By Jimmy Dunn
The Triton, A very exclusive Nile Cruise Boat
This article is not meant to be a review of specific cruise ships, though we have included pictures from boats that range from fairly standard, to luxury. Over the coming months, we will, however, attempt to provide specific reviews of Nile Cruisers. In preparing to write this article on Nile River cruises, I started out looking to see what I could find on river cruises outside of Egypt. I knew, for example, that there were certainly a few cruise ships that ply the Mississippi river in the US. And of course, I found out that there are numerous river cruises around the world, in places such as Europe, Russia, South American and a few other places.
The Liberty is less exclusive than the Triton, but very luxurious
I even expected, and sought out, river cruises that might match the quality and sophistication of the Nile Cruise lines, but alas, that was not to be. I did find nostalgia riverboats boats on the Mississippi, barges in Europe, and even a few more modern looking vessels elsewhere, but nothing to match the Nile offerings. Of course, this is probably due to the fact that Nile Cruises have been an uninterrupted tradition in Egypt for hundreds of years, evolving and growing into a competitive, sophisticated industry, with facilities reflecting this. Of course, few other rivers can offer the scenery, much less the antiquities of a Nile Cruise, and most other cruises around the world are relatively simple and short in comparison.
Lobby Area within the Liberty
The Nile has always, and will probably always be a travel corridor for Northern Africa. While the River itself flows to the North, into the Mediterranean Sea, the prevailing winds along the Nile are to the South. Therefore, for at least the last 5,000 years, the Nile has been a great route, with boats drifting North, and raising their sails for the return trip upriver. And unlike many other rivers, the population and building activities are all concentrated along the Nile, as the land quickly becomes inhospitable only a few miles east or west of it, for the most part. So dominant is the river that the two ancient sections of Egypt are, confusingly for most people, called Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Upper Egypt is actually Southern Egypt, because it is "up river", while Northern Egypt is Lower because it is down river.
Dining Room Aboard the Diamond Boat
The fascination with Nile cruises is understandable. Actually, it is not the best way to see as much of Egypt as possible given a one or two week vacation, nor is it the cheapest. Certainly some of the attraction is romance and the allure created by writers such as Agatha Christie. For some, it might be bragging rights, being able to tell friends that they sailed up the Nile. For others, it may be the intimacy of a tour group, and getting to know fellow travelers which the confines of a boat trip creates.
For many, and particularly for those visitors to Egypt taking a second cruise, viewing ancient Egypt in a highly comfortable and relaxing manner must be the main pull of the Nile Cruisers.
Lounge Area Aboard the Liberty
While these cruisers may sometimes resort to a pharaonic design flavor, there is nothing nostalgic about most of the accommodations. New and grander boats are being built all the time, and overall, these are the best river boats in the world. This is not to say that there are exceptions. Strangely, the river boats one sees on the Nile range as much in quality as hotels in Egypt. So while my references in this article are to mainline tourist boats, beware that there are other, less desirable alternatives, and one should always check out the boat that they are booked on. All of the boats found in our Nile Cruiser section are mainline tourist boats, and while there may be extensive differences in their luxury accommodations, all of them are fine River Boats.
A suite on the Triton
And a more standard room on the Movenpick Radamis
Much of the rating of Nile River Cruisers comes from the size of their cabins, and most average mainline tourist boats have relatively small cabins compared to hotels. In fact, most average cruisers have rooms no larger than enough to hold one or two beds, a night stand and a dresser, along with a small private bath. Rarely is there enough room for a table and chairs, as one finds in most hotel rooms. Of course, people are really not expected to spend too much time locked away in their cabin, and indeed, these typical cruise boats have all manner of activities and pleasures to choose from. Usually, there is a large bar and/or discotheque, along with a grand restaurant, on board shopping and plenty of activity on deck, including small to larger swimming pools, table tennis, and lounging areas. And of course, there are the many stops for tours to the ancient kingdom of Egypt.
Swimming Pool on the Movenpick Radamis
Nile Cruiser Tip: On most typical Tourist class Nile Cruisers, it is best to inquire not only of the ship, but the size and type of room you will be staying in, and its position in the boat. Because of the close accommodations, it is best to avoid rooms near the engine, or for that matter, over or beside a noisy bar. Usually such rooms or areas are reserved for crewmembers, but not always.
Piano Bar on the Triton
Beyond the range of typical main line Nile Cruise ships one often finds opulence, and often this applies more to the accommodations within a boat. Some boats, such as the M/S Triton cater specifically and exclusively to the well appointed traveler with nothing but suites throughout the ship, while other more average boats will have both standard cabins and richly furnished and large suites. This is not to say that there are no differences between mainline tourist boats, but if one is willing to pay the price, he or she is likely to find accommodations matching that of any of the luxury hotels, with most of the same amenities.
Lounge on the Diamond Boat
Really, the bottom line is that many of the Nile Cruise boats have accommodations, amenities and facilities which more approach that of an ocean cruiser than a river boat. Its a great way to see Egypt in comfort and style, with a considerable bit of romance thrown in as a bonus.
Nile Cruises By Jimmy Dunn
Celebration for the Young and Old By Mohamed Osama
The Western Desert of Egypt: Adventure Travel at its Best By Cassandra Vivan
The Latest Fashions in Ancient Egypt By Ilene Springer
Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn
Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes
Book Reviews Various Editors
Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman
Cooking with Tour Egypt By Mary K Radnich
Cooking with Tour Egypt
Egyptian Exhibitions By deTraci Regula
Nightlife Various Editors
Restaurant Reviews Various Editors
Shopping Around By Siri Bezdicek
Web Reviews By Siri Bezdicek