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Cruising To Egypt


Cruising To Egypt

by Jimmy Dunn

The QE2 of the famous Cunard lLines make a stop in Alexandria

One of the only practical ways to visit Egypt these days, outside of arriving by air, is on a cruise ship. Sure, there are land routes and other possibilities, but most of these for many visitors are not really much of an option. Many Mediterranean Cruises visit Egypt, though we can make a distinction to those that visit the country very casually, together with a number of other countries, as opposed to those that provide more in-depth tours. By casual, we mean cruises that stop in one or only a couple of Egyptian ports for usually very short durations of not more than a day or two, as opposed to those that include a more complete tour. For many of the casual tours, not much will be seen of Egypt's greatest wonders. At best, there might be some sort of day tour to Cairo where the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Egyptian Antiquities Museum is located, and at worst, they will perhaps include a tour of the port cities such as Alexandria or Port Said.


Even the most extensive (extended) cruises that include Egypt, for the most part, will fall short of more extensive land based tours. Some of the best ocean cruises we have found that visit Egypt may stop in Alexandria, Port Said, Sharm El-Sheikh and Safaga, and may stay more than one day in each area. Technically, these would allow for some fairly serious touring, and many do even have extensions that include tours in Cairo, Luxor and various other places, but none appear to be as extensive as most full two week land based tours.

The Hebridean Spirit visits Egypt on an extensive tour

The cruises vary from world tours, stopping off in Egypt but visiting many different ports, to cruises that are very specific to Egypt.

Of course, for those who might for one reason or another be opposed to flying these days, that may be unavoidable or impractical in order to reach the beginning point of most such cruises, but some do actually appear to originate in the US, and others can be driven to in Europe.

Operator

Initial Port

Type of Egypt Visit

Costa

Genoa, Italy

Casual

MSC Lirica

Genoa, Italy

Casual

Louis Cruise Lines, LTD

Limassol

Casual

Three Continents

Piraeus (Athens), Greece

Casual

Paradise Cruises

Limassol

Casual/Extended

Silversea

Various

Casual/Extended

Seabourin

Various

Casual and Extended

Princes

Rome

Extended

Cunard

Southampton, UK

Casual/Extended

Radisson Seven Seas

Dubai

Casual and Extended

Crystal Cruises

Singapore

Extended

Residensea

Various

Extended

Hebridean

Rhodes

Extended

Swan Hellenic

Athens/Hurghada

Casual/Extended

The Royal Princess of the Princess Cruise Lines also visits Egypt

As can be seen, some of these cruises offer very casual tours to Egypt, meaning that they may only stop over in one single port, such as Alexandria. Our reference to Casual/Extended means that they may stop over at one port for several days, or several ports for one day. Extended generally means that the cruises stop in several ports for several days, allowing enough time to make somewhat extensive visits to a number of the most important sites in Egypt. Casual and Extended means that the cruise stops over long enough to visit a number of Egyptian antiquities, but the tours are apparently optional.

All of these tours will use Egyptian tour operators to conduct their ground operations if they do tours at all. Only licensed Egyptian guides can conduct a tour. Some, however, may have no tours at all. Even if the cruise does offer tours, some passengers may wish to arrange their own.

For example, rather than spending a day touring Alexandria, which might be offered by the cruise company, they may instead wish to visit Cairo. In either case, a number of our AETBI members companies in Egypt will offer short ground tours for those individuals who might wish to make such arrangements.

A nice cabin aboard the Hebridean Spirit out of Scotland

There are probably a number of smaller cruise lines that offer cruises that are not listed here, but these appear to be the major ones. There is a lot of variance in these cruises. A few are world tours that make stops in Egypt, are very expensive and take considerable time. Others are relatively brief cruises that do a fairly good job of covering Egypt. For example, the relatively small Hebridean Cruise line out of Scotland has an interesting cruise known as "Along the Frankincense Trail", that makes a number of calls at Egyptian ports, including Alexandria, Port Said, Sharm El-Sheikh, and Safaga, as well as other points in the region. This is one of the most extensive ocean style cruises to Egypt. They even visit places such as St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai, as well as the monuments in Luxor on what is a relatively short cruise. The cruise actually originates at Rhodes. However, it is certainly not a very inexpensive way to visit Egypt, being much more than many good land tours. The cruise is conducted upon their small, but nice Hebridean Spirit.

Deck of the MSC Lirica

The Radisson Seven Seas seems to provide some interesting alternatives. For example, on their tour that stops in Egypt they have various options for some ports, even including stays in Cairo and a visit to Abu Simbel. Furthermore, like a number of the other cruise lines, they transit through the Suez Canal. This cruise takes place on the Seven Seas Voyager, a rather large ship with a considerable list of amenities.

The Cunard Line is, of course, interesting because this is the line of the Queen Elizabeth, and it is the Queen Elizabeth 2 that makes port on one of their cruises in Alexandria. We list it as a Casual/Extended tour because it stays long enough in Alexandria for a brief dash to Cairo to seen the pyramids and the museum, but little time is provided for much else. Nevertheless, we suppose that one could probably travel all the way from the US, in one form or another, with Cunard, finally visiting Egypt.

Some of the facilities aboard the Silversea's Silver Cloud that stops in Egypt

For many of the people we have spoken to who have taken a cruise that included Egypt, Egypt was not the primary reason that they took the cruise in the first place, and their interest in making an extensive tour is somewhat limited. Frequently they have simply asked for a bit more of a tour than what the cruise offered. However, some of the cruise that offer a somewhat extensive visit to Egypt might provide some intriguing possibilities. For example several of the cruises stop at either Alexandria or Port Said, before going through the Suez Canal and then stopping at either Sharm El-Sheikh, Safaga, or both of these ports. It would seem conceivable that one could exit the cruise at Alexandria, take a more extensive land tour of Egypt, and reboard the cruise ship at Safaga, or even take a flight from southern Egypt and reboard it at Sharm el-Sheikh.

For example, the Seabourn cruise lands at Alexandria and apparently travelers are than taken to Cairo, where one could join a land tour heading further south. The ship then goes on through the Suez Canal and five days later arrives in Safaga, where the cruise members are taken to Luxor. There, someone taking a land tour from Cairo could meet back up with the cruise, traveling back to Safaga with them.

At the very least though, travelers who visit Egypt by way of an ocean cruse should understand that other possibilities exist. Many cruise members do frequently arrange for at least various day tours through regular ground operators in Egypt.

People like cruises, and it is easy to see why. Many short, relatively local cruises are all inclusive and very affordable. However, most tours that visit Egypt range in price from what would otherwise be relatively expensive ground tours, to very extravagant. In other words, we found very few cruises that visit Egypt that would be what we would consider to be budget priced compared to normal tours. Of course, most all of these tours also visit other ports outside of Egypt, and they are a relaxing and enjoyable way to travel.

Last Updated: June 9th, 2011

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Tour Egypt aims to offer the ultimate Egyptian adventure and intimate knowledge about the country. We offer this unique experience in two ways, the first one is by organizing a tour and coming to Egypt for a visit, whether alone or in a group, and living it firsthand. The second way to experience Egypt is from the comfort of your own home: online.