Our recent Nile River cruise on the M/S Amarco II has been our most enjoyable experience in Egypt so far and one of the nicest excursions we’ve taken in some time. During this 4-night Nile River cruise from Luxor to Aswan, we were quite the shutterbugs, managing to take over 600 photos! So we simply wanted to share a few of them here to give you a quick glimpse at what this classic trip is like.
At present time there are only about 15 Nile cruises in service. While the hundreds of other ships are falling into disrepair, we can report that those which are still running seem to be in very good shape. The M/S Amarco II Nile cruise we took certainly was and its a stark contrast to all the other out-of-use ships that were lining the riverbank. And with tourist numbers dwindling here, there are plenty of Nile River cruise deals on offer to help make this once-in-a-lifetime trip possible.
Sit out on the top deck, grab a drink, and watch life on the Nile River slowly pass on by. Or perhaps better yet, seek refuge from the extreme desert heat and relax in your cool cabin where you can take in the views from the huge windows. You’ll need to rest up in between the many temple visit stops along the way. This is what Nile cruising is all about and it’s pretty awesome!
Life on Shore: Scenes from the Nile Riverbank
Perhaps our favorite part of this experience was simply admiring life on the banks of the Nile. Much of the route travels through rural areas and small villages. So many children play in the water, splashing around near the shore.
“Welcome! Welcome,” “Thank you for coming!” and even “I love you!” were phrases we heard shouted at us from along shore. These heartwarming greetings were a most welcomed change from the disingenuous touts that often bombard you around the tourist sites.
The landscape changes a bit during the voyage South. The land is fertile near the river and palm trees often dot the banks. You pass by farmland, rock quarries, and natural desert landscape. It’s a beautiful journey.
During the voyage up the Nile, you go through one lock – the Esna lock, which gave us pleasant flashbacks of our transit of the Panama Canal.
There are only a few bridges that stretch over the mighty Nile along the voyage. Perhaps the most spectacular was the Aswan bridge that we’d like to guess is in somewhat paying homage to the Great Pyramids.
Ship Life Aboard the M/S Amarco II Nile Cruise
Shipboard life is good! The rooms were much nicer than we expected and more spacious than any ocean liner cruise ship we’ve traveled on. Despite the 115+ F temps outside the air condition pumped iced-cold inside.
There was no need to turn on the TV, as there was a beautiful silent movie unfolding on the super-sized windows that line each cabin. It became a favorite pastime to pop open a bottle of Sakara beer in the late afternoon and simply watch the world go by from the edge of the bed.
The other great place to cool off was, of course, the pool. Its the perfect way to unwind after the intense heat of the day. And also unlike other mega-ships we’ve been on, there’s no need fear that people are hoarding cabana spaces by leaving towels on deck chairs. When cruising the Nile in the middle of summer, we found that you often have then entire pool completely to yourself!
Meals onboard were generally good and the service was great. The main dining room is on the bottom deck, sitting low in the river, giving a neat perspective of windows glancing out at nearly eye-level with the river. Dinners in the dining room interchanged between buffets and multi-course table service by candlelight serving a variety of both middle-eastern cuisine and International staples. To mix things up, a BBQ is thrown on the top deck one night after the day’s heat subsides.
Entertainment in the evening wasn’t anything special but was nice-enough. It was a bit cheesy and inauthentic, as one might expect. Eh, why not have a few drinks and join in the fun? Meanwhile the big performance on the last night in Aswan consisted of a typical whirling dervish and belly dancer performance.
Passengers on our cruise were mostly from Spain (a much appreciated opportunity to practice my bad Spanish) with just a few other random nationalities, such as us (from USA), our tablemates from Australia, and a family from somewhere in Asia. I’d estimate there were about 40-50 passengers onboard total making for a ship that was less than half full. This made for a really pleasant trip with little-to-no queuing while getting on-and-off the ship or even at the buffet station.
Luxor to Aswan: Route and Sites
The journey from Luxor to Aswan takes four nights. The experience on the M/S Amarco II Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan begins every Monday although you actually don’t begin cruising until the following day, as there’s so much to see along the East and West banks around Luxor.
Just a short ride away, the Luxor temple makes a perfect stop to marvel at the ancient structure as the sun beats down sideways on it, just before setting in the adjacent Nile River.
The following day takes you into the tombs, an incredible experience, at the famed Valley of the Kings. From there its on to the Temple of Hatshepsut, seemingly cut out of the tall cliffs in its foreground.
After cruising further up the famed river you’ve eventually reach Kom Ombo in the afternoon. Its hear you’ll get to understand why there is a “double tomb” at check out what mummified crocodiles look like!
You’ll wake up on the fourth day in Aswan where you’ll go take a look at one of the only modern sites during the entire trip: the Aswan High Dam where you can gaze across the world’s largest artificial lake: Lake Nassar.
If You Go on a Nile Cruise Luxor to Aswan: Cost & Tips
Booking and Price of Nile Cruise
We found the lowest prices on the M/S Amarco II that we booked through Viator. The price of the cruise includes all meals during the five days aboard the M/S Amarco II, entrance fees to all sites, all transportation to sites and to/from the ship, and an Egyptology guide that stays with you for the four days. With prices ranging from $307 per person in the summer to $414 per person during winter high season, we found this to be an incredible Nile cruise deal for everything that’s included on this 5-star luxury ship! Many other Nile cruises running this itinerary charge well into the thousands of dollars for a very similar experience.
For up-to-date booking information go here for the 4 Night Luxor to Aswan that was reviewed in this article.
Nile Cruise Suggested Tips and Gratuities:
Gratuities and drinks are not included and it is suggested tipping on the Nile cruise is 50 Egyptian Pounds (LE) per night, per room, for the staff collectively and 50 LE tip per day for your guide. About 10 LE tip per couple (5 LE per tip per person) seemed about right for land and boat transfers, although consider more for longer trips or particularly good services.
Once you factor in recommended gratuities and tipping on the Nile cruise, you’re looking at a grand total of about $340 USD per person plus whatever you spend on drink.
Keep drink costs low by bring aboard plenty of water and beer that you can store within the empty fridge in your cabin. A 1.5 liter bottle of water is 15 LE onboard compared to 5 LE or less elsewhere. A half liter Sakara beer costs 44 LE on the ship and bottles of wine costs varied, starting prices around 100 LE.
M/S Amarco II Nile River Cruise Review and Recommendation
Our M/S Amarco II review is certainly a good one and we’d strongly recommend this classic voyage to our friends who are considering a trip to Egypt. We say go now while both the prices and the crowds are at a minimum. We loved our cabin. Staff was great. Food, while not a highlight of our travels, was definitely above average for Egypt. Our tour guide during the four days was both knowledgable and friendly. Overall, we were impressed by the value of the package.
Other Advice and Tips
- Be sure to drink lots of water and stay hydrated, particularly in the summer.
- Don’t miss an excursion! This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. As long as your health permits it, get off the ship at every stop no matter how hot it is!
- Take time to gaze out at the shore. You’ll never know what unexpected sight you may stumble upon.
- See our entire Two-Week Egypt Itinerary: Luxury Egypt of a Backpacker Budget