Alexander The Great Nile Cruise

 

The Alexander the Great is an unexpected oasis of tranquility on one of the busiest tourist beats in the world, the temples and tombs scattered along the banks of the Nile from Luxor to Aswan. Last year 8.6 million tourists descended on Egypt, 840,000 of them from the UK. And in January this year there were 78,000 British visitors, twice as many as in the same period last year, partly due to a leap in value of sterling against the Egyptian pound.

 

With the inevitable increase in holiday packages and scores of cruise boats jostling for position on the Nile, it is a revelation to find a vessel that has turned its back on the pack- ’em-in philosophy, yet still presents good value.

Alexander the Great was a standard 60-cabin boat that has been stripped out and refitted as a 30-cabin floating boutique hotel, furnished with understated elegance. In the dining room, enough tables for two can be found for all and dinner is waiter service, with five courses and several choices. Not only that, they offer Egyptian dishes such as spicy green molokhia soup and stuffed pigeon for dinner, and ful (fava beans) and tamiya (fried bean patties) for breakfast – rightly judging that their passengers are sophisticated enough to be interested in sampling local cuisine.

If you’ve never been on a Nile cruise, all this won’t sound revolutionary, but the norm is uninspired, international food and shared tables. Cabins are small, with minuscule shower closets – and five-star decor means smoked-glass mirrored ceilings, fake marble and gilt galore in public areas.

So it was a breath of fresh air stepping aboard at Luxor into Alexander’s light, uncluttered reception with its pale walls, stylish sofas and sculptural flower lamps – very boutique, so far. Our cabin, called Linen Twins, was also in minimalist style, with subtle textures and wood laminate floor. In the bathroom was a fixed shower as well as a bathtub and towelling robes. I told my partner Michael, who had never been to Egypt before, how spoilt we were.
Other cabins, all of identical size and layout, have jazzier names – Jungle Paths, Like the 70s, Journey to China, but are equally light and sleek, with flashes of colour in throws or headboards, an op-art cushion here, a quirky ostrich-shell lantern there.

 

I’d have been happy to lie down in Linen and watch Egypt slip by through the huge windows, but there were laden buffet counters to be tackled and archeological wonders to behold. Lunch was a feast – chefs tossing pasta and carving lamb, gorgeous salads and fresh fruit, all delicious and meticulously prepared – and gave us a chance to see our shipmates. Children under 12 are not allowed, and there were only 27 of us on board – nine Italians, a French couple, an American couple, three Germans and five Spaniards. The three British couples were travelling with Discover Egypt, the only UK tour operator to offer Alexander, for the first time this year.

Our cruise included guided tours of the usual sights: Luxor temple and Karnak, the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, up to Edfu, then Kom Ombo and Aswan with its High Dam, unfinished obelisk and the Temple of Philae. Where our cruise differed from most is that rather than being herded about in a group of 20 or more we had our own guide, Walid, for six of us. It made a huge difference – less hanging around, being able to get up close to the breathtaking carvings and hear his commentary in crowded sites. And there was no visit to a hard-sell papyrus factory or perfumery.

There is one Nile cruise tradition that style-conscious Alexander has not dropped – the Galabiya party. On one night guests are chivvied into “Egyptian costumes”, available at tourist markets along the way, and invited to play silly games after dinner, such as wrap your partner up like a mummy using flimsy loo rolls.

Why? I asked Mr Sharif, the boat’s manager. “People expect it on a Nile cruise,” he sighed. “But I wish we could come up with something more intellectual for after-dinner than games. ”A challenge when there are five different languages. So, half the guests ignored the event, the Italians joined in with gusto, so did Michael, and after two games the lounge returned to normal.

Cruises on Alexander start from Luxor on Tuesdays, and our charter flight brought us in on Monday, so we had a relaxing overnight and first morning at the timeless Old Winter Palace with its lush garden, now a Sofitel hotel. We loved its 1886 restaurant, named after the year the hotel was built, with its liveried waiters, gilt mirrors and chandeliers.

Our cruise ended in laid-back Aswan, where our package took us to the best hotel in town, the Old Cataract Hotel (also a Sofitel), famed for its views over the Nile and old world atmosphere – a tall Nubian in a fez works the antique cage lift.

To enjoy the hotel fully, book a deluxe or higher-category room – the Standard and Superior rooms are “unmodernised”, though spacious by modern standards. Both hotels are in perfect positions and peaceful. I found them charming, but those in search of power showers, plasma screens, wi-fi and spas must wait until 2008 when makeovers are complete.

Meanwhile, the mix of four days on a 21st-century boat, topped and tailed with last reminders of the Victorian dawn of tourism to Egypt, is a winning one.

 

 

Standard suites

The 28 standard luxury suites have been individually designed with meticulous attention to detail. Tasteful colours, fine bed linens and carefully selected art and artifacts have helped create chic and supremely comfortable private accommodation.

Each luxury standard suite is spread over 25 square meters and individually designed to provide the ideal blend of comfort, style and ambience and include:

Air conditioning with individual control, LCD flat screen TV, satellite channels, channel for front view camera, in-room safe and private bar.

Bathrooms have a full size bathtub, teak floor, hairdryer, magnifying mirror, telephone plus a range of natural toiletries. Electricity 200V/50Hz (Standard European two pin sockets).

 

Panoramic suites

The 2 Panoramic suites are spread over 27 square meters and have private terraces offering magnificent views of the Nile.

Each of the Panoramic suite is designed to provide a superbly comfortable contemporary luxury and include:

Air conditioning with individual control, LCD flat screen TV, satellite channels, channel for front view camera, in-room safe and private bar.

Bathrooms have a full size bathtub, teak floor, hairdryer, magnifying mirror, telephone plus a range of natural toiletries. Electricity 200V/50Hz (Standard European two pin sockets).

 

Restaurants and bars

 

The red fiesta restaurant

Whichever type of food you desire, the elegant “Red Fiesta” restaurant offers delicious cuisine using fine, fresh ingredients. For lunch, an excellent buffet is accompanied by the Chef’s station offering cooked-to-order dishes. In the evening the restaurant creates a special atmosphere in which to enjoy a fine dinning experience. Here you will find an à la carte menu complemented by a great selection of wines.

For your comfort smoking and mobile phones are not permitted.

Red Fiesta is a proud member of “Chaîne des Rôtisseurs”.

 

Tranquility & Relaxation

Slip into the refreshing waters of the heated pool or Jacuzzi or sit on the sun deck and watch the Nile go by whilst sipping a glass of fine wine or enjoying an afternoon tea.

“The Club” outdoor pool area is situated on the fourth deck. The Pool Bar and Grill serves refreshments and drinks including breakfasts, afternoon teas and candlelit dinners.

 

Luxury in simplicity

Situated on the upper deck, the 60 seat upstairs lounge and bar serves all types of different beverages and drinks as well as exotic teas and coffees. The lounge is equipped with a large flat LCD TV screen, projector and a surround sound system.

 

Simply you enjoy

Soak up sunshine on the Solarium and enjoy a spectacle of green landscape scroll by.

 

Facilities

Rejuvenation, body & soul, is aim of Alexander the Great, and nothing restores the spirit more than a little pampering. To that end, aboard you’ll find a Spa offering massages and beauty treatments, as well as a Turkish bath.

Other facilities include a hairdresser, two souvenir and jewelry shops and a fitness room.

For small private meetings for up to 50 people, Alexander the Great can be booked exclusively. The Red Fiesta restaurant is easily transformed into a conference room for your special presentations and can be fully equipped on request.

 

Services

Private Dock in Aswan

International telephone calls & faxes

Wireless Internet access

Laundry service

Hairdresser

Souvenir and Jewelry boutiques

Automatic wake-up calls.

 

Technical Data

Length: 70 meters Breadth: 11.5 meters Draft: 1.50 meters Speed: 10 knots. Schottel hydraulic navigating system. Two MAN marine type generators 250 KW. Two Deutz Main Diesel Marine type engines 460 HP each. Vacuum toilet system. Radar, short-wave radio and marine satellite.

Safety & Health: Built to Germanischer Lloyd specifications. Emergency ceiling lights are located in all outlets corridor. Fire extinguishers are located in every suite, corridors and public areas. Blom & Voss fire resistant partitions and ceilings. Fire hoses are available in all public areas. Life jackets are available in all suites. Life boats and rafts are available on the sun deck.

Water purification with 4 filters process including chlorine and ultraviolet treatment.

Under the supervision of Cristal International Britannia Ltd. Food safety division.

 

Entertainment

Entertainment on board includes:

– Whirling Dervish

– Belly Dancer

– Galabeya party

– Welcome Cocktail reception

– Music and dancing

 

 

Itinerates:

Luxury Nile Cruise, 5 Days – 4 Nights
Luxor / Esna / Kom Ombo / Aswan

Tuesday

 

  • Embarkation & Check-in.
  • Lunch in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Afternoon visit to the temples of Karnak & Luxor.
  • Whirling Dervish & Belly Dance show in the “Upstairs” lounge bar.
  • Á la carte dinner in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
    Overnight aboard in Luxor.

Wednesday

 

  • Buffet breakfast in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Morning visit of the West Bank
  • Sail to Esna.
  • Buffet Lunch in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Tea time on “The Club” sun deck.
  • Afternoon passage of the Esna Locks.
  • Welcome cocktail & presentation of the yacht’s crew in the “Upstairs” lounge bar.
  • Buffet dinner on “The Club” sun deck.
    Overnight aboard in Esna.

Thursday

 

  • Early morning sail to Edfu.
  • Wake up at leisure.
  • Buffet breakfast in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Morning visit to the temple of Edfu by coach.
  • Sail to Kom Ombo.
  • Buffet lunch in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Tea time on “The Club” sun deck.
  • Afternoon visit to the temple of Kom Ombo on foot.
  • Egyptian barbecue buffet dinner on “The Club” sun deck.
  • Galabeya party with a chance for guests to dress up in traditional Egyptian costumes.
    Overnight aboard in Kom Ombo.

Friday

 

  • Early morning sail to Aswan.
  • Buffet breakfast in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Morning visit of the High Dam, the temple of Philae & the Unfinished Obelisk.
  • Lunch in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Afternoon Felucca (sail boat) ride around the Islands.
  • Á la carte dinner in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
    Overnight aboard in Aswan.

Saturday

 

  • Buffet breakfast in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Check-out.

 

Luxury Nile Cruise, 4 Days – 3 Nights (Winter)
Luxor / Esna / Aswan.

Saturday

  • Embarkation & check–in.
  • Buffet lunch in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Visit to the temple of Philae, the High Dam & the Unfinished Obelisk.
  • Cocktail reception on “The Club” sun deck accompanied by an Egyptian trio band (Elegant attire).
  • A la carte dinner in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
    Overnight aboard in Aswan.

Sunday

 

  • Morning sail to Kom Ombo.
  • Wake up at leisure. 
  • Buffet breakfast in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant. 
  • Morning visit to the temple of Kom Ombo. 
  • Sail to Edfu. 
  • Barbecue lunch on “The Club” sun deck.
  • Afternoon visit to the temple of Edfu. 
  • Sail to Esna. 
  • Tea time on “The Club” sun deck. 
  • A la carte dinner in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Galabeya party with a chance for guests to dress up in traditional Egyptian costumes.
    Overnight aboard in Esna.

Monday

 

  • Wake up at leisure.
  • Buffet breakfast in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Morning passage of the Esna locks & sail to Luxor.
  • Buffet lunch on “The Club” sun deck.
  • Afternoon visit to the temples of Karnak & Luxor.
  • Whirling Dervish & Belly Dance show in the “Upstairs” lounge bar.
  • A la carte dinner in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
    Overnight aboard in Luxor.

Tuesday

 

  • Buffet breakfast in the “Red Fiesta” restaurant.
  • Check–out.
  • Visit to the west bank of Luxor.

 

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