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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 relax in the Egyptian capital
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted at the airport and board your private transfer to your hotel. Settle in to your surroundings here in the hub of Egyptian culture and unwind in your deluxe hotel. This evening, join your Cruise Director and fellow travelers for a Welcome Briefing, followed by a Welcome Dinner at the hotel.
See the treasures of King Tut at Cairo’s Egyptian Museum
Following a buffet breakfast at the hotel, begin your first full day in Egypt with a visit to Cairo’s renowned Egyptian Museum. Home to one of the world’s most impressive collections of ancient treasures, the Egyptian Museum features more than 120,000 artifacts — including the iconic, gold funerary mask of child-king Tutankhamun. Sit down together for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, set out on an excursion to one Cairo’s many carpet-making schools for a live demonstration of this skilled handicraft. Upon transferring back to your hotel, enjoy the afternoon at leisure before dining at a local restaurant.
Behold the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and more
Today begins with an exciting excursion to the Giza Plateau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site 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 a 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 the pharaoh 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. After a busy day of discovery, you and your fellow travelers will dine at a local restaurant.
Explore Cairo's Hanging Church and Ben Ezra Synagogue
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 partly clad in translucent alabaster, hence its nickname “the Alabaster Mosque.” Be sure to have your camera at hand to capture panoramic views of the city from the Citadel's hilltop site, where, on a reasonably clear day, you can see all the way across the city to the Pyramids.
From here, it’s a short drive to Al-Azhar Park — a serene public oasis in the midst of an urban desert. The park, listed as one of the world's 60 great public spaces, was developed in 2005 at a cost of over USD $30 million and was a gift to the city from Aga Khan IV. We'll have lunch at a popular restaurant in the park, enjoying views over the landscaped gardens towards the Great Mosque.*
Your tour continues at the Hanging Church, one of the oldest churches in Egypt that dates back to the third century. Nearby, we'll also take a peek at the Ben Ezra Synagogue, named after the iconic prophet and boasting details draped in gold. This evening, recall your adventures in and around Cairo during dinner at the hotel.
* NOTE: Please be advised that Al-Azhar Park does not serve alcohol for religious reasons. A full soft drink beverage selection will be available and is included in your tour cost.
Fly to Luxor, embark ship, and explore the amazing Necropolis of Thebes
After breakfast we’ll transfer to the airport for our short flight south to Luxor, site of what was once the ancient dynastic capital of Upper Egypt, Thebes. Here, we will embark our luxurious ship that will be our home for the Nile River cruise portion of our journey. After settling in and enjoying lunch on board, we’ll journey to the West Bank of Luxor.
This afternoon we’ll explore the vast Necropolis of Thebes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that includes the Valley of the Kings, where more than 60 pharaohs' tombs and burial chambers were cut deep into rock cliffs over a 500-year span. Exploring some of these sacred chambers — including the tombs of the powerful King Ramses and the famous boy-king Tutankhamun — we’ll admire the elaborate hieroglyphs and paintings that adorn their walls with illustrative stories of lives and dynasties past. Additional ancient wonders await in the nearby Valley of the Queens, a burial ground with as many as 90 tombs for the pharaohs’ wives and children. Before returning to your ship for lunch, you’ll also visit one of the most beautiful temples in all Egypt, Deir el-Bahri. The wings of this multi-terraced, colonnaded building are built right into a sheer rock wall, with a long processional wall in front. This royal mortuary is known as the Temple of Hatshepsut, who became Egypt’s longest-reigning female pharaoh following her husband’s premature death. Many scholars consider her one of Egypt’s most successful rulers, as her mostly peaceful reign was marked by prolific building, the establishment of new trade routes, and general prosperity. Afterwards, we’ll return to the ship for dinner.
Scenic Nile cruising to Esna and Edfu
The morning is free as we prepare to set sail around midday. This will be a wonderful day to relax, read, and enjoy the shipboard amenities. Mostly, it is a great opportunity to watch the passing scene as we float up the Nile towards Esna, where the ship will pass through some locks. As we cruise you will see riverside farms lined by lush grasses and date palms, an indication of how the river has sustained almost all Egyptian agriculture for millennia. The small villages with flat-roofed, clay houses look much as they did hundreds of years ago, and occasionally, we’ll see children playing on banks who will invariably wave and shout as we pass by. We continue making our way south till we reach Edfu around dinner, which we will enjoy on board.
See the "double" temple at Kom Ombo
After breakfast on board you’ll have some time to relax before we disembark in Kom Ombo, a small agricultural town on the Nile’s East Bank. Here we will visit the towns small and elegant namesake temple. Kom Ombo is unusual in that it is a “double” temple whose symmetrical halves honor Haroeris (Horus) the falcon god, and Sobek the crocodile god. Built during the Ptolemaic era, both temples are decorated with distinctive, sturdy columns and intricate, well-preserved reliefs. Some 300 crocodile mummies were discovered here, and you can see some of them displayed at the onsite Crocodile Museum. Return to the ship for lunch and afternoon tea as you sail towards Aswan.
The treasures of Aswan: the High Dam, Temple of Philae, and ancient Quarry
After breakfast we begin exploring some of Aswan’s most prominent sites. First, visit the Aswan High Dam itself — a dam built across the Nile in 1970 with Soviet funding that created the Lake Nasser reservoir. While there, your Cruise Director will describe some of the significant effects of the project, which brought under control the destructive flooding of the Nile, and also necessitated, among other things, 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 that was painstakingly moved to its current location on Agilkia Island by UNESCO engineers after the High Dam's completion. To reach the island we’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. Conclude your morning at the Northern Quarry of Aswan, where you will see where some of the granite that built Egypt’s finest monuments came from. Its most striking feature is the “Unfinished Obelisk.” Abandoned after cracks appeared, the ancient, granite obelisk weighs 1,168 tons and, if raised would stand nearly 138 feet high. It would have been the single heaviest piece of stone the Egyptians ever fashioned had it been completed.
After our touring you’ll enjoy lunch and a relaxing afternoon on board. Perhaps you’ll stroll into Aswan on your own to shop in the busy bazaar area. This evening, enjoy dinner on board.
Sail a traditional felucca to Elephantine and Kitchener’s Islands, plus evening Galabiya Party
After breakfast we’ll board the small, colorful sailboats known as feluccas and sail across the Nile to Elephantine Island, where we can see the ruins of an ancient town that was once a strategic gateway to the Nubian kingdoms south of Aswan. Adjacent to it lies Kitchener’s Island, where we’ll disembark to stroll through the lush Botanical Gardens. Besides the luxuriant tropical foliage from Egypt, Africa, and India, you might see colorful tropical birds flitting through the trees. After lunch enjoy a free afternoon as we set sail downstream back towards Edfu, where we dock overnight.
A galabiya is the long, loose-fitting garment (often with ornate trim) worn in Egypt since ancient times by both men and women. This evening you’ll enjoy a festive onboard Galabiya Party, where guests dress in their best Egyptian finery for some fun and games, and enjoy an Egyptian dance show.
See the massive Temple of Horus at Edfu
After breakfast, begin the day on the West Bank with a morning excursion to Edfu’s famously well-preserved temple. Dedicated to Egypt’s falcon-headed god, the massive Temple of Horus at Edfu was constructed between 237 and 57 BC, partially during the reign of Cleopatra VII. It tells a central story in Egyptian mythology about Horus avenging the death of his father, Osiris, at the hands of his uncle, Set. Following your visit, reboard your ship for lunch and a leisurely afternoon cruise toward Luxor.
Behold the Temple of Karnak and Temple of Luxor, followed by an evening belly-dance show
This morning after breakfast, you’ll come ashore on the Nile’s East Bank to see two of Egypt’s most illustrious shrines. First is Karnak, the world’s second largest religious structure (Cambodia’s Angkor Wat is larger). The vast Karnak Temple Complex was built and used over a period of 2,000 years — encompassing the ruins of numerous temples, chapels, and other structures, as well as a lovely sacred lake. Its Great Hypostyle Hall alone measures some 54,000 square feet, and is adored with 134 79-foot high columns arrayed in 16 rows. Karnak was once connected by a ceremonial, sphinx-lined avenue to Luxor Temple, which we will also explore. The site once also served as a Roman legionnaire outpost and it boasts chapels built by Alexander the Great and Tutankhamun. The afternoon is free for relaxation or independent exploration, Perhaps you’ll ride an old-fashioned, horse-drawn calèche to the Luxor Museum, or to the downtown souk. After dinner, a troupe of talented local dancers will perform an entertaining belly-dance show.
Disembark for a free afternoon in Cairo and a Farewell Dinner
Disembark your Nile River ship this morning, and transfer to Luxor airport for your return flight to Cairo. Upon arrival, check into your hotel and spend the afternoon at leisure. You might enjoy a swim at the hotel’s pool, or explore more of Cairo at your own pace. This evening, gather with your fellow travelers at the hotel for a celebratory Farewell Dinner.
Depart Cairo and fly home; or continue on for Alexandria post-trip extension
After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the Cairo airport for your flight home to the U.S. — or remain, and begin your post-trip extension to Alexandria.
Follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great — and later, Mark Antony and Cleopatra — with a visit to the great port city he founded in 331 BC. Often called the “Pearl of the Mediterranean,” both its coastal and cultural climate set it apart from the Egyptian destinations you’ve visited thus far. And thanks to its storied past, Alexandria boasts a wealth of cultural and historic sites — many of which you’ll tour during your sojourn here. Explore its rich past as a center of learning at the celebrated Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Discover the mysterious underground world of its ancient Greco-Roman catacombs. Confront more recent history at the solemn El Alamein War Cemetery. You’ll also enjoy visits to the Alexandria National Museum, Roman Amphitheatre, and Pompey’s Pillar.
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.
Please Note: 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.