Trip Type : River Cruise
Splendors of Egypt & the Nile (2021) tour
Aswan Cairo Splendors of Egypt & the Nile (2021) Trip

Splendors of Egypt & the Nile (2021)

Uniworld
4.9 . Excellent
96%
Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Comfort (4*)
12 days
From: $ 6,999 $ 583 / day
Checking price

Overview

Short Description

Egypt is a land no modern-day adventurer should miss. To cruise aboard the most luxurious ship on the Nile is the ultimate way to experience Egypt’s cultural heritage.

These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Trip Type River Cruise
Array
Itinerary Focus N/A
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Comfort (4*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions N/A
Start City Cairo
End City Cairo

Destinations

Egypt

Attractions & Cities Visited

Aswan Cairo Temple of Karnak

Activities & Interests

Culture Historic sightseeing River cruise

N/A
See more

Itinerary

2019 version

Cairo to Cairo


Day 1 - Cairo

Port - Cairo

Arrive at Cairo International Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, a Uniworld representative will be on hand to greet you and escort you to the opulent Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza.


Day 2 - Cairo

Port - Cairo

The ancient quarter of Cairo is intense—the colors, the sounds, the density of people—and it’s likely been this way for thousands of years. Your local expert will show you a 12th-century citadel, the beautiful Alabaster Mosque and an unsurpassed collection of priceless artifacts, including mind-boggling treasures once buried with the boy king Tutankhamen.

Note: Dressing modestly is recommended as a show of respect for the culture and customs of the Egyptian people. In particular, women should ensure that shoulders are covered and legs are concealed at least to the knee on all shore excursions throughout this itinerary.

Excursion(s) - Citadel of Salah al-Din, Alabaster Mosque and Egyptian Museum
Excursion Price - $70

Your tour of this historic city includes a visit to the Citadel of Salah al-Din, a massive compound containing mosques and museums and offering breathtaking views of Cairo. Founded in the seventh century by Arab conquerors, the Fatimid dynasty rulers made Cairo their capital and named it al-Qahira (“the Victorious”). The great sultan Salah al-Din built his citadel in the 12th century as a government center and bulwark against invading armies of Crusaders. Located high above the eastern end of Cairo on El-Moqattam Hill, the citadel was the home of Egypt’s rulers for more than 700 years and is one of the oldest attractions in the city.

After the Ottoman ruler Muhammad Ali seized power in the 1800s, he restored the walls of the citadel and built numerous palaces, schools and government buildings inside. His masterpiece was the great Alabaster Mosque, also known as the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, which you’ll have an opportunity to visit. Its two slender minarets were Muhammad Ali’s declaration of independence from Istanbul, as Ottoman law decreed that only a sultan could build a mosque with two minarets. The mosque’s expansive Turkish-style interior is lit by a beautiful array of lamps suspended from the intricately decorated ceiling.

You’ll also visit the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, established in 1900 and by far the most impressive collection of Egyptian antiquities and pharaonic treasures in the world. Located in the heart of Cairo, the museum displays an astonishing number of objects. Ancient Egyptian history began with the founding of the Old Kingdom around 3100 BC and lasted 3,000 years, until Alexander the Great conquered the country in 332 BC and ended the rule of the pharaohs. The museum’s galleries are laid out in roughly chronological order as you move clockwise along the ground floor.

Note: Photography of any kind is forbidden inside the museum, including digital cameras, cell phones and camcorders.


Day 3 - Cairo, Fly to Luxor (Embark) Cruising the Nile River, Dendera

Port - Luxor

Prepare to be amazed at the legendary Temple of Karnak, a massive and absolutely astounding site, with gigantic columns, broad avenues lined with stone sphinxes and halls of truly epic proportions. This evening, you’ll revel in a Welcome Reception and Dinner onboard.

Note: Flights to Luxor depart early in the morning to take advantage of more favorable weather and traffic conditions, and to optimize tour scheduling.

Excursion(s) - Temple at Karnak
Excursion Price - $70

After a short flight to Luxor on the east bank of the Nile, you can stroll through the grand avenues of sphinxes and halls of gigantic columns of the magnificent Temple of Karnak. This vast complex, situated about 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) from the Temple of Luxor, was originally established during the Middle Kingdom (1991-1633 BC), and various dynasties over the next 1,300 years continued to expand it. Karnak is a massive and simply astounding site, reflecting the combined achievements of many generations of ancient builders—as many as 80,000 laborers took part in its creation during the 19th Dynasty alone.

Buried under sand for a thousand years, the UNESCO- designated Karnak complex is composed of three main temples, smaller enclosed temples and several outer temples. The largest of these is dedicated to Amun, a great pharaonic god. Enter the main compound, the Precinct of Amun, through the Great Court, and continue on to the dazzling Great Hypostyle Hall—sometimes called the Hall of Columns—an imposing forest of 134 enormous sandstone columns in the form of papyrus stalks.

Later, you’ll board the elegant River Tosca and set sail for beautiful Dendera. Enjoy a Gala Reception and dinner onboard this evening.


Day 4 - Dendera, Cruising the Nile River, Luxor

Port - Dendera

Like its twin shrine, the Temple of Karnak, the Temple of Luxor stands on the site of ancient Thebes, the once flourishing capital of Egypt’s New Kingdom. It was built over hundreds of years and even in ruins it is still an extraordinary place. You’ll also visit the Temple of Hathor, dedicated to the goddess of love and beauty.

Excursion(s) - Temple of Hathor
Excursion Price - $70

The impressive Temple of Hathor at Dendera was dedicated to the goddess of love and beauty. The temple dates to Egypt’s Ptolemaic era, when the heirs of Alexander the Great ruled over Egypt and adopted Egyptian culture and religion as their own. Built between 125 BC and AD 65, it is one of the best-preserved temples in all of Egypt and features a rare bas-relief of Cleopatra with Caesarion, the son she bore to Julius Caesar.

Return to Luxor for some free time before visiting the ancient Temple of Luxor.

Excursion(s) - Temple of Luxor
Excursion Price - $70

Enter the temple through the great pylon—a ceremonial gateway—where two enormous statues of Ramses II still stand, along with a pink granite obelisk (its mate stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France). Continue on to an enormous interior courtyard, where the Abu Haggag Mosque once stood atop the ruins of the temple. You can still see a ghostly remnant of the mosque on the east side of the courtyard, high above the columns, its arched doorway opening into thin air.

The temple’s chief architects were Amenhotep III (Egypt’s “Sun King,” also known as Amenophis III) and Ramses II, and it was constructed over hundreds of years, beginning around 1400 BC. It was dedicated to the “father of all life,” the god Amun, sometimes referred to as Amon or Amon-Ra. Ancient Egyptians came to the temple to pay tribute to this god during the Opet Festival, celebrated during the annual flooding of the Nile. Once a year, a great feast was held and the statue of Amun was transported via a small sailboat from the Temple of Karnak to the Temple of Luxor. (Stages of the festival are depicted in friezes along the Temple of Karnak’s grand processional colonnade, the construction of which was started by Amenhotep III and finished by his grandson, Tutankhamen.)

At the rear of the temple is the Sun Court of Amenhotep III, as well as the Bark Shrine that was rebuilt by Alexander the Great (who is depicted bare-chested on the walls). The Luxor Temple complex is at its most stunning at sunset, when it is illuminated with the golden glow of the setting sun.


Day 5 - Luxor, Cruising the Nile River, Kom Ombo

Port - Luxor

The word “colossal” will take on a whole new meaning after today’s excursion to the gigantic twin statues known as the Colossi of Memnon. And that’s just the beginning—you’ll also visit the temple of one of Egypt’s rare female pharaohs as well as the Valley of the Kings, used as a royal burial place for nearly 500 years and where the mummified remains of Tutankhamen are on display.

Excursion(s) - Colossi of Memnon, Hatshepsut Temple and Valley of the Kings
Excursion Price - $70

Get an up-close view of two gigantic statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, better known as the Colossi of Memnon. Sixty feet (18 meters) tall and gazing eastward toward the rising sun, the statues depict Amenhotep seated on his throne. Carved next to his legs are his mother and his wife, with side panels depicting the god of the Nile, Hapi. The figures originally sat in front of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III and are believed to have surpassed even Karnak in size. Unfortunately, the temple itself was slowly dismantled over the centuries to provide building materials for new temples; the twin Colossi continue to stand guard nonetheless, just as they have done for the past 3,400 years.

The Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri is another highlight today. One of Egypt’s rare female pharaohs, Hatshepsut is considered by historians to have been one of the most successful rulers of ancient Egypt. Both the setting and the construction of her temple make it unique among the landmarks of Egypt; built into the face of steep cliffs at the basin, the temple is made of limestone instead of sandstone, unlike any other funerary temples of the New Kingdom period. Hatshepsut’s successor, Thutmose III, attempted to remove her name from the temple, and many images of the queen were damaged or destroyed during his reign.

You’ll also visit one of the most famous archeological sites in the world—the remote and barren Valley of the Kings, used for royal burials for nearly 500 years. Much of our understanding of Egyptian mythology has been garnered from these ancient chambers, located about four miles (seven kilometers) inland on the west bank of the Nile. It was here that the bodies of great pharaohs such as Ramses II and Thutmose III were once laid to rest and where the mummified remains of the boy king Tutankhamen are still on display. The idea for establishing this royal burial ground is thought to have originated with Thutmose I, who opted to conceal his tomb far from his mortuary temple in an effort to deter tomb robbers. Subsequent pharaohs did the same, changing a tradition that had endured for close to 2,000 years.

Within the tombs and along the walls of the Valley of the Kings, inscriptions from the Book of the Dead provided instructions on how the pharaohs could safely journey to the next world and avoid the dangers that lay on the way. For the sake of preservation, only a handful of the most interesting tombs are open to visitors at any given time.

Return to the ship and set sail for Kom Ombo. Tonight, don your galabeya (traditional Egyptian attire, samples of which will be available for purchase onboard if you’d like to participate but didn’t bring your own) for a festive onboard party featuring traditional Egyptian music.


Day 6 - Kom Ombo, Cruising the Nile River, Aswan

Port - Kom Ombo

After visiting a temple dedicated to a crocodile god today (don’t miss the display of some of the 300 mummified crocs found in the local area), hop aboard a small boat for a bird-watching excursion along the Nile.

Excursion(s) - Kom Ombo Temple
Excursion Price - $70

The Kom Ombo Temple, unlike most ancient Egyptian temples, is dedicated to two gods—the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Horus the Elder. Construction began under the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-145 BC) and continued under later rulers, most notably Ptolemy XIII (47-44 BC), who built the inner and outer hypostyle halls. Several of the 300 crocodile mummies discovered in the vicinity are displayed inside the temple.

Excursion(s) - Bird-watching boat ride and tea with a Nubian family
Excursion Price - $70

After a scenic cruise to Aswan, take a small boat along the banks of the Nile on a bird-watching excursion. Watch out for colorful native birds as you travel to a small Nubian village. Keep an eye out for different species of herons, kingfishers, vultures, sunbirds and other wildlife that thrive in the marsh grass along the riverbanks. Arrive at the traditional dwelling of a local family and enjoy Nubian-style hospitality as you learn more about the area’s unique culture.


Day 7 - Aswan

Port - Aswan

Today is an epic day, filled with wonders from start to finish. You’ll visit a marvel of modern engineering—the Aswan High Dam—as well as the Unfinished Obelisk and the beautiful Philae Temple complex, which was moved from one island to another back in the 1970s. But wait, there’s more. You’ll also take a ride in a felucca—a traditional Egyptian sailboat—and enjoy afternoon tea at a famous hotel depicted in Agatha Christie’s novel Death on the Nile.

After dinner onboard this evening, you’ll be treated to an enchanting Nubian show featuring traditionally attired performers, live music and dancing.

Excursion(s) - Boat ride in traditional Nile River felucca and afternoon tea at the Old Cataract Hotel Aswan
Excursion Price - $70

Today you will sail serenely down the Nile in a felucca— a small traditional boat with large triangular sails—a wonderful way to experience the river as Egyptians have for a thousand years. Later, relax over afternoon tea at the historic Old Cataract Hotel Aswan, a colonial-era gem that counts Winston Churchill and Princess Diana among its former guests. This famous hotel was depicted in Agatha Christie’s acclaimed mystery novel Death on the Nile.

Note: Feluccas are wind-powered and thus will operate only if weather conditions permit.

Excursion(s) - Aswan High Dam, Unfinished Obelisk and Temple of Isis
Excursion Price - $70

The Aswan High Dam, completed in the 1970s, is a marvel of modern engineering that boasts some truly epic dimensions—it is 11,800 feet (3,597 meters) long; 3,215 feet (980 meters) wide at its base; and 304 feet (93 meters) high—with a reservoir capacity nearly five times that of the Hoover Dam. You’ll also visit the Unfinished Obelisk, commissioned by Queen Hatshepsut yet never completed due to a flaw discovered in the stone. If completed, it would have been the largest and heaviest obelisk ever attempted, weighing more than two million pounds (907,185 kilograms).

Another highlight today is the beautiful Philae Temple complex, originally situated on the island of Philae. It was painstakingly transferred to the island of Agilika after the construction of the Aswan High Dam to save it from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, a daunting UNESCO-funded endeavor that took 10 years to complete. The three principal monuments on the island all date from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods—the Kiosk of Trajan, the Temple of Hathor and the Temple of Isis.

Note: Guests are welcome to climb around the Unfinished Obelisk, but please note the climb is physically demanding.


Day 8 - Aswan, Cruising the Nile River, Edfu

Port - Aswan

Spend the day at leisure or join us for an optional excursion to see the magnificent temples of Abu Simbel.


Day 9 - Esna, Cruising the Nile River, Luxor

Port - Esna

On today’s excursion, you’ll learn how the Temple of Esna was buried under debris for many centuries and is one of the last great Egyptian temples ever built. Your Egyptologist guide will share all sorts of fascinating insights about this significant cultural site and show you the façade bearing the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded in Egypt.

Later, savor the Nile’s majestic scenery as the ship cruises to Luxor.

Excursion(s) - Temple of Khnum
Excursion Price - $70

The Late Roman Temple of Esna lies on the west bank of the Nile about 34 miles (55 kilometers) south of Luxor. Buried under debris for many centuries, the temple is just a short walk from the ship through the local market. It dates from the Ptolemaic and Roman period (180 BC to AD 251) and is one of the last Egyptian temples ever built. Visitors can see two large inscriptions praising Khnum, the ram-headed god of creation, who fashioned mankind on a potter’s wheel from the clay mud of the Nile. There’s also a hypostyle hall with 24 pillars and a ceiling depicting Egyptian astronomical figures and Roman zodiac signs. On the temple’s western wall, look for images of Horus, the god of victory, and Khnum, dragging a net full of fish. At the foot of this façade are the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded in Egypt.


Day 10 - Luxor (Disembark), Fly to Cairo

Port - Luxor

Disembark in Luxor and transfer to the airport for your return flight to Cairo. Then, check in to the Four Seasons Hotel at Nile Plaza where you’ll have time to relax before dinner.

Note: Flights to Cairo depart early in the morning to take advantage of more favorable weather and traffic conditions, and to optimize tour scheduling.


Day 11 - Cairo

Port - Cairo

It’s a day of Bucket List Moments today as we venture to Ancient Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a number of amazing monuments to see—including the enigmatic Great Sphinx. After seeing the pyramids from afar last evening, you’ll have a thrilling opportunity to view them from an up-close perspective, the only way to fully appreciate their remarkable size and grandeur.

Excursion(s) - Ancient Memphis sites, including the Pyramids of Giza with small pyramid entry, the Great Sphinx and Sakkara visit
Excursion Price - $70

Venture forth to Ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt’s Old Kingdom and now a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing a number of extraordinary monuments. You’ll see the colossal statue of Ramses II and the Alabaster Sphinx, as well as the Step Pyramid of King Zoser (or Djoser) in nearby Sakkara, the oldest pyramid in the world and the prototype for all subsequent pyramids. The ancient architect and sage Imhotep initially designed the pyramid as a single story, then later added five more levels and covered the structure with a shell of fine limestone. In front of the pyramid, Imhotep built a stone structure containing a wooden box with two peepholes; peer inside and you’ll see a life-size painted statue of King Zoser. The peepholes were created to allow the king’s ka (life spirit) to communicate with the outside world.

At the Giza Necropolis, the face of ancient Egypt—the Great Sphinx—awaits your visit. With the body of a crouching lion and the head of a man, it is the largest monolith statue in the world. Experts believe that the Sphinx (known to the early Arabs as Abu al-Hol, “Father of Terror”) was built in the 26th century BC during Khafre’s reign, perhaps as a portrait of the pharaoh himself. Unfortunately, much of this monument has either eroded or been deliberately destroyed over the years. Some of its facial features are no longer intact, such as the beard and the nose—the latter of which was not shot off by Napoleon’s soldiers, as widely believed, but chiseled away many centuries earlier. A number of excavations in modern times have removed the sand that built up around the Sphinx over the centuries and kept much of it buried. Despite its timeworn condition, the Sphinx still kneels gracefully as it has for thousands of years, looking toward the east with an enigmatic smile.

Today you’ll also visit the only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza. Beholding these legendary structures up close lets you appreciate their stone masonry and awe-inspiring architectural precision. Until as recently as the 19th century, the oldest and largest of the three pyramids—Khufu—was the tallest building in the world; when it was completed around the 26th century BC, it stood about 50 stories high.


Day 12 - Depart Cairo

Port - Cairo

Check out of your hotel and transfer to the Cairo International Airport for your flight home, or extend your trip with a memorable optional extension in Jerusalem.

Note: Ship schedule and order of sightseeing my change throughout the itinerary. Tour to port of destination by motorcoach and substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to the impact of water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors.

Cairo to Cairo - River Tosca


Day 1 - Cairo

Port - Cairo

Arrive at Cairo International Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, a Uniworld representative will be on hand to greet you and escort you to the opulent Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza.


Day 2 - Cairo

Port - Cairo

The ancient quarter of Cairo is intense—the colors, the sounds, the density of people—and it’s likely been this way for thousands of years. Your local expert will show you a 12th-century citadel, the beautiful Alabaster Mosque and an unsurpassed collection of priceless artifacts, including mind-boggling treasures once buried with the boy king Tutankhamen.

Note: Dressing modestly is recommended as a show of respect for the culture and customs of the Egyptian people. In particular, women should ensure that shoulders are covered and legs are concealed at least to the knee on all shore excursions throughout this itinerary.

Excursion(s) - Citadel of Salah al-Din, Alabaster Mosque and Egyptian Museum
Excursion Price - $70

Your tour of this historic city includes a visit to the Citadel of Salah al-Din, a massive compound containing mosques and museums and offering breathtaking views of Cairo. Founded in the seventh century by Arab conquerors, the Fatimid dynasty rulers made Cairo their capital and named it al-Qahira (“the Victorious”). The great sultan Salah al-Din built his citadel in the 12th century as a government center and bulwark against invading armies of Crusaders. Located high above the eastern end of Cairo on El-Moqattam Hill, the citadel was the home of Egypt’s rulers for more than 700 years and is one of the oldest attractions in the city.

After the Ottoman ruler Muhammad Ali seized power in the 1800s, he restored the walls of the citadel and built numerous palaces, schools and government buildings inside. His masterpiece was the great Alabaster Mosque, also known as the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, which you’ll have an opportunity to visit. Its two slender minarets were Muhammad Ali’s declaration of independence from Istanbul, as Ottoman law decreed that only a sultan could build a mosque with two minarets. The mosque’s expansive Turkish-style interior is lit by a beautiful array of lamps suspended from the intricately decorated ceiling.

You’ll also visit the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, established in 1900 and by far the most impressive collection of Egyptian antiquities and pharaonic treasures in the world. Located in the heart of Cairo, the museum displays an astonishing number of objects. Ancient Egyptian history began with the founding of the Old Kingdom around 3100 BC and lasted 3,000 years, until Alexander the Great conquered the country in 332 BC and ended the rule of the pharaohs. The museum’s galleries are laid out in roughly chronological order as you move clockwise along the ground floor.

Note: Photography of any kind is forbidden inside the museum, including digital cameras, cell phones and camcorders.


Day 3 - Cairo, Fly to Luxor (Embark) Cruising the Nile River, Dendera

Port - Luxor

Prepare to be amazed at the legendary Temple of Karnak, a massive and absolutely astounding site, with gigantic columns, broad avenues lined with stone sphinxes and halls of truly epic proportions. This evening, you’ll revel in a Welcome Reception and Dinner onboard.

Note: Flights to Luxor depart early in the morning to take advantage of more favorable weather and traffic conditions, and to optimize tour scheduling.

Excursion(s) - Temple at Karnak
Excursion Price - $70

After a short flight to Luxor on the east bank of the Nile, you can stroll through the grand avenues of sphinxes and halls of gigantic columns of the magnificent Temple of Karnak. This vast complex, situated about 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) from the Temple of Luxor, was originally established during the Middle Kingdom (1991-1633 BC), and various dynasties over the next 1,300 years continued to expand it. Karnak is a massive and simply astounding site, reflecting the combined achievements of many generations of ancient builders—as many as 80,000 laborers took part in its creation during the 19th Dynasty alone.

Buried under sand for a thousand years, the UNESCO- designated Karnak complex is composed of three main temples, smaller enclosed temples and several outer temples. The largest of these is dedicated to Amun, a great pharaonic god. Enter the main compound, the Precinct of Amun, through the Great Court, and continue on to the dazzling Great Hypostyle Hall—sometimes called the Hall of Columns—an imposing forest of 134 enormous sandstone columns in the form of papyrus stalks.

Later, you’ll board the elegant River Tosca and set sail for beautiful Dendera. Enjoy a Gala Reception and dinner onboard this evening.


Day 4 - Dendera, Cruising the Nile River, Luxor

Port - Dendera

Like its twin shrine, the Temple of Karnak, the Temple of Luxor stands on the site of ancient Thebes, the once flourishing capital of Egypt’s New Kingdom. It was built over hundreds of years and even in ruins it is still an extraordinary place. You’ll also visit the Temple of Hathor, dedicated to the goddess of love and beauty.

Excursion(s) - Temple of Hathor
Excursion Price - $70

The impressive Temple of Hathor at Dendera was dedicated to the goddess of love and beauty. The temple dates to Egypt’s Ptolemaic era, when the heirs of Alexander the Great ruled over Egypt and adopted Egyptian culture and religion as their own. Built between 125 BC and AD 65, it is one of the best-preserved temples in all of Egypt and features a rare bas-relief of Cleopatra with Caesarion, the son she bore to Julius Caesar.

Return to Luxor for some free time before visiting the ancient Temple of Luxor.

Excursion(s) - Temple of Luxor
Excursion Price - $70

Enter the temple through the great pylon—a ceremonial gateway—where two enormous statues of Ramses II still stand, along with a pink granite obelisk (its mate stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France). Continue on to an enormous interior courtyard, where the Abu Haggag Mosque once stood atop the ruins of the temple. You can still see a ghostly remnant of the mosque on the east side of the courtyard, high above the columns, its arched doorway opening into thin air.

The temple’s chief architects were Amenhotep III (Egypt’s “Sun King,” also known as Amenophis III) and Ramses II, and it was constructed over hundreds of years, beginning around 1400 BC. It was dedicated to the “father of all life,” the god Amun, sometimes referred to as Amon or Amon-Ra. Ancient Egyptians came to the temple to pay tribute to this god during the Opet Festival, celebrated during the annual flooding of the Nile. Once a year, a great feast was held and the statue of Amun was transported via a small sailboat from the Temple of Karnak to the Temple of Luxor. (Stages of the festival are depicted in friezes along the Temple of Karnak’s grand processional colonnade, the construction of which was started by Amenhotep III and finished by his grandson, Tutankhamen.)

At the rear of the temple is the Sun Court of Amenhotep III, as well as the Bark Shrine that was rebuilt by Alexander the Great (who is depicted bare-chested on the walls). The Luxor Temple complex is at its most stunning at sunset, when it is illuminated with the golden glow of the setting sun.


Day 5 - Luxor, Cruising the Nile River, Kom Ombo

Port - Luxor

The word “colossal” will take on a whole new meaning after today’s excursion to the gigantic twin statues known as the Colossi of Memnon. And that’s just the beginning—you’ll also visit the temple of one of Egypt’s rare female pharaohs as well as the Valley of the Kings, used as a royal burial place for nearly 500 years and where the mummified remains of Tutankhamen are on display.

Excursion(s) - Colossi of Memnon, Hatshepsut Temple and Valley of the Kings
Excursion Price - $70

Get an up-close view of two gigantic statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, better known as the Colossi of Memnon. Sixty feet (18 meters) tall and gazing eastward toward the rising sun, the statues depict Amenhotep seated on his throne. Carved next to his legs are his mother and his wife, with side panels depicting the god of the Nile, Hapi. The figures originally sat in front of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III and are believed to have surpassed even Karnak in size. Unfortunately, the temple itself was slowly dismantled over the centuries to provide building materials for new temples; the twin Colossi continue to stand guard nonetheless, just as they have done for the past 3,400 years.

The Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri is another highlight today. One of Egypt’s rare female pharaohs, Hatshepsut is considered by historians to have been one of the most successful rulers of ancient Egypt. Both the setting and the construction of her temple make it unique among the landmarks of Egypt; built into the face of steep cliffs at the basin, the temple is made of limestone instead of sandstone, unlike any other funerary temples of the New Kingdom period. Hatshepsut’s successor, Thutmose III, attempted to remove her name from the temple, and many images of the queen were damaged or destroyed during his reign.

You’ll also visit one of the most famous archeological sites in the world—the remote and barren Valley of the Kings, used for royal burials for nearly 500 years. Much of our understanding of Egyptian mythology has been garnered from these ancient chambers, located about four miles (seven kilometers) inland on the west bank of the Nile. It was here that the bodies of great pharaohs such as Ramses II and Thutmose III were once laid to rest and where the mummified remains of the boy king Tutankhamen are still on display. The idea for establishing this royal burial ground is thought to have originated with Thutmose I, who opted to conceal his tomb far from his mortuary temple in an effort to deter tomb robbers. Subsequent pharaohs did the same, changing a tradition that had endured for close to 2,000 years.

Within the tombs and along the walls of the Valley of the Kings, inscriptions from the Book of the Dead provided instructions on how the pharaohs could safely journey to the next world and avoid the dangers that lay on the way. For the sake of preservation, only a handful of the most interesting tombs are open to visitors at any given time.

Return to the ship and set sail for Kom Ombo. Tonight, don your galabeya (traditional Egyptian attire, samples of which will be available for purchase onboard if you’d like to participate but didn’t bring your own) for a festive onboard party featuring traditional Egyptian music.


Day 6 - Kom Ombo, Cruising the Nile River, Aswan

Port - Kom Ombo

After visiting a temple dedicated to a crocodile god today (don’t miss the display of some of the 300 mummified crocs found in the local area), hop aboard a small boat for a bird-watching excursion along the Nile.

Excursion(s) - Kom Ombo Temple
Excursion Price - $70

The Kom Ombo Temple, unlike most ancient Egyptian temples, is dedicated to two gods—the crocodile god Sobek and the falcon god Horus the Elder. Construction began under the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-145 BC) and continued under later rulers, most notably Ptolemy XIII (47-44 BC), who built the inner and outer hypostyle halls. Several of the 300 crocodile mummies discovered in the vicinity are displayed inside the temple.

Excursion(s) - Bird-watching boat ride and tea with a Nubian family
Excursion Price - $70

After a scenic cruise to Aswan, take a small boat along the banks of the Nile on a bird-watching excursion. Watch out for colorful native birds as you travel to a small Nubian village. Keep an eye out for different species of herons, kingfishers, vultures, sunbirds and other wildlife that thrive in the marsh grass along the riverbanks. Arrive at the traditional dwelling of a local family and enjoy Nubian-style hospitality as you learn more about the area’s unique culture.


Day 7 - Aswan

Port - Aswan

Today is an epic day, filled with wonders from start to finish. You’ll visit a marvel of modern engineering—the Aswan High Dam—as well as the Unfinished Obelisk and the beautiful Philae Temple complex, which was moved from one island to another back in the 1970s. But wait, there’s more. You’ll also take a ride in a felucca—a traditional Egyptian sailboat—and enjoy afternoon tea at a famous hotel depicted in Agatha Christie’s novel Death on the Nile.

After dinner onboard this evening, you’ll be treated to an enchanting Nubian show featuring traditionally attired performers, live music and dancing.

Excursion(s) - Aswan High Dam, Unfinished Obelisk and Temple of Isis
Excursion Price - $70

The Aswan High Dam, completed in the 1970s, is a marvel of modern engineering that boasts some truly epic dimensions—it is 11,800 feet (3,597 meters) long; 3,215 feet (980 meters) wide at its base; and 304 feet (93 meters) high—with a reservoir capacity nearly five times that of the Hoover Dam. You’ll also visit the Unfinished Obelisk, commissioned by Queen Hatshepsut yet never completed due to a flaw discovered in the stone. If completed, it would have been the largest and heaviest obelisk ever attempted, weighing more than two million pounds (907,185 kilograms).

Another highlight today is the beautiful Philae Temple complex, originally situated on the island of Philae. It was painstakingly transferred to the island of Agilika after the construction of the Aswan High Dam to save it from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, a daunting UNESCO-funded endeavor that took 10 years to complete. The three principal monuments on the island all date from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods—the Kiosk of Trajan, the Temple of Hathor and the Temple of Isis.

Note: Guests are welcome to climb around the Unfinished Obelisk, but please note the climb is physically demanding.

Excursion(s) - Boat ride in traditional Nile River felucca and afternoon tea at the Old Cataract Hotel Aswan
Excursion Price - $70

Today you will sail serenely down the Nile in a felucca— a small traditional boat with large triangular sails—a wonderful way to experience the river as Egyptians have for a thousand years. Later, relax over afternoon tea at the historic Old Cataract Hotel Aswan, a colonial-era gem that counts Winston Churchill and Princess Diana among its former guests. This famous hotel was depicted in Agatha Christie’s acclaimed mystery novel Death on the Nile.

Note: Feluccas are wind-powered and thus will operate only if weather conditions permit.


Day 8 - Aswan, Cruising the Nile River, Edfu

Port - Aswan

Spend the day at leisure or join us for an optional excursion to see the magnificent temples of Abu Simbel.


Day 9 - Esna, Cruising the Nile River, Luxor

Port - Esna

On today’s excursion, you’ll learn how the Temple of Esna was buried under debris for many centuries and is one of the last great Egyptian temples ever built. Your Egyptologist guide will share all sorts of fascinating insights about this significant cultural site and show you the façade bearing the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded in Egypt.

Later, savor the Nile’s majestic scenery as the ship cruises to Luxor.

Excursion(s) - Temple of Khnum
Excursion Price - $70

The Late Roman Temple of Esna lies on the west bank of the Nile about 34 miles (55 kilometers) south of Luxor. Buried under debris for many centuries, the temple is just a short walk from the ship through the local market. It dates from the Ptolemaic and Roman period (180 BC to AD 251) and is one of the last Egyptian temples ever built. Visitors can see two large inscriptions praising Khnum, the ram-headed god of creation, who fashioned mankind on a potter’s wheel from the clay mud of the Nile. There’s also a hypostyle hall with 24 pillars and a ceiling depicting Egyptian astronomical figures and Roman zodiac signs. On the temple’s western wall, look for images of Horus, the god of victory, and Khnum, dragging a net full of fish. At the foot of this façade are the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded in Egypt.


Day 10 - Luxor (Disembark), Fly to Cairo

Port - Luxor

Disembark in Luxor and transfer to the airport for your return flight to Cairo. Then, check in to the Four Seasons Hotel at Nile Plaza where you’ll have time to relax before dinner.

Note: Flights to Cairo depart early in the morning to take advantage of more favorable weather and traffic conditions, and to optimize tour scheduling.

Excursion(s) - $name
Excursion Price - $70

Day 11 - Cairo

Port - Cairo

It’s a day of Bucket List Moments today as we venture to Ancient Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a number of amazing monuments to see—including the enigmatic Great Sphinx. After seeing the pyramids from afar last evening, you’ll have a thrilling opportunity to view them from an up-close perspective, the only way to fully appreciate their remarkable size and grandeur.

Excursion(s) - Ancient Memphis sites, including the Pyramids of Giza with small pyramid entry, the Great Sphinx and Sakkara visit
Excursion Price - $70

Venture forth to Ancient Memphis, the capital of Egypt’s Old Kingdom and now a vast UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing a number of extraordinary monuments. You’ll see the colossal statue of Ramses II and the Alabaster Sphinx, as well as the Step Pyramid of King Zoser (or Djoser) in nearby Sakkara, the oldest pyramid in the world and the prototype for all subsequent pyramids. The ancient architect and sage Imhotep initially designed the pyramid as a single story, then later added five more levels and covered the structure with a shell of fine limestone. In front of the pyramid, Imhotep built a stone structure containing a wooden box with two peepholes; peer inside and you’ll see a life-size painted statue of King Zoser. The peepholes were created to allow the king’s ka (life spirit) to communicate with the outside world.

At the Giza Necropolis, the face of ancient Egypt—the Great Sphinx—awaits your visit. With the body of a crouching lion and the head of a man, it is the largest monolith statue in the world. Experts believe that the Sphinx (known to the early Arabs as Abu al-Hol, “Father of Terror”) was built in the 26th century BC during Khafre’s reign, perhaps as a portrait of the pharaoh himself. Unfortunately, much of this monument has either eroded or been deliberately destroyed over the years. Some of its facial features are no longer intact, such as the beard and the nose—the latter of which was not shot off by Napoleon’s soldiers, as widely believed, but chiseled away many centuries earlier. A number of excavations in modern times have removed the sand that built up around the Sphinx over the centuries and kept much of it buried. Despite its timeworn condition, the Sphinx still kneels gracefully as it has for thousands of years, looking toward the east with an enigmatic smile.

Today you’ll also visit the only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World, the Pyramids of Giza. Beholding these legendary structures up close lets you appreciate their stone masonry and awe-inspiring architectural precision. Until as recently as the 19th century, the oldest and largest of the three pyramids—Khufu—was the tallest building in the world; when it was completed around the 26th century BC, it stood about 50 stories high.


Day 12 - Depart Cairo

Port - Cairo

Check out of your hotel and transfer to the Cairo International Airport for your flight home, or extend your trip with a memorable optional extension in Jerusalem.

Note: Ship schedule and order of sightseeing my change throughout the itinerary. Tour to port of destination by motorcoach and substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to the impact of water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors.

Availability

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Price From $ 6,999
Price Per Day: $ 583 per day
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Sep-25-2021Oct-07-2021NANA$ 7,899Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Sep-25-2021Oct-07-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Oct-02-2021Oct-14-2021NANA$ 7,899Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Oct-02-2021Oct-14-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
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Oct-16-2021Oct-28-2021NANA$ 7,899Cairo to CairoSold Out Reserve
Oct-23-2021Nov-04-2021NANA$ 8,099Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Oct-23-2021Nov-04-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Oct-30-2021Nov-11-2021NANA$ 8,099Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Oct-30-2021Nov-11-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Nov-06-2021Nov-18-2021NANA$ 8,099Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Nov-06-2021Nov-18-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Nov-13-2021Nov-25-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Nov-20-2021Dec-02-2021NANA$ 8,099Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Nov-20-2021Dec-02-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Nov-27-2021Dec-09-2021NANA$ 8,099Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Nov-27-2021Dec-09-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Dec-04-2021Dec-16-2021NANA$ 7,899Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Dec-04-2021Dec-16-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Dec-11-2021Dec-23-2021NANA$ 7,899Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Dec-11-2021Dec-23-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Dec-18-2021Dec-30-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Dec-18-2021Dec-30-2021NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Dec-25-2021Jan-06-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Dec-25-2021Jan-06-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Jan-08-2022Jan-20-2022NANA$ 7,999Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Jan-08-2022Jan-20-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Jan-15-2022Jan-27-2022NANA$ 7,999Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Jan-15-2022Jan-27-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Jan-22-2022Feb-03-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Jan-22-2022Feb-03-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Jan-29-2022Feb-10-2022NANA$ 7,999Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Jan-29-2022Feb-10-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Feb-05-2022Feb-17-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Feb-12-2022Feb-24-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Feb-12-2022Feb-24-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Feb-26-2022Mar-10-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Feb-26-2022Mar-10-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Mar-05-2022Mar-17-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Mar-05-2022Mar-17-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Mar-12-2022Mar-24-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Mar-12-2022Mar-24-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Mar-19-2022Mar-31-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Mar-19-2022Mar-31-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Mar-26-2022Apr-07-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Mar-26-2022Apr-07-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Apr-02-2022Apr-14-2022NANA$ 7,999Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Apr-02-2022Apr-14-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Apr-09-2022Apr-21-2022NANA$ 7,999Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Apr-09-2022Apr-21-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Apr-16-2022Apr-28-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Apr-16-2022Apr-28-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Apr-23-2022May-05-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Apr-23-2022May-05-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Apr-30-2022May-12-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Apr-30-2022May-12-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
May-07-2022May-19-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
May-07-2022May-19-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
May-14-2022May-26-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
May-14-2022May-26-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
May-21-2022Jun-02-2022NANA$ 6,999Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
May-21-2022Jun-02-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Sep-24-2022Oct-06-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Sep-24-2022Oct-06-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Oct-01-2022Oct-13-2022NANA$ 7,799Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Oct-01-2022Oct-13-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Oct-08-2022Oct-20-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Oct-08-2022Oct-20-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Oct-15-2022Oct-27-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Oct-15-2022Oct-27-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Oct-22-2022Nov-03-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Oct-22-2022Nov-03-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Oct-29-2022Nov-10-2022NANA$ 8,299Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Oct-29-2022Nov-10-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Nov-05-2022Nov-17-2022NANA$ 7,799Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Nov-05-2022Nov-17-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Nov-12-2022Nov-24-2022NANA$ 7,799Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Nov-12-2022Nov-24-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Nov-19-2022Dec-01-2022NANA$ 7,799Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Nov-19-2022Dec-01-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Nov-26-2022Dec-08-2022NANA$ 7,799Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Nov-26-2022Dec-08-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Dec-03-2022Dec-15-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Dec-03-2022Dec-15-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Dec-10-2022Dec-22-2022NANA$ 7,999Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Dec-10-2022Dec-22-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Dec-17-2022Dec-29-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Dec-17-2022Dec-29-2022NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
Dec-24-2022Jan-05-2023NANA$ 7,499Cairo to CairoAvailable Reserve
Dec-24-2022Jan-05-2023NANA$ 7,499Cairo to Cairo - River ToscaAvailable Reserve
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26 Uniworld Travel Reviews & Ratings

96%
4.9 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 24
Great 2
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 0
Value
4.8
Guide
4.8
Activities
4.8
Lodging
4.9
Transportation
4.8
Meals
4.9

Splendors of Egypt & the Nile (2021)

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Company Reviews

better the second time around?

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
This was our 6th Uniworld and 2nd time down part of the Danube.

local guides very good; better than last time. food remains excellent; lunch food choices in particular are better than before. service, in particular Dining room, remains excellent. servers really attempt to learn food and drink preferences. front desk service is excellent. small improvements in room (chocolate jar; audio box chargers in closet; closet hanger rods more like home than ship) appreciated.

the ship is starting to need updating; our shower stall needed to be re-grouted; deck might need to be refinished in areas. elevator never worked during cruise; 24 hr. coffee machine malfunctioned for 3 days. the itinerary itself isn't full of "must-sees" but has has sights and experiences that might be hard for you to do on your own with just a guidebook.

While cruise wasn't perfect, we would travel with Uniworld again; possibly even down the Danube a 3rd time, but on a newer ship.
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Pros, cons and tips

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide3.0
Activities3.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation3.0
Meals4.0
This is a review of the Uniworld China + Tibet + Yangtze tour in June, 2019, taken by my wife (80) and me (77). Since knowledge of a reviewer helps readers to judge the applicability to themselves: we are both former academics, normally spry and immersed in cultural, political, and healthful life activities, but we sometimes found the trip daunting, as discussed below. We resist aging, but not always with full success.

The tour had pluses and minuses.

The biggest minuses:
• My wife’s breathing difficulty in our 3-night stay in Lhasa, Tibet (she spent the whole time breathing oxygen and couldn't go on any outings)
• The (inevitable) problem of touring a totalitarian country where citizens are intimidated from talking honestly about the full scope of their lives

The biggest pluses:
• Our guide, Kevin, who was outstandingly attentive, helpful, supportive and patient. He went out of his way to help in difficult situations (like my wife’s breathing problems in Lhasa).
• We were also quite appreciative of Tiger’s brief stint with us.
• With a few exceptions, our baggage was always handled by others. And the exceptions weren’t overwhelming. Apparently for a group, the weight of any individual bag just gets averaged in with all the other group bags being checked. (Some travelers handled their own carry-ons.)

Most of the other people on the tour were quite amiable and unassuming—not always the case when you travel with people whose financial position has to be pretty good to afford this kind of trip (that financial position too often drives unwarranted expectations of privilege and reverence [if that’s not redundant…]).

The accommodations and included breakfasts (and many other meals) were luxurious, though we ourselves didn’t need them to be THAT nice (in this we’re probably exceptions from other travelers—and in this case, a number of our co-tourists had taken multiple Uniworld tours, so they knew and liked what they'd be getting); indeed, we had to learn to stop tanking up at breakfast just because so many goodies were offered, buffet-style. Had we realized those luxuries were part of what we were paying for (and in retrospect we SHOULD have realized), we might have taken a different, cheaper tour. Ironically, what most drew us to the Uniworld trip were the chance to visit Tibet and the expectation that at such a high cost we’d always be getting outstanding, highly informed guides (which wasn’t always the case; as retired academics, we’re unusually demanding in the critical analysis of what we want to hear).

GENERAL NOTES:

We spent several days on our own before the tour (in Beijing) and at its end (in Shanghai). These were quite valuable to us. Perhaps because of time, the Uniworld tour took us to few museums. We are museum junkies, and visited several during our non-tour times. Among other things, Beijing has a terrific national museum, an interesting (partly because of its political subtext) museum about women and children, and an extensive arts district. Shanghai has its own major museum and a tour of the city’s past relationship with Judaism that gives you a more general sense of the troubling antithesis of glitzy life highlighted elsewhere.

I’ve traveled to many parts of the world, and I’ve always been able to learn at least local alphabets and some minimal language skills. China is the first place I’ve gone where I could do none of the first and only a few words (probably wrongly intoned) of the latter. This was extremely frustrating, especially when we toured on our own. Few people outside the major international emporia (I never quite got used to how many upscale stores were in all places we visited) speak English (why should they?). The one ameliorating factor was that many people (especially store employees) had phone apps that did good to excellent translations between spoken English and spoken Chinese. You should have one for your own use.

In major cities, signs quite often include English, so that you can at least know where to shop and what you're looking at. Prices (which you can often negotiate) are typically typed into a calculator.

Perhaps even more than in the West, people are glued to smart phones. Pretty much everyone, it seems, uses an app that includes texts, phone use, and a payment facility, so that people seem to may carry little or no cash or credit cards. No one seems to care—or maybe everyone is just resigned to—that the government can monitor this app and know a ton of stuff about you. As a foreigner, however, you are unlikely to be able to use this app because you need to have a compatible bank account (probably meaning from a Chinese bank).

No matter how you travel in China, you'll see the amazing efforts to accommodate the expansion cities, so that a “town” of which you've never heard might have a million or more people. On the tour, you'll see almost only architectural and shop glitz that the government and cities bask in. You might get very brief glimpses of poverty.

While on the one hand the Chinese government talks a good game and takes some important steps vis-à-vis the climate crisis, on the other hand they still use an enormous amount of fossil fuel for electricity generation. I was also struck—dismayed—by the fact that from all appearances, people only drink bottled water (Westerners are warned against tap water, but I don’t know if local people build up an immuinity to its problems). Especially in warm weather, I can only guess at the billions of single-use plastic bottles that are used every day by the population of 1.4 billion (plus large numbers of visitors). On rare occasions, like at an airport, you might see a place to refill a water bottle (I assume that water is safe).

Please note that in criticisms like the previous paragraph, I do not intend a holier-than-thou American attitude. I am even more critical of what our government does—or more importantly, doesn’t—do vis-à-vis the climate crisis.

THE PEOPLE

Almost everyone was pleasant and upbeat. We mostly moved among middle- (and presumably upper-)class people; we encountered many others, but they were kind of in the background (just as in capitalist countries), and while we made it a point to notice their existence, we had no meaningful interactions with them.

The westernization of outward behavior was almost palpable. My wife had visited 10 years ago and regularly commented on the difference. My impression is that the young (teen-agers, young adults) are especially into western fashion and culture—and to what to me was a surprising extent, seemed to be able to afford indulging that taste.

For what it’s worth, my observation was that people are quite materialistic, focus their lives on that, and increasingly able to afford to indulge themselves. Outwardly, at least, they have little concern with the strictures of their government. Tiananmen Square seems to be in the distant past. Treatment of Moslems and Uighurs (not unlike our current treatment of immigrants and Moslems or our like history of racial and ethnic conflicts) was far away. So far as I could tell, people like Americans (though we’re also bizarre outsiders—there are occasional instances of Chinese people, especially ones who live far from the cities we visited, walking up to a foreigner and asking to take a photo together (this happened to me on the Great Wall, with some pretty young guys).

SECURITY

This abounds. You need to carry your passport everywhere. You'll encounter frequent security checks where you have to put whatever you're carrying through a scanner and show official IDs. In Lhasa, these checks were even present as you wove your way through street markets.

At every airport check-in, you not only go through a security scanner, but you then step up on s short stool so that someone with a hand scanner can go over every inch of your body. (I have sometimes wondered whether proliferation of security folk, including regular police, in nations like this is a clever device for combining meaningful security with full employment.)

The government must have an incredible volume of disk space and incredibly fast computer programs to be able quickly to access information about any given citizen or visitor. Check-in at airports always includes a live photo of you. I’m sure if anyone in the security services had wanted to track me down at any time, it wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds. (For each accommodation where you stay, you have to register with the police. Hotels typically do that for you.)

IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL

We had 4 in-country flights (part of the reason for what Uniworld charges), and much as we wanted to visit the places to which we flew, the time and effort involved in getting from to shuttle bus (then sometimes a long walk) to hotel to airport to check-in to security to boarding to flying to disembarking to shuttle bus to the next hotel became overwhelming.

The tour included 3 nights in a luxury boat on the Yangtze River. This was quite pleasant and included a night’s visit to a show (I don’t remember exactly which one, but when on our own my wife and I went to a couple of shows in Beijing—well worth it even if they're not something to your normal taste). Here, we had some down time. At our ages, we needed more of that. I got sick while on the boat and got what seemed like pretty good medical care.

(By American standards, medicals for my wife in Lhasa and for me on the Yangtze boat were low but not miniscule.)

By American standards, taxis are cheap. They were pretty easy to find in Beijing. (The “universal” app includes signups with services like Uber.) But in Shanghai, they were extremely rare, and we had to get help from strangers to order one. As you would expect, this is especially hard when it’s raining and you're a very long walk from your hotel. Among maybe a dozen or two cab rides during our entire stay, we had two bad experiences with cabbies; I advise photographing the driver’s information and the meter area. I found that this significantly mitigated the problems.

We took the metro in Beijing. After brief adjustment, it was very easy to use. The main difficulty is that stations are far apart, so on (say) a rainy night, you will still need an umbrella and endurance. Shanghai seems to have an equivalent subway system, but we never used it there.

LHASA

Part of the altitude problem my wife (and a few of our fellow travellers) had appears to be the flight’s forcing a lack of transition from sea level to an altitude over 2 miles. (On the other hand, a slower, staged transfer probably would have added cost to an already expensive trip—and maybe loss of a day’s touring.) Especially for older folk, however, I think this is a relevant concern.

I don’t know why, but although I could feel very mild pressure in my breathing, I was fine for the entire Lhasa visit. I had a different disappointment (perhaps idiosyncratic to myself, an academic and non-religious person): if I remember correctly, our entire stay involved visiting Tibetan religious locations. I quite support SOME such visits—religious history is central to human existence—but I would have liked to see aspects of other Tibetan cultural history.

Because of Beijing political issues with Tibet, filing out your Chinese visa involves the charade of not mentioning you're going there (if you do mention it, your visa apparently will be denied).

And a warning re Lhasa (and at least the Great Wall): there can invite lots of climbing, and a number of us, especially some of the older people (even when altitude wasn’t an issue), chose to climb minimally (just enough to get a sense of where steps were going and what the resulting view would be). Kevin and other guides were totally understanding—indeed, we were offered climbing options.
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Highly recommend

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Me and Nena are in cruise business more than 38 years and booked so many river cruises in Europe and charter ships in Russia, India, Egypt and Ukraine. Uniworld offer excellent cruise and we highly recommend this great company.
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Fantastic

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Fantastic cruising the Nile on MS River Tosca, spacious rooms, super crew, delicious meals, fantastic service, awesome waiters, knowledgeable tour guide Marwa! Would love to go back!
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Professioal, friendly and unforgetable experience for the cruise

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The facility on ship was good. Staff servicing us were very professionally good. For the meals it was indeed very nice especially the kitchen was able to provide some Asian dishes that is fantastically great.
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Amazing time, Amazing ship

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I had never been on a river cruise before and did not know what to expect. After this cruise, I was ready to sail right back with Uniworld. Everything on the ship, from the food and amenities, to the excursions and especially the crew, made the week one of the best I've had.
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Details

Ship Name

S.S. Sphinx

Deck & Cabin Plans

S.S. Sphinx


Trip ID#:

Uniworld-214

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