We had previously visited the Giza Plateau area on a one day excursion from an ocean cruise, but wanted to see more of Egypt and to visit Petra in Jordan for the first time. We had to sign up for the Viking “Pharoahs and Pyramids” cruise on the Viking Ra more than a year ahead. We added the pre-cruise (Israel) and post-cruise (Petra) options. They were well worth it!
Egypt visas are available from the country’s online site for much less than the price asked by US visa services. Jordanian visas are available at the airport in Jordan, but Viking had purchased a group travel visa. No visa was required in Israel. My wife was a little concerned about personal security, especially in Egypt. We were well protected with National Police escorts in urban areas and at cruise docking points.
Accommodations in Jerusalem at the historic and luxurious King David Hotel and an excellent tour guide. Only downside-wet and cold. If you’re going in early spring, bring a warm rain jacket. Visited expected sites in and around Jerusalem. Then, flew to Cairo where we visited the National Museum, which is to be replaced (and needs to be) by the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) Interesting, but dated style of display. GEM was under construction. Visit there focused on laboratories for antiquity preservation. interesting. Quite interesting, but tickets clearly are priced to raise the maximum funds for GEM construction.
Flew to Luxor to board Viking Ra. Karnak Temple and Luxor were spectacular. The burial site interiors were extremely ornate and colorful. Then, an optional dawn hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings (and Queens!). My wife was apprehensive about going on the ride (height and motion sickness). She braved it - and would not part with the memory. Sailing on to visit several other temple sites. Most notable: Abu Simbel, which required a short air flight. Arrangements were well handled and Abu Simbel is not to be missed. The statues of Ramses II and his queen are truly once in a lifetime experience. The street vendors outside Abu Simbel were exceptionally aggressive and I paid too much for a book on the site. On day 15, we returned to Cairo and most of our tour went home.
We opted for the Jordan excursion. Again, we’ll worth it. We visited Mount Nebo, the locale from which Moses viewed the Holy Land. (You’ll recall he wasn’t allowed to enter - but, he had a spectacular view!) Then, on to Petra, the locale of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. An approach walk of several miles through beautiful geology and a very complex necropolis. If one is not inclined to walk, there are donkeys or rickshas available to ride.
Returned to the US from Amman with wonderful memories and so many great pictures that we’ve still not managed to get through them all.
A very well appointed cabin with a nice veranda to sit, sip wine, and watch the activity on the Nile’s banks.