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5 of the best luxury Nile river cruises

Destination Reviews

The magical Nile flows northwards in northeastern Africa, into the Mediterranean Sea. Flowing through the Sudanese desert to Egypt, at Cairo the extensive delta begins, reaching the sea at Alexandria.

Egyptian civilisation has depended on the river since ancient times, with fertile farm lands on its banks owing to silt deposits during annual flooding, and crops included wheat, flax and papyrus. In Upper Egypt, the stretch of river between Luxor and Aswan is home to numerous river boats, bringing tourists to the heart of the cultural and historical sites of Ancient Egypt.

The river had great spiritual significance, considered to be a causeway from life to death and the afterlife. The east was thought of as a place of birth and growth, and the west the place of death, so all tombs were located west of the Nile.

Hot air balloons over Luxor, Egypt

The centrepiece and highlight of any Egyptian holiday, a Nile cruise is the perfect way to visit the many sites and sights of upper Egypt, ideally combined with a side trip (by air) to Abu Simbel, and a pre- and post-cruise stay in Cairo, where the magnificent new Egyptian Museum is scheduled to open later this year. Whilst in Cairo you will visit the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza.

The newly excavated Grand Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor was opened towards the end of 2021, and November 2022 marks the anniversary of the opening of Tutankhamun's tomb, so this is the year to consider a visit. Nile cruise companies carry expert Egyptologists who travel with you on all your excursions to ensure you get the very most out of every visit. Expect early starts to avoid the intense heat followed by a leisurely afternoon siesta. When planning your cruise, consider avoiding the extreme heat of the summer months.

Some of our favourite river cruise companies offer the perfect Nile river cruise, and these are five of the best...

1. AmaWaterways

AmaWaterway's newly designed 72 passenger AmaDahlia can be your home as you explore the beguiling Temple of Luxor, and the Valley of the Kings and Queens. Look out for Ama's exclusive experiences, including a private tour of the Tomb of Queen Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens and a private lunch at the Abdeen Presidential Palace.

AmaDahlia lobby

2. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Uniworld's captivating itinerary begins and ends in Cairo, where you'll visit the famous Egyptian Museum, the mighty ancient Pyramids and the timeworn, enigmatic Sphinx. Then board the Super Ship S.S. Sphinx, carrying 82 guests in well appointed suites. You will also enjoy an exhilarating ride in a felucca, a traditional Nile River sailboat.

Uniworld River Cruises - S.S. Sphinx - Sun deck

3. Tauck River Cruises

Tauck's inclusive programmes combine busyness and luxury - their 10-day journey includes 4 nights aboard a luxury riverboat, and shore excursions in Aswan, Luxor, Old Cairo and Abu Simbel. With only 22 luxury suites (44 people) your Oberoi riverboat offers spacious accommodations, large windows, and panoramic views.

Oberoi Philae, chartered by Tauck River Cruises on the Nile

4. Viking River Cruises

Viking's extensive river fleet extends to Egypt, where you join expert Egyptologists on a 12-day cruise-tour through Egypt on board modern Nile ships, owned and operated by Viking. Choose from the newly built Viking Aton and Viking Osiris, with 82 guests, or the recently refurbished Viking Ra, carrying 52.

Viking River Cruises - Viking Ra on the Nile

5. Sanctuary Retreats

The elegant Nile vessels of Sanctuary Retreats are boutique ships offering a luxurious environment and just 36 guests (on Sanctuary Sun Boat III), voted among the top 100 most beautiful boats in the world by Condé Nast readers.

Sanctuary Retreats - Sanctuary Sun Boat III

Speak to us about finding the perfect Nile river cruise for you.

Edwina Lonsdale
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and, together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising.

More about Edwina

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