As is often said, every river has its story. As you sail down the Nile River, it will transport you to the time of the Pharaohs and ancient civilizations that once ruled the land. Considered the heartbeat and pulse of the nations it runs through. the Nile River has become an important resource for the agricultural industry. Against its banks lies the nation's most important resources: fields of corn, wheat, and sugarcane. While times have changed, the Nile River Cruise offers people the chance to experience a sacred culture.

For history buffs, the Nile River cruise is one of the most enriching experiences you could ask for. From visits to the Valley of the Kings to Karnak Temple, cruisers will stand in the same places that rulers and the greatest minds of the time solidified their legacies. A powerful stop is Luxor Temple. Situated above the upper part of Luxor Temple is a sacred mosque. On its outer walls, observers can make out a painting of the last supper among the hieroglyphics, from a time when Christians were banned by the Romans from building churches. These subtle touches show the passage of time and the thought processes of those who lived in ancient Egypt.

Important travel note: when planning your trip, it is best to go between the months of October and April. Whether in Luxor or Aswan, during peak summer months, temperatures consistently hit 100 degrees. While I love toasted bread, being cooked alive does not sound like the best way to enjoy the beauty of the Nile.


What Is A Nile River Cruise?

nile river cruise - 3 cruse ships park in the coast

A river which runs 4,184 miles and passes through nine nations, the Nile River Cruise is the ultimate experience for anyone who wants to feel enveloped in rich history. The Nile River Cruise combines the excitement of exploration with the historical context of this river and its many uses to locals. As with most cruises, there are several lines that one could choose, depending on the length of trip and how luxurious you would like your stay to be. From three-night stays to a full week of activities, the Nile River Cruise will take patrons ancient pyramids, extravagant bazaars, and temples that are so ancient that Aristotle would even consider them old.

Historically, the Nile River has three seasons every year: flooding, farming, and harvesting. Since the Aswan Dam opened in 1971, the river depth has been regulated depending on the current needs of farmers. Also, unlike most rivers, the Nile runs South to North. Life along the river beautifully combines ancient and modern, with rugged donkey-carts lumbering past internet cafes.


Product Specs

Although the riverboats that used in Nile River Cruises do not generally vary in size, it's the type of luxury that one can find onboard that can either make or break your overall experience. While some boats offer minimal amenities, other boats go above and beyond to make guests feel as though they are in a 5-start hotel.

Several cruise lines also have "add-ons." The city of Cairo isn't normally one of the stops on a cruise, but many Tour Operators create pre- or post-cruise stays in the city. If you would like to go on a shopping spree or explore a bustling city before boarding a leisurely cruise, this is an option worth exploring.

One important drawback of these cruises is that tour managers recommend that passengers not drink the water onboard. This rule applies to luxury ships as well. Water quality in local areas is suspect (at best) and there have been several reported cases of bacterial infections. If you're someone that feels they will need extra water, it is important to stock up on bottled water and soda from local stores and merchants. Patrons should also avoid any type of raw vegetables or fruits. Peeling fruits before eating them is of the utmost importance.


Pricing

Depending on the length of your trip and the type of luxury you want onboard, the price of this cruise can range from a little over $400 to $3,000. It is also very important to plan far in advance as prices for trips rise as the departure date becomes imminent.


How it Compares

To help you make a great decision, we picked similar cruise lines available on the market to see how they compare.

  • Viking River Cruises
  • Avalon Waterways
  • Abercrombie & Kent
  • Sanctuary Retreats

Viking River Cruises

nile river cruise - viking cruise sailing

If you're looking for a cruise ship that will melt all your troubles away, the Viking River Cruises is the way to go. With approximately 70 active ships traveling from places like Amsterdam and China, there is a destination for every occasion. Established in 1997, Viking River Cruises has become the world's largest cruise line. Something that has set Viking apart from its competition is both the design and quality of the onboard experience. Scandinavian in design, these 190-passenger vessels feature all-outside cabins, two-room suites, real balconies and several dining venues with cuisines ranging from formal to light-fare. On Longships designs, there is an Aquavit Terrace which functions as an indoor/outdoor restaurant and lounge.

In 2015, Viking debuted a new ocean line called Viking Star. Viking Star acts a hybrid between Vikings two lines. While it's of similar size to the Viking River, it features more amenities like a lavish spa, multiple dining venues, and a variety of bars and lounges. One of the newest innovations introduced by the Viking Star is that the ship's main dining venue has a wall of windows that can be opened in good weather to create a semi-alfresco experience.


Activities

Different forms of entertainment are provided to help those onboard understand the cultures of the regions visited during the cruise.


This comes in the form of lectures, local musicians and themed dinners with regional specialties.

Ports

With 70 Viking River Cruises operating from China's Yangtze River to Egypt, there is a destination for everyone.

Additional Perks & Features  

The Viking River Cruises has two lines: one providing river voyages and the other featuring ocean cruises. However, onboard this line, the perks and features are similar.


Besides those previously discussed, many ships have French verandahs, lounges with panoramic views, well-furnished sundecks and cozy libraries.

PROS

CONS

  • Many perks and features.
  • A wide variety of foods to choose from.
  • Different types of cultural entertainment.
  • The price can be steep for some people
  • While there is a wide variety of shore excursions, an additional fee must be paid to have an in-depth tour of an area.

Avalon Waterways

nile river cruise - avalon cruise docking area

Established in 2004, the Avalon Waterways cruise line has become of the most consistently praised brands. For those who love the familiar feeling of being in a hotel, the Avalon does a great job of making passengers feel completely at ease as soon as they board. With hotel-style twin bedding, the beds can be pushed together to create a queen-sized bed.

Breakfast is buffet-style with additional entrees cooked to order. Lunch buffets include two hot dishes, as well as soups, bread, cold cuts, salads and a mouthwatering dessert table. Passengers enjoy open seating for four- to six-course dinners, with a choice of entrees. For those who are vegetarians, there are additional options available.

One of the major standouts of this cruise is their aim to educate all who are onboard the ship. Expert tour directors are available to discuss intricate topics about the areas covered during the tours. For example, while sailing alongside France, travelers can enjoy on and off-ship culinary demonstrations.

The year 2015 was a major landmark for Avalon as it introduced its "suite ship" concept to France's Rhone and to southeast Asia. These suit ships have open-air balconies featuring floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall panoramic windows measuring 14-feet-wide with retractable screen systems. They also have doors that slide opens a full 9-feet, creating the feeling of sitting outside.

Price

Approximately $1,000-$2,500

Activities

While it may lack lavish entertainment, the Avalon does a great job of educating passengers about the history of the areas they visit. Expert tour directors deliver educational commentary as you pass through interesting landscapes. It makes the overall experience of a tour more enjoyable when one can learn about the territories they visit.

Ports

With around 20 ships in operation, throughout Europe, South America and parts of Africa, there are several locations of interest.

Additional Perks & Features  

While other cruises go the extra mile to make their guests feel like Kings and Queens, Avalon offers the bare minimum. With congenial bars and lounges featuring a pianist after dinner, the entertainment is not as diverse as it could be.

PROS

CONS

  • European and Galapagos sailings provide entirely non-smoking interiors
  • Nightly turndown service
  • 24-hour tea and coffee with cake or cookies
  • Aimed primarily at North American, Australian and British demographic. Crews are English speaking and cuisines is continental.
  • Is not as lavish as other cruises when it comes to onboard entertainment.

Abercrombie & Kent

nile river cruise - Abercrombie & Kent front shot

If you're looking to for a unique experience, then look no further than the Abercrombie and Kent cruise. Unlike most other cruises, pricing includes accommodations. These accommodations include three meals with wine, guided sightseeing and entry fees. Staff members and tour operators make the Abercrombie and Kent cruise an immersive and fully guided experience. Coupled with a small passenger size, the atmosphere on the ship is relaxed.

Abercrombie and Kent also offer themed cruises aimed towards interests like wine. They appoint the most knowledgeable staff members to present lectures, facilitate discussions, show videos and make themselves available for questions. Wine isn't the only themed cruise as those contemplating a trip can sign up for adventure, sea or journey sailings; each exploring a different region of the world.

Abercrombie and Kent also have a luxury line that works with the cruise industry, offering chartered expeditions around the world. Even if the company doesn't charter the entire ship, the Abercrombie and Kent group has its own program, with a resident tour director who hails from the region visited, leading shore excursions.


Price

Ranging from $2,000-$5,000

Activities

With many activities already paid for in your initial bill, going offshore or staying on the ship becomes much more relaxing.

Ports

The Abercrombie and Kent only has one ship, meaning that booking a spot will be very competitive.

Additional Perks & Features  

The smaller cruise size makes for a less hectic environment. Also with fewer people on board, staff members can pay closer attention to everyone, which makes for a better experience.

PROS

CONS

  • Staff-to-passenger ratio of 1.3 to 1
  • An expert staff that knows a great deal about the areas visited
  • Very relaxed atmosphere
  • Steep price
  • Do not have their own luxury cruise ship.

Sanctuary Retreats

nile river cruise - Sanctuary Retreats

If you're looking for a cruise that offers a deluxe experience combined with ethnic tourism, then Sanctuary Retreats is just what the doctor ordered. From its beginnings in rural Africa, tour operators make it their mission to use locally sourced materials and indigenous crafts works to decorate the ship. This simple touch adds an authenticity to the overall experience of being onboard the ship. All the ships boast high standards of decor and the facilities are second to none. A major incentive of this cruise is the low number of passengers, which Sanctuary says creates a "private, club-like atmosphere."

Passengers can expect top-notch dining, including buffets, sun deck barbecues and elegant a la carte dining with drinks included. Passenger itineraries will determine which perks one receives once onboard. Amenities include four-poster beds and pools with private cabanas on some Nile ships and a spa on the China vessel. Each itinerary will include country-specific experiences such as calligraphy classes in China, and a sightseeing menu to pick tours of ancient Egyptian sites.


Price

From $1,000-$5,000

Activities

With many activities already paid for in your initial bill, going offshore or staying on the ship becomes much more relaxing.

Ports

The Abercrombie and Kent only has one ship, meaning that booking a spot will be very competitive.

Additional Perks & Features  

The smaller cruise size makes for a less hectic environment. Also with fewer people on board, staff members can pay closer attention to everyone, which makes for a better experience.

PROS

CONS

  • Source Materials used as authentic to the area.
  • Small passenger size
  • Country-specific activities to enrich your cultural experience.
  • Price is steep

Conclusion

Cruises are an effective method for people to relax and get away from the stresses of life. When choosing a destination to travel, we believe the ability to learn and become immersed in another culture is very important. While all these Nile River cruises offer a great way to experience the Nile River and its rich history, we recommend either the Abercrombie and Kent or the Sanctuary Retreat cruise.

A perk that cannot be overlooked in the small passenger-sized ship. When traveling to an unfamiliar area, individualized attention is important. With either of these cruises, you'll get that and much more. The determining factor could come down to amenities or pricing, but you are in great hands either way.



Featured Image: CC0 Public Domain via Canva, with text, banner, and logo added.

Pin It on Pinterest