We arrived in Luxor to find a ship that was painted brilliant white and shone in the clear Egyptian light.
The reception area was awash with marble and brass and the staff took us, along with our baggage, to our cabin, which was bright and airy, with a good size double bed, a table and chairs, and a large window. The bathroom had a shower over a small bath and seemed perfect.
There was a good-sized main bar with a dance floor and plenty of comfortable seating, and a quieter bar area, plus a shop offering souvenirs, postcards, clothing, jewellery and, fortunately, memory cards for digital cameras – after 3 days we’d taken 700 pictures!
On the sun deck there was a small swimming pool with an abundant supply of sun beds and towels, a bar with a large covered seating area offering well-needed shade and views of the glorious Nile. What a magnificent panorama – an ever-changing vista of palm trees, villages and fishermen, to say nothing of the multitude of bird life, with kingfishers and egrets every few yards.
The absolute highlight, though, was a visit to the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. At first sight, this seemed slightly disappointing, with rock-strewn paths with various entrances leading into the earth. But, once the steps have been negotiated, you see what all the fuss is about, the colours as bright as the day they were painted telling stories of a history previously only observed second hand or read about and brought to life in an epic way.
It is also possible to visit Abu Simbel; Cairo and the Pyramids; a Sound and Light show at the temples in Philae and Karnak; and a hot air balloon ride over the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. Included in the 10 excursions at no extra cost were a trip on the Nile in a traditional sailing boat called a Felucca; a visit to a perfume factory and the Papyrus Institute in Luxor; and the opportunity to shop in local bazaars.
Service in the restaurant was excellent throughout the cruise, with a European menu with a hint of the Middle East and buffets with plenty to satisfy the most discerning diner. For vegetarians, there was also a wonderful selection. The staff were always friendly and efficient whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner. At breakfast, the choice of freshly made omelettes, cold meat, fresh fruit, cheeses and pastries certainly got the day off to a good start.
At night there were some themed evenings on board, and the highlight of these was the Gallebeya Party. We must also mention the shock of retiring to our cabin to find a man made of towels sitting in one of the chairs with Brian’s hat, sunglasses and shoes on! The cabin stewards have a great sense of humour and everyone appreciated the effort they put into their work.
Life on board was relaxing, with options of a swim or a cold drink in the November sun (80�F being the daily high). We should also mention the excursions are undertaken when the temperature is better suited to those not used to the heat, while the Da Vinci’s Egyptologists were amazing in their knowledge of every Temple.
Would we go again? A big ‘Yes.’ The ship was well presented and clean with good food and exceptional staff and service. The excursions and sights are simply staggering, and just to sit on deck with a cold beer watching the ancient world go by was worth every penny.