Cruise Lake Nasser Instead of the Nile

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The fact that there are 280 cruise ships belching back and forth between a small section of the world’s longest river when there are only a handful of ships stretching their nautical muscle across the world’s largest manmade lake not much farther to the south makes it an easy decision which will make for the better experience. And when you’re enjoying yourself in such a beautifully appointed ship as the M.S. Eugenie, the experience will not just be better, it will be purely sublime.

True, the size of Lake Nasser means you won’t be flanked by lush green foliage as you cruise. Nor will you catch glimpses of farmers and livestock going about their daily business since Lake Nasser exists in a region that is mostly a sparsely populated, arid desert. But the charm of the ship, the attention to detail, the doting staff, the talented chefs, and most excitingly, the relocated ancient monuments occasionally popping up out of the meditative beige landscape will more than make up for this fact.

If you decide on a Lake Nasser cruise, you need to know that the M.S. Eugenie and its sister ship, the M.S. Kasr Ibrm were not only the first ships to embark on this journey in the mid 1990s, they are also the best. And considering our entire Egypt trip in-country for five weeks with all hotels, guides, drivers, domestic flights, and some entrance fees and meals came to a whopping $2600 each, it seems to me that these two ships are also completely affordable. (I don’t know the exact cost of our time aboard the M.S. Eugenie since we paid a flat fee to Egypt 7000, but when I looked back at my notes, an email from the ship directly had the cost at about $200 per person per night for a double room. This leads me to believe it’s a better deal to book reservations through a travel company.)

This part of our trip was the only one where our tour company, Egypt 7000, did not provide us with one of their own guides and it was no problem at all. The ship made sure to break groups up into small enough sizes so that we weren’t fifty people trying to squeeze past the most interesting glyphs at once. Our guide, Abdul, spoke eloquently and had a penchant for dramatic storytelling. When he described the temples and carvings, I was there, reliving the moment in ancient times.

Our entire onboard experience just seemed so civilized. From the cool, wet face towels passed out upon arrival back from early morning sightseeing, to adorable sailor uniforms worn by the ship’s gun-totting tourist police, right down to the tinkling dinner bell that rings you to a beautifully appointed, fresh, and tantalizing buffet. (Yes, they do exist!) Everything on our voyage was impeccable. But don’t get me wrong, this ship is not stuffy. Decorating the buffet tables were also crocodile-shaped breads with toothpicks for teeth. And none of the waiters gave indication that they would mind if you picked one up and chased them around with it. (Or perhaps that is just me projecting!)

If you’re looking for an experience that is a little indulgent (but not ridiculously so) and a little unlike any you’ll experience elsewhere in Egypt, get off the river and head South. The staff aboard the M.S. Eugenie is waiting for you. And they’ve got a well-made Daiquiri in hand.


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