We flew into Cairo a day early (arriving December 14th) to recover from the 21 hour (gate to gate) trip from the US. We stayed at the Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza...WOW! We were told it is the newest hotel in Cairo, and it was beautiful. No complaints about this hotel!
We visited the Egyptian Museum on Dec. 16th, the day after the first constitutional referendum vote. The Egyptian Museum is located next to Tahrir Square, and we did not see any protestors. Our Egyptologist/tour guide said people could gather later in the day so we switched our itinerary to go to the museum in the morning and Giza in the afternoon. When we got to Tahrir Square we saw a few tents, but no people...that was it.
Spring Tours operates the Uniworld Trip in Egypt, and I only have high praise for the service we received. (FYI...our transportation had Uniworld and Insight Tours on the side of the vans.) We had 2 guides / Egyptologists--Mohammed in Cairo, and Ramadan was our guide for 5 days in Upper Egypt. Both commented on the extremely low tourist numbers, especially considering it was the beginning of the high season. Mohammed said at the Egyptian Museum, you would typically purchase a ticket to enter at a specific time (or queue), but we just walked right in. At Giza, 4 of us went into the open pyramid (Khafre's), and we were the only people inside. While this was good for us, we could not help but feel sorry for the many people who have been affected by the drop in tourists.
On December 17th, we flew to Luxor and were met by our 2nd Egyptologist guide, Ramadan. He was a wonderful guide--extremely knowledgeable and attentive. We went straight to the Valley of the Kings, and the largest tourist group there was school children. We stopped at Hatshepsut's temple and the Colossi of Memnon before we arrived at the Sonesta St. George I, we were surprised to see that there were only about 18-20 passengers (including our group of 6). This included 3 young children! It made you wonder how they could afford to run the boat, but our guide said they needed to operate to show people it is safe and encourage others to visit. Low passenger numbers appeared to be the norm on other riverboats we saw on the Nile.
Of course we were on a completely guided, chaperoned tour, but everyone we encountered was very friendly and welcoming. We never felt unsafe. We never saw anything that resembled the constant media that plays in the US, i.e. protesting crowds, rioters, etc. 20 million people live around Cairo! Our family was a group of 4 women, and we would not have ventured out in Cairo alone especially at night. This is just common sense, and I think that is all that is needed when visiting Egypt (especially Cairo). Upper Egypt (southern Egypt) is much more laid back and rural, and it's also more conservative. But everywhere in Egypt the citizens are anxious to get their government and economy on track. They welcome you, thank you for visiting, and encourage you to tell people about your trip.
We were disappointed not to get to sail on Uniworld's River Tosca, but the Sonesta St. George I was a lovely boat. Their staff was top notch, the service was excellent, and the food was good. As you can imagine, we received royal treatment since there were only 18-20 passengers! Except for a different riverboat, everything else was as advertised for the Uniworld Classic Egypt & the Nile--all the transfers, tours, etc. Our treatment was first class and top notch all the way.
If you want more details about this trip, just let me know. I got great photos since the tourist numbers were so low! Two last things I will mention...
First...The one negative is the constant annoyance (or harassment) by the touts or vendors selling their souvenirs. This was at every temple and tourist stop (except Dendara, which seemed to be more remote or maybe it was too early!). We started joking about it...bracing ourselves for the "onslaught" going into and out of all the sites. They are not allowed inside the sites (tickets are required). I couldn't help but feel sorry for the people who are desperate to sell their wares. Someone said tourism is down 90 percent. I bought some things--some I wanted and a few I did not. All in all, this alone is a very minor inconvenience and one I would endure again to visit Egypt!
Second...We took the optional tour to Abu Simbel, and I would HIGHLY recommend it! Words cannot express the magnificence of this site! The temples of Ramses II and Nerfertari were fabulous and the fact they were moved to be protected from the flooding created by the building of the Aswan High Dam is incredible.
I encourage anyone considering a trip to Egypt to go! Just do your own research and don't listen to the naysayers who only watch US television news for their information. Trip Advisor forums were a great help and right on the mark with regard to the current situation in Cairo.