Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Farewell to the Sun Goddess

Our Nile cruiser is now a fond memory. This was my first lengthy cruise and I must say that it is THE way to travel. The ships are generally the same size. Roughly rectangular and flat bottomed to prevent grounding on the ever shifting sandbanks. The layout on our ship was thus: The lowest beck is the dining room. Above this is the reception desk and a lounge/disco. The next deck in a small reading lounge and cabins. The next deck has several small shops and cabins. Above this is the sun deck with a bar and small pool.

Having a few spare minutes one day I took up the captains offer of a tour. I will say I was impressed all the way around. The kitchen was spotless and suited to any hotel. The meals on our journey were superb. We saw the engine room which was also in excellent condition. We finnished up on the small bridge. The early steamers were obliged to stop at night since it was impossible to see the river. Since we sailed through the night I thought that sonar and other hi tech equipment was in use. Imagine my suprise when I was introduced Mahmoud, the pilot. He is it. No radar, no maps. He has over 50 years experience piloting cruisers (pilots are required to have a minimum of 30 years experience) the ship is fairly agile thanks to forward thrusters. The rudder is almost never used. I have never seen more focused attention on a face. Perfectly still with only slight twitches of his right hand on the the thruster switch. He can read the ever changing river like a book.
Since there is limited dock space these ships park side by side. To get to shore you may walk through the lobby of two or three ships. The steering of these ships is so gentle you may not notice you have actually docked.
Although tipping, or baksheesh, is the tradition here you don't tip until the end of the cruise. This tip is split amongst the whole crew. When we repacked last night we decided to abandon our dress shoes to make room for swag. Rather than just pitching them we hid them above the ceiling tiles of our room along with a note saying we wanted a small part of us to stay in Egypt, cruising the Nile.

We are an a short flight from Aswan to Abu Simbel. When the high dam was constructed in the 60's several temples had to be moved piece by piece or be lost beneath the waters of the soon to be formed Lake Nasser. This feat is an engineering marvel. After this we will fly back to Cairo for the last few days of the trip.


Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed following your trip. However,the best part is Erick's utter glee that comes across.

Anonymous said...

I want the info regarding how to schedule one of these cruises.

Steve said...

There are literally hundreds of Nile Cruisers operating today. Do a google for Nile Cruise and you will find lots of resources. Our cruiser was owned by the Sonesta company, the same company that owned our Hotel. They own three ships. I recommend this mode of transport highly.