Nile cruise with local shore excursions in Egypt

Stunning scenery

From the sun deck, you can study farmers in long robes driving water buffalo across the fields, local women washing clothes in the river, and village children waving happily as the boat passes by. The atmosphere on a Nile cruise is pleasant, and here you suddenly understand what the Greek historian Herodotus was philosophizing about when he wrote that Egypt is a gift from the Nile.

Floating hotel

The cruise ship is your floating hotel, and thus you avoid having to pack your suitcase countless times, as you normally do on a round trip. The cabins are small but nice and have a double bed or two single beds, a table and chair, cupboard space and a separate bath and toilet, individual air conditioning, and TV. The cabins can max. accommodate 2 adults + 1 child up to and including 11 years. Please note that, at times, other ships than usually shown may be used - however with similar facilities and standards.

Come on exciting shore-excursions

The cruise ships sail south from Luxor to Aswan and back again. Every evening the ship docks, and along the way, we stop at big and small sights. On the cruise, you can purchase a ship excursion package to participate in the shore excursions in groups but you have the option to arrange your personal shore tours with local English-speaking tour guides who in reality speak not only English but also French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Dutch, Portugues and many other languages. This allows you to see all the beauties at a leisurely pace, and you still have time to just sit on the deck and enjoy the beautiful landscape and the fantastic scenery that unfolds along the banks of the Nile.

Most of it is paid from home

Full board is included on board, and all meals are taken in the ship's cozy restaurant. If you buy the excursion package for 130 euros you have basically paid for everything from home. In addition, you only have to count on money for drinks, tips, and any souvenirs or extra excursions.

Good to know

On all cruises, there will be periods when the ship docks for a shorter or longer time. In the two larger cities, Luxor and Aswan, the stay will be approx. two days in each place. The active sailing time is therefore not a whole week. On a standard Nile cruise, tipping the staff, bus driver, etc. is part of the experience and you should estimate approx. 30 euros as a guest in tips per week.

On the boat, in the cabins on the lower deck, noise, vibration and the smell of diesel can occur from the engine room and from other ships that dock at the same quay. We recommend that you buy a cabin on one of the two upper decks for an additional fee, but it is not possible to completely avoid the nuisance of the machines. When the ships dock, there is no view, as the ships dock "in layers" together with others. Transfer time from the airport in Hurghada to the boat is approx. 4 – 4.5 hours incl. a stop.

COVID precautions

Due to Covid-19, some activities and facilities at the hotel and the holiday destination may be either temporarily closed or access may be restricted. Egypt's seaside resorts are modern, but Egypt remains a poor developing country. This means, among other things, that things are not always as streamlined and efficient as you might wish. Service and craftsmanship are not always top-notch, and it is not unusual for the faucet to drip, a light bulb to burst, the toilet to run, the power to go out, the door to jam, or for the extra bed not to be of top quality. This also applies to 4- and 5-star hotels. If you have booked a standard room for 2 adults and 2 children, there will only be an extra bed for one child. A bed may well be a sofa bed or similar. The other child is expected to share a bed with one of the parents. If child no. 2 is a baby (0-23 months), you can order a baby bed for the room. We recommend that you possibly book a family room so there is room for everyone. However, not all hotels have family rooms available. This trip is not suitable for people with reduced mobility, as the layout and terrain in the hotel area are uneven and can be challenging. If you need more information about the trip, please feel free to contact us.

What is the standard on the Nile cruise?

Normally the shipping company uses local 5-star Nile cruise ships (International 1st class standard). Try to work only with recognized shipping companies in Egypt. The Nile cruise ships are limited to a certain width and length in order to pass the locks on the Nile. Therefore, there are usually a maximum of 75 cabins on board a Nile cruise. The Nile cruise ships function as a floating hotel with 24/7 reception, central air conditioning, and facilities like a hotel including a pool, lounge, lobby areas, laundry service, daily cleaning, and Wi-Fi for a fee.

How are the cabins on board the Nile cruise?

The cabins are a good size like hotel rooms, where there is room for 2 adults and 1 child under 12 years of age. The ships typically have four decks in addition to the sun deck. The cabins are typically located on three decks. All cabins are above the water's edge and are exterior with windows. Some of the windows cannot be opened for safety reasons on certain ships.

Egypt, Nile River, Sanctuary Sun Boat IV, Standard Twin Cabin

In the cabins on the lower deck, there can be noise, vibration, and the smell of diesel from the engine room and from other ships that dock at the same quay. We recommend that you buy a cabin on one of the two upper decks for a supplement of 100 euros in total - however, it is not possible to completely avoid the nuisance from the machines. When the ships dock, there is no view, as the ships dock "in layers" together with others.

Luxor Temple is a large Ancient Egyptian temple complex on the east bank of the Nile river in Luxor (ancient Thebes). View from Nile river cruise

How is the sailing trip?

The ships sail slowly and are quite stable when sailing to give maximum enjoyment from the sundeck of the scenarios along the banks of the Nile. On the one-week program, the trip begins in Luxor, where there are typically one to two nights at the dock before the ship sails south towards Aswan, a distance of 225 km. with an overnight stay en route in Edfu. In Aswan, the ship typically stays for three nights before sailing back to Luxor the same way and with an overnight stay in Esna before the ship reaches Luxor for the last night in the program. There are also stops along the way at Edfu and Kom Ombo. It is planned that most of the sailing will take place during the day, but the ship must go through the lock at Esna, and depending on the waiting time at the lock, part of the sailing trip around this area may take place early in the morning or after sunset.

Nile River Cruises suggest full-service experiences: swimming pools right on onboard sun decks, spa, and gym services, and plenty of areas for bathing under the sun. The vessels feature lounge zones, a variety of dining choices, recreation, afternoon tea, live music, and traditional celebrations to round out your experience on the Nile. 

What does it mean that it is a full board on board the boat?

Full board is included on board the cruise ship and all meals are taken in the ship's cozy restaurant. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are usually served as a buffet and in the afternoon there is often tea or coffee with cake. All meals are included, but you pay for drinks yourself.

A typical serving is an international buffet and some of the meals are served as a set menu. Drinks are not included, but the restaurant, the bar, and the pool bar serve plenty of drinks, including alcoholic drinks and cocktails.

What about tips, do you have to tip?

Yes, tips are a significant part of many Egyptians' earnings, and restaurant waiters, maids, tour bus drivers, and others in the tourism industry have a legitimate expectation of gratuity.

From time to time you can get a little annoyed at being asked for "bakshish" (tips) by people who have obviously not provided any kind of service and have simply made a living getting money for nothing or for a tiny case. It can, for example, be the one who loads your suitcase onto a luggage cart without asking, the one who pinpoints the best angle to take a photograph of the sunset, the one who uninvitedly follows you across a busy road, etc., etc. Don't tip them, but save the pennies for the people who actually provide some kind of service. One should not feel compelled to tip but do so to those who have earned it.

On the Nile cruise, tips for the staff, bus driver, etc. are part of the journey and you should calculate approx. 30 euros per person in tips per week.

local private shore excursion package for 1 week Nile Cruise includes:

  • Valley of the Kings, Tomb Workers Village, and Colossi of Memnon
  • Karnak & Luxor Temples
  • Esna Temple
  • Kom Ombo Temple
  • Aswan Dam, Philae Temple, and the Unfinished Obelisk

extra local personal shore excursions:

These individual shore excursions are not included in the excursion package itself but can be purchased separately.

  • Balloon flight over the Nile Valley in Luxor.
  • The Abu Simbel temples by bus.
  • Visit the Nubian village in Aswan.
  • Sound and light show in Karnak or the Temple of Philae.


Pre-ordered visas are available on arrival. Passport validity min. 6 months ahead.

The History of excavations in Egypt

Large archaeological excavations in Egypt were certainly not an unknown phenomenon at the beginning of the 20th century. Throughout the 19th century, (especially) European adventurers and explorers, who can hardly be called real archaeologists, carried out more or less dubious excavations at the most popular sites. The Egyptians themselves were not particularly interested in their Pharaonic past, and it was only at the end of the 19th century that Egypt gained a stronger national self-understanding, not least because it had been under British control since 1882.

Excavation permits had to be issued by the Egyptian antiquities authorities, and strict controls were imposed on which objects were exported from Egypt. It was a matter of getting permission to dig in the most attractive locations, and most archaeologists had to have financial help from rich sponsors or foundations.

Howard Carter

One of the Eurasian adventurers who went treasure hunting in Egypt at the beginning of the 20th century was the Englishman Howard Carter, who began his career in Egypt as a very young draftsman. He had no formal education but came from an artistic family, and his talent for drawing and painting was highly prized by the archaeologists who needed help documenting the finds made in the excavations.

Howard Carter's first attempt to do archaeological work was rejected. But shortly after this failure, Carter still managed to get employment as an archaeologist. He did his job well, and as a reward, he was employed as an inspector in Sakkara outside Cairo. Carter, however, had a combative nature and was ill-suited to the permanent position. After an unfortunate episode with some French tourists in Saqqara who, with Carter's blessing, had been beaten by Egyptian guards, he was removed from the order.

Lord Carnarvon

Fortunately, Howard Carter soon met his compatriot Lord Carnarvon. Carnarvon's hobby was archaeology, and together with Carter, they excavated at various sites in Egypt from 1901. However, they could not get permission to dig for the Valley of the Kings, and especially in the years just before the First World War their results were rather meager.

In 1917, Carnavon finally received permission to dig in Kongernes Dal. This permission was important because Carter was convinced that a tomb belonging to an enigmatic pharaoh Tutankhamun existed, about which little was known. Carter based his theory on various finds and fragments bearing Tutankhamun's name, but the other archaeologists who had dug in the Valley of the Kings were convinced that the valley had been emptied and that there were no more tombs to be found.

A final season

It was expensive to sponsor Carter's excavations in Egypt, and since Carter had been digging in the Valley of the Kings for five years without any significant results, Carnavon judged that the other archaeologists were right and that there was no reason to continue sponsoring Carter's excavations in the Valley of the Kings. Although he was wealthy, he could not continue to pay for excavations that did not yield anything.

Carter was disappointed and still not convinced that the valley was empty. He offered to fund another season himself, and this single-mindedness convinced Carnavon to fund a final digging season. By early November 1922, Carter and his team of Egyptian workers were back with the shovels in the Valley of the Kings.

The Esna lock was constructed to avoid the gap caused by the waterfalls. Esna Lock on the River Nile links Esna to Aswan. The Lock was opened on January 31st, 1996 at an elevation difference of 8,5 m, 220 m long, 18 m wide,  and 14.9 m depth. The body of the Esna lock consists of 7 joints, each of which is 20.5 meters long. Boats enter the lock and then it closes to let the water out to lower the boat, or to raise the boat, and vice versa... Currently, they are developing locks to speed up the ships' pass. On passing the lock you meet vendors in boats selling their products by throwing them from the ground directly to the rooms.

The discovery of the tomb

A few days into the new season, something finally happened. Carter's workers encountered a series of carved steps. Steps that hadn't seen the light of day for more than 3,000 years, and which were to turn out to lead down to Tutankhamun's tomb.

The next day, the workers excavated 12 steps, and at the end of the steps, a sealed entrance could now be seen. The entrance was covered in seal impressions, but Carter did not find the name he had been searching for for the past several years: Tutankhamun. He was disappointed, but at the same time mystified. What was waiting behind the sealed door?

The vendors in boats on the Esna lock sell their products by throwing them from the ground directly to the vessel rooms.

As much as Carter wanted to knock in the sealed entrance, he had to ask the workers to cover the entrance and stairs. Lord Carnarvon was still in England, and until he arrived Carter had to wait impatiently to open the tomb. As the one who paid for the feast, Carnavon naturally had to be present at the opening.

Carnavon arrived at Luxor on 23 November with his daughter, Lady Evelyn. Carter must have been passing out with excitement. Perhaps also after seeing Lady Evelyn, whom Carter was rumored to have a good eye for.

Deir el-Bahari or Dayr al-Bahri is a complex of mortuary temples and tombs found on the west heap of the Nile, in front of Luxor city, Egypt. This is a part of the Theban Necropolis. The first monument constructed at the site was the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II of the 11 Dynasty. It was completed during the 21st century BC. During the 18 Dynasty, Amenhotep I and Hatshepsut also constructed broadly at the site. A day individual tour is possible for cruise passengers with a local private English-speaking tour guide

Glittering gold

The excitement was palpable when, on the morning of November 26, Carter and Carnarvon opened the tomb. As the workers removed the last piles of stone in front of the sealed door, Carter could finally see all the seals and finally had his suspicions confirmed: the lower seals bore the name of Tutankhamun.

In the afternoon, the corridor that leads down to the tomb to this day was cleared, and one was now standing in front of another door. Carter punched a small hole in the door, stuck a candle in, and soon after ventured to look for himself:

“At first I couldn't see anything. The warm air from the chamber made the light flicker, but as my eyes adjusted to the darkness, more and more details emerged. Strange animal figures, statues, and gold. Everywhere it glittered with gold.”

The hole was widened and together with Lady Evelyn and Carter's assistant, they crept into the chamber. Here they stood stunned, looking at what was without a doubt the greatest archaeological find of the century.

Diplomatic crisis

The discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb was a world sensation. Journalists from all over the world flocked to Luxor, but as early as January 1923 Carnavon had given the London newspaper The Times exclusive rights to the story of the emptying of the tomb. It developed into an inflamed political case and a diplomatic crisis between England and Egypt. Other newspapers, not least Egyptian, were furious that they did not share in the sensational find. Egyptian nationalists working for an independent Egyptian state used the whole affair as an example of how the British "colonial power" kept the Egyptians down.

On February 15, 1923, in Thebes, Egypt, British archaeologist Howard Carter penetrates the locked crypt section of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamun. Because the antique Egyptians witnessed their pharaohs as Gods, they maintained their bodies carefully after death, concealing them in decorated graves including jewels to escort the rulers into immortality. In the 19th century, archeologists from all over the planet run to Egypt, where they discovered a number of these tombs. Many had long ago been cracked by robbers and deprived of their riches.

Carter, a stubborn soul, fell out of favor with Carnavon and soon after abandoned work on the tomb and returned to England. Carnavon died shortly afterward and his daughter, Lady Evelyn, renewed the burial permit in the Valley of the Kings. She rehired Carter, who was back in Luxor in late 1923 to continue emptying the tomb. The new season became even more turbulent for poor Carter, who was a skilled digger but possessed not the slightest bit of political sense.

Death on the Nile is a 1978 British detective film based on Agatha Christie's 1937 novel of the same name with superstars Bette Davis and Maggie Smith. Shot from the wardroom on the ship

The Antiquities Service's shenanigans

The Egyptian nationalists worked hard to have The Times' exclusive coverage of the excavation lifted. At the same time, people were very upset that there was no Egyptian participation in the excavation.

The whole procedure of releasing the ancient jewels from Tutankhamun’s tomb took 10 years, partially due to the hardship of maintaining organic relics like materials, delicate wood furnishings, and sandals. The tomb’s discoverers regaled the antiques with extraordinary care. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, authentic tomb raiders, whose reasons were less noble, grabbed everything they could locate from antique burial places in order to make a brief deal, without regard for the careful cataloging and conservation efforts Carter and his team observed. The theft and trafficking of artifacts are still dense today.

The antiquities service in Egypt, under the leadership of the Frenchman Pierre Lacau, was under pressure, and in order to protect Egyptian interests, Lacau began to bother Carter. Lacau forbade e.g. wives of the excavation team to witness the opening of the child king's coffin, and this so enraged Carter that he left the scene and refused to hand over the key to the tomb to Lacau. In this way, Carter defaulted on his digging permit, and Lacau could now revoke it and gain full control himself, thus playing along with the Egyptian nationalists.

Later that year in 1924, two years after Carter had discovered the tomb, the British tightened their grip on Egypt and deposed the Nationalist government. Carter returned to Tutankhamun's tomb, and even Lacau had to admit that no one was better suited to the great work of emptying the tomb than Carter.

The mask of Tutankhamun is 54 cm (21 in) tall, 39.3 cm (15.5 in) wide and 49 cm (19 in) deep. It is gilded with two layers of high-karat gold, varying from 1.5–3 mm (0.059–0.118 in) in thickness, and weighing 10.23 kg (22.6 lb). X-ray crystallography was performed in 2006 and the mask is predominantly constructed of copper-alloyed 23-karat gold to reduce the cold working used to shape the mask. The surface of the mask is covered in a very thin layer (approximately 30 nanometres) of two different alloys of gold: a lighter 18.4-karat shade for the face and neck, and 22.5-karat gold for the rest of the mask.

Pharaoh's Curse

Carnavon never got to see Tutankhamun's gold mask. He died a few months after the opening of the tomb. Only a few weeks before his death, a writer named Marie Corelli had warned that "the worst punishment would exceed the one who broke into a sealed tomb".

Carnavon, already suffering from failing health, died of pneumonia, but no sooner had the news of his death reached the world than conspiracy theories about the pharaoh's curse flourished. It was said, among other things, that on the day the grave was opened, Carter's canary had been swallowed by a cobra. And when Carnavon exhaled, all the lights in Cairo went out. It was the pharaoh's curse, and all those who had passed away and who had at the same time had even a peripheral connection with Carter, Carnavon or the tomb of Tutankhamun were the sure victims of it.

Whether it was really the pharaoh's curse is not well known. And although we know much more today about Tutankhamun, his time, his burial, and the many treasures in 1922, there are still unsolved mysteries that we may never solve.

Of course, during your local shore tour to Tutankhamun's tomb, a local private English-speaking tour guide in Luxor will tell you many other similar and not stories about this mystic person who left so many controversial and endless legends.


Read our previous article 12 practical advice for local private tour guides

Read our next article Still an undiscovered gem - Iran!

Comments (0)
Please, login or register to leave a comment
Wrong e-mail
Wrong password
I’m a tourist
I’m a guide
Please first choose who you are!
Incorrect First name!
Incorrect Last name!
Incorrect e-mail
Incorrect password!
You have to accept the terms of use!
Lost your password? Please enter your e-mail. You will receive a link to create a new password! (Check the SPAM box in case...)
Error message here!
Invalid captcha!