Travel: How to explore ancient Egypt by river and road

A deluxe cabin on the Nile Queen is in pristine shape for the marketing photo. (Courtesy of Aggressor River Cruises)

If finding a dead moth on your bed pillow is the symbolic equivalent of “bon voyage” in ancient Egyptian mythology, then my river cruise adventure aboard the Aggressor Nile Queen would have been blessed by 3,000-year-old deities just hours before sailing.

Alas, the winged cabin mate that was literally dead on arrival — mine — was there by accident, if not neglect, and contributed to an inauspicious start to this Middle Eastern escapade. The first clues were the tacky surroundings when the captain welcomed guests onto his 154-foot-long, eight-cabin vessel. Donned in a traditional white galabeya, he proudly stood beside his floating office as passengers literally had to walk the plank.

While other river cruise lines roll out actual red carpets at embarkation, Aggressor seems OK with having guests negotiate a path made of scraps of mud-stained wood along an unsightly and somewhat treacherous makeshift dock. If that’s normal operations, no way is this my idea of a grand start to a majestic journey. Then again, some might find this charmingly rustic and raw.

Six of the Nile Queen’s cabins are in the deluxe category, each with two single beds that cannot be moved or merged. The only spacious sleeping accommodations are found in the two master staterooms, which feature a queen bed and, we can only presume, no dead moths where you lay your head.

A deluxe cabin on the Nile Queen is in pristine shape for the marketing photo. (Courtesy of Aggressor River Cruises)

The hallway that leads to all the passenger cabins is carpeted in long shag, further dating a vessel that, to be fair, is intentionally not modern. The problem is the past we’re supposed to be connecting with isn’t the shag carpeting-crazy 1970s, but the more glamorous 1920s to 1940s when sail-powered, shallow-bottomed, barge-like dahabiyas such as this were common in the days of the monarchy when aristocrats loved to cruise the Nile in style.

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There is a positive aspect to the outmoded cream-colored carpet, which, again to be fair, might have been in style in retro-respecting Egypt when the Nile Queen was built in 2009. The flooring happily leads to steps that take passengers to an upper deck that is much more inviting than the one below.

Aggressor Adventures’ Nile Queen makes Saturday-Thursday runs between Luxor and Aswan every week. (Courtesy Aggressor River Cruises)

The Nile Queen’s itinerary can’t help but yield dramatic views from a top deck decked out with a hot tub, loungers and a bar. Few will argue that the most intriguing of the legendary waterway’s 4,135 miles are the 129 between Luxor and Aswan. Aggressor (aggressor.com) makes the most of this route with stops that have guests retracing the footsteps of the very pharaohs we all learned about in sixth grade.

Of course, the Nile Queen isn’t the only boat navigating the waterway upon which Egypt is completely dependent for life-giving water and arable land. At least two dozen other cruise lines make the Luxor-to- Aswan run of four nights and longer. Price-wise, the Nile Queen is midrange …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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