For those visiting Egypt for the first time and looking to enjoy a sedate experience - they may wish to consider a Nile cruise. Of course, modern airlines shuttle tourists to the southern region of Egypt, but historically the Nile cruise was really the only way to visit the temples and tombs located along this stretch of the river. It is still a popular means of visiting upper Egypt and has many advantages to other means of travel in that this is at a slower pace and provides the opportunity to relax.
Nile cruises may very considerably, but typical Nile cruises are either three, four or seven nights. The shorter tours usually operate between Luxor and Aswan, while the longer cruises sail further north to Dendera, often offering day tours overland to more remote locations. Therefore, a fairly complete 14 day tour of Egypt might include several days around Cairo, visiting the pyramids, museums and other sites, a short flight to Abu Simbel in the very southern part of Egypt surrounding a seven day Nile Cruise.
The usual cruise is aboard a Nile vessel, sometimes referred to as a floating hotel. Indeed, the better vessels offer most of the accommodations of a land based hotel, including small swimming pools, hot tubs, exercise rooms, nightclubs, good restaurants, stores and even small libraries. Depending on one's budget, cabins may be very utilitarian and small, or larger than some land based hotel rooms. Some vessels provide suites. The higher standard of vessel will always have a private bath, air conditioning, and TV. It is common for there to be video movies each night and some vessels are equipped with cameras allowing passengers to view the countryside from their TV. Floating hotels also offer various modes of entertainment. Many of the vessels have dance areas with a disco or even live entertainment, and most offer a variety of nightly shows. These might include cocktail parties, Nubian shows, belly dancers and a performing whirling dervish, plays and even fancy dress parties where guests don traditional apparel. Like land hotels, meals onboard most Nile cruisers are usually buffet style and include hot and cold foods along with a variety of international and local cuisine. Most vessels have a good modern water filtration system, which is fine for showering, but it is still recommended that passengers drink bottled water, which the vessel will have onboard.
Around the middle of April, locks on the Nile river are closed due to water levels. The optimum time for a Nile cruise is between October and mid April, when the weather is fairly cool, but the locks are all open. However, most cruise vessels operate throughout the year. If the locks are closed the embarkation and disembarkation points are altered and ground transfers will be provided.