Red Sea Itinerary Intrigues

Explore monasteries and desert in new land program

By: Kara Cutruzzula

Elegant Cruises & Tours, a niche cruise line specializing in culturally enriching travel to Europe, presents Monasteries of the Lonely Desert, a new cruise-tour program through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba aboard the 62-passenger M.S. Monet.

The maiden voyage of the 14-day sea and land adventure will depart Cairo on Dec. 18 and cruise through the Gulf of Suez to the Red Sea. The program’s focus will be on early Christian monasteries and convents, Roman ruins, Egyptian temples and the Greco-Roman architecture of antiquity.

“This is a rare opportunity for an intimate encounter with history, from the grand temples of Egypt’s Pharaohs to the earliest foundations of Christianity and monastic way of life in the desert,” said Tatjana Stanovic, executive vice president, Elegant Cruises & Tours. “By combining land excursions and optional Cairo extensions with the cruise, and providing expert guest lecturers, we offer passengers the chance to immerse themselves in the culture and color of the destinations.”

The itinerary includes a full-day excursion to two of the oldest monasteries in Egypt. The monastery of St. Paul is located near the site of the cave he lived in, displaying the monastic life in the Arab Desert. Other highlights include jeep tours of Wadi Rum, the Bedouin village that served as a base for Lawrence of Arabia; the monastery of the Seven Nuns; the world-renowned St. Catherine’s monastery; the church of the prophet Moses; the Karnak Temple Complex at Luxor; the crusader castle of Kerak; the Greco-Roman site of Jerash; and Amman’s Gold Market, bazaars and the desert landscapes.

Nine 14-day Red Sea cruise tours are planned between Jan. 1, 2009 and Feb. 16, 2009, including special voyages featuring lecturers onboard.

Prices for the all-inclusive package begin at $3,512 per person, double occupancy. The cruise-only package (exclusive of the land/overnight excursions) begins at $2,706 per person, double occupancy. Group and charter fares are also available.