The Nile river runs for over 4,000 miles through nine countries, stretching from Lake Victoria in Uganda to the Alexandria, Egypt where it meets the Mediterranean Sea. The majority of Nile river cruises tend to focus on Egypt with the typical route starting at Luxor and ending at Aswan. On the way, it passes by some of Egypt’s most magnificent ancient monuments. From the mind-bogglingly vast collection of Ancient Egyptian monuments at the Karnak Temple Complex to Archangel Michael’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral.
Cruise excursions are also an excellent way to access many other famous monuments in the country such as the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, and the Temple of Kom Ombo. The great advantage of taking a cruise along the nile is that almost the entirety of its population lives along the green belt that follows the Nile through the country. This also means that almost all of the historic population centres, with their ancient architecture and modern museums are located in easy reach of the river. Not to mention the modern day Egyptian culture of farmers tilling the land and traders selling spices and local crafts in the local bazaars.
What kind of ships are used for Nile cruises?
Don’t expect a massive ocean liner with gambling and a gym, the Nile is nowhere near deep enough for a large boat. The majority of the cruise boats touring the Nile carry just over 100 people in four passenger decks. Facilities on board generally include a pool (on the sun deck), restaurants, air-conditioned cabins with TV and mini-bars. The quality of the boat differs greatly between different providers, from rather old vessels to brand new ones so make sure to take a good look at the pictures before booking.
The person navigating the boat is the Chief Navigation Officer, and will be someone with many years of boating experience on this river. Generally, they grow up in a village on the banks of the Nile and start boating from a young age before eventually gaining enough respect from the cruise operators to be allowed to pilot one of their boats.
I’ve heard it gets crowded during high season…
From October to April there are roughly 300 cruise ships doing the typical route down the Nile. The main downside to the overcrowding is that in these circumstances, cruise ships sometimes tie up to one another to prevent them from knocking each other around on the waters. This is ok if you are in one of the boats on the outside but on the inside this very often spoils you view. Travelling during high season can also make the whole experience slightly less relaxing as the river is slightly noisier, but there will likely still be stretches where there are not too many boats.