Airport greeting with escorted transfers to hotel in Cairo
2-nt. stay at the 5-star Mena House Oberoi in Cairo, with welcome dinner, breakfasts, and multiple escorted tours
7-nt. Nile cruise aboard the Star Goddess
All staterooms have Nile view, private facilities, individual air conditioning, satellite, in-room safe, and mini-bar
All onboard meals
Daily private tours with Egyptologist guides
All onboard events and entertainment
Large sun deck with pool and sunning areas
Outdoor bar on sun deck
Gourmet menus and lavish buffets
Souvenir and Gift shop
Attentive personal service, including an experienced Cruise Manager and ROmanCE VOYAGES staff escort
2-nt. post-cruise stay at the 5-star Conrad Hotel Cairo
Escorted airport transfer to airport for return flights
All intra-Egypt air transfers
Main Dining Room - serves breakfast, lunch buffets and á la carte dinners
Sun Deck Bar & Barbecue - overlooks the Nile, serves refreshing cocktails until sunset and barbecue specialties
Lounge - serves light meals and a wide range of cocktails and beverages
Outdoor swimming pool
Jogging track on the sun deck
Full-service spa (gym, massage rooms, sauna and Jacuzzi)
Plasma TV(satellite channels and in-house movie programs),
Wireless Internet connection,
Individual climate control,
Safety deposit box
All bathrooms are equipped with a full-size bathtub,
In-room dining is available until midnight
Complimentary bottle of local wine upon arrival
Captain's welcome cocktail party
Belly dancer show
Nubian folkloric show and daily quartet performance
Water purification station. Water is filtered and softened before distribution
Electricity 220 volt
Overview Our 11-nt. journey encompasses the most renowned sites of ancient Egypt: the awe-inspiring Great Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza, the temples at Luxor and Thebes, and the nearly lost Abu Simbel temples. Sail aboard the Sonesta Star Goddess, outfitted with only 33 luxurious balcony suites, she is the most elegant ship sailing the Nile. In Cairo, our 5-star accommodations include the Mena House Oberoi pre-cruise and the Conrad Hotel Cairo post-cruise. All tours escorted by accredited, English speaking, Egyptologists, most meals, intra-Egypt air and land transfers, and exclusive ROmanCE VOYAGES events and amenities are complimentary. This is simply no better way to experience this ancient land.
Day 1: Cairo (D) Arrive and check into Mena House Oberoi, Welcome Dinner
Our representatives will meet you at the Cairo International Airport to help you with customs and your transfer by air-conditioned coach to the Mena House Oberoi Hotel. This hotel is one of the most celebrated in the world, hosting international delegations since it opened a century ago. The reason is simple: This positively regal hotel overlooks the Great Pyramids of Giza, the only survivors among the Seven Wonders of the World. In the midst of a spectacular renovation, it will be at full glory when we arrive. A garden room with a view of these most famous symbols of Egypt has been reserved for you, and we will have you checked in before you even arrive. Spend the afternoon unwinding in the spectacular pool, then join ROmanCE VOYAGES for the Welcome Dinner.
Day 3: Luxor (B/L/D) Fly to Luxor, West Bank (Valley of Kings, Valley of the Queens, Temple of Hatsepsut, Colossi of Memnon), Captain's Party Travel Plans: Today, after an early breakfast and hotel check out, we transfer to Cairo airport to board a plane bound for Luxor. In Luxor, we will board the Sonesta Star Goddess to begin our Nile cruise. After touring the West Bank and the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, we will set sail on the Nile headed south.
Why the West Bank: The minute you became the pharaoh, you started work on your tomb. Problems rose with grave robbers stealing the gold, jewels and treasures buried with the mummies to provide for the afterlife from the pyramids. The West Bank, across the river from Luxor, acted as a secluded spot for your mummy to spend eternity. The pharaohs of the 18th Dynasty stopped the tradition of pyramid building, and had their tombs tunneled deep into the mountain sides of the region. These complex catacombs were harder to rob and easily concealed. Even the tomb for Ramesses II's many sons, which has over 100 rooms, remained hidden until only about 10 years ago.
Entrance to the West Bank: The Colossi of Memnon flank the outer gates of the largest of the temples on the west bank, that of Amenhotep III. They are the first monuments to greet you as you enter the West Bank necropolis. Despite being damaged by nature, ancient tourists, and faulty repairs 18 centuries ago, the statues are over 75 feet tall, and impressively beautiful. The statues are carved from blocks of quartzite and depict Amenhotep III and his mom and Amenhotep III and his wife and daughter. Due to an earthquake in 27 BC, these statues became known for a bell like tone that occurred on hot mornings as the humidity hissed out of the cracks and fissures. This turned them into instant tourist attractions, because hearing the song meant that the gods liked you. Tourists flocked in, including a Roman emperor or two. The song came to an end when the Roman emperor Septimius Severus "fixed" the statues in 199 AD by plugging whatever crack or hole was making the magic, and silenced them forever.
Temple of Hatsepsut: The area around the Colossi is where most of the major temples of the West Bank were constructed, and those of Thutmose III and IV, Amenhotep II, Sety I, and Ramesses III are still quite majestic. The amazing Tombs of the Nobles are also nearby. Up and around the road a bit, sits the most stunning, the Temple of Hatshepsut, who ruled as pharaoh for 15 years, and who is fittingly interred in the Valley of the Kings. She was the daughter, sister, wife and aunt (which, as you will recall, were overlapping categories) of the first three Tuthmosis, and her own reign was grand. Her temple is being lovingly restored by the Polish Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology. The temple is built into the side of the mountain, with a long ramp that leads across two giant terraces. Three columned facades are being restored, the first now completed almost to perfection. In its original state, the courtyards were filled with fountains and flowering plants and trees. Even now, it looks remarkably modern.
Valley of the Kings: The tombs of the pharaohs were located in the secluded Valley of the Kings. The name is a bit of a misnomer, because not all of the 62 tombs excavated to date are royal. (Those of nobles and the privileged were generally undecorated, and we won't be seeing those.) The most famous tomb is the one that belonged to Tutankhamun, a relatively unimportant pharaoh who was hastily buried is a tomb probably not even intended for him. The tomb is famous because it was concealed under the village of the workmen who cut the tomb for Ramesses VI (one of the largest tombs in the valley), so when it was discovered in 1922, the tomb had all of its treasure.
Not all of the tombs are accessible (Hatshepsut's, for example, is not), and of those that are, the authorities rotate which are available to be visited, so we cannot predict which ones we will see. Generally, they keep open a couple of examples of each of the three basic types. The early tombs have staircases and corridors, change direction and are decorated with scenes from the Book of the Secret Chamber. The middle stage tombs incorporate the Litany of Ra, and the dead pharaoh will appear before the falcon-headed sun god. In the last phase, the tombs are basically just huge sloping corridors, but a wide set of books are used as the basis for the art. Aside from the long downward corridor, the tombs generally have a well room (a deep shaft designed to foil burglars), a hall generally held up by pillars, and the burial chamber. Additional chambers and corridors would be added for decoration and such, or to bury a few extra relatives and guests.
Valley of the Queens: Most of the wives of the pharaohs and their children were buried in the Valley of the Queens, which is in the hills to the south of where their husbands were buried. Few are open to the public, and even the restored Tomb of Nefertari, one of the most impressive monuments in the West Bank, is open to only 150 people per day. The cliffs surrounding the valley make the experience spectacular. Perhaps because the tombs were laden with less treasure, greater effort was devoted to the wall paintings, which often remain reasonably intact. Egyptian art evolved significantly during this period, with paintings stretching across adjacent walls, and considerable more realism in the portrayal of the figures. Often modeled in low relief in plaster and then painted, occasionally an individual figure will break out from the scene.
Captain's Party: Tonight our Captain invites you to a cocktail party where you can meet and mingle with the ships officers and staff. Who doesn't love a man in a crisp white uniform, especially when he's buying the drinks!
Day 4: Esna / Edfu (B/L/D) Esna (Temple of Khnum), Edfu (Temple of Horus), Egyptian Costume Party Esna: The modern town of Esna is built over the Temple of Khnum, and only the hypostyle hall of the temple, some 30 feet below the level of the street, has been excavated. However, the temple is of great historical importance because the names and the activities of the Ptolemies and the Roman emperors are recorded up to Decius, who was murdered in 251 A.D. The decoration in the temple is elegant, with figures of the emperors and hymns to Khnum written entirely in hieroglyphs formed from crocodiles.
Edfu: The Temple of Horus in Edfu in the most completely preserved in Egypt, with its pylon, exterior walls and sanctuary all in near perfect condition. Its walls detail all of mythology and the politics of the time. It has the standard temple design. You enter through the separation between the massive pylons into a walled court. This wall continues around the entire temple. From the court, you enter a hypostyle hall, and from there, you cross another pylon into a smaller court fronting the building complex that contains the sanctuaries, tombs, and chapels.
Egyptian Costume Party: A great tradition of these Nile cruise ships is the Galabayyas party, where you dress up in traditional Egyptian garb, and then try to dance to traditional local music. The dance steps are relatively easy, but when you are dressed like King Tut-or the Queen of the Nile-no one will care if you decide to just do your own thing - and the costumes are provided!
Day 5: Aswan (B/L/D) Aswan (Elephantine Island, felluca sailing), Martini Party and Disco Night
Elephantine Island: Elephantine Island is located at the First Cataract of the Nile, which provided a natural boundary between Egypt and Nubia. It was easily defensible, serving as a fortress through much of its history, and was a prime trading center. The island is beautiful. Although many of the artifacts are in ruin, there are wonderful gardens and several colorful Nubian villages. The houses are generally painted with animal figures, such as crocodiles and fish. It is a pleasant place to experience a taste of the Nubian culture.
Felluca sailing: If there is even a bit of wind, then going for a ride on the traditional sailboats of the Nile, the felluca, is a must-do experience. The mast is constructed in two parts. The first is relatively short and is attached to the deck of the ship in the usual spot. The second is attached at the top of the first, and is large for the size of the vessel. The flexing angled mast and the large 'v'-shaped sail give the boats exceptional grace. We expect to sail around Kitchener's Island, a botanical garden filled with exotic imported plants and trees. It is a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon in the shade.
Martini Party and Disco Night: We try to mostly do the romantic thing, but after a bunch of cocktails, it's fun to shake your booty. So tonight we disco a bit before the slow songs start. The ROmanCE Dance is the last night of the cruise, where we feature the most romantic music we (and you) can find, so you can hold your special honey-bear close and whisper sweet thoughts of endless love.
Day 6: Aswan (B/L/D) Aswan (High Dam, Quarries, Temple of Philae), Talent Show
High Dam: A visit to the Aswan High Dam is an inspiring experience. While its neighbors have experienced famines, Egypt has been spared because of the dam, and there is no longer flooding-an important consideration given that about 95 percent of Egypt's population lives within 12 miles of the river. The first Aswan dam was built in 1889, but even after it was raised twice, it almost overflowed in 1946. The High Dam prevents this from occurring, and the beautiful Lake Nasser is the third largest reservoir in the world, stretching for 500 miles. The dam was created from tons of rubble (enough to build 17 pyramids) and provides about half of Egypt's power supply.
The dam, for all its good, has caused problems and controversy. First, paying for the dam caused havoc. Egypt requested loans from the World Bank. The United States initially agreed but then suddenly withdrew, presumably because of Nasser's refusal to give up his county's non-aligned status. Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal to help pay for the dam, and the United Kingdom, France, and Israel invaded. The Soviets stepped in to the "rescue" and provided the necessary money and technology. (They wore out their welcome over the next few years.) Once the project was underway, over 90,000 Nubians were relocated, and there was a wild race to save the artifacts of the region before they submerged. Now that the dam is finished, it is rapidly filling with sediment, which is decreasing its storage capacity, farmers use about a million tons of artificial fertilizer they did not need before, and the Nile delta faces erosion. Poor drainage of the newly irrigated lands has led increased salinity, which leaches back from the salty ocean sand below, and the stagnant hot water must be carefully monitored for parasites. Still, it is pretty, and no one misses the big famines.
Quarries: The tools used to cut the hard granite rock for the monuments of the pharaohs are unknown, but the granite cut in Aswan was hewn in massive quantities and used as far away as Thebes. The only tools that remain are copper, which would have been far too soft, and it appears that the ancients could bore granite at far greater speeds than we can achieve today. Perhaps the most famous quarry is the site in Aswan of the Unfinished Obelisk. The obelisk would have been the largest the world had seen, but flaws in the stone prevented its completion.
Temple of Philae: Philae is an island now buried beneath Lake Nasser, submerged by the High Dam. The main temple, the center of the cult of the goddess Isis, was relocated to the island of Agilika. Philae was a tiny island about four miles south of modern Elephantine almost entirely covered with temples and other monuments. The new location was carefully landscaped to make it resemble Philae as much as possible, and about 40,000 blocks weighing about 20,000 tons were moved to the new location. The temple is distinguished by several 60 foot tall pylons. The most beautiful part of the temple is Trajan's Kiosk, which shows the Roman emperor making offerings to Isis and Osiris.
Talent Show: Whether you sing or dance or just dress up and prance, come and entertain us. Don't worry if you are not quite ready for Broadway: talent is great, but enthusiasm works just fine.
Day 9: Luxor (B/L/D) Luxor (Luxor Temple, Luxor Museum), Karnak (Temple of Amun), Sound & Light Show, ROmanCE Dance
Thebes: The most generally used name for this region is "Thebes,"which includes Luxor, Karnak and the West Bank. The region contains the largest surviving concentration of ancient monuments in the Nile Valley. Of little importance during the Old Kingdom (3100 to 2183 BC), Thebes became the major residence of the pharaohs during the Middle Kingdom, waxing and waning depending on the degree to which they worshiped Amun (the blue sky god who merged with the sun god, Ra.) Thebes was the burial place for dozens of pharaohs across five different dynasties.
Karnak: The Temple of Amun was built, enlarged and rebuilt over 1,000 years. It is the largest temple complex in Egypt, and one of the largest religious buildings in the world. (Napoleon's engineers calculated that the entirety of the Notre Dame would fit into its Hypostyle Hall.) The east side of the temple is built among three gigantic pylons, with the Kiosk of Taharqo (one of the Nubian pharaohs), the Barque Shrine of Sety II, and the Temple of Ramesses III between the first two, and the Hypostyle Hall between the second and third. The west side of the temple contains within its walls obelisks, shrines, the Solar Chapel, with the Middle Kingdom Court at its center. If this sounds overwhelming, it is, and it makes up only a portion of the complete complex of temples. Other temples within the walled complex honor Monthu (a sun god), Akhenaten (the pharaoh who revolutionized religion in Egypt, leading to a decline in the decadent power of the priests of Amen), Opet (the hippopotamus goddess, mother of Osiris) and Khonsu (the mood god). Walking out of this complex down the Avenue of Sphinxes leads to the temples of Mut (the goddess consort of Amun) and Ramesses III (the deified pharaoh).
Luxor: The temple complexes of Karnak and Luxor are a little less than two miles apart. The Temple of Luxor was built primarily by one pharaoh, Amenhotep, and is far more coherent than Karnak. King Tut helped complete it, and even Alexander the Great added to it 1000 years later. The temple was the residence of Amun's consort Mut, and served as a sort of harem. The divine statue of Amun would be brought down from his temple to Luxor to symbolically father the king, and everyone would rejoice. The temple is beautiful, and the central court is spectacular at dusk, when the color of the stone turns to orange. The Luxor Museum houses many of the statues found in the area, protecting them from theft. The black granite statues from the reign of Amenhotep III, discovered in only 1989, are especially stunning.
Day 11: Cairo (B/L/D) The Citadel & The Khan al-Khalili Bazaar and Coptic Museum
Islamic Cairo: After the agonies of rule by the Byzantine Empire, the Egyptian people were indifferent to capture of the country by the early Muslim generals. Egyptian Christians of the Coptic sect were especially hostile to Byzantine rule, but the high taxes and corruption over time made the rule from Baghdad progressively less popular. In the 9th century AD, the local governor established the first autonomous Muslim state in Egypt. The shift between external and local rule continued for hundreds of years, with an occasional crusade or plague tossed in for good measure. The problems resembled those of the rest of the Muslim world, who argued whether the successors to Mohammad should be by election on based on heredity. Of those who favored the latter, the most successful in Egypt were the Fatimids, who based their claims on power through the direct decent though the prophet's daughter. This was last Arab dynasty to rule Egypt, falling to the great general Saladin in 1171. He began work on the Citadel, an impressive series of buildings within a fortress, as a place from which to command his armies. Construction continued for almost 700 years, and the complex served as the seat of government until only about 150 years ago.
Rule of Egypt after Saladin brought Abbasid Khalifs, Mamluk Sultans, and Ottomans before Europe invaded again. The expulsion of the French in 1800 by combined British and Ottoman troops, and the resulting chaos finally proved enough. The people of Cairo turned to Mohammad Ali, the Ottoman general, to restore order. He defeated the British, and, after inviting them to celebrate at the Citadel, murdered the rebellious local Mamluk officers, who were the last to contest his power. He and his family ruled for almost 150 years, and thoroughly modernized Egypt. Built inside the Citadel is the Muhammad Ali Mosque, designed by a Greek architect following Ottoman designs with a few ancient and Mamluk decorations thrown in for good measure. Reminiscent of the mosques of Istanbul, its walls are covered with a beautiful alabaster finish, and it is often called the Alabaster Mosque. The terraces in the back offer a terrific view of the city.
Old Cairo has Coptic treasures, and the Coptic Museum has the famed Nag Hammadi Codices (which we can direct you to if you are not much of a shopper), but at this point we are off to the bazaar. The Khan al-Khalili is Cairo's most famous bazaar, selling silk, clothing, fine jewelry and kitsch. Egyptians are very friendly people, famously hospitable, but the key word to a good deal is "haggle."
Itinerary subject to change
Day 2 : Giza B/L/D)
Memphis, Saqqarah (Step Pyramid of Zoser), Giza (Great Pyramid, Sphinx)
Getting Oriented: Figuring out where you are and where you are going in Egypt can be a bit confusing because cities often have
ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek and Arabic names, and there are wide variations in the accepted spellings. Moreover, many important
historical figures come from countries that no longer exist. For example, for almost 100 years, Egypt was led by Nubian pharaohs from
the kingdom of Kush, which is now largely the Sudan. (In addition to pharaohs from Egypt and modern-day Libya, Egypt has been
ruled by Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans, and the British.) Finally, most of us are used to thinking about
upper as north, and lower as south, but because the Nile flows from the south up to the Mediterranean, in Egypt it is the reverse: e.g.,
"lower" means north.
The Mena House Oberoi Hotel is in Giza, which is on the southwest outskirts of Cairo, about 25 miles or so from the Cairo International Airport. Cairo sits at the apex of the Nile delta, originally where an island made crossing the river relatively easy. Cairo has a population of about 17 million people and is the capital of Egypt. Its museums, mosques, Coptic treasures and bazaars are amazing, and the city is the focus of our travel after the cruise. For the first part of the journey, we stay outside the city to see the sights inspired by the great city of Memphis.
Memphis: Memphis was the original capital of the country when Lower and Upper Egypt were united by the first pharaoh, Menes, around 3100 BC. Memphis was the administrative city, and the buildings were not built for the ages-they were mostly made of wood. Consequently, there are few dramatic sights. The importance of Memphis is the pharaohs' temples and crypts, which over thousands of years, grew into a giant necropolis that stretches for over 20 miles to the north and west and a bit more to the south. The main attractions in Memphis are the limestone colossus of Ramesses II, which is over 30 feet tall despite the fact that it no longer has feet, and the Alabaster Sphinx, which is stunning crystalline limestone bleached white from centuries resting in water.
Saqqarah: Located only a little more than a mile from Memphis, Saqqarah is the site of the first pyramid, the Step Pyramid of Zoser. This masterwork was designed and built by the great architectural and medical genius, Imhotep, himself deified in the 6C BC. It was one of the earliest of all the pyramids and the first great monument in the world to be built of hewn stone. Many of its aesthetic elements, such as using wood or reeds as motifs to soften the visual appearance of stone, were adopted by future builders. The Step Pyramid is not shaped like the familiar four triangles rising to a point, but more like a six layer cake, with each square layer smaller than the next. It forms a lumpy version of the familiar outline of a pyramid. In the area, no fewer than 15 royal pyramids have been discovered, but this is probably only a fraction of what was there.
In the complex around the Step Pyramid, there are several impressive groups of tombs called mastabas containing wonderfully preserved texts and paintings from the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties (about 2500 to 2300 BC.) The largest is the Mastaba of Mereruka, a vizier, which has paintings showing everyday life, such furniture making, hunting and goldsmith working; dancers and musicians; and his family playing music and board games. (Mastabas hold amazing works, in part, because they are less likely to have been hauled away by archeologists and other looters. Egyptian law specifies that if you dig it up, you keep half.)
Giza: The most striking thing about Giza is the size of the Great Pyramid, the Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops.) Originally about 480 feet high, constructed from over two million stone blocks, each weighing several tons, it is the last of the Seven Wonders. All but the top 30 feet remain. The Pyramid of Khafre is only slightly smaller, although because it rests on higher ground, looks even bigger than the Great Pyramid from most vantage points. Each pyramid complex has a pyramid temple, a causeway, and a valley temple. The Sphinx is at the end of the causeway from the Pyramid of Khafre, and was probably built by him. The Sphinx was carved from an outcrop left after quarrying, and the stone is not very good (which is, after all, why they left it there), so the Sphinx suffers more than most monuments from exposure to sand, pollution and a rising water table. (The term "sphinx" refers to any human head/animal body sculpture, but when people just say "the sphinx," they mean this one.) Surrounding the complex are the tombs of the pharaohs' high ranking officials and friends, but the coolest thing is the Boat Museum. A royal boat, 140 feet long and stunningly beautiful, was excavated from a pit in 1954 and reconstructed. It was built from cedar imported from the famed lost forests of Lebanon, and it is remarkable to have survived for so long.
The Light and Sound Show is either great or tacky, depending on your point of view. The Sphinx talks to you! It is worth going, just for the fun of it, even though it will be the end of a long day. We love camp. For the benefit of those better at foreign accents than foreign languages, we will attend the English-language version.
Dictionary of Egyptian Architecture
Hypostyle: building design where the roof is supported by columns.
Mastaba: a flat-roofed oblong-shaped tomb in which a deep chamber is dug out and lined
with stone, mud bricks, or wood.
Pylon: a monumental tower forming the entrance to a temple, consisting either of a pair
of tall quadrilateral masonry masses with sloping sides and a doorway between them or of
one such mass pierced with a doorway.
Stele: an upright stone slab, pillar or other prepared surface bearing an inscription or
design and serving as a monument, marker, or the like.
Day 7: Abu Simbel / Aswan (B/L/D) Fly to Abu Simbel (Temple of Ramesses II), Return to Ship, Nubian Folkloric Show
Travel Plans: Today we step off the Star Goddess and board an early morning plane for Abu Simbel, which is at the very south of Egypt. After touring around for about three hours, we get back on the plane and fly back to our ship. Breakfast will be on the run, but we should make it to the ship by 1:30 pm for a nice proper lunch.
Abu Simbel: One of the most amazing things about Abu Simbel is that these monumental temples were all picked up and moved-had they stayed where they were, the rising waters from the High Dam would have covered them. Thirty countries worked for ten years and 23 temples were saved.
The Temple of Ramesses II, the most magnificent monument in Nubia, was dedicated to Ramesses II and to the four universal gods Ptah, Re-Harakhte, Amun-Re, and Ramesses II himself. (He was deified after his 64 year reign.) Unlike most temples, it is not free-standing, but rather the façade was cut from the cliff face itself, hewn into a pylon surrounded by four seated statues of Ramesses II. The northern wall of the central hall was decorated with an extraordinary relief of the great battle won by the pharaoh against the Hittites, and the standing and seated statues are stunning. The temple was built at the height of the Egyptian empire, which brought peace with the Hittites, who ruled from Iraq to Palestine, and rule over Libya.
The Temple of Queen Nefertari was also saved. Nefertari was the most beloved of the wives of Ramesses II, and the temple has a beautiful relief of Nefertari watching lovingly as her husband smites his enemies. The most unusual feature is that the façade is not simply monster statues of the pharaoh or the gods. Typically the statues of the pharaoh's family would be miniatures compared to the big man himself. Here, Ramesses' special love for Nefertari is clear-the whole family stands tall.
Nubian Folkloric Show: Tonight onboard we will see local performers recreate traditional folk tales and music from Ancient Nubia.
Day 8: Kom Ombo (B/L/D) Aswan (Nubian Museum), Kom Ombo (Temple of Horus), Egyptian Costume Party, Part 2
Aswan: Nubia once occupied the area between Aswan and what is now central Sudan (the country immediately south of Egypt.) Now a barren desert, it then had seasonal lakes and savanna that supported a large population. Nubia was part of the Kushite Empire until around 1500 BC, when it was conquered and incorporated into Egypt. It was a rich and dynamic region, with great resources such as gold, ebony, ivory, and slaves. (The name, Nubia, comes from the ancient Egyptian word for gold.) Once colonized, Nubia and her people became thoroughly incorporated into Egyptian culture. Egypt was ruled by Nubian pharaohs for about a century, who at that point were probably more Egyptian than the Egyptians themselves. One such pharaoh, Shabako exalted traditional pyramids, and as a result, Nubia had more pyramids than Egypt. The Nubian Museum was completed in 1997, and houses a magnificent collection of treasures from the area.
Kom Ombo: There were many temples dedicated to Horus, and this is not the largest (we will see that one later). The outstanding feature of this Temple of Horus is that it is actually the unique unification of two adjacent temples, one dedicated to crocodile-headed Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world, and the other to falcon-headed Horus, the solar war god. Each temple has its own entrance, chapel, etc. In the hypostyle hall, a central row of columns separates the gods.
The Temple of Horus was built by the Ptolemie pharaohs, descendants of Alexander the Great and his generals, who ruled Egypt for almost three centuries. To give you some idea of the complex social relationships of the time, the temple's hypostyle hall is decorated with scenes of Ptolemy VIII accompanied with his sister and ex-wife (Kleopatra II) and her daughter, his wife, Kleopatra III. Kleopatras II and III both ruled as pharaohs, and continued to marry their siblings. Keeping it in the family was a long-standing Egyptian tradition. One result of this inbreeding is that there is a lively discussion among Egyptologists as to which pharaohs had what genetic disorders. The Kleopatra that fell in love with Mark Antony was the scrappy VII, who actually slept with several boys who were not in her immediate family.
Egyptian Costume Party Part 2: The tradition continues. If you didn't get to be your favorite Pharaoh or Queen the first time, you have a second chance to "walk like an Egyptian".
Day 10: Luxor & Cairo (B/L) Disembark ship, Fly to Cairo (Egyptian Museum), Check into Conrad Cairo Hotel
Travel Plans: We disembark the ship in early morning and fly back to Cairo. Our new hotel, the luxurious Conrad Cairo Hotel, is located in the heart of the city.
Egyptian Museum of Antiquities: The Egyptian Museum, without doubt, holds the greatest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world. The ground floor displays larger objects running chronologically running clockwise from the left. Upstairs are the treasures of Tutankhamun and Case H, which contains the small masterpieces for which the museum takes especial special pride.
Day 12: Cairo (B) Say goodbye until next time
Travel Plans: Buffet breakfast at leisure. Transfer by air-conditioned coach to Cairo Airport to board your flight home.
Sonesta's Star Goddess
Egypt & Nile Adventure 11-night CruiseTour Prices
Double Occupancy Rate, pp ( US $) New Reduced Pricing!
Port charges Taxes, and Fees $647.00 per person additional.
Prices includeDeluxe hotel accommodations including two nights at the Mena House Hotel and two nights at the Conrad Hotel Cairo with breakfast.
Coach class intra-tour flights: Cairo/Luxor...Aswan/Cairo.
Seven-night Nile cruise aboard Star Goddess, with accommodations in an outside cabin with private facilities.
All meals aboard ship; breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner.
Receptions, parties & entertainment aboard ship.
Private Egyptologist guide/escort throughout.
Complete program of tours as described.
Complete pre-departure materials, including travel portfolio and bag tags.
Cairo airport arrival and departure transfers and baggage handling.
Not included:International airfare, Passport and visa expenses (A visa is required for Egypt.); insurance; meals other than those specified above or in the itinerary; personal expenses such as laundry, telephone calls, faxes, and alcoholic beverages; gratuities to guides, and drivers and shipboard personnel.
Security notice Due to heightened security throughout the world, we cannot accommodate non-registered passengers onboard at any time. The safety and well being of our passengers and crew cannot be compromised. ROmanCE VOYAGES appreciates your understanding and compliance.
Minimum participation requirements apply.This is a whole-ship charter. Bookings made directly through the cruise line cannot be honored. All prices are in US dollars, per person, based on double occupancy, and do not include fees, charges, and taxes. Cabins sell quickly and all deals are subject to availability. Other restrictions may apply. Not responsible for errors or omissions.