Egypt-Smithsonian Journeys?


Oct 31st, 2005, 04:10 AM
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Egypt-Smithsonian Journeys?

Has anyone gone on the Egypt tour with Smithsonian Journeys? It includes a 5day Nile cruise, wondering about the ship.

Would appreciate any experiences with this tour. Thanks
fitzpowell is offline  
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Nov 8th, 2005, 02:24 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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I have just returned from a Smithsonian Tour to Egypt on Oct 18th. This is my first tour with them and unless you are ready for hectic and long days don't go with them. For the first 3 days (until we
boarded our cruise ship) we were on the go, never mind jet lag nor 3am - 5am wake-up calls and 11-12pm nights. I will sa this, the lectures given by Terek were wonderful and informative. I really learned a lot and the next days tour was always covered in detail. He wanted your questions and was happy to answer them. On the other hand, our guide was not very friendly, when he did answer questions it was most of the time
in a snide manner. We were not impressed with him. Our cruise was great! The ship, Sonesta Goddess was very nice, the food excellent, the crew wonderful. The only thing that could have made it better would have been our guide avaliable for questions during our cruise. There are lots of sights along the Nile we would have liked to talk to him about but unless we had a stop, we never saw him. The hotels are, for the most part, really nice. Just remember that 5 star in Egypt is not what 5 star is in US. The Cataract Hotel may be nice to some but our room left a lot to be desired. Maybe if we were there over 18 hours (we had too many 1 nighters) we would have had an opportunity to enjoy it more. All in all, the trip was not very organized,we were not given a day-to-day list of times or sites (they
changed often I guess that is why)and the wake-up calls are a killer. I know that we left most of the time because of the heat but most of our group were over 65 and after a few days, some of them were having trouble. Anyway, I hope this dosen't keep you from going to Egypt because it was wonderful despite all. The magic of entering the great Pyramid,gazing up at the wonderful Abu Simbel, and seeing the beautiful Nile makes all of it worth while. Go and Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!
bobi is offline  
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Nov 9th, 2005, 05:47 AM
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Smithsonian has many great itineraries, but they are on the high-end pricewise. In the same category of the likes of A&K and Tauck. And you are paying in your price for the lecturer who joins you on Smithsonian itineraries.

Keeping this in mind, you may want to contact another operator (if in the States, there are quite a few good ones - Isram Travel [located in NYC] or Gate-1 [located in Penna] or in-country (Egyptian) tour operators. A search on this board will bring up names of a few that have been used by satisfied clients who have posted here to that effect. You can use the Smithsonian itinerary with all the detail of where they stop and sights they visit (along with a good guidebook - and checking other Egyptian tour websites) to design your own itinerary which will definitely be less costly.

We did just this for a trip to Provence in France. We loved where the Smithsonian itinerary was visiting, but not the idea of having to return to base in Aix nightly... made no sense at all. Instead, we created our own itinerary, arranged for a rental car and were on our way - where, when, for how long, etc. for a savings of more than 50%.

Back to Egypt - schedules can be hectic and there will be many early wake-up calls regardless with whom you travel. If you know this and are prepared, you should be fine. And while days can be full, especially while on the cruise, you can pace yourself a bit more while in Cairo. Also, you don't have to go out to visit every site. Sure, you want to see everything, but as someone mentioned on one of our trips to Turkey "ABR" - "another bloody ruin" well, yes, it's Turkey; same as when visiting Egypt.

Most Egyptian itineraries run between 10-14/days and basically visit at the same sights, so not much difference there; longer itineraries have a longer cruise... 7-days vs. 5-days. Doing yur own itinerary, you can schedule more time at the Cairo Museum (never enough time to get to see everything here), more or less time at the Khan el Khalili bazaar, etc. And your private guide in Cairo, will be flexible and work with your schedule versus that of a group intent on just getting all from one place to another.

All things to consider.

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