Ever since I watched Agatha Christies “Death On The Nile”, I wanted to cruise this magnificent river in style and luxury, just like in the movie. Choosing the best Nile river cruise is not easy. There are so many ships (more than 400 are licensed to cruise the Nile!), so many levels of luxury and so many tour operators offering different river cruises that it is easy to get bogged down and ultimately make the wrong decision. In this article, I hope to decipher the confusion between the masses of cruises and pick the very best cruise for you, on the River Nile.
Background about the Nile
The Nile is famous for being the longest river in the world. With a length of around 6,695 kilometres (4,160 miles) it flows into the Mediterranean Sea and despite being thought of primarily as an Egyptian River, it also passes through Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Zaire. The Nile was vital to the Ancient Egyptians. With most of Egypt consisting of desert, the fertile valley alongside the Nile River was like gold to them and thus is where one of the oldest civilizations in the world originated. Cruising the Nile today takes you in the steps of the great Pharaohs, to archaeological riches, colourful bazaars and many magnificent ancient temples and monuments.
Best Time To Go
The best time to take your Nile River cruise is between October and April. During this period it’s not too hot so days spent exploring Ancient Egyptian temples will be a lot more pleasant. The peak of the summer heat occurs from June to August so it’s definitely worth avoiding these months.
A Nile river cruise will generally take you to key landmark sights such as Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, but it’s worth making sure yours takes you to some of the more secluded temples too such as Abu Simbel. Many of the cruises involve your spending a significant amount of time on dry land. When you are on your ship, you don’t spend your whole time sightseeing, so put the camera away, make the most of the facilities on board and relax and watch the world float past too. Dress appropriately too, both for the heat (huge sunhats and designer shades are a must) and for the traditions of the Muslim country of Egypt too.
Best Ships & Cruises
Merit Dahabiya Nile Cruise with Memphis Tours
Bang for buck, our very first choice of Nile River Cruise has to be on board a stunning Dahabiya river yacht; surely the most luxurious way to experience the river. The Dahabiya is how the aristocrats would have sailed the Nile in the past and adds a wonderful dose of old-world charm to your adventure. This elegant vessel has a certain exclusivity due to its intimate size and it allows more privacy than on some of the larger ships. There are just 8 elegant cabins but despite its size, it doesn’t want for facilities and boasts a spacious sundeck with a Jacuzzi, and comfortable a lounge and dining room.
Sanctuary Sun Boat IV
One of the very most luxurious boats operating on the Nile River, the Sanctuary Sun Boat IV offers a tranquil, five-star experience. It is air-conditioned and all cabins have Nile views. There are pools on the upper and lowers decks as well as space for soaking up the sun and for a fitness area. Choose from 36 luxury cabins and 4 stunning suites. The service and cuisine are exceptional and notably, they have both a no smoking and no mobile phones rule in public areas making for a serene and exclusive vibe.
Several of the top hotel groups operate boats on the River Nile and one of our favourites is definitely the Oberoi Zahra. With 27 Luxury Cabins and Luxury Suites, the accommodation is spacious and private. Facilities are first-class as you would expect with an excellent restaurant and lounge, a fitness centre and an open air, temperature-controlled swimming pool, as well as the luxe Oberoi Spa where you can indulge in a signature treatment to ease any aching muscles after strolling around the magnificent temples.
Mövenpick SS Misr Steamer Nile Cruise with Memphis Tours
Cruising the River Nile aboard a historic steamship is quite the experience and takes you back in time in true Nile style. The five decks are decorated traditionally and there is a feeling of class about the ship. Stay in one of 28 cabins and relax on a sun deck with its swimming pool, there’s also a restaurant with a varied menu.
MS Presidential Commodore
The 77 cabin MS Presidential Commodore is one of six boats in the Commodore fleet. The comfortable cabins include a mixture of double and single cabins which is quite rare for Nile cruises so useful for single luxury travellers. There is a restaurant, bar and sun deck with a swimming pool as well as gift shops, table tennis and evening entertainment.
The River Tosca (the ship not river!) is legendary for its stunning lounge that resembles a stylish gentleman’s club. Bought to you by the excellent Uniworld, it has 41 Suites and Staterooms with private marble bathrooms and French balconies. Facilities include a fitness centre, library, restaurant, massage room, and a Sun Deck with a swimming pool and cabanas. It takes passengers on lengthy 12 day cruises so this is one for the more experienced river cruiser or if you want to experience the Nile in depth.
The MS Esplanade is chic and luxurious with 55 cabins and 2 suites. The excellent staff ensure your experience is that of a five-star hotel. Feast on fine dining, relax by the stylish open-air pool area and don’t miss a treatment at the full-service spa.
One of the newer ships to cruise the Nile is Viking Ra. The all-suite, state-of-the-art ship features Scandinavian décor, a Sun Deck, pool and two Jacuzzis as well as a restaurant, lounge and bar. With 26 suites it’s an intimate atmosphere on board and you can sit back and enjoy the excellent service.
The Sonesta Moon is a great option for more affordable luxury. The facilities are still excellent with an outdoor swimming deck, a restaurant, lounge and bar as well as a fitness room plus a jogging track on the top deck; you’ll never have jogging views quite like these! The décor is fresh and classic and there are 49 standard cabins and 4 suites.
M/Y Mirage 1
The newly built Mirage is ideal if you want an oversized vessel. With 62 cabins and suites you don’t get many bigger ships sailing the Nile. Facilities include an outdoor pool and jacuzzi, and a shaded deck area as well as a gym, lounge bar and a main dining room. It’s more contemporary than some of its counterparts and is another affordable luxury choice.
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