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 the Egyptian capital
Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted at the airport and board your private transfer to your hotel. Settle into 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 Dinner at the hotel.
See the treasures of King Tut at the Grand Egyptian Museum
Following a buffet breakfast at the hotel, enjoy a Welcome Briefing. 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, then set out on an excursion to one of 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 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. After a busy day of discovery, you and your fellow travelers will dine at the hotel.
Tour Islamic Cairo and visit more of the city's wonders
Today, delve into the captivating history of Egypt’s most predominant religion — Islam — with a tour of Islamic Cairo and visits to the fortified, medieval Citadel and its grand, domed Mosque of Muhammad Ali (aka the Alabaster Mosque). Your Cruise Director will enrich your day with a fascinating discussion about one of the world’s oldest religions. Be sure to have your camera at hand, as the Citadel’s hilltop site offers panoramic views of the city below. Then, transfer to a popular restaurant for a local lunch.
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, embark ship, and explore the amazing Necropolis of Thebes
After breakfast you’ll transfer to the airport for a short flight south to Luxor, site of what was once the ancient dynastic capital of Upper Egypt, Thebes. Here, you embark our luxurious ship, your home for the Nile River cruise portion of our journey. After settling in and enjoying lunch on board, you’ll journey to the West Bank of the Nile.
This afternoon you’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 — you’ll admire the elaborate hieroglyphs and paintings that adorn their walls with illustrative stories of lives and dynasties past. (Note that tombs are open to the public on a rotating basis to limit their exposure.)
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 town’s 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 on-site Crocodile Museum. Return to the ship for lunch and afternoon tea as you sail towards Aswan, one of Upper Egypt’s most beautiful locations. Its views of the West Bank tombs lit up in the evenings.
The treasures of 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 to create the Lake Nasser reservoir. While there, your Cruise Director 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 archeological treasures and the displacement of entire communities.
You’ll also visit the renowned Temple of Philae. A striking 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.
Sail a traditional felucca past Elephantine and Kitchener’s Islands, with an evening galabiya party
After breakfast you’ll embark a traditional felucca and sail across the Nile past Elephantine Island, home to 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, named for the British army officer who owned it. Today, it boasts the Aswan Botanical Garden, a lush and luxuriant collection of tropical foliage from Egypt, Africa, and India. After lunch enjoy a free afternoon as we sail downstream back towards Edfu, where we dock overnight.
This evening you’ll enjoy a festive onboard galabiya party, and don the long, loose-fitting garments (often with ornate trim) worn in Egypt since ancient times by both men and women. Your group will enjoy some fun and games, and 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 Esna, then Luxor — during which you can enjoy opportunities for birdwatching. Be sure to step out onto the deck with your camera or GoPro to capture some of the action.
Temples of Karnak and Luxor and an evening belly-dancing 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 the Karnak Temple Complex, 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 adorned 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. This latter 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 tonight, 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 the 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 an 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.
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.