Abercrombie & Kent’s Sun Boat III is one
the most luxurious on the Nile.
Children laugh and play along the riverbanks under the watchful eye
of women washing clothes nearby. Farmers in flowing robes plough
fields with buffalo and goats graze on lush grasses.
These peaceful, almost-biblical scenes are just part of the
picture of life harkening back thousands of years that clients see
on a Nile River cruise between Aswan and Luxor.
From time immemorial, the Nile has ferried boat traffic up and
down its grand length from the gilded royal barge on which
Cleopatra and Julius Caesar holidayed to humble fishing skiffs.
Among the 300 cruise vessels that ply the Nile waters today are
Abercrombie & Kent’s Sun Boat III (for seven-night cruises) and
Sun Boat IV (for three- and four-night cruises).
Smaller than the average Nile cruiser, the 36-passenger Sun Boat
III was fully renovated in 2005. Described as the “Jewel of the
Nile” by Architectural Digest, its oversize canopy beds, teak
flooring, gauze draperies, brass lanterns and hand-carved mahogany
furniture reflect a British colonial style with Bedouin influences.
Its luxurious upper sun deck boasts a swimming pool surrounded by
pots of palms and papyrus and white-tent cabanas for lounging in
The larger 80-passenger Sun Boat IV was extensively refurbished
in 2006 and features chic art-deco interiors.
After joining the Sun Boat III in Aswan, the first activity is
sailing on a felucca (a traditional wooden Egyptian sailboat)
around the Aswan islands. Our Nubian boat captain pilots the rudder
with his foot while playing a banjo.
We see fishermen beat the water with poles, then catch the
18-inch Nile perch that jump into their nets. In the distance, two
camels stand along a sandy ridge at the edge of the Sahara
The pool on A&K’s Sun Boat III
The highlight of the cruise is visiting Luxor. Our first stop is
the Temple of Karnak, which we also revisit later in the evening
for a dramatic sound and light show. As we wander among the 134
lotus-adorned columns in the temple’s Hypostyle Hall (the largest
room of any religious building in the world), I can’t help but
think of Agatha Christie’s “Death on the Nile.” We also tour the
beautiful Temple of Luxor, originally linked to the Temple of
Karnak by a two-mile-long avenue lined with huge stone sphinxes;
many of these statues remain.
Luxor, the ancient city of Thebes, is also home to the
magnificent tombs found in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley
of the Queens. As Abercrombie & Kent guests, we’re treated to a
visit to the tomb of Queen Nefertari, normally closed to the public
(because of damage to the paintings from viewers’ breathing).
Nefertari was the favorite wife of the great pharaoh Rameses II,
who ruled Egypt for 67 years, and her tomb one of the best
preserved in Egypt matches her renowned beauty. We stand in awe in
front of pictures of the young queen playing games and offering
gifts to the gods, marveling at the brilliant untouched colors that
have survived the passage of time.
Back on board, the ship’s kitchen turns out delicious meals.
Lunch one day is taken on deck fresh salads, barbecued shrimp and
chicken and sinfully rich baklava. One night, we enjoy an
Egyptian-style banquet, where everyone dresses up in long-flowing
galabiyyas and dances to Arabic music.
Abercrombie & Kent is known for its service, so clients need
only ask to receive what they want. Eggs Benedict for breakfast?
Right away. Room service? Of course.
After Luxor, the Sun Boat III leaves the beaten path for
Denderah and its temple of the cow goddess Hathor, where Cleopatra
once worshipped. Abercrombie & Kent’s two vessels are among the
few that can navigate this pastoral shallow section of the Nile
between Luxor and Denderah. Standing on the temple roof, we look
down on a vast brick pool in which Cleopatra once swam and where
date palms now grow.
Centuries have passed since the pharaohs sailed the Nile. But
their monuments and rural river scenes remain the same for clients
to enjoy today.
Abercrombie & Kent
Commission: 10 percent
Sun Boat cruises are part of Abercrombie & Kent’s Egypt
land-tour packages. A 12-night Pharaohs and Pyramids tour that
includes a seven-night Sun Boat III cruise costs from $7,280 per
person, plus air.
An onboard Egyptologist accompanies all tours.
For 2008, Abercrombie & Kent uses charter flights within
Egypt so clients avoid the early 4 a.m. scheduled carrier