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Fly overnight to Cairo, Egypt
Your journey begins with an overnight flight to Egypt, arriving in Cairo on Day 2.
Arrive in Cairo and board your Deluxe Nile cruise ship
On arrival at Cairo International Airport, you’ll be welcomed and assisted through immigration and customs by a Vantage representative, and then escorted to the Nile waterfront, where the brand-new Vantage-owned ship m/s Nebu invites you to climb aboard for your deluxe Nile cruise. After a safety briefing, you’ll enjoy dinner on board ship and settle in to your spacious and stylish suites.
Gaze on the Pyramids and the Sphinx, and see the treasures of King Tut
After breakfast, transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Giza Plateau to marvel at iconic Pyramids. The Great Pyramid — or Pyramid of Khufu — is the oldest and largest of the three, dating to 2580–2560 BC and towering 455 feet high. Soak in its mystery, then head over to admire the Great Sphinx. This massive statue — with the body of a lion and the head of pharaoh Khafre — was carved from the plateau’s limestone bedrock.
After a lunch of authentic Egyptian cuisine at one of Cairo’s excellent restaurants, pay a visit to Cairo’s renowned new Grand Egyptian Museum. Home to the world's largest collection of pharaonic antiquities, the museum houses spectacular displays of art and statuary from ancient dynasties. The stars of the show are most certainly the golden treasures of Tutankhamun’s tomb, which simply have to be seen to be believed. With a full day of incredible sights under your belt, you’ll return to the ship in the late afternoon and enjoy dinner on board.
Begin your cruise up the Nile River
After the heat and hustle of Cairo, it will be a treat to set sail today. As the city skyscrapers slowly dwindle into the distance, we’ll luxuriate in the peaceful rhythm of life on board our ship. In between sumptuous meals, cool off in the sparkling pool, sip cocktails in the shade on the deck, curl up with a good book, or sit and watch the scenery glide by. It’s a full day of cruising to Beni Suef, so you can simply relax and enjoy.
The provincial capital of Beni Suef was famed for its luxurious textiles during the Middle Ages and it remains an excellent place to buy Egyptian cotton and linen. The city is surrounded by many archaeological sites, including several ancient mud-brick mastabas, or tombs, and the mysterious Meidum pyramid — thought to be the second royal pyramid ever completed.
Serene Nile cruising to Minya
Spend another blissful day cruising the scenic Nile. As you pass tiny riverside villages and groves of date palms, you’ll feel as if you’re witnessing a day-to-day life that has been forgotten by the passage of time. Glimpses of sand dunes and bare cliffs just beyond the slender strip of agricultural land attest to the life-giving importance of the Nile to this desert land. This evening you arrive in Minya, an important center of trade to the ancient Egyptians and believed to be the birthplace of pharaoh Khufu.
Visit the abandoned capital of Akhenaten, the necropolis of Khmun, and the tombs of Beni Hasan
Today is a full and exciting day of touring in Minya. Begin with a visit to Tell el-Amarna, built in 1346 BC by the pharaoh Akhenaten as his new capital city. Dedicated to his new religion centered around the god Aten — instead of Amun, the widely accepted god of the day — it was abandoned shortly after his death, when Akhenaten's son Tutankhamun returned the capital to Thebes (Luxor) and resumed the worship of Amun. At Tell el-Amarna, you’ll gain fascinating insight into ancient Egypt’s most controversial king, often called the “heretic pharaoh,” as well as the uniquely realistic and informal art that briefly flourished under his rule.
From Tell el-Amarna, continue to the necropolis of Khmun, today known as Tuna el-Gebel. Here you’ll see the mummy of Isadora, a wealthy young woman who drowned in the Nile in about 150 AD. You’ll also tour the catacombs where thousands of mummies of sacred animals were stored.
Return to the ship for a refreshing lunch before an afternoon visit to Beni Hasan, where some 40 tombs dating to Egypt’s Middle Kingdom housed the remains of the provincial rulers of the time. With their elaborate layout and complex decorations, the tombs are also unusual for being situated on the East Bank of the Nile — traditionally considered by pharaohs to be part of the City of the Living because it was the side of the river over which the sun rose.
Relax on board ship as you cruise to Asyut
After yesterday’s busy day of exploration, today offers another welcome opportunity to take it easy and put your feet up as we cruise on to Asyut. Indulge in souvenir shopping in the ship’s stylish boutique, or head to the ship’s spa and treat yourself to a special Egyptian massage treatment with soothing essential oils.
A full day of Nile cruising to Sohag
Soak up the sights and sounds of the Nile as we journey on to Sohag. As you effortlessly continue your exploration of the world’s greatest river, cool breezes will waft the calls of the muezzins to us from passing minarets and fill the sails of traditional wooden feluccas drifting by.
Tour the Great Temple of Seti I at Abydos
This morning, you’ll sail to Balyana and disembark for a short drive to nearby Abydos, a center of worship dating to the beginning of the first pharaonic dynasty. Considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt, the town was the site of a royal necropolis and numerous ancient temples, many of which have been irretrievably lost. However, the Great Temple of Seti I, also known as the Great Temple of Abydos, is remarkably preserved, undoubtedly one of Egypt’s most impressive ancient structures.
The Temple of Seti is also notable for the Abydos King List, a list of 76 of Seti’s predecessors found carved on a wall. Although it conveniently omits the names of pharaohs whom Seti considered illegitimate, such as Hatshepsut and Akhenaten, the list is valued as the only source of the names of many ancient Egyptian kings.
Return to your ship for lunch and set sail once again. This afternoon, you’ll pass the Naga Hammadi Dam. This impressive feat of modern engineering allows water levels to be raised up to 26 feet to irrigate the Nile Valley, and drives a hydroelectric plant that produces vital clean energy for Egypt’s growing population.
Visit the Temple of Hathor at Dendera and the Temple of Luxor
After breakfast this morning, transfer through the lush farmlands on the outskirts of Qena to reach the astonishing Dendera temple complex and the Temple of Hathor. Largely believed to be the best-preserved temple of its kind in all of Egypt, this vast structure covers almost 10 acres. The temple's ceiling was recently cleaned of hundreds of years of black soot to reveal some of the most vibrant and colorful paintings of antiquity.
Later, continue sailing to Luxor, once the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. Here, enjoy a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Temple of Luxor. This 3,500-year-old temple complex was dedicated to the Theban Triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. A walkway flanked by rams-head sphinxes leads to graceful inner courtyards lined with Ramesside colossi and columns covered in intricate carvings.
After dinner on board, relax as you enjoy a transfixing belly-dancing show. Famed for its controlled and precise movements, Egyptian belly dancing is said to have originated in Cairo’s nightclubs before graduating to the silver screen. During a scenic sailing this evening, enjoy views of the Dendera Temple, one of the best-preserved temple complexes in the country.
Explore the tombs of the Valleys of the Kings and Queens and stand among the great columns of Karnak
This morning, drive to a range of low mountains on the West Bank. Here, amid the rugged ravines and crevices, New Kingdom pharaohs were entombed in elaborate chambers burrowed into the earth. Part of the greater Theban Necropolis UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Valley of the Kings encompasses more than 60 tombs and burial chambers cut deep into rock cliffs over a 500-year span. Exploring some of these sacred chambers, you’ll see elaborate hieroglyphs and paintings that are almost as vivid now as they were 3,000 years ago, when they were freshly painted.
Additional ancient wonders await in the nearby Valley of the Queens, a burial ground with as many as 90 tombs of the wives and children of the rulers. You’ll also visit the magnificent multi-terraced Temple of Hatshepsut, built for Egypt’s longest-reigning female pharaoh — the queen who ruled as a man.
Back on the East Bank, visit one of Egypt’s most illustrious shrines. One of the world’s largest religious structures in area, the vast Karnak Temple complex was built and used over a period of 2,000 years. You’ll be awed by the Great Hypostyle Hall, where a monolithic forest of 134 huge columns is laid in 16 rows. The largest are 33 feet around and soar to 80 feet in height.
Return to the ship for a delicious lunch and sail onward to Edfu. En route, pass through the mighty Esna Locks, large enough to hold two cruise ships at a time.
Enjoy two spectacular temple visits and a fun galabiya party
Horse-drawn carriages will be waiting along the waterfront at Edfu this morning for the ride through this small river city to the famously well-preserved temple of Horus. The largest temple dedicated to the falcon god, it is notable for the two stone falcons at its entrance and the huge relief figures on its façade.
The temple was built in the Ptolemaic Kingdom between 237 and 57 BC, but was literally lost beneath the sands of time as drifting desert sand and river silt deposited by the Nile buried it to a depth of 40 feet. Local inhabitants built homes over it and, by 1798, when the temple was discovered by a French expedition, only the upper portions of the pylons were visible. Thanks to spending centuries underground, the temple escaped many of the ravages of time.
This afternoon, enjoy lunch on board as you cruise to Kom Ombo, the site of a striking temple situated on a small hillside beside the river. As the ship docks, you’ll be treated to the sight of its golden walls glowing in the late afternoon light. Disembark to discover its unique "double" design; each symmetrical half is dedicated to a different god. One is devoted to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and protector against the dangers of the Nile. The other is devoted to the falcon god Haroeris, or "Horus the Elder,” patron god of the pharaohs. The path out of the temple complex leads to the Crocodile Museum, which houses a fascinating collection of mummified crocodiles.
As we sail on to Aswan this evening, we’ll don traditional galabiyas for a fun party on board. Dressed like an Egyptian, you’ll be ready to dance like an Egyptian, too! A vibrant show with lively music will set the mood for a festive night like no other. This evening’s sailing will be a treat, as well — Aswan is one of Upper Egypt’s most beautiful locations, with its views of the West Bank tombs lit up in the evenings and the sails of traditional feluccas drifting along Nile waters.
Discover Aswan’s treasures: the Aswan High Dam and Temple of Philae
After breakfast we begin exploring some of Aswan’s most prominent sites. First, visit the Aswan High Dam, built across the Nile in 1970 with Soviet funding that created the Lake Nasser reservoir. While there, your Adventure Leader will describe some of the significant effects of the project. Though it tamed the destructive flooding of the Nile, it also necessitated the relocation of several important archaeological treasures and the displacement of entire communities.
You’ll also visit the renowned Temple of Philae. A treasured monument dedicated to the goddess Isis, this cultural treasure was painstakingly moved to its current location on Agilkia Island by UNESCO engineers after the High Dam's completion. To reach the island you’ll travel aboard small local boats, then explore the various halls and temples. Philae was one of the last pagan temples to operate after the advent of Christianity in Egypt, and in some places you can see where crosses were etched into walls and where the gods’ images were defaced.
Later, enjoy lunch and a relaxing afternoon on board. Perhaps you’ll stroll into Aswan on your own to shop in the vibrant bazaar, brimming with spices, carpets, and all manner of trinkets and keepsakes. This evening, enjoy dinner on board.
Fly to Cairo to connect with your U.S. flight, or continue on a post-trip extension to Alexandria
Bid a fond farewell to the mighty Nile River and the friendly crew of the m/s Nebu as we transfer to the Aswan airport for a flight back to Cairo. Here, you’ll connect to your return flight to the U.S., or continue your journey by motorcoach for a post-trip extension to the historic coastal city of Alexandria.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Cruise Director or regional expert.
Please Note: Port Times & Itineraries are subject to change. The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary.
Note: Hotel ratings are based on the Hotel Index, a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.