Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
djett

Review of Uniworld Splendors of Egypt & the Nile (Jan 6-17, 2018)

Recommended Posts

My wife and I are pretty well-traveled and in our late 60’s.This is our third Uniworld river cruise, with the other two taking place inEurope. For those who have traveled with Uniworld before, I’d rate their European cruises excellent and Egypt very close but needs some improvement. Ihope the difference will become clear in the review. We had a wonderful time and felt safe everywhere.

 

Day 1

Arrived in Cairo. Uniworld representative met us as we gotoff the plane and took us to claim our luggage. Fortunately we had obtained our visa before leaving home; otherwise we would have had to stand in a long line to purchase it before leaving the airport. Several other Uniworld guests arrived at the same time so we were escorted to the bus, luggage loaded and taken to the Four Seasons Hotel. Before the bus was allowed to enter the property, itwas stopped and a bomb-sniffing dog walked around the bus. When we entered the hotel, we walked thru a metal detector and our carry-on bags went thru an x-ray machine. We checked-in and our luggage was delivered directly to our room. The room was excellent and overlooked the Nile. We ordered dinner from room service. The only meal at the hotel paid by Uniworld is breakfast.

enhance

Page from room service menu-prices in Egyptian Pounds

 

Day 2

Following breakfast we had a meeting where we were given an overview of the cruise, introduced to the two Egyptologist (hereafter referred to as guide) who would be with us throughout the cruise, given our “whisper” listening device and given the opportunity to purchase several optional excursions.

 

The listening device allows you to hear your guide’scommentary even if you are fairly far away from him. It consists of a smalltransmitter that hangs around your neck and a pair of standard size ear buds.HINT: Bring your own ear buds so they are sized to your ears. The supplied earbuds come in one size and several people, myself included, felt they weren’tthat comfortable. The devices differed from what we used in Europe in that theydon’t need to be recharged each night.

 

The optional excursions:

Abu Simbel-$295 per person (Absolutely worth it eventhough it is an early-morning flight)

Luxor Sound & Light Show-$38 per person (We enjoyedit.)

Cairo dinner cruise-$73 per person (We didn’t do thisexcursion.)

Hot air balloon ride-$109 per person (I did it and it waswonderful even though you had to get up at 4 am)

Alexandria Excursion-$115 per person (Available to guestswith extra nights booked. An all-day trip, about 3 hours driving time each way.)

 

 

Uniworld dropped the ball on thisexcursion. We knew nothing about it until arriving in Cairo. Our planereservations were booked so we couldn’t add an extra day. My understanding isthat Uniworld works with Spring Tours, an Egyptian tour company, for thiscruise and they handle the Alexandria excursion. It would have been nice tohave known about this tour ahead of time so plane reservations could have beenmade accordingly.

 

Our tour group of 32 people (the majority of which werefrom the United States included four Canadians and one Australian) was dividedinto two groups, each with their own guide. The guide for our group of 14 was MohamedAttia Abdalla and he was excellent. He had an excellent command of the Englishlanguage, very patient, able to answer all of our questions, took wonderful care of our group and always pointed out the closest bathrooms. Both groups saw the same thing but not always at the same time and each group had their own bus. Again, the Uniworld difference shows. A group of 32 would have fit on onebus but Uniworld makes their groups smaller and uses two buses which gives youplenty of room to spread out and have your own seat.

 

We visited the Egyptian Museum, had lunch on our own atthe Ritz-Carlton and then visited the Alabaster Mosque before arriving back at the hotel. We had dinner on our own in the hotel’s Chinese restaurant which was excellent.

 

Day 3

We flew to Luxor.The airport security is very tight. You go thru two screenings, both with metal detectors, pat-downs and x-ray machines. Luckily your guide is with you to ease the process. In Luxor we visited the Temple of Karnak and boarded the RiverTosca.

 

Day 4

A morning visit to the Dendeara temple complex and an evening visit to Luxor Temple.

 

Day 5

Early morning hot air balloon ride, Valley of the Kings and evening galabeya party onboard.

 

Day 6

Visit Kom Ombo Temple, walk thru town, afternoon felucca ride and high tea at the Old Cataract Hotel.

 

Day 7

Visit Aswan High Dam, Unfinished Obelisk and PhilaeTemple. Afternoon visit to Nubian village and evening Nubian show onboard.

 

Day 8

Morning visit to Abu Simbel via a short airplane flight.

 

Day 9

Morning visit to Esna Temple and evening Luxor Sound andLight Show.

 

Day 10

Fly back to Cairo, check into Four Season Hotel, eveningSound and Light Show at Pyramids of Giza.

 

Day 11

Visit Memphis, lunch at Mensa House Hotel (on your own),Pyramids of Giza and Great Sphinx.

 

Day 12

Transfer to Cairo International Airport for flight home.

Edited by djett
add photo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The M/S River Tosca

This is a beautiful ship with a capacity of 82 passengers. On our cruise there were only 32 people so nothing ever felt crowded. When we boarded, Hotel Manager Sameh Mohamed gave a talk on the facilities on board and said that this ship was completely rebuilt to Uniworld’s standards and it shows. It is elegant but not as over-the-top as are some of their European ships. This was the most beautiful ship I saw on the Nile. I’ve never been on a ship with a cabin as large as we had. Plenty of storage space including a huge closet. Queen size bed was very comfortable. Two chairs, desk with chair. Bathroom included separate tub and shower. The windows are floor to ceiling with a sliding door that opens to the outside. The ship has a large lounge area with chairs and sofas, a library, dining room with tables for six or eight as well as tables for two and a spa. The upper deck hasa swimming pool, lounges, tables and chairs as well as a large shaded area. I would suggest getting a cabin on the starboard (right) side of the ship because the few times we were docked next to another ship, the starboard side was facing the Nile.

 

 

enhance

 

enhance

Cabin 208

enhance

 

 

enhance

 

 

enhance

 

 

enhance

 

The provided bath products are Nefertari which is an Egyptian company. Some of the guests, my wife included, didn’t care for the shampoo as it contains olive oil. I can understand using an Egyptian company and supporting the local economy.

 

Alcohol is not included on this cruise but the cost of drinks on the ship is very reasonable. We had laundry done twice at no cost since we’re River Heritage members but the cost was very reasonable.

 

Upon our return to the ship from a tour we were warmly greeted, given a squirt of hand sanitizer, a cold washcloth and a delicious cold drink. Every member of the crew was friendly and helpful and went out oftheir way to make sure everything ran smoothly as is the Uniworld way.

 

Breakfast and lunch was buffet while dinner offered choices from a menu. Breakfast included cereals, eggs cooked to order and other hot dishes but there are no menu choices as in Europe. Lunch included salads, several hot dishes and desserts. Dinner included choices of appetizers, main dishes and desserts. The food was well-prepared and delicious. Some differences from Europe: The orange juice at breakfast was not fresh-squeezed; it tasted more like Tang although it was well-mixed. There were fewer dinner menu choices than offered in Europe. In Europe, every dinner entrée was beautifully plated. On this cruise only a few entrees were plated that way.

 

Each evening you received a daily program listing the next day’s activities but there was no discussion about the next day’s activities during the cocktail hour as there is in Europe.

 

Money:

In Egypt you tip everyone. Bring $100 in $1 bills for initial tips. At the Four Seasons, use the hotel ATM to withdraw Egyptian Pounds. Go to the bank in the mall attached to the hotel and exchange the large bills for five pound Egyptian bills (you will need plenty of five pound bills to tip the bathroom attendants). You cannot exchange U.S. dollars for Egyptian Pounds at the bank. The exchange rate is set by the government. Aboard ship you can exchange U.S. for Egyptian. Most street vendors will accept Egyptian or U.S. dollars. Credit cards, U.S. or Egyptian can be used for the hotel, extra-cost excursions and your shipboard bill.

 

Security:

We felt safe everywhere we went. One of our two buses carried an armed security guard and at every monument, airport and hotel wewent thru at least one or more metal detectors. Police officers and military were visible everywhere and I think Egypt is doing its best to restore tourism.Everyone we met was friendly and happy to have us in their country.

 

Personal Service:

I had the opportunity to experience Uniworld’sexceptional service. While stepping aboard a felucca I slipped and twisted my left leg. By the end of the sail my leg was extremely swollen. Our guide assisted me back to the ship and immediately had my leg checked to make sure nothing was broken and got ice on it right away. Hotel Manager Sameh arranged for a local doctor to come to my cabin that evening to check my leg. After an examination he gave me an injection for pain and several prescriptions. I stayed aboard the next morning and the doctor returned to check on my condition. All of this for only $110. I resumed activities that afternoon but every crewmember I saw the rest of the trip asked me how my leg was doing. The wonderful personal service that you receive from Uniworld is one of the reasons we continue to cruise with Uniworld.

 

Activity Level:

This is not a trip for the mobility challenged. Our guide explained that December and January are the best months to visit weather-wise but the Nile is at its lowest level which means that you must go up and down alot of uneven concrete stairs to reach the ship from street level although there were crew members to assist. At the monuments you’re walking over a lot of uneven ground.

 

Street Vendors:

They’re extremely aggressive and you will encounter them when you exit every monument. If you show any interest or engage them they will follow you back to the bus. If you want to make a purchase, our guide suggested a starting price of half of what they’re asking. Our guide bargained with vendors several times for members of our group.

 

Photography:

Outside photography is permitted everywhere. Inside most of the monuments photography without flash is permitted. In several locations a photography permit is required at an extra cost. Our guide would tell us, we’d pay him and he’d purchase the permit.

 

Early wake-ups:

Be prepared for early morning starts. We started our day much earlier than we did on our European cruises so that our morning tours would get done before the day gets too hot. You return to the ship for lunch and do another tour later in the afternoon.

 

Bottled water:

You’re told right away to drink and brush your teeth using only bottled water. This holds true at the hotel and aboard ship. You’re supplied with plenty of bottled water on a daily basis and every time you get on your bus you’re given a bottle of cold water.

 

Suggestions for improvement:

 

Uniworld should inform you that the Alexandria excursion is available as an optional extra so plane reservations could be made accordingly. Tips should be included as they are in Europe. Have theEgyptologist talk about the next day’s excursions at 6:30 pm as is done on the European cruises. We received a Daily Activities sheet each night but it was not very detailed. Upon our return to Cairo from Luxor, everyone had to wait about three hours in the smoke-filled lobby of the Four Seasons until our rooms were ready. Uniworld should arrange for a morning tour or a comfortable smoke-free conference room in which to wait

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I definitely agree about Alexandria. I wonder why tips are not included in Uniworld's non-European cruises. Fortunately, our rooms were ready when we returned from Luxor. Thanks again for allowing us to ride along with you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My TA said that tips might not be included because the ship personnel are not employed by Uniworld as they are in Europe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My TA said that tips might not be included because the ship personnel are not employed by Uniworld as they are in Europe.

 

That makes sense. Same in India; tips not included and Uniworld contracts with a company there to run the boat. But wine and other drinks were included. We had OBC to spend and had a very hard time doing so.

 

Enjoying your pictures immensely. River Tosca is a beautiful boat! It looks much nicer than the one we were on in 2011.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your review has convinced us to take this Uniworld trip. (I have been wanting to go for some time, my husband was not so sure). We won't be able to go until Jan or Feb of 2019. Great pictures and narrative. Any specific advice? Wish they would include gratuities and drinks as they do on their other cruise. Wonder why they don't?

What is your advice on tipping?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The ship looks very inviting. I hope you will include a few pictures of the sights you saw. When we cruised the Nile in 2009, I loved sitting on deck in the afternoons and watching the activity on the banks of the river.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Your review has convinced us to take this Uniworld trip. (I have been wanting to go for some time, my husband was not so sure). We won't be able to go until Jan or Feb of 2019. Great pictures and narrative. Any specific advice? Wish they would include gratuities and drinks as they do on their other cruise. Wonder why they don't?

What is your advice on tipping?

Uniworld provides specific guidance as to tip amounts for ship crew, Egyptologist and bus drivers. Plan on tipping restroom attendants 5 Egyptian Pounds. Hotel waiters we tipped as in US using Egyptian Pounds or adding to credit card bill. If you see a service charge on your restaurant bill that does not go to the waiter, it goes to the restaurant. No need to obtain Egyptian Pounds prior to arriving in Egypt. If you need to tip at the airport, which we didn't, use dollar bills. Right now, one US dollar equals 17 Egyptian Pounds. The country lives on tips but since you're traveling with Uniworld, it isn't such a big deal.The Egyptian Pounds that we had left at the end of the trip went to our Egyptologist as we was so wonderful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The ship looks very inviting. I hope you will include a few pictures of the sights you saw. When we cruised the Nile in 2009, I loved sitting on deck in the afternoons and watching the activity on the banks of the river.

I included some photos on my blog: https://dpjetton.blogspot.com/

Here are some additional:

enhance

enhance

enhance

enhance

enhance

 

enhance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Uniworld provides specific guidance as to tip amounts for ship crew, Egyptologist and bus drivers. Plan on tipping restroom attendants 5 Egyptian Pounds. Hotel waiters we tipped as in US using Egyptian Pounds or adding to credit card bill. If you see a service charge on your restaurant bill that does not go to the waiter, it goes to the restaurant. No need to obtain Egyptian Pounds prior to arriving in Egypt. If you need to tip at the airport, which we didn't, use dollar bills. Right now, one US dollar equals 17 Egyptian Pounds. The country lives on tips but since you're traveling with Uniworld, it isn't such a big deal.The Egyptian Pounds that we had left at the end of the trip went to our Egyptologist as we was so wonderful.

 

 

Thank you,

Did you tip your room steward daily, or just at the end?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you,

Did you tip your room steward daily, or just at the end?

At the end of the cruise we gave extra to our room steward, Egyptologist, waiter, Hotel Manager and bartender. They all provided exceptional extra service.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks a for the great review. We are on this cruise in November.

One item you might want to take is some travel toilet paper. We purchased it on Amazon and my wife found it very useful. The bathroom attendants only give you a couple of pieces when you go into the restroom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your review and photos. I’m currently researching Nile cruises. How was the weather? I’ve read Jan and Feb are the best months. What do mean in regards to travel TP? Are you referring to public WC or not enough TP in your ship cabin.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What do mean in regards to travel TP? Are you referring to public WC or not enough TP in your ship cabin.

 

You'll find plenty in your cabin, it is only the public facilities that you will need it for.

 

We went there in February last year and that was plenty hot enough with the temperature increasing as we headed south of course. I wouldn't have wanted to leave it much beyond March.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for your review and photos. I’m currently researching Nile cruises. How was the weather? I’ve read Jan and Feb are the best months. What do mean in regards to travel TP? Are you referring to public WC or not enough TP in your ship cabin.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

Only for the public WC. Some sanitizing hand wipes might also be useful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We just booked this for January, 2020, when a new ship will be in service, the Nefertiti.  We got a heads up about it being available so booked without knowing how much has changed with the new ship.  The ship is Uniworld owned so we are hoping it will be all inclusive.  As I get more information, I will share.  There will now be more cabin choices and the price for French balconies is a significant price drop from the 2 categories offers on the Tosca.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/17/2019 at 2:38 PM, Jeniceves said:

We just booked this for January, 2020, when a new ship will be in service, the Nefertiti.  We got a heads up about it being available so booked without knowing how much has changed with the new ship.  The ship is Uniworld owned so we are hoping it will be all inclusive.  As I get more information, I will share.  There will now be more cabin choices and the price for French balconies is a significant price drop from the 2 categories offers on the Tosca.

I tried to google the Nefertiti, and all I could find was a GCT ship, listed as "newly refurbished" with that name. It seems odd that there would be 2 ships with the same name.

 

My TA confirmed that bookings are open, that there are 5 room classes, and gave me prices. He had SF of the cabins, but little else.

 

Weighing my options right now, but, thanks for the heads up!

 

Robin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also tried to find more info. on this ship but could find none.  I think it may be a few weeks before the ship info. is available.  We got a heads up as we are heritage club members.  Rooms are going fast.  From the info. about all inclusive, wine, beer, soda, etc. are only included during lunch and dinner.  However, tips are included.  I like the idea of more classes as the price is less for French balcony rooms unlike the Tosca where there were only 2 classes, but all were balconies. This is truly an adventure and we are looking forward to it!  Good luck with your plans!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, acwmom said:

I tried to google the Nefertiti, and all I could find was a GCT ship, listed as "newly refurbished" with that name. It seems odd that there would be 2 ships with the same name.

 

My TA confirmed that bookings are open, that there are 5 room classes, and gave me prices. He had SF of the cabins, but little else.

 

Weighing my options right now, but, thanks for the heads up!

 

Robin

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also tried to find more info. on this ship but could find none.  I think it may be a few weeks before the ship info. is available.  We got a heads up as we are heritage club members.  Rooms are going fast.  From the info. about all inclusive, wine, beer, soda, etc. are only included during lunch and dinner.  However, tips are included.  I like the idea of more classes as the price is less for French balcony rooms unlike the Tosca where there were only 2 classes, but all were balconies. This is truly an adventure and we are looking forward to it!  Good luck with your plans!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/17/2019 at 11:38 AM, Jeniceves said:

We just booked this for January, 2020, when a new ship will be in service, the Nefertiti.  We got a heads up about it being available so booked without knowing how much has changed with the new ship.  The ship is Uniworld owned so we are hoping it will be all inclusive.  As I get more information, I will share.  There will now be more cabin choices and the price for French balconies is a significant price drop from the 2 categories offers on the Tosca.

I was informed that the itinerary and schedule was not yet available for 2020.   We are very interested in booking for 

January, 2020.   May I ask you to send me an email?   donna4869 at gmail dot com

Thanks in advance.   Donna

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • SPECIAL EVENT: Q&A with the Quark Expeditions Team!
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...