An unfortunate and untimely medical crisis just prior to final balance payment meant we had to cancel our 28 night cruise on MSC Splendida and as a result we were left with a completely blank year as far as cruises go. Once a recovery timetable had been established we set about trying to book something new to fill the gap, thinking that somewhere warm would be appropriate for the recuperation process, we searched itineraries in the Caribbean and Middle East in the hope we could find a bargain. Nothing leapt out at us and we had almost resigned ourselves to a Med cruise later in the year when suddenly I spotted a Nile cruise which ticked a lot of the boxes. After much research we ended up booking a 12 night trip (11 onboard + 1 in a hotel) with an independent cruise consultant called Ian Warren who trades under the GoCruise franchise. I have to say I was very impressed with his professional approach along with his knowledge of the product and the whole process was completed within a couple of days with flights, transfers etc all confirmed as well.
The trip itself is a package from a company called Discover Egypt who pride themselves as being one of the UK’s leading specialist operators to Egypt and there are lots of positive comments about them on Tripadviser which I always deem as a good sign. More digging on the internet has revealed the boat itself which was built in 1992 is owned and operated by the Travco Group and being as their website leaves much to be desired with information on the boat then we will just have to trust the tour operators and cruise consultant on this occasion.
So, our first venture into river cruising will be on Jaz Royale and with 10 inclusive tours included, to say we are very excited is an understatement. We are really looking forward to the whole experience as it will completely different to anything we have done before. We have often wondered about a river cruise but never been brave enough to take the plunge, could this be opening up a new world for us?
Below is a breakdown of our itinerary, its more detailed in the respect it covers all the tours but less detailed in that there are no times indicated other than morning, afternoon and evening.
- Day 1 Cairo: Fly to Cairo and transfer to the Jaz Royale. Overnight on board in Cairo.
- Day 2 Pyramids and Sphinx: Visit the great Pyramids of Giza & Sphinx and the step Pyramid of King Zoser at Sakkara. Dinner and overnight on board in Cairo.
- Day 3 Egyptian Museum & Citadel: Visit the Egyptian Museum and Citadel. Afternoon at leisure or optional tour (approx. £43) of Old Cairo, known as Christian Coptic Cairo, also visit the Church of Abu-Sergah and St. Barbara, the hanging church, and the old Jewish Ben Ezra Synagogue. Dinner and overnight on board in Cairo.
- Day 4 Beni Suef : All day sailing to Beni Suef. Dinner and overnight on board in Ben Suef.
- Day 5 Minya: Enjoy the day sailing to Minya. Dinner and overnight on board in Minya.
- Day 6 Beni Hassan Tombs: Visit Tuna El Gebel. Visit Ashmunein. After lunch on board visit the Beni Hassan Tombs including the Tomb of Baqet III (BH15) Tomb of Khety (BH17), Tomb of Amenemhet (BH2), Tomb of Khnumhotep II (BH3) Dinner and overnight on board in Minya.
- Day 7 Tel El Amarna: Early morning sailing to Tel El Amarna. Visit he northern tombs including Tomb of Ahmose (EA3), Tomb of Meryre (EA4), Tomb of Pentu (EA5), Tomb of Panehesy (EA6), Royal Tomb of Akhenaten (EA26). The Great Palace of King Akhenaten, The Small and great temples of Aten. Afterwards, sail to Assiut. Dinner and overnight on board on Assiut.
- Day 8 Sohag: All day sailing to Sohag Dinner and overnight on board in Sohag.
- Day 9 Abydos & Denderah: Visit Abydos Temple and afterwards the Temple of Hathor at Denderah, which houses the chapel of the Goddess Nut. Return to the boat and sail to Naga Hamadi. Dinner and overnight on board in Naga Hamadi.
- Day 10 Luxor: All day sailing to Luxor. Dinner and overnight on board in Luxor.
- Day 11 West Bank: Visit the West Bank of the Nile including the two Colossi of Memnon, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir El-Bahari and the Valley of the Kings. Afternoon at leisure in Luxor. Dinner and overnight on board in Luxor.
- Day 12 Karnak and Luxor: Morning visit to the Temple of Karnak and Temple of Luxor. In the afternoon, disembark and transfer to Luxor airport for flight to Cairo for overnight stay at an airport hotel.
- Day 13 Return to UK:
The Jaz Royale has been out of action for a while and there have been no reviews since 2012, however if the details I have managed to find on the internet are correct then it has been fully refurbished, therefore we can only go forth with optimism and whatever the outcome we intend to make the best of it.
On this cruise the cabins are not going to be allocated until we get onboard but being as there are only 48 in total, on this occasion I don’t think its going to make much of a difference which one we end up in. Below are plans of all the decks.
One thing I do have concerns about is being able to send posts on a daily basis and so I have weighing up the various options. After e-mailing Discover Egypt to enquire about the Wi-Fi onboard, I was advised it is not a good signal in most places and not to be relied on. So I have treated myself to a Huawei E5577c 4G Mobile WiFi Router which works using a mobile phone sim card. The plan being to purchase a data SIM card either at the airport or sometime before we set off from Cairo. Of the 3 main networks in Egypt, Etisalat seems to provide the best coverage along the river so they will be my first choice. Time permitting I hope to make the purchase in the arrivals hall at Cairo airport. This little gadget will allow up to 10 devices so should easily work for our two phones and my tablet.
I feel that I am now as well prepared as I can be so fingers crossed it all works out.