Nile Cruise Esna Lock

Oct 29th, 2003, 07:31 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 4
Nile Cruise Esna Lock

We are booked with GCT for 15 days starting Nov 22, 2003 in Cairo, with the Nile cruise portion from Nov 27th thru Dec 4th. Today we received word from GCT that the Esna Lock will be closed from Dec 1 thru 16, and that we would only be able to travel from Aswan to Esna by boat. They plan to haul us back and forth by bus for three days to visit the sites that are scheduled north of Esna. Their letter states, "We apologize if these changes cause any inconvenience, and are confident that you will enjoy your Nile Cruise."
Reducing a 7 day Cruise by 3 days in port in Esna doesn't make me very confident. If I wanted a bus tour I would have bought one. I know the sites are spectacular and I can't wait to see them, but I was also looking forward to passing thru the Lock, cruising to Luxor, being in port in Luxor, and cruising to Dendera and back.
Upon searching the internet, I found that this closing of the Lock is done every Dec. I feel that it was wrong of GCT not to disclose this information before booking. I hate to think of how much extra time we are going to spend riding back and forth on that bus. Time we should have to do other things on our own or just be at leisure while cruising. My romantic visions of Nile Cruising have been replaced by visions of all these cruise boats stacked up in Esna belching diesel fumes for three days. Has anyone had any experience being stuck south of the Esna Lock? How far is it from Esna to Luxor? Any helpful info is welcome.
marge17 is offline  
Oct 30th, 2003, 10:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I wish I had an answer, but want to offer my sympathy on your plight. I am sure you have planned this trip far in advance.

As far as 7 day versus 3 day cruise - the distances traveled by the cruise are really not that great. Even on a 4 day cruise we spent a fair amount of time docked at one place or another. I suspect on a 7 day cruise you would spend even more time docked, since they can't really make the river any longer!

Still, it would be severely annoying to me if I were to find myself in your situation - not really sure what I would do. Hope you have a good trip anyway - Egypt really is a magnificent experience and if you can get beyond this, it will still be memorable (but I would also be ticked off it were me!)
gail is offline  
Oct 30th, 2003, 12:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6
We are booked on the GCT for Dec.,6-20, and we are very cncerned about your report. If what you say is factual then GCT owes us a meaningful explanation as to why we were not informed about this situation when we booked the tour.

It can be very disconcerting for something like this to happen. We were on a Rhine-Main cruise last Dec., and we had major problems because of high water and the boat could not get under some bridges. It of couse was no fault of Vantage Travel , as they accomodated us with real class. However, we did spend an inordinate amount of time on busses because the boat couldn't navigate where it needed to go.

I hope it's not as bad in Egypt. Good luck on your trip.

Ishoo is offline  
Oct 30th, 2003, 03:26 PM
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My husband and I traveled with GCT last Dec. and had the same experience. We received the letter after we booked about the change. We know people that also did the trip in Dec. I think it was about the second week in Dec. and their schedule was not changed so maybe it isn't set in stone when the locks are closed. We were told it was because the Nile was very low...which might vary year to year...just a guess.
YES, you are right about spending alot of time on that bus but they did everything to make our stay on the boat enjoyable. They gave us boxed snacks for the days we returned mid afternoon so we wouldn't starve to death. The food and accommodations on the boat were very good. The staff was wonderful. All the sites we toured were incredible. Be prepared to get up at very early on some days. I think Abu Simbel was 4am...BUT well worth it!
As GAil suggested, if you can get beyond this you will have a very memorable time. If you have trip insurance , you might be to able change the date for the original schedule if you think it will be too disappointing.
I hope you have a great trip and you will post on your return.
Nov 1st, 2003, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 197
This is disappointing. We're scheduled on the GCT Cairo/Nile trip Nov. 29-Dec. 13. We haven't heard from the company yet about the change, and from the material we've received so far I'm not sure if we're going from Aswan to Luxor or in the other direction. However, I'm sure it doesn't make any difference if the issue is the closing of a mid-point lock. I'll post again if/when we hear from GCT.
Joe_in_Silver_Spring is offline  
Nov 17th, 2003, 06:20 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 197
Okay, we've heard from GCT. Not a letter describing the change but a revised intinerary almost as an afterthought. Disappointing, although I guess we'll just have to make the best of it. Joe.
Joe_in_Silver_Spring is offline  
Nov 17th, 2003, 10:46 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 4
Well Joe, I hope your trip goes well.
I don't care much for buses since our tour of Italy when someone stole our bus in Pompeii and we had to go on to Greece with absolutely nothing but our cameras for three days. I'm sure that couldn't happen twice, but it is still disappointing to spend hours on a bus that could be spent doing better things. This is our first GCT tour and I like the sound of some of their other trips so I hope they can tap dance around this and make it better than it appears. We leave on Wed. to get to the Northeast for Saturday's departure. I'll watch over the boat and the BUS until you get there.
Enjoy the mysteries of Egypt!
marge17 is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2003, 09:26 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1
Message: Have read with interest comments on the Nile Cruise. We were advised the Dec.13 cruise was changed. We received a letter with a revised itinerary. We called Grand Circle and were told the letter should not have been sent. In addition, the day by day material involving 21 pages was not correct. Obviously,we were completely confused. We have since received the confirmed status of the trip. Anyone who received material which changes the original itinerary may want to contact Grand Circle concerning the Dec,13 trip. If you have a question, I will be happy to try to answer. Just thought there may be several of you who may not have current info.
CHRIS2 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2003, 10:27 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 6
Sorry to hear that your cruise will only go as far as Esna. We had some extra time in both Aswan and Luxor, and I enjoyed wandering around both towns on our own very much.

But there were two "moments" in Esna that I'll always remember. One was watching the harbour scene right around dusk, with people and carriages scurrying around and the call to prayer in the background.

The other was in the small Coptic church that we asked our guide to take us to. It was Sunday, and I wanted to stop in at a church. The church itself is nothing special, but while there we watched an old man teaching a young boy to read (sing, actually) from the Bible in Arabic. Even my Muslim companions were very moved.
u5000 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 12:52 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 658
We are looking at touring Egypt next year and I have been visiting the Insight Web site and they note that the Esna lock is closed from 1 ? 30th June and 1 ? 16th December 2004.

It would seem then, that these closures are a regular occurrence and tour operators are aware of them well in advance. There is therefore no excuse for informing people about them at the last moment.
Tangata is offline  
Dec 1st, 2003, 03:04 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,218
I don't know where you are based, so this may not be relevant, but in the UK, if a tour operator makes significant changes to your holiday after you book (and I believe this would count) you are usually offered (and I think, entitled to) a refund or a chance to change to another trip/ date.
I believe the tour operator is also obliged to let you know _on booking_ of any information in it's possession about change to advertised itinerary and, if this happens every year, one assumes they must know right from the start.
My personal action would be to contact the tour operator and change the dates of the trip to avoid the Esna Lock closure (or to ask for a full refund if they are not willing to do that) and to go another time.
Whilst one can make the best of it when unexpected changes to itinerary occur, I think it's cheeky of the tour operator to expect you to pay the same in advance for a trip that they know is not what was advertised.
That's just my two pence though...
Kavey is online now  

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