If a ship is a means to the destination, then voyages in North Africa and the Middle East deliver a dazzling array of ancient sites. Your clients will walk as the Pharaohs did through majestic Egyptian temples, stroll to a storied Sinai monastery or cruise the Nile, Suez Canal or Red Sea, watching 5,000 years of history and culture unfold.
Nile and Red Sea Cruising
Many tour operators provide inclusive group packages featuring a Nile cruise. The biggest Nile news this month is the launch of Uniworld’s River Tosca. Uniworld has three Egyptian itineraries which include Nile cruising in a river view suite with a French balcony and fine amenities. Included are accommodations at the Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino with breakfast, service charges, taxes and porterage; meals onboard River Tosca; English-speaking shore excursions; air travel between Cairo and Luxor; and transfers in Egypt. Clients who pay in full when booking on or before November 30 will save up to $800 per couple ($400 per person).
“Egypt is kind of an open-air museum unlike anything else in world,” says Joost Ouendag, vice president of product marketing, Viking River Cruises. “The Nile is…well-suited to river cruising with a steady flow, no strange rapids in the river [along the itinerary route] and a lot to see along the way.”
For 2010, Viking River Cruises will launch several new itineraries, including a nine-day Nile Explorer itinerary featuring Cairo highlights and a four-night Aswan-to-Luxor cruise onboard Royal Lotus. Fares begin at $5,595 per person double ($500 savings per couple). Through September 30, the early booking discount with two-for-one pricing is from $2,798 per person plus the client receives a $500 saving on roundtrip air and complimentary wine.
For small-ship enthusiasts, Variety Cruises will operate Red Sea Wonders cruising between November 13 and April 2, 2010. Fares begin at $1,990 per person weekly. A Best of Egypt promotion is available for the December 11, and January 8 and 22, 2010 sailings; clients in category A or B accommodations will enjoy two free nights in Cairo, a half-day Cairo sightseeing tour, and airport and port transfers.
The cruise departs from Hurghada on the new Harmony V. In Egypt, passengers visit the Sinai Mountains and St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sharm El Sheikh. Travelers also have an option for Red Sea diving.
Mediterranean and Mid-East Cruises
For ocean-cruising enthusiasts, Silversea Cruises will operate five voyages on Silver Wind and Silver Whisper that visit Egyptian ports, including Safaga, Alexandria, Port Said and Sharm El Sheikh this winter. Cruises range from six to 16 days with Silver Sailings fares starting at $3,178 per person double.
If clients are seeking value and want an overnight on the ship while in Egypt— allowing for more time to explore sites in the country, they could consider Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade, which has several 12-night voyages that include Alexandria; its 2010 cruise fares start at $899 per person.
Costa Cruises’ new 114,500-ton Costa Pacifica will depart from Rome (Civitavecchia) and Savona offering 10- and 11-night cruises to Egypt, Israel and Turkey. Eleven-night voyages on December 27 this year and January 18, February 9 and March 3, 2010 are priced from $1,129 per person double.
Celebrity Cruises’ 13-night Holy Land Cruise onboard Celebrity Equinox departing September 9, 2010, has an Alexandria port call. Fares start at $2,299 per person double. Sister line Royal Caribbean International will debut a 12-night roundtrip voyage from Venice to the Holy Land aboard Vision of the Seas. Departures are on September 24, October 6, 18, and 30, 2010. Cruise fares start at $1,599 per person double.
Holland America Line has lined up two 2010 cruises with Egyptian port calls—a September 19 departure on Westerdam, roundtrip from Piraeus, and a September 26 departure from Civitavecchia to Piraeus; the two cruises begin at $1,999 per person double and $2,795 per person double, respectively. Clients could take a half-day tour to Alexandria and several full-day tours to the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx—each covering one other unique feature, such as the Pyramid of Sakkara, Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, or a Nile River luncheon.
In 2010, the new Seabourn Odyssey of Seabour Cruise Line will call at Egypt on a 16-day segment of its World Cruise. Sailing from Dubai to Athens (Piraeus) on April 8, the ship will call at Safaga (overnight for Luxor), Sharm El Sheikh and Sokhna (port for Cairo), Egypt, besides other Middle Eastern ports. Fares start from $10,824 per person double.
Sailing roundtrip from Sydney, Australia, Princess Cruises’ Dawn Princess operates a 104-day World Cruise departing May 21. Clients will enjoy 43 ports of call, including Safaga for Luxor and Port Said for Cairo/Giza. Prices begin at $17,989 per person double for an inside cabin.
Fred.Olsen’s World Cruise departs January 5, 2010, with an Alexandria, Egypt, visit—Borton Overseas is the U.S. reseller. Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 also heads out in January on a World Cruise that includes an Egyptian visit, including an optional three-day Cairo, Luxor and Valley of the Kings overland trip.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises guests sailing on the October 9 voyage of Seven Seas Voyager from Piraeus to Dubai will receive a complimentary 14-hour tour to Karnak, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings from the port of Safaga. Cruisers will explore Luxor’s temples, lunch, visit the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and break for tea. Fares for the 15-night cruise start at $9,505 per person double.
During its Roman Revelations cruise from Barcelona on June 4, 2010, Oceania Cruises will visit Egypt. Guests enjoy two-for-one fares, free air and a $1,000 per person bonus savings per stateroom, with pricing from $5,128 per person double. Oceania guests may book an optional overland tour from Alexandria to Port Said via Cairo.
Crystal Cruises has created several three-night Crystal Overland Adventures from Ashdod, Israel, for guests on a 12-day Holy Land Crystal Serenity cruise, departing October 8 from Athens. Options include Israel, Petra & Cairo; Israel, Luxor & Cairo; and Israel In-depth & Cairo. Overland Adventures’ fares start at $3,679 per person double. Cruise fares start at $4,940 per person double including $1,000 per person in onboard credits.
Azamara Cruises has new pre-packaged shore excursions on select sailings in Europe and Asia. These can save clients 5 percent. Azamara Journey’s October 11, October 25 and November 8 sailings have a History and Culture of the Eastern Mediterranean Omega Collection package, including an Egyptian land adventure—priced at $1,489.
Egypt is hot this year, say agents and suppliers. “That part of the world has seen more turbulence in the past; now, it’s relatively calm and there’s pent-up demand,” says Viking’s Ouendag. It is also affordable. So clients who said “let’s pass up Egypt” may be ready to take a second look.