Nile Cruise Guide

Egyptian Sidekick Yellow Motto

Although we do not deal with or endorse any one particular operator, we understand that a Nile cruise is by far the best way to experience Upper Egypt, Nubia, and Lake Nasser. The following is a short guide to cruising the Nile.

If you are just interested in the main points, see the short summary:



Nile cruises sailing between Luxor and Aswan (in both directions) are a highlight of any trip to Upper Egypt. The most scenic of the two possible routes runs from Luxor to Aswan, with some of the best views available from cabins on the starboard side. The route from Aswan to Luxor, while sometimes the only alternative, exhibits a lot problems mainly due to the timing of sightseeing excursions, and an overall shorter duration. Lake Nasser cruises are considered an entirely different category. This is mainly because of the arid nature of Nubia and because Lake Nasser is not connected to the Nile by a navigable waterway due to the Aswan High Dam.

  • A typical cruise takes 4 nights, 5 days, with buffet-style breakfasts, lunches and dinners included in your stay. Drinks and alcohol are rarely included, and although restrictions exist concerning drinks brought from the outside, it is possible to bring in water, juice or soft drinks in backpacks.
    • Most ships depart on Mondays, Wednesdays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays from Luxor for the longer, preferred 4-night cruise.
    • Departures from Aswan on Tuesdays and Fridays are no longer guaranteed due to low-tourism numbers, and the cruise is shorter, with 3-nights only.
    • The ship remains moored at either Luxor or Aswan the first night to allow travellers to sightsee; the ship does not set sail until the second night.
  • Most cruises include a top-deck bar & pool, a gym & spa, library, a main-deck sitting area, and evening events such as a ship tour, a captain’s cocktail party, afternoon tea, and an Arabian musical dance performance.
  • On-board internet access is available for around $15 USD for every 15 minutes. We advise you to purchase a mobile WiFi “Onda” router ($50 USD), purchase a data SIM card from Egypt’s Mobinil or Etisalat, and you will have WiFi internet during your cruise and in any city in Egypt for less than $5 USD per week.



All ships sailing the Nile along the Luxor-to-Aswan route are equivalent to floating hotels and range from 4-stars to 5-stars and above. A sightseeing component is only included when booking a cruise through a tour operator, and does not come standard with a cruise.

  • Winds on the Nile can be strong, and provide a perfect environment for lounging in the shade on the top-deck, even with temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius. Egypt has a very comfortable dry heat, with very low humidity. A top-deck bar will serve refreshments billed to your room, you can bring up your own liquids from your room too.
  • If you plan to sightsee during your cruise, make sure to include the sightseeing component at the time of booking. Discounts are available to students with a valid ISIC student card, and representatives need to know that beforehand, in order to apply the 50% off discount.
  • Photos of the archaeological sites are best taken in the afternoons and at dusk. Longer shadows maximize the effect. This can only be done if you depart from Luxor for Aswan on the 4-night, 5-day cruise. If you depart from Aswan on the shorter cruise, your sightseeing will occur in the mornings, causing the tomb and temple carvings to appear less pronounced.
  • While we encourage independent travel, touring as part of a single cruise package is the most efficient way to experience the Upper Egyptian Nile Valley. Adding this hybrid component is highly recommended due to concerns with logistics. Specifically, early-morning arrivals require early start times, which also require pre-arranged transportation. Moreover, significant distances between each of the archaeological sites requires pre-arranged transportation, and the lack of public transportation infrastructure presents few alternatives in many of the small towns, such as Edfu.


  • If your dates are set/tight, and you prefer to book your Nile cruise ahead of time, Memphis Tours has provided a consistent level of service, honours the 50% off ISIC card discounts at the time of booking, and provides a wide array of choice when it comes to itineraries, dates, and cruise ships for prospective travellers. Detours to various wares factories is part of all Memphis Tours itineraries.
  • If your dates are flexible, and you are staying in either Luxor or Aswan, you can either book a last-minute cruise for a far lower price through Mia at the Boomerang Hotel in Luxor or through Petra Dressler’s Aswan Individual, both of which have access to cruises from either departure point, but may not be able to offer a sightseeing component. Petra’s local intermediary, Waleed Ali will inspect the room prior to check-in, which is an added assurance.


 The Good
  • Longer Luxor-Aswan route
  • Buffet breakfasts/lunches/dinners
  • Evening events/entertainment
  • Scenic starboard cabin views
  • 50% ISIC sightseeing discounts
  • Late-afternoon photography
  • No in-cruise gratuities required

 The Bad
  • Shorter Aswan-Luxor route
  • Drink exclusions/restrictions
  • Overpriced, slow internet access
  • Moored on the first and last nights
  • Poor early-morning photography
  • End-of-cruise cabin gratuity
  • End-of-cruise guide gratuity

 Discounts & Rates
  • If booking a Nile cruise with a sightseeing component, inform your tour operator if you possess an ISIC student card to obtain a discount.
  • Cruise programs are not created equal, shop around for the best itinerary offered in order to maximize your time in Upper Egypt.
  • Be prepared for trips to Alabaster, Papyrus, Perfume and Carpet factories where demonstrations will be followed by hard sales-pitches.
  • A gratuity in Egyptian Pounds (EGP) is expected on the last day of the cruise. Cruise managers frown upon tipping during the cruise.


Ancient Sites
Contemporary Cultural Experiences


Ancient Sites
Contemporary Cultural Experiences

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