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Gardendog

Uniworld Egypt February 9, 2019

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I just finished writing a review for our Uniworld cruise to Egypt on the review page for Cruise Critic. This was my first “official review”. In the past I have just posted here on the boards as I have found so much helpful advice over the years and want to give back to the community. Some of the information on this thread will be repeats of what’s on the review page. My apologies for that.

 

We booked this cruise in June of 2018 and got a cabin on the starboard side, which is better for sailing at least for views. We arranged our own flights.

 

The weather in February was much cooler than I anticipated, but I brought a quilted jacket which I ended up wearing most every day. It was sunny, but cool.

 

Our flights were with United and we flew Chicago to Munich, Munich to Cairo. We arrived in Cairo in the evening and met our Uniworld rep by the immigration. It was rather slow to get on the bus, and we all had to drag our own suitcases to the bus. Fortunately, we were all able bodied.

 

Our stay in Cairo was at the Nile Four Seasons. Before the bus could go to the door, bomb sniffing dogs walked around the bus. We went through security checks as did our luggage upon arriving to the hotel. Four seasons is as lovely as you’d imagine. There was smoking in the lobby!

 

The only meal included in the fare was buffet breakfast. Since we had 2 very early departures, one for the flight to Luxor and one the day of departure, we only had 2 of these lovely breakfasts, the other ones were boxed breakfasts.

 

The first meeting with Uniworld was early in the morning, 8 AM if I recall correctly. This is when we had the opportunity to sign up for optional excursions; flight and visit to Abu Simbel, Luxor light show, Nile cruise with entertainment in Cairo and Coptic visit. There was another optional excursion as well, hot air balloon over Valley of the Kings, but the sign up for that was during the cruise portion.

 

It was made clear by the Uniworld rep that there might not be room for all of us to go to Abu Simbel. Everyone wanted to go! It was rather unpleasant to think that after all that traveling, one of the great sites might be missed by some of us. “The campers were not happy”

 

We were divided into 2 groups (buses), one with 33 and one with 35. Each group had their own Egyptologist (guide). They were both good. Ours was Muhamad Abdelrahman. He was excellent throughout with knowledge that he was pleased to share and his English was very good and easy to understand. I was surprised at the large groups. In Vietnam last year we had fewer tour members but 3 buses.

 

First day tours were to the Citadel with the Alabaster mosque (World Heritage site) and a visit to the Egyptian museum. Head covering was not necessary for the mosque. This was our first encounter with very persistent vendors.

 

The museum was above fabulous. As we were waiting to go in, another museum goer asked where we were from, "the US" I said, and he said “Welcome”. If you wanted to take photos inside the museum you needed a photo pass. We paid our guide (Egyptologist) and he purchased them for us and distributed them to us. The museum is fantastic. They are building a new one over by the Pyramids. They expect to open that one in 2020. This one was great too.

 

Uniworld uses the Vox Whisper system so the guide can talk into his microphone and we can hear him, even at a distance. Worked great, but would have been even greater with a smaller group as it was sometimes hard to figure out what he was talking about when you got to the spot. 

 

5 pound notes are necessary to use the toilets. We bought ours from our guide, 3 for $1. Bring extra tissue from home (or the hotel) just in case.

The day ended early, but we knew that the following day the wake up was at 2:30 AM, so after a late lunch, early dinner, we went to bed very early in order to get some sleep before the wake up call.

Picture of the outside of the Egypt Museum. Our guide suggested that we take a picture of the ticket first and then the site, so we would know what the picture represented. Very good advice.IMG_7703.thumb.JPG.a245a2cd4d6e07e57d2de111880ea1f1.JPG

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Gardendog said:

I just finished writing a review for our Uniworld cruise to Egypt on the review page for Cruise Critic. This was my first “official review”. In the past I have just posted here on the boards as I have found so much helpful advice over the years and want to give back to the community. Some of the information on this thread will be repeats of what’s on the review page. My apologies for that.

 

We booked this cruise in June of 2018 and got a cabin on the starboard side, which is better for sailing at least for views. We arranged our own flights.

 

The weather in February was much cooler than I anticipated, but I brought a quilted jacket which I ended up wearing most every day. It was sunny, but cool.

 

Our flights were with United and we flew Chicago to Munich, Munich to Cairo. We arrived in Cairo in the evening and met our Uniworld rep by the immigration. It was rather slow to get on the bus, and we all had to drag our own suitcases to the bus. Fortunately, we were all able bodied.

 

Our stay in Cairo was at the Nile Four Seasons. Before the bus could go to the door, bomb sniffing dogs walked around the bus. We went through security checks as did our luggage upon arriving to the hotel. Four seasons is as lovely as you’d imagine. There was smoking in the lobby!

 

The only meal included in the fare was buffet breakfast. Since we had 2 very early departures, one for the flight to Luxor and one the day of departure, we only had 2 of these lovely breakfasts, the other ones were boxed breakfasts.

 

The first meeting with Uniworld was early in the morning, 8 AM if I recall correctly. This is when we had the opportunity to sign up for optional excursions; flight and visit to Abu Simbel, Luxor light show, Nile cruise with entertainment in Cairo and Coptic visit. There was another optional excursion as well, hot air balloon over Valley of the Kings, but the sign up for that was during the cruise portion.

 

It was made clear by the Uniworld rep that there might not be room for all of us to go to Abu Simbel. Everyone wanted to go! It was rather unpleasant to think that after all that traveling, one of the great sites might be missed by some of us. “The campers were not happy”

 

We were divided into 2 groups (buses), one with 33 and one with 35. Each group had their own Egyptologist (guide). They were both good. Ours was Muhamad Abdelrahman. He was excellent throughout with knowledge that he was pleased to share and his English was very good and easy to understand. I was surprised at the large groups. In Vietnam last year we had fewer tour members but 3 buses.

 

First day tours were to the Citadel with the Alabaster mosque (World Heritage site) and a visit to the Egyptian museum. Head covering was not necessary for the mosque. This was our first encounter with very persistent vendors.

 

The museum was above fabulous. As we were waiting to go in, another museum goer asked where we were from, "the US" I said, and he said “Welcome”. If you wanted to take photos inside the museum you needed a photo pass. We paid our guide (Egyptologist) and he purchased them for us and distributed them to us. The museum is fantastic. They are building a new one over by the Pyramids. They expect to open that one in 2020. This one was great too.

 

Uniworld uses the Vox Whisper system so the guide can talk into his microphone and we can hear him, even at a distance. Worked great, but would have been even greater with a smaller group as it was sometimes hard to figure out what he was talking about when you got to the spot. 

 

5 pound notes are necessary to use the toilets. We bought ours from our guide, 3 for $1. Bring extra tissue from home (or the hotel) just in case.

The day ended early, but we knew that the following day the wake up was at 2:30 AM, so after a late lunch, early dinner, we went to bed very early in order to get some sleep before the wake up call.

Picture of the outside of the Egypt Museum. Our guide suggested that we take a picture of the ticket first and then the site, so we would know what the picture represented. Very good advice.IMG_7703.thumb.JPG.a245a2cd4d6e07e57d2de111880ea1f1.JPG

 

 

Were you successful in getting to Abu Simbel? We are booked for Feb 2020 and would be very disappointed if we could not book the optional excursion to Abu Simbel

 

 

Edited by Cruisepucks
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Cruisepucks said:

 

 

1 hour ago, Cruisepucks said:

 

 

Were you successful in getting to Abu Simbel? We are booked for Feb 2020 and would be very disappointed if we could not book the optional excursion to Abu Simbel

 

 

 Leaving it as a cliff hanger, SUSPENSE! Wait for the next installment!

(yes we all got to go).

Edited by Gardendog
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Looking forward to your next installment. Egypt was a spectacular trip - we went in 2012 with A&K, so I'm always interested in the different experiences that people have traveling on other lines. Ours was a small group, probably 20-24 of us, and we were all together on one bus.

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Traveling to Luxor:

We departed the hotel at 3:45 AM to go to the airport after eating our Four seasons provided boxed breakfasts in the Hotel Lobby.  There was lots of security at the airport, separate lines for men and women and every single person was patted down as we went through.

 

The Egypt Air flight was packed and while most of us got economy seats, a few lucky ones were upgraded to Business which in this instance meant blankets, better food and bigger seats with more leg room. It was a short flight so not a bother either way. I was curious though how Uniworld decided who would get upgraded. I would have thought that the person who bought the biggest cabin might, but no, they did not get upgraded. Then perhaps the people with most Uniworld cruises under their belt, and that might be the case for some, but I know of several who had never been on Uniworld got upgraded. Just a thought. Overall, I can only think of 3 times when upgrades were involved, and to me it seemed random. 

 

After all the luggage arrived, it was collected by luggage people and put on our bus, after we claimed it. We did not have to drag any suit cases here. There were many tourists from around the world in Luxor and our tour guide was thrilled to see all the different nationalities coming back to Egypt. "Tourism is back"

 

Before we boarded the ship, we went to Karnak Temple, what a site! Construction at Karnak began 4000 years ago and continued up until the time the Romans took control of Egypt, about 2000 years ago. It is a huge complex, area larger than many ancient cities. 

 

We boarded the ship and were warmly welcomed by the staff and given wash cloths for our hands and a nice fresh drink. Our luggage appeared in our room quickly. We had a lovely lunch with included red and white wine. Service in the restaurant was great. Lunch was buffet style, but they brought drinks to the table. This is how it was every lunch, and also for breakfast.

 

Sail away towards Dendera and a nice well deserved nap on the Sun deck. How wonderful to sail on the Nile.

Before dinner there was a ship meeting where we met the staff and the cruise manager explained very carefully how to get the shower to work!! He must have done it a few times.

 

The bathrooms have separate shower from the bath tub. One sink and one commode. There is no room service except for breakfast for the guests in the nicest suite.

Upon returning from dinner, the shades were drawn. We went to bed very early.

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13 hours ago, jpalbny said:

Looking forward to your next installment. Egypt was a spectacular trip - we went in 2012 with A&K, so I'm always interested in the different experiences that people have traveling on other lines. Ours was a small group, probably 20-24 of us, and we were all together on one bus.

Thank you. It was a spectacular trip. Was it busy when you went? Crowds are coming back.

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I have nothing to compare it to but everyone said it was pretty empty. There was not really a line to get into the Great Pyramid so I suspect that should be more crowded. The Egypt Museum had minor crowds but we never really had to wait to see anything and the Tutankhamen exhibit was fairly empty except for us.

 

Along the Nile, Valley of the Kings only had a few buses and the tombs weren't crowded. We went to some other places like Dendera and Sobek, where we were probably the only group, or close to it.

 

November 2012 was after Arab Spring, while Morsi was still in power, and they weren't yet too unhappy with him. So tourism was down for no good reason, there weren't too many demonstrations yet, and we felt very safe. At that point I had a colleague whose father lived in Cairo, and he drove us around for a day in his car, including through a demonstration in Tahrir Square, like everything was normal. Everyone was happy to see us except one guy in Luxor who called us "rubbish tourists" because we wouldn't come on a felluca ride with him. 

 

When we visited the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid (just 4 of us, arranged by A&K as an extra) we were quite truly the only tourists there, and we had the place completely to ourselves. Just us, and the guard with a machine gun. A little surreal - he asked us if we wanted to climb one of the little pyramids behind the Red Pyramid and of course we did. Then at the top (of course) he wanted a bribe/tip/baksheesh - I had expected it and I was ready, but it was a little nerve-wracking to bribe the guy with a machine gun - what if my bribe wasn't considered enough? 

 

Great trip. Would go back tomorrow if vacation time were unlimited.

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Garden dog, I'm also enjoying following along with you. We tremendously enjoyed our trip with Uniworld in January of 2017. At that time, there were just 28 of us on the Tosca, including two ladies from Canada with their own guide, traveling with another company. In Luxor we had to walk through five empty riverboats to get to shore. We were told that normally there are about 300 cruise boats on the Nile but only 30 were sailing at that time. It was sad to se so many empty boats lining the shore, but of course there were no crowds anywhere we went, except at the pyramids but not really terribly crowded (except for the vendors!)

 

so far your itinerary is pretty much what we experienced, except we arrived a day early and wanted to add a tour of Coptic Cairo, which wasn't included in our itinerary. Spring Tours staff arranged for a guide with a car and we were glad we added that. At the Four Seasons we ate most meals at the Zitouni Restaurant buffet because we liked the food so much. Also had the box breakfast before the early flight to Luxor.

 

Looking forward to the next installment!

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3 hours ago, jklc123 said:

Garden dog, I'm also enjoying following along with you. We tremendously enjoyed our trip with Uniworld in January of 2017. At that time, there were just 28 of us on the Tosca, including two ladies from Canada with their own guide, traveling with another company. In Luxor we had to walk through five empty riverboats to get to shore. We were told that normally there are about 300 cruise boats on the Nile but only 30 were sailing at that time. It was sad to se so many empty boats lining the shore, but of course there were no crowds anywhere we went, except at the pyramids but not really terribly crowded (except for the vendors!)

 

so far your itinerary is pretty much what we experienced, except we arrived a day early and wanted to add a tour of Coptic Cairo, which wasn't included in our itinerary. Spring Tours staff arranged for a guide with a car and we were glad we added that. At the Four Seasons we ate most meals at the Zitouni Restaurant buffet because we liked the food so much. Also had the box breakfast before the early flight to Luxor.

 

Looking forward to the next installment!

We never had to go through another boat to go to shore if I remember correctly. We were right next to other ships on both sides on occasion, perhaps in Aswan. Thank you for reading and following along. At the Four Seasons we also ate at that restaurant because we liked it so much, not something I prepare at home . . . 

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Tuesday February 12

 

The tour this morning started at 7AM. This trip is not for the weak. As the ship, the Tosca, had docked during the night it was a short trip via bus to the temple. This was the only place where we saw a carving of Cleopatra VII (the Liz Taylor Cleopatra) on the wall. The carvings here have been well preserved and it was a fantastic visit with climbing up and seeing the first Zodiac carving/painting in the world. Unfortunately, the French took it and now you can see it in all its glory in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The copy here is made of plaster I was told. Since we were so early, we had no crowds and enjoyed the temple by ourselves.

 

We returned to the ship for lunch and sailing along the Nile toward Luxor again. Very buff Muhammad Ali led a Yoga class that was well attended.

 

Upon arrival at Luxor we visited the temple with the guides and saw the sunset there. Lovely!

 

In the evening there was a great performance by a belly dancer who invited guests to join her dancing, and many of the guests cooperated. Very fun and interesting. There was also a twirling dervish performing, how he can spin and spin and not fall down or vomit is beyond me. This was a very fun show.

 

We had great dinner companions this evening even though the tables are large and it’s a very noisy restaurant. I learned something tonight. I drink sparkling water because I like it. My dinner companion said that he does it all the time while traveling, since it is harder to “cheat” with sparkling water than with still water even if it’s in a bottle. Interesting.

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Awesome pictures and I'm enjoying your commentary. You of course will know and appreciate that they do the tours early in the morning and late in the afternoon so that you don't collapse from heat stroke. Touring at high noon in Egypt is definitely not for the weak! Mad dogs and Englishmen, they say...

 

As an aside, did you read anything about the Egyptian religion before your trip? We did, and it really helped bring the temples to life. But you will be really surprised what we read - it was actually a book series aimed at kids! Rick Riordan (the guy who wrote the Percy Jackson series) wrote a trilogy based on the Egyptian pantheon called the Kane Chronicles. They were amazingly accurate and it really added to our enjoyment on this trip.

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4 hours ago, jpalbny said:

Awesome pictures and I'm enjoying your commentary. You of course will know and appreciate that they do the tours early in the morning and late in the afternoon so that you don't collapse from heat stroke. Touring at high noon in Egypt is definitely not for the weak! Mad dogs and Englishmen, they say...

 

As an aside, did you read anything about the Egyptian religion before your trip? We did, and it really helped bring the temples to life. But you will be really surprised what we read - it was actually a book series aimed at kids! Rick Riordan (the guy who wrote the Percy Jackson series) wrote a trilogy based on the Egyptian pantheon called the Kane Chronicles. They were amazingly accurate and it really added to our enjoyment on this trip.

Yes, I did lots of studying before this trip, I listened to The Great Courses series, Ancient Egypt, I think it was 48 lectures, twice and watched tons of DVDs from the library about ancient Egypt. I learned so much so it was so much more vivid to me on this trip. I also studied picture books about ancient Egypt. It was a great learning experience  for me even before arriving there. I wanted to get the most out of it. I totally agree with you. Instead of just listening to “new” I formation, it was cool to see the things I had learned. I should check into your suggested reading. I am not done yet with ancient Egypt. Thanks for reading and posting.

 

The weather while we were there was in the 50 Fahrenheit getting to 70 perhaps at the heat of the day, but mostly around 60, so not hot at all. I think they scheduled the tours that early to avoid crowds. I wore a quilted jacket and jeans most every day, it was definitely not hot, but excellent touring weather. I could not have asked for any better weather, and of course it never rains in southern Egypt.

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Wednesday February 13

Tour again started early at 7AM with trip to the Valley of the Kings. The program stated: West bank visit, interesting since “going west” meant dying. (Sun sets in the west).

 

Our tour included entrance to 3 tombs which are rotated to save them. Visitors to these tombs take a toll on them. We got to visit the tombs of Ramses III, Ramses VI and Ramses IV. How amazing is it that the paintings on the wall is still there thousands of years later!

 

This was the one place where the guards checked the photo passes all the time, mentioned for the phone and took a picture and then demanded a “tip”. I felt very “used”. These were the guards, not some vendors. Our guide had warned us in advance never to give the phone to anyone, but I guess I did not think that would apply to the guards. Lesson learned. I did not tell the guide right away, he said I should have, because he would have had words with the guard.

 

(On our flight to Luxor from Cairo, one of the guests had a tiny swiss army knife that was confiscated in the screening. Our guide got it back for him!)

 

The tour continued with a visit to Hatshepsut’s palace. She was a female king, or Pharaoh as we call them. It looks grander from the road, almost like an optical illusion. Pictures are from Hatshepsut's palace. I took none from the king's tombs, since we only purchased one photo pass.

 

From there we went to one of the obligatory alabaster shop with a showing of how they make the Alabaster vases. The prices were supposed to be somewhat firm, but DH bought a couple of things and bargained well, a word to the wise.

 

I am not much of a napper but the early mornings have been catching up with me, so a good nap again on the sundeck while we sailed the Nile. Yoga again with Muhammad Ali.

 

This evening was the River Heritage party which we attended, but there was no Uniworld rep there. It was followed by dinner and then the galabeya party. Many of us purchased outfits in the gift shop for the event. I don’t think it would save any money to bring one from home, unless you owned one. They ranged in the $15 to $25 range.

The party included dance to Egyptian music and the crew got many of us up on the floor. One of the guests thought there was more dancing tonight than on regular cruises. Evening ended with some traditional Western music that DH and I love to dance to. This is not a party boat, so we closed the dance floor at 10PM or so.

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So you did not visit King Tut's tomb? We were to able to for a small extra fee. Maybe closed due to new museum at the pyramids? I was also excited to visit Hatshepsut's palace--her story is fascinating. We didn't have an alabaster shop visit that day. I also loved spending the afternoon sail time on the comfy sun deck couches.

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2 hours ago, jklc123 said:

So you did not visit King Tut's tomb? We were to able to for a small extra fee. Maybe closed due to new museum at the pyramids? I was also excited to visit Hatshepsut's palace--her story is fascinating. We didn't have an alabaster shop visit that day. I also loved spending the afternoon sail time on the comfy sun deck couches.

 

We did not visit King Tut’s tomb, I don’t think anyone from our group went. I think I remember our guide saying that there was very little left there and of course the carvings/paintings were better in the Ramses kings tombs. I know we could have if we had wanted to. I was more than pleased with the three tombs we got to see.

 

So you only had 28 people? Besides the Uniworld group of 68 there were short term cruisers on our ship. They did not come on any of the cursions, but they had dinner in the restaurant and hung in the bar area as well. I think 12 total, but not all at once. The Hotel Manager said that the Gratuity box was set out for those people. So in two years they have more than doubled the group. Good for Egyptian tourism!

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Thursday February 14

Valentine’s Day!

We had docked close to the Kom Ombo Temple and Crocodile Museum so we just walked there. The ship has no elevator and the stairs are a bit uneven. Most of the time when we embark and disembark, the ground is not even. Some of the guests had some mobility issues and struggled a little bit.

 

This temple to the Crocodile god was also interesting with carvings of medical instruments on one of the wall. There was also a Nile-meter, a deep well that measured the rise of the Nile in for taxation purposes. This was a fairly brief visit and we came back to the ship to participate in Zumba with Muhammad Ali. It was fun and it was a mixed group with men and women.

The day continued with a Falluca ride in the Nile with police escort close by in a boat. A few kids came up next to us singing songs on some kind of floating board. Some of the guests gave them money. Our guide thought it was not a good idea for the kids to do this, they should be in school he thought.

 

This was the day with the High Tea at the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan of Agatha Christie fame. It was such a lovely spread. Traditional tea with the three layers and there was also fruit.  I asked about the dress code, and the guide said smart casual so we did dress up but this cruise has been the least dressy of any cruise that I have been on. Most of the time the guests wear for dinner what they wore during the day. Some dress a bit nicer and some very nicely indeed, but for the most part not.

Evening ended with a lovely dinner on the ship.

 

I said in the first installment that there was a possibility that not everyone could go to Abu Simbel. Well it turned out that all could go. Today was the day that we found out the details. Most people got to go with the bus A guide, Taric, a few got to go with bus B guide, our guide, and a handful got put on a flight to Abu Simbel on a completely different day. Since there were not enough spots on the flight for all of us to go on the 15, they scheduled the small group for the 16. “The campers were not happy.” For them it also involved getting up incredibly early, and missing out on having our guides. Anyway, Uniworld came through, everyone went, not everyone was satisfied. I think Uniworld would do well in including this trip in the fare, that way everyone can go. If someone doesn’t want to, fine, one can skip an excursion. This hung a bit as a cloud over the whole tour, people wondering, I am going to get to Abu Simbel?

 

The first picture is of Kom Ombo, next the Nile-meter. Then the excort on our Falluca ride, there is a picture of the kids coming close singing for money. Lovely spread at the Old Cararact hotel and sunset from its deck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday February 15

Abu Simbel day. We flew Egypt Air from Aswan to Abu Simbel, saw the wonderful site with the enormous Ramses statues, and all the little rooms in the temple. This is quite the miracle. This temple would have been under water when they built the new Aswan dam, but international help from all over the world moved these giant statues to higher ground. While building the dam, the Nubian people lost their home land and were relocated to other areas around Aswan. At the site there were Nubian vendors so we purchased some scarves from them, bargaining hard at the end. It turns out we paid what other vendors would have charged, but for us as Americans, it was a good price.

 

The airplanes are small but they serve a beverage, a sweet juice and I believe a cookie as well. Tight security, everyone got a pat down.

 

We got back to the return flight a few minutes before take-off. The guides were not worried. I guess this time we got an upgrade since we were in the front, but there was absolutely nothing better with those seats, just location.

 

They served a late lunch on the ship. The late afternoon excursion was a bird watching tour and a visit to a Nubian village. The Nubian guide spoke such excellent English that we all thought he must have studied in the UK, but no, he had just learned from TV. He knew the names of the birds along the shore in several languages. The guests enjoyed this, but the highlight might have been sseeing running camels with riders on the shore! I don’t know if camels “gallop” but it sure looked like it.

 

There was a Nubian party after dinner with Nubian entertainment and dancing. Again, they brought the guests up on the dance floor and we did a version of a Nubian Conga line. LOL

1st picture is of Abu Simbel King Ramses II enormous statues

2nd and 3rd are from the bird watching tour to the Nubian village

Last picture is entertainment by the Nubian guests

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We did our Egyptian trip with Insight Tours in Oct/Nov. of 2017 and it was hot!  There were only 10 of us in our group along with our guide who was wonderful.  There was never a question of whether all of us could go to Abu Simbel....it was part of our tour.  We had an option of hot-air ballooning over the Valley of the Kings to watch the sunrise and it was absolutely spectacular!!!  Once we landed, our bus picked us up and then we toured Valley of the Kings on land.  Very neat to do that in that way.  Loving your write-up as it is bringing lots of great memories.  This trip far exceeded my expections.  Thanks for your review.

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2 hours ago, cormike1 said:

We did our Egyptian trip with Insight Tours in Oct/Nov. of 2017 and it was hot!  There were only 10 of us in our group along with our guide who was wonderful.  There was never a question of whether all of us could go to Abu Simbel....it was part of our tour.  We had an option of hot-air ballooning over the Valley of the Kings to watch the sunrise and it was absolutely spectacular!!!  Once we landed, our bus picked us up and then we toured Valley of the Kings on land.  Very neat to do that in that way.  Loving your write-up as it is bringing lots of great memories.  This trip far exceeded my expections.  Thanks for your review.

 

Thank you for reading and responding. I forgot to mention the optional hot air balloon tour which took place on the day we visited the valley of the kings. People got to sign the night before, and a handful did it. We did not. I believe the participants enjoyed it.

 

I had expected hot temperatures as it was southern Egypt, but it was rather cool. I ended up wearing my quilted jacket most every day.

 

One thing I have not mentioned is the laundry perk for Heritage members of Uniworld. DH and I each got a free bag of laundry and we used it. The turnaround was pretty immediate, and they followed instructions! It was great as the desert sand got the clothes pretty dirty.

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Glad you all got to Abu Simbel! It was amazing and well worth the effort to get there. There was an exhibit in the Nubian museum about the amazing story of its move from the original site to its current location. Enjoying your continued reporting, thanks!

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18 minutes ago, jpalbny said:

Glad you all got to Abu Simbel! It was amazing and well worth the effort to get there. There was an exhibit in the Nubian museum about the amazing story of its move from the original site to its current location. Enjoying your continued reporting, thanks!

 

We never made it to the Nubian museum. The young bird watching guide gave his perspective on the whole re-location of the Nubian people. He said that the older generation missed their home land, but for the younger generation, home is now where they live (to where they were re-located).

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Saturday February 16,

The excursion today was to the Unfinished Obelix. It was extremely interesting as by having it lie there, unfinished, archeologists and researchers can figure out how the ancient Egyptians carved these obelixes. This excursion involved walking up on very uneven rocks and I was thankful that I did this trip while still able bodied.

 

Next the bus took us to the Aswan Dam. It is a sight to behold, at the bottom, the base of the dam is almost 1 km (3/4 mile) wide.

 

This was followed by a boat ride to the Temple of Phillae. There was an interesting stone there with carvings very much like the Rosetta stone. I took a photo of it, it's the third one. There was evidence there of early Christians, (see the picture of the cross below) from the 400s using this temple for Christian worship, and also disfiguring some of the carvings of the old Egyptian gods.

 

A vendor was invited to our boat and sold his wares for bargain prices. He had good business, necklaces and bracelets. Our guide negotiated price with him, so he sold his wares for $1. Speaking of the $1, I had brought a stack of them. It turns out that it is a great bill to have, but they have to be perfect, not torn or too worn or old. In addition, many of the vendors asked us if we could exchange our $10 or $20 for their singles. It turns out that their banks don't take $1. I would recommend taking less in singles and when asked to exchange, get your singles that way. I remember this because we were  asked to do this as we came back from the boat trip to Phillae. This is one time when I really noticed our armed guard (from the bus). He stayed with us until we had finished exchanging money.

 

The Tosca then set off for Luxor, another nap on the sun deck. The view from the sundeck is so interesting with the little villages, animals grazing and the green right next to the Nile. Not far away though, the desert is obvious.

 

Tonight’s evening was the gala dinner with candle lights (battery operated). Some were a bit dressed up, but most were not. Some wore their special Egyptian clothing bought for the earlier party.

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Sunday February 17

 

Last day of excursions from the Tosca. We docked and walked to the Temple of Esna. This temple was “hidden” for so long, but excavation has brought it out. You can clearly see how much debris have been removed to show the temple. We learned lots today regarding rules for excavation. It is strictly against the rule to dig without a permit. People still do and if caught, severe punishment with imprisonment. There are so many antiquities all over Egypt and people want to dig and find and sell. One of the early explorers said that he saw the cartouche from Totmosis, but it’s no longer there, someone must have taken it.

 

In order to get to the temple we had to walk through a sellers’ gauntlet, Valley of the Vultures. On the way back, we did indeed buy something from one of the vendors. He was the first one to ask for ball point pens for his children. Someone who traveled to Egypt 10 years ago said that I needed to bring ballpoint pens to give out to children. I did bring a bunch, but never encountered anyone asking for them, so I gave them to our guide to give to his children’s school. Anyway, our friend had a yellow high lighter and gave it to the scarf seller.

 

This was a most fascinating stop as we also went to the local market to see their wares. Mattress makers, stamp makers, food selling etc etc. Very eye opening. This was a highlight of the cruise.

 

In the evening the guides were available for lectures on Egypt and Q and A on Egypt. Good participation.

 

This was the evening for the optional Luxor Sound and Light show. I would recommend skipping this one and just go to the included one in Cairo. None of them are that great, kind of a snooze, but one is enough.

Fist two pictures are from the Temple of Esna, then city views of the local market. Fist the cotton seller, then the guy who makes stamps for people who cannot write, so they can use the stamp to sign their names, then food vendor and then a  moped with lots of eggs, drive carefully!

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I could not nap in the afternoon as I did not want to miss anything while we were sailing on the Nile.  I say in my room in the armchair pulled up at the window taking hundreds of pictures while my husband snoozed away on the bed lol.  I kept thinking....I have seen this same scene in the movies!  Such an amazing experience.  Did you experience the vendors that hooked onto the ship with ropes and got pulled along by the ship.  We had quite a few.  They would show their wares and if you wanted a closer look, they would toss them up to the top deck.  You bartered and then put the money in the plastic bag and tossed it back down to them.  Sometimes it got quite heated with the bartering lol.

 

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We were on the trip

immediately prior to yours.  We had a smaller group, only @ 44  persons.

we also did the Jordon pre trip with just 6 people.  It was amazing!

Everthing you say is so familiar and brings back such good memories..

we were broken into 2 groups for the flight to Luxor, but all made it onto 1 plane to Abu Simbel.

love your photos too!

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