Egypts ancient sites rank high on many must-see lists. But the logistics of visiting the vast, varied country can be daunting. Gliding along on these river tours allows guests to visit the land of pharaohs minus the hassle of planning.
LESS THAN $2,000
Cruise Line: Travcotel
About: For the past 30 years Travcotel has focused on running Nile cruises. The company boasts the regions largest fleet of riverboats.
Accommodations: Of the companys varied fleet, the 50-cabin MS Helio includes a restaurant serving Egyptian and European cuisine, plush berths, a cocktail lounge, and a pool.
Itinerary: This cruise starts and ends in Luxor, with visits to its east and west banks. Tour the temple of Edfu by horse carriage, sail a felucca to the dazzling botanical gardens of Aswan, and see the temple of Dendera.
Perks: For an extra fee, snag a relaxing massage on the Helios sundeck, and enjoy onboard reception service 24 hours a day.
The Details: The cost of a seven-day cruise on the Helio starts at $1,250 for a double-occupancy cabin and covers guided excursions.
Book It: 202/38-543-222; www.travcotels.com
Alternative: Owned by AARP, Grand Circle Travel offers a 13-day, round-trip land-and-river tour starting in Cairo. Catering to the over-50 crowd, the package covers stays at the Cairo Marriott and onboard the MS River Anuket, plus guided tours and lectures by experts. From $1,295 a person including excursions and round-trip international airfare; gct.com
MORE THAN $2,000
Cruise Line: iExplore
About: Offering pre-packaged and customized tours, iExplore prides itself on infusing adventure travel with indulgent amenities.
Accommodations: The lodgings in Cairo at the Conrad International Hotel grant Nile views and proximity to historic sites; river-faring digs are on the intimate 32-cabin MS Nile Adventurer.
Itinerary: Meet in Cairo, then transfers to Luxor. Passengers tour the Sphinx and pyramids of Giza by camel; visit Memphis, once the capital of Egypt; explore the temples of Luxor; and wander through tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
Perks: Egyptologists cruise down the Nile with guests and will guide them in small groups through all the ports of call.
The Details: The price of a nine-day Egypt Experience trip starts at $2,895 a person and includes guided excursions, breakfast at the Conrad in Cairo, and domestic airfare.
Book It: 800/439-7567; www.iexplore.com
Alternative: Avalon Waterways, a Shermans Travel Smart Luxury Award winner, runs a nine-day, Cairo-to-Cairo Egyptian Splendor trip. Guests stay at the regal Oberoi Mena House in Cairo and spend four nights aboard the Royal Lotus riverboat. From $2,211 a person including excursions and domestic airfare; avalonwaterways.com
$3,500 AND UP
Cruise Line: Abercrombie & Kent
About: Operating in exotic locales since 1962, high-end Abercrombie & Kent is known for the caliber of its guides and behind-the-scenes access to sites.
Accommodations: You’ll bed down at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo and the Fairmont Towers Heliopolis, and onboard the chic, modern Sun Boat IV, whose cabins boast floor-to-ceiling windows.
Itinerary: Traveling from Cairo to Abu Simbel and back, cruisers visit the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, the temples of King Ramses II and Queen Nefertiti, and the pyramids of Giza, all in the company of local guides.
Perks: The company maintains private docking facilities in Aswan and Luxor, which ensures that embarkation is convenient, quick, and secure.
The Details: The fees for a 10-day Signature Egypt cruise start at $4,995 a person including breakfast at the hotels, alcohol onboard, ground transfers, and guided tours.
Book It: 800/554-7016; www.abercrombiekent.com
Alternative: Oberoi Hotels offers a six-night cruise on its stately Oberoi Philae Nile Cruiser. The 58-room ship, departing from Luxor or Aswan, visits the ancient attractions along the Nile and hosts onboard activities such as a costume party and after-dinner dancing.From $3,632 for a double-occupancy cabin; oberoihotels.com/oberoi_philae