Egypt cruises combined with mass bus tours?

Oct 5th, 2002, 06:02 PM
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Egypt cruises combined with mass bus tours?

I've always had a horror of tours by bus with dozens of other tourists, seeing the sights with 30 other people, straining to hear our guide - is that how they do the excursions from Nile cruises?

I've heard that some cruises or tour operators allow people to book their own private tours - has anyone tried this?

Thanks for any feedback!
Oct 6th, 2002, 07:04 AM
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Andrea, last year we went on a Med cruise and booked all our own excursions privately with the exception of the port of Alexandria (going to Cairo). This was the only tour we did using the Ship's tours. We did this as I was concerned with safety. It was AWFUL. NOt only were there 44 people on our bus but all 40 buses from the ship went in a great big herd and we saw nothing. The tour guide was useless. We spent longer at a papyrus market with incredibly overpriced items where the tour guide gets a commission than our combined time at the Pyramids, the Sphinx and the Museum. Wherever we went we went in a group of approximately 1500 people. It was the worst experience of the whole cruise and totally ruined our visit to Egypt.

Some friends on our cruise went with a private guide and they had a phenomenal time and it was cheaper. I would go onto the board and go to the subsection, Ports of Call and onto the Celebrity board and do a search of old posts to get some private guide recommendations.
Oct 7th, 2002, 03:17 AM
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If you are referring to trips from Nile cruises, and not big ocean ships, things will be somewhat different. You will still be on a bus with a group of people, but it certainly will not be 1500. Keep in mind, however, that depending on season, all the sites have lots of people at them anyway.

We did a Egypt tour package and I think there are real pros and cons of doing it either way. The Nile cruise part was a river cruiser with about 100 guests. Some were on our tour and others were not. The boat operated/arranged some tours for guests, but I am sure they did not force people to take them!

We found Egypt to be a wonderful experience, but inefficient and confusing to navigate. Scam artists were everywhere. We had some on our tours who hired a cab to tour Cairo - some had fascinating experiences and others reported being fleeced - just driven around Cairo with no real "tour" component - and then more money was demanded from them just to drive them back to hotel. To me, the difficult part would be identifying who was legitimate and who just wanted your money.

The downside to an organized package is you ARE herded like sheep from site to site - but it seemed that most others were also. There were some places I would have preferred to spend more time and some less. However, tour guides are regulated by Egyptian government as to education, experience. Ours had a Masters degree in antiquities and was incredibly knowledgeable. For example, she had us at Giza pyramids at 7 AM to have access to very limited number of tickets per day to actually enter pyramid.

If you had some reliable way to hire your own guide, I am sure the experience would be unbelievable. How you find that person would be the difficult part.
Oct 7th, 2002, 06:41 AM
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Thanks for the feedback - I am talking about tours organized by the ship on a Nile cruise. I'm assuming they herd all the passengers on busses?

Anyone else have experience either with ship-sponsored shore excursions, or doing a Nile cruise but booking your own private guide? I've heard that it's possible but don't know how to go about it.

Also, any other reports on what the ships' shore excursions are like might be able to help me convince my husband we need a private guide . . .

Oct 7th, 2002, 06:51 PM
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Here's what happened to me. I booked my Egypt package as an independent traveler. On the cruise most passengers were part of large groups. There was a South African group, a European group, an American university group and then there were 12 of us independents. We were given a guide and toured together. They called us the "nongroup english". My "nongroup" was fantastic and I had a wonderful time. Our guide was good too.

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