A big highlight for me on our Egyptian trip was the cruise on the Nile River. It was only three days, but oh how relaxing! Now, cruise ships on the Nile are not like regular cruise ships. No, they are much, much smaller, maybe 200 people. Also, even though all your food is included in the overall price, you have to buy all your drinks extra, even water, which surprised me. Alcoholic drinks, yes, but water and soft drinks too?? Oh well, when in Egypt …
It’s also pretty interesting how these smaller ships dock: they literally parallel park next to each other, with about 10 centimetres in between each ship! They ensure that their lobby doors line up with the ship next door, because if your ship happens to be the one furthest out into the river, you have to cut through the lobbies of all the other ships to get to the shore. On one occasion, at Edfu, we had to go through seven or eight other cruise ships, giggling all the way (well, I was. I don’t suppose the tour guide found it nearly as amusing as I did.)
The ships don’t actually “cruise” all that much. They spend a lot of time at the various ports, and are more properly referred to as “floating hotels”. For example, when we first got on at Aswan (after an overnight train trip from Cairo), the ship stayed right there all night and didn’t move on to Kom Ombo until the next afternoon. And the only part of the Nile that they are permitted to cruise is in Upper Egypt, between Aswan and Luxor. There are some ships that cruise on Lake Nasser, which is south of Aswan, but they only cruise there, not on the river. (I think the Aswan High Dam just may have something to do with stopping water traffic from going further in either direction, actually.)
So there I was, sunbathing on the deck by the pool, pretty much all by myself. July is not exactly high season four tourism in Egypt, so the ship was nowhere near to capacity. I was gazing about in amazement thinking, “How cool is this?! I’m on a cruise ship on the fricking Nile River!”
We made stops at Kom Ombo and Edfu on our way north to Luxor, and we also went through a lock at Esna. I had no idea that there was a lock on the Nile River! I find locks in general quite fascinating, and this one particularly so, as it was so unexpected. It was neat to see all the cruise ships lined up to take their turns to go through, and then to watch while a couple of barges came through the other way. Going through the passage to enter the lock made me understand better why Nile cruisers are the size they are: there was probably only about 20 centimetres between the ship and the cement side of the passage. Anything bigger just wouldn’t fit. I watched much of the process in fascination, then it was lunchtime and my stomach called, so I chose to witness the water level changing from the windows in the dining room. From entrance to exit of the lock, it took maybe half an hour.
But you know, the absolute best thing about being on a cruise, any cruise, has to be TOWEL ART! Take a look at these gorgeous little creations that we discovered in our cabin every evening: