By John Roberts
My Viking Cruises voyage on Egypt's Nile River remains one of the most satisfying travel experiences I have enjoyed. The trip's combination of land and river-based activities and sightseeing offers an ideal way to learn about all the rich culture and history of Ancient Egypt.
When we went on our Egypt cruise, Viking used a charter ship to bring cruisers to such exotic locations as Abu Simbel and Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and Edfu. Now, the world's best-known river cruise line has a new ship of its own that is purpose-built to give you an intimate and exhilarating experience in vibrant Egypt.
Viking announced an expansion of its Egypt river cruise program for the 2020 season, which includes the launch of a new ship. Inspired by the design of the award-winning Viking Longships and built specifically for the Nile River, Viking Osiris will debut in September 2020. Viking also will offer two new pre-cruise extensions for passengers who can further immerse themselves in the history of the region before arriving in Cairo for the river cruise portion of their trips.
These five-day extensions to Viking's Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary aim to provide you with privileged access to archives and exhibits in London and Oxford that are not normally accessible to the public. The new Viking Osiris ship and pre-cruise program comes one year after the company launched Viking Ra, a completely renovated vessel and the first one that Viking has owned and operated on the Nile.
"Egypt has inspired explorers for generations, and it remains a top destination for many of our guests," said Viking Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen. "For more than two decades, we have led the river cruise industry with our fleet development and experiences that bring travelers closer to the cultures of the world. We remain committed to Egypt, and we look forward to introducing the historic treasures of the region to even more Viking guests."
About Viking Osiris
The ship will carry up to 82 passengers in 41 staterooms. Viking says that Viking Osiris will be a state-of-the art ship with the clean, elegant Scandinavian design for which Viking is known. Viking is the first and only Western company to build, own and operate ships on the Nile.
New Pre-Cruise Program
Building on the success of the line's Oxford & Highclere Castle program that visits the real Downton Abbey location, the company has developed two new curated pre-cruise extensions so that you can retrace the steps of the world's most famous Egyptologist, Howard Carter, and his benefactor, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon.
Passengers who book the five-day British Collections of Ancient Egypt extension will meet their Viking tour director, an expert Egyptologist, in London and be taken on special tours of two museums: first a private, early morning visit to the Egyptian Collection at the British Museum before it opens to the general public, and then a visit to the home and personal museum of world-renowned architect, Sir John Soane, where the tour will be illuminated by candlelight, a re-enactment of how Soane entertained guests and showcased his exquisite collection of Egyptian antiquities, including a 3,000-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus.
You also get to visit London's Petrie Museum, which houses more than 80,000 artifacts from ancient Egypt and Sudan. In Oxford, it's a trip to the Ashmolean Museum, one of the oldest in the world and home to a varied collection of Egyptian mummies and art. Here, you'll go behind the scenes at Oxford University's Griffith Institute to see Carter's archives, which detail the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb.
Finally, you will have an opportunity to visit Highclere Castle -- the country seat of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon -- for a look at the earl's vast private collection of Egyptian artifacts.
About the Pharaohs & Pyramids Cruise
During the 12-day, "Pharaohs & Pyramids" itinerary, you'll see Egypt's cultural treasures in seven destinations. The journey begins with a three-night stay at a first-class hotel in Cairo. This is where you visit iconic sites such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the necropolis of Sakkara and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali.
After this, you fly to Luxor and visit the Temples of Luxor and Karnak before boarding your ship for an eight-day roundtrip cruise on the Nile River, featuring privileged access to the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens, and excursions to the Temple of Khnum in Esna, the Dendera Temple complex in Qena, the temples at Abu Simbel and the High Dam in Aswan, and a visit to a colorful Nubian village, where you can experience a traditional elementary school.
The voyage concludes with a flight back to Cairo for a final night in the ancient city.
This all sounds so amazing that I think it's time to back to see more.
Thanks for reading,
Read all about it: Why a Viking River Cruise is the Perfect Way to Explore Egypt
By John Roberts
I sailed on Scenic Cruises luxurious and spacious Scenic Amber for a biking voyage on the Danube River in late 2018. This adventure was to experience the line's partnership with Trek Travel, as I joined a group of 16 avid cyclists on daily rides along the river and into the countryside of Europe.
While the challenging rides and time ashore were highlights of the trip, I also was blown away by the accommodations we were treated to on the cruise. Scenic Amber vessel is an all-suite ship that is part of the line's fleet of Space Ships, all of which feature expansive cabins, private butler service, large picture windows that open to innovative versatile balcony space.
Lately, Scenic has been making design enhancements to further improve the river cruise experience on its vessels. Many of these moves focus on wellness, fitness and adventure -- which is why we continue to say river cruising is the up-and-coming way to travel in a new and exhilarating way.
In 2017, Scenic introduced a new ship design for its two Space-Ships sailing on France's Saone and Rhone Rivers. The same concept of focusing on experiential and physical enjoyments by expanding the company's already well-rounded approach is now being brought to Europe's Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers for 2019. All eight of the Space-Ships on these waterways -- Scenic Ruby, Pearl, Jasper, Opal, Amber, Crystal, Jade and Jewel -- will be remodeled this winter.
Highlights include reducing the number of cabins/passengers to 81/161 (Ruby and Pearl) and 83/165 (on the six others) while keeping the same crew count for even greater personal service; two new 520-square foot Royal Owners Suites; larger wellness centers, which include the gym, massage services and hair dresser; and, unique to Scenic, a Salt Therapy lounge. Onboard yoga and stretching classes, given by the onboard wellbeing coach, help cruisers warm up and get limber for days that include new and more-active excursions such as bike tours on the ship's e-bikes and hiking up Buda Hill for an amazing view of Budapest. Every itinerary will offer a host of active excursions in 2019.
The three-station salt lounge offers a non-invasive way to feel energized and healthier while relaxing. The humidity and temperature-controlled room is handcrafted from salt bricks and creates a micro-climate of a natural salt mine. Its three inclined lounging chairs are separated by light curtains for privacy, and low-level lighting and calming music promotes the natural relaxing effects of the salt. The rooms are included in your fare, and you can spend up to a recommended 45 minutes in the peaceful environment. The negatively charged salt ions hold high kinetic energy and offer the same refreshing feeling that one might find when standing on a beach. The ions also are said to aid healing, improve respiration and skin conditions and boost the immune system.
Scenic's Space-Ships offer all-inclusive luxury experiences -- from private butler service and unlimited included beverages and spirits, including a minibar re-stocked daily, to large private balcony staterooms. All of the suites feature Scenic's innovative Sun Lounge technology -- the walkout open-air balcony can convert to an all-weather lounge with a push of a button, expanding the living area of the stateroom.
Passengers get multiple dining options, including wine pairing dinners at the chef's Table La Rive, fine dining at Portobello's and the more casual fare at the River Cafe. All Fares are all-inclusive (except salon and spa services). The hassle-free luxury cruising includes tips and gratuities, expert local guides, all "Scenic Freechoice" activities that allow for a more personalized vacation, plus Scenic Enrich events which are exclusive to Scenic and its passengers, transfers, meals and other treats and amenities onboard.
Thanks for reading,