hotel, we boarded the boat for our cruise.
The MS Esplanade is considered a five star luxury cruise ship, and includes air conditioned rooms, a full service restaurant, lounge, library, sundeck and pool, bar, boutique, wi-fi availability, and laundry service. During our leisure time, we enjoyed sitting on the sun deck watching small villages and farms pass by, and observing fishermen and cows grazing along the shore. One surreal moment was during sunset, passing a rural village while listening to the call to prayer through loud speakers. Another memorable moment was when two men on a colorful small wooden boat rowed up to our ship, and tagged along for a half hour selling their goods, mostly clothing, to passengers.
Luxor – Luxor is the siting of the ancient city of Thebes, and its numerous ruins on both the east and west banks of the Nile date to the 14 th century BC. It is here where the magnificent Temple of Karnak, Luxor Temple, the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens are located. Both Karnak and Luxor Temples are located on the east bank. One of the unique aspects of Karnak Temple is the massive Great Hypostyle Hall which consists of 134 massive and beautifully designed columns arranged in 16 rows. A tall ancient obelisk stands at the entrance to the temple. Luxor Temple, constructed in 1400 BC, is guarded by a large obelisk and a series of large statues of Ramses II. Connecting the Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple is the two mile long Avenue of the Sphinxes. Completed around 360 BC, and unearthed starting in 1949, this avenue is lined on both sides with over 1,000 ram and sphinx statues.
On the west bank is the Valley of the Kings, where the tombs of at least 63 pharaohs and nobles were constructed within large rock formations between the 16 th and 11 th centuries BC. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology, providing indications of the beliefs and funeral practices of the period. Today, 18 tombs are open to the public. The walls of both the long corridors and burial chambers are decorated with colorful images and religious texts. One of the more famous and most visited tombs is that of King Tutankhamun (Tut), where you can photograph the remains of his mummy, the only royal mummy to have been found entirely undisturbed.
A great way to experience the magic of Luxor is from above. We booked an independent hot air balloon tour where we spent about 45 minutes observing the monuments and green sugar cane fields from 1,500 feet above the ground. Taking a hot air balloon ride is a perfect way to capture Instagram worthy photographs of not only the sights below, but also the sunrise, and dozens of other colorful balloons. Balloon tours can be reserved through Viator .
Edfu – Midway between Luxor and Aswan is the dusty city of Edfu. Our highlight here was taking a horse carriage ride from the river port to the Temple of Horus, the most completely preserved temple in Egypt. The temple was built during the Ptolemaic times over a period of nearly 200 years. The extravagantly designed temple is dedicated to the falcon god Horus, son of Isis and Osiris. Further up river, the Greco-Roman Temple of Kom Ombo, with its detailed reliefs, was dedicated to Horus and Sobek, the crocodile god.
Aswan – Our last stop was Aswan, a pretty, arid city north of Lake Nassar, that is home to many monuments, monasteries and temples. Other attractions include the famous Old Cataract Hotel, built during the British colonial era, and the massive Aswan market. I purchased a bag of beautiful Iranian saffron at the market at a price that could never be found in the US. At Aswan, the Nile River flows around a series of attractive granite rocks and islands. One of these islands contains the lush Aswan Botanical Garden, home to thousands of birds and exotic plants. Nearby, the Philae temple, dedicated to the goddess of Isis, is located on another island.
We traveled by boat to a traditional Nubian village , where all of the buildings are painted in colorful patterns. We met the friendly residents of a Nubian house where we were given a tour, refreshments and a history of the Nubian people and their culture.
Traveling by bus from Aswan deep into the Nubian desert, we visited our last landmark, the famous Abu Simbel , built above Lake Nassar. When the massive Aswan High dam was about to be constructed, an international campaign headed by UNESCO saved 22 monuments in Nubia between 1960 and 1980. The most infamous of these is Abu Simbel, where two massive rock cut temples constructed in the 13 th century BC were dismantled starting in 1964 and relocated in their entirety on higher ground. These beautiful temples were built during the reign of Ramesses II, when he was trying to impress upon the Nubians Egypt’s might while excavating nearby gold. The Great Temple’s entrance is flanked by four colossal 70 foot tall statues, each representing Ramesses II seated on a throne wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. Within the temple is a large hall supported by eight huge decorated pillars. It leads to a secondary hall, which then leads to the sanctuary. A series of side chambers lead from both sides of the halls. The nearby Temple of Queen Nefertari includes murals with images of the queen manifested in the form of goddess Hathor. Given how difficult it was to painstakingly rebuild Abu Simbel in the 20th century, what a feat it must have been to build it 3,000 years prior!
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Wonders of the Nile
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1 giza (cairo), 3 giza - aswan, 5 aswan - nile cruise, 6 nile cruise, 7 nile cruise, 8 nile cruise, 9 nile cruise, 10 nile cruise, life onboard sanctuary sun boat iii.
Scenic Egypt, Jordan & Israel (2023-24)
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