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Fly overnight to Cairo, Egypt
Your journey begins with an overnight flight to Egypt, arriving in Cairo on Day 2. Or depart earlier for a fascinating pre-trip extension to Jerusalem & Bethlehem.
Arrive in Cairo and relax in splendor at your Deluxe Nile hotel
Upon arrival, transfer to your Deluxe hotel, located in the heart of the city on the banks of the Nile River. (Note that if you purchase your airfare from Vantage, you’ll be met outside the airport arrivals area and your hotel transfer will be waiting. If you plan to reserve your own airfare, ask when making your reservation about purchasing transfer service from Vantage.) Tonight, you toast the beginning of our Egyptian journey with a Welcome Drink and Briefing, followed by a Welcome Dinner at the hotel.
See the treasures of King Tut at the Grand Egyptian Museum
Following a buffet breakfast at the hotel, begin your first full day in Egypt with a visit to the Grand Egyptian Museum. This vast state-of-the-art repository, the largest archaeological museum in the world, is the new home of the country’s most valuable antiquities, including the iconic, gold funerary mask and 5,000 other items uncovered in the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun. Later, sit down together for lunch at a local restaurant before transferring back to your hotel. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure before dinner at a local restaurant.
Behold the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and more
Today begins with an exciting excursion to the Giza Plateau in the southwest outskirts of Cairo, to see Egypt’s iconic Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx. Constructed as tombs for the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, each of the three stone structures was built by hand using finely tuned ancient techniques that remain a mystery today. The Great Pyramid of Giza — or Pyramid of Khufu — is the oldest and largest of the three, dating back to 2580–2560 BC and reaching 455 feet high. Located nearby on this otherworldly archaeological site, you’ll also see the mystical Sphinx, a huge limestone statue of a reclining lion with the head of the pharaoh Khafre. Following lunch at a local establishment, you’ll visit another ancient site, Saqqara, and explore the Step Pyramid. Built during Egypt’s third dynasty to honor King Djoser, this ancient, ziggurat-shaped limestone “skyscraper” is believed to be the world’s earliest pyramid. Together with the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afterward, we’ll set out to visit one Cairo’s many carpet-making schools for a live demonstration of this skilled handicraft.
After a busy day of discovery, you and your fellow travelers will dine at a local restaurant.
Discover Islamic Cairo and the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Today, delve into Cairo’s historic quarter and the captivating story of Egypt’s predominant religion. Begin with a tour of Islamic Cairo, featuring visits to the fortified, medieval Citadel and the Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali. The grand, domed mosque is built in the Ottoman style and is partly clad in translucent alabaster, hence its nickname “the Alabaster Mosque.” Be sure to have your camera at hand to capture the panoramic views of the city from the Citadel’s hilltop site, where, on a reasonably clear day, you can see all the way across to the Pyramids. An insightful lecture by a local expert on Islam will help to deepen your understanding of its history and culture, and greatly enhance your appreciation of the landmarks and artifacts you encounter today.
Transfer to a popular restaurant for a local lunch. Then, your tour continues with a trip to the Hanging Church, one of the oldest churches in Egypt, followed by a visit to the Ben Ezra Synagogue — known as the site where some 400,000 medieval secular and sacred manuscripts where found in the 19th century. This evening, recall your explorations in and around Cairo during dinner at the hotel.
Fly to Luxor to embark the h/s Nebu and visit the Valley of the Kings
After breakfast, you’ll transfer to the Cairo airport for your flight to Luxor — the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. Upon arrival, drive through lush farmlands to the Nile waterfront, where the brand-new Vantage-owned ship h/s Nebu invites you to climb aboard for a Deluxe Nile cruise. After a safety briefing, you’ll enjoy lunch on board and settle in to your spacious and stylish suites.
This afternoon, drive across the river to a range of low mountains. A series of rugged ravines in these hills are known today as the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. 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 when they were painted 3,000 years ago.
Before returning to the ship for dinner, we’ll also visit the magnificent multi-terraced Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, built for Egypt’s longest-reigning female pharaoh — the queen who ruled as a man.
Serene Nile cruising to Edfu
Today, the h/s Nebu proudly sets sail. As Luxor dwindles into the distance, you’ll join a procession of other stately cruise ships, amongst which the h/s Nebu surely takes the gold. This is the ideal opportunity to luxuriate in the peaceful rhythm of life on board 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 just watch the Nile’s lush fertile banks drift by.
As you pass tiny riverside villages and groves of date palms, you’ll feel as if you’re witnessing scenes straight out of biblical stories. 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. Enjoy opportunities for birdwatching as you sail toward Aswan — be sure to step out onto the deck with your camera or GoPro to capture some of the action.
Visit the unique Temple of Kom Ombo and cruise to Aswan
Today you continue cruising up the Nile, arriving late morning at the Temple of Kom Ombo, beautifully situated on a small hillside right beside the river. Discover its unique “double” design, with symmetrical halves dedicated to two different gods.
The southern half of the temple is dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and protector against the dangers of the Nile, while the northern part of the temple is dedicated 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 and ancient carvings. We’ll return to the ship for lunch and sail onwards to the city of Aswan.
Enjoy cruising toward Aswan, Upper Egypt’s most beautiful location, with its views of the West Bank.
Fly south to see the twin temples of Abu Simbel and sail on a traditional felucca
You’ll get an idea of the vastness of Egypt’s ancient dynasties as we fly 175 miles south from Aswan to visit the great twin temples of Abu Simbel. Along with the Temple of Isis at Philae, they are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known collectively as the Nubian Monuments. Here, imposing 70-foot statues of Ramses II and Queen Nefertari overlook the Nile. Originally carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC to commemorate Ramses II’s victory against the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh, the huge rock relief figures at their entrances have become famous icons, and the sight of them is well worth the extra flight.
What makes them even more interesting, however, is that these enormous temples were not always found here. Between 1964 and 1968, a famous rescue mission — overseen by UNESCO — was undertaken to save them from the waters’ inexorable rise behind the Aswan High Dam. In an epic feat of engineering, the entire complex was carefully cut into large blocks, dismantled, lifted and reassembled in a new location.
After marveling at the architectural ingenuity of both the past and present, fly back to Aswan in time to enjoy lunch on board the ship. This afternoon, climb aboard a traditional felucca sailboat and sip sparkling wine in the glorious sunshine. Listen to the laughing calls of pied kingfishers as they skim the water alongside, and to the beautiful adhan (Muslim call to prayer) floating up from the minarets of mosques lining the banks. Enjoy dinner back on board this evening.
Discover Aswan’s treasures and dress up for a festive galabiya party
Today you’ll explore the area around Aswan, beginning with the massive Aswan High Dam. This 13,000-foot-long and 3,200-foot-wide wall was built across the Nile between 1960 and 1970 with Soviet support. It supplanted the British-built Low Dam of the 1900s and created the vast reservoir known today as Lake Nasser. Standing atop its ramparts, you’ll learn how it transformed the economy and culture of Egypt.
Later, take a short boat ride across the reservoir of the Aswan Low Dam to visit the elegant Temple of Philae, another of UNESCO’s Nubian Monuments that had to be rescued from flooding. Philae was originally located near the First Cataract but was flooded after the construction of the Aswan Low Dam. As part of the UNESCO Nubia Campaign project, the temple complex was moved to a nearby island to protect it before the completion of the Aswan High Dam. You'll also see the granite quarries of Aswan, where high-quality stone was sourced for sculptures and structures throughout ancient Egypt, and visit some of the monuments here.
After lunch on board ship, you set sail for Edfu. This evening, don traditional galabiyas for a fun costume party on board. Dressed like an Egyptian, you’ll be ready to dance like an Egyptian, too, as a vibrant Oriental show with lively music sets the mood for a festive night like no other.
Visit the Temple of Horus at Edfu and sail back to Luxor
Horse-drawn carriages will be waiting for us 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 their homes over it and, by 1798, when the temple was discovered by a French expedition, only the upper portions of the pylons were visible.
This afternoon, during lunch on board ship, you’ll enjoy more scenic Nile cruising as we return to Luxor.
Explore the fabulous Temples of Luxor and Karnak and enjoy a belly-dancing show on board
Today, you’ll explore two of Egypt’s most illustrious shrines: the Karnak and Luxor temple complexes. Said to be the world’s largest religious structure 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 out in 16 rows. The largest are 33 feet around and soar to 80 feet in height.
A walkway lined with rams-head sphinxes leads all the way from Karnak to the 3,500-year-old Luxor Temple complex. Dedicated to the Theban Triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, Luxor’s graceful inner courtyards are lined with Ramesside colossi and graceful columns covered in carvings and hieroglyphics.
After dinner this evening, you’ll be treated to a transfixing belly-dancing show on board ship. Famed for its controlled and precise movements, this gyrating art form is said to have originated in Cairo’s nightclubs before graduating to the silver screen.
Fly to Cairo, then continue overland to coastal Alexandria
It's time to bid farewell to the Nile and the crew of the h/s Nebu, as you continue to the city founded by Alexander the Great, Egypt’s port with a decidedly Mediterranean climate. After a flight to Cairo and a transfer to Alexandria, you arrive in time for lunch at a local restaurant — the perfect opportunity to indulge in some of the city’s famous seafood. After checking into your sumptuous shorefront hotel, you’ll have the evening and dinner at leisure.
Walk in Cleopatra’s footsteps as you explore Greco-Roman Alexandria
After breakfast, you'll explore Alexandria's historical treasures. Begin with the underground catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, an extensive subterranean burial site that dates to the Greco-Roman era of the 2nd century. Many of the features of the catacombs merge Roman, Greek, and Egyptian cultures; for example, some statues are Egyptian in style, yet bear Roman clothes and hairstyles. The location of the site had long been lost and was only rediscovered in 1900 when an unfortunate donkey stumbled into one of the shafts.
You’ll also visit Alexandria’s tallest monument, Pompey’s Pillar. Dating to the 4th century, it stands 90 feet tall and 30 feet wide and was hewn from a single block of red granite brought all the way from Aswan, almost 700 miles away. Following lunch at a local restaurant, your tour of Alexandrine history and culture continues with a visit to the Roman Amphitheatre and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Built in 2002 as a worthy successor to the lost Ancient Wonder of the Great Library of Alexandria, the extraordinary library and cultural center contains millions of books in English, French, and classical Arabic, as well as four museums. Enjoy dinner on your own tonight.
Return to Cairo for a Gala Farewell Dinner
This morning, we’ll conclude our explorations of Alexandria with a visit to the Royal Jewelry Museum, home to the vast collections of jewelry and acquired by the royals of Egypt’s Muhammad Ali Dynasty. After, we return by motorcoach to Cairo. Upon arrival, check into your deluxe hotel, located in the upscale Cairo suburb of Heliopolis, conveniently close to Cairo Airport. After an afternoon at leisure to pack or relax in the hotel’s pool and garden, drink a final toast to your Egyptian journey during a Farewell Dinner at the hotel.
Depart Cairo and fly home; or continue on to Jordan & Petra with a post-trip extension
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Cairo airport for your flight home to the U.S., or fly on to Jordan for your post-trip extension to the Lost City of Petra and Amman.
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.