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One of the greatest things you can do in your time in Egypt is to take a cruise down the Nile River. There are hundreds of cruise ships with various degrees of luxury plying their trade up and down the river. Of course these boats cannot compete with the cruise liners you find in other parts of the world as they are much smaller though plenty of them have swimming pools and offer entertainment on board. What these boats do offer that larger boats do not is a slow-paced ride down a river viewing rural life where people live much the same way they have for centuries in mudbrick homes, tending their fields with wooden ploughs and carrying their crops on the back of a donkey. Another advantage of this kind of travel is all you have to do is unpack and let others take the worry from you by providing food, entertainment and providing virtually hassle-free visits to the sights found along the banks of the Nile.

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Nile cruises can vary in terms of the luxury of the boat and the facilities found on board but typical Nile cruises are either three, four or seven nights. The shorter tours usually operate between Luxor and Aswan (or vice versa), while the longer cruises travel further north to Dendera. On the way along the river the boat stops at many places for excursions on land to see the sights that are nearby. The boat itself is really like a floating hotel. The more luxurious boats have a lot of the luxuries of a good hotel by providing small swimming pools, hot tubs, exercise rooms, nightclubs, good restaurants, shops and sometimes small libraries. Depending on what you want to pay,your room may be very basic and small, or spacious with an outside balcony you can sit on. Some boats even have suites available. The more expensive boats will always have private bathrooms, air conditioning, and TVs. There are often video movies available and some boats are equipped with cameras which allow passengers to view their journey from their TV. Many of the boats have dance areas with disco and live entertainment. Most of the boats offer a nightly show which may include cocktail parties, Nubian shows, belly dancers and whirling dervishes, plays and even gabalaya parties where guests wear a traditional Egyptian outfit. The meals that you eat onboard most Nile cruisers are usually buffet style and include hot and cold food along with a variety of international and local Egyptian cuisine.

Traveller's Tip

Some boats have their own dock whilst others are docked beside other boats. If your boat comes into dock later than others you could find yourself docked side by side with other boats which means your view out of the window maybe into the window of the adjoining boat.
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Cruising down the river is very pleasant most of the time but occasionally things do not go quite as well as you would like. Sometimes the water level is low so there are changes to the itinerary. There could be long waiting times at the bridges and locks and these delays can be made up for by the boat travelling at night and so passengers miss out on the views along the riverbanks.

Traveller's Tip

Be aware that if you are travelling in Egypt around the middle of April the locks on the Nile river are closed because of the water levels. Most cruise boats do operate year round but travel at this time may result in you having to change boats.The best time for a Nile cruise is between October and mid April because the weather is fairly cool and the locks are all open.

Feluccas which are traditional Nile sailing boats also take passengers for cruises. Most felucca trips are short and enjoyable trips of several hours but multi-day felucca cruises can be arranged aboard larger vessels travelling between Aswan and Luxor. This more adventurous but also rather basic means of transport usually hold up to 15 passengers. Passengers sleep in sleeping bags on the deck and eat basic Egyptian food usually cooked by the sailors who double as cooks.

Traveller's Tip

Bottled water is provided on most of the cruise ships as the water in Egypt is not safe to drink. You will need to check if this is the case on feluccas if this is how you would like to travel.

The cost of these Nile cruisers vary greatly according to the level of accommodation and facilities on board. There are many websites devoted to cruise boats but you can expect to pay between $55(US) to $300(US) and more per night. These prices increase by about 25% to 50% during Christmas and Easter.