Cruising the Nile on the River Tosca

Onboard amenities, itineraries combine for luxury while cruising the Nile By: Marc Kassouf
Philae temple was moved to higher ground, to an island on lake Nasser, when Aswan dam was built. // (c) 2012 Pride Travel / S. Nathan DePetris
Philae temple was moved to higher ground, to an island on lake Nasser, when Aswan dam was built. // (c) 2012 Pride Travel / S. Nathan DePetris

The Details

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
www.uniworld.com

About the Author

Marc Kassouf is owner and CEO of Pride Travel, which specializes in catering to the needs of gay and lesbian clientele. Kassouf holds numerous industry certifications, most notably as Master Cruise Counselor by Cruise Lines International Association, the Travel Institute and various destination visitors’ bureaus including Egypt, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. He sat on committees of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, traveled to nearly four dozen countries, and sailed on more than 60 cruises.

When Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection reintroduced the River Tosca in 2010, it raised the bar for luxury Nile cruising. Onboard, the experience is superlative with ample guest space, well-decorated interiors and a truly inviting top deck. Uniworld, moreover, excels at delivering value in the depth and breadth of its itineraries, with a wealth of antiquities, temples and excursions included in the product.

Tosca operates three itineraries: a three-night, a four-night and a seven-night cruise. The Classic Egypt and Nile cruise is a four-night sailing from Luxor to Aswan, combined with three nights in Cairo. On the Jewels of Egypt, the Nile and Lake Nasser cruise, three nights aboard the Tosca are paired with four nights cruising Lake Nasser and four nights in Cairo. For the ultimate in Nile antiquities exploration, Uniworld offers seven nights aboard their flagship in Egypt, paired with four nights in Cairo, sailing from Luxor roundtrip.

Splendors of Egypt and the Nile Itinerary

This program is one of the most in-depth Cairo and Nile tours available. Combining two cruise segments with different excursions, it offers great value for clients wanting to see numerous antiquities. Highlights include visits to 13 pyramids, nine temples, five ports, Giza, the Valley of the Kings, colossal statues and monuments, museums and a handful of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Starting in Cairo, a visit to the Egyptian Museum sets the tone and background of the kaleidoscope of sights to come; also included is a visit to the Salah-al-Din citadel with its Alabaster Mosque and breathtaking views of the city.

Guests then fly to Luxor and visit one of the most amazing archeological complexes anywhere, the temple of Karnak, before boarding the ship and sailing to Dendera. Karnak was built over a millennia and a half, with succeeding expansion and contributions by rulers including, ultimately, Alexander the Great. The temple of the cow goddess Hathor in Dendera is very well preserved, unique in the amount of color pigment remaining and it features a fully intact ceiling. Guests visit the temple of Luxor at dusk to see the sun dance among the columns.

The twin colossi of Memnon stand testament to monolithic building by the ancient Egyptians. Perhaps the most amazing monument is that of Queen Hetshepsut. The architecture of the temple mirrors the layout of a modern three-story office complex; it has undergone major restorations, with additional statuary added and more floors opened to the public. Nearby, the Valley of the Kings is the site of many famous tombs, including that of King Tutankhamun.

Before visiting Aswan, Tosca stops in Kom Ombo, where thousands of crocodile mummies were discovered at a temple shared by two rivals: Sobek, the crocodile-headed god, and Horus, the falcon-headed god. Afterward, Aswan’s twin dams showcase modern engineering prowess.

A boat ride to see the wildlife stirring along the Nile deposits guests at a Nubian village for an authentic home visit. Nothing compares to riding the single-sail felucca in Aswan, where the wind powers the vessel gently forward. At sunset, high tea is served at the Movenpick, a landmark in Aswan commanding panoramic views. Guests also have the option to visit Abu Simbel, a wonder in its own right.

Back through Kom Ombo and Edfu, we stopped at the temple of Horus, the second largest temple in Egypt at almost 120 feet high. And back in Cairo, passengers enjoy the nighttime Sound and Light show at the pyramids. The following morning, they visit Giza to see the Sphinx, the nine pyramids and valley temples. Included is a visit inside one of the pyramids, through amazing galleries and chambers. That afternoon, the tour visits Memphis and Sakkara to see the colossal statue of Ramses II, as well as the step pyramid and bent pyramid.

Throughout the journey, onboard entertainment featured traditional music, a Nubian show, belly dancers and a colorful whirling dervish. Two traditional galabeya parties allow guests to show off their Egyptian garb. It’s important to note that, unlike other rivers in the world, the distances traveled on the Nile are very short. Set your clients’ expectations properly, as all programs center more around the archeological sites and excursions, and not as much on the Nile River itself. With this in mind, you can build the trip of a lifetime that they will cherish for years to come.

>