What a trip of a lifetime! Uniworld's Splendors of Egypt and the Nile was one of my most memorable vacations due mainly to our Egyptologist, Mohamed Ragheb, the fabulous staff on the River Tosca and the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel overlooking the Nile River in Cairo. I have traveled to about 50 countries on 6 continents and this trip offered one of the best itineraries with staff offering the most attentive service ever. It's my 8th cruise (all ocean until this river cruise) and I will definitely be river cruising again. Mohamed just made ancient Egypt come to life with his tales about the pharaohs, heiroglyphics and gods/goddesses. He was extremely knowledgeable, well-educated and was able to answer just about any question about Egypt immediately. He was also very funny and charming, with no air of academic pretentiousness. Every day there were several items on the itinerary to look forward to; I thought I might get bored with too many temples, mosques, pyramids, etc. but each day seemed to be more fascinating than the last. The Uniworld itinerary did a good job of mixing ancient Egyptian sites with felucca (sailboat) rides on the NIle, a Nubian Village visit, and High Tea at the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile.
There are a lot of included excursions, virtually all of the major sites. Definitely climb into the Great Pyramid to the tomb with the sarcophagus if you are physically able to, and take the camel ride in Giza. I also recommend going on nearly all the optional excursions, especially the optional excursion to Abu Simbel...what an experience! We signed up for the hot air balloons into the Valley of the Kings, but unfortunately there was a sandstorm and we were unable to go. We did both sound and light shows, but not the dinner cruise as we elected to go to Khan Al Khalili (the grand market in Cairo) on our own instead. Also, we did the optional Coptic Christian church tour upon returning to Cairo (after the Nile River cruise) with the other tour guide Akrum (for the group on Bus B, since we were on Bus A) who was also excellent. We got to see where the Holy Family stayed when they fled to Egypt on this Coptic Christian tour. The quality of the food, the staff and the small group experience (with a wonderful group of fellow travelers) was remarkable. My only suggestion on the food is to offer more Egyptian options for each meal since they were the most delicious (even though they can be special ordered I don't like to create a fuss and generally will eat what's served.)
The ship River Tosca has an understated elegance. It was a bit dated, but that was hardly noticeable given the size of the cabins (over 300 square feet) and the quality of the service. The staff was so attentive to every detail and really tried to make the experience special for everyone. They were willing to cook off-menu items if you asked. They went out of their way to go above and beyond what I have experienced on other larger cruises (Viking, Celebrity, Princess, etc.) The 90 minute massages were also good for only about $45 USD.
The transfers to and from the airport went extremely smoothly, and the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo was just so lovely.
I was a little nervous about safety before going, but having now returned from Egypt it seems as safe as anywhere in the world. There is almost no petty crime. The risk of terrorism exists, but that can happen anywhere (Barcelona, Paris, New York, Washington DC) and the likelihood of that happening is extremely low. The Egyptian government seems very committed to keeping tourists safe, and provides armed guards to protect tourists in some venues. I personally felt very safe and protected at all times with Mohamed and the entire Uniworld staff.
Bring lots of $1 bills for tips and bathroom attendants. Also a lot of the items to buy in the souks cost $1. The US dollar goes very far in Egypt so it's a great time for Americans to go. In fact, several Egyptians we met were very happy to see that Americans are coming back, and said so.
There are a lot of early mornings, but the sights are much less crowded and the temperature is more comfortable then. After the morning tours, typically there is time in the afternoon to rest/nap on the boat or in the hotel before the late afternoon/evening excursions. So while it's busy it is not overwhelming, even if you do nearly all the optional excursions.
Truly this was one of the most magical trips, due in great part to our Egyptologist Mohamed Ragheb. He was charming, friendly, funny and brilliant, and made exploring ancient Egypt a very colorful and memorable experience!
Cabin was very large for a river boat (over 300 square feet), and the bathroom was quite lovely with marble and a separate tub and shower. Most cruise ship bathrooms are very small and this one was about twice the usual size. The French window that opened wide was also a treat. .