Travel to Egypt by Cruise

Oct 25th, 2009, 02:23 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4
Travel to Egypt by Cruise

Hello! My husband and I are planning a European cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines for his 40th birthday. One of the stops on the itinerary is Alexandria. We have heard mixed reviews of Egypt. So, my question is this...has anyone traveled to Alexandria by cruise and would you recommend that we take a guided trip (13 hours!!!! yikes) to Cairo or do you think that we can come up with something to do on our own? Also, has anyone sailed on the Norwegian Jade on the 12 night Mediteranean cruise (Rome, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Alexandria, Barcelona)?

Any feedback or advice would be appreciated!!!
tracyfarber is offline  
Oct 25th, 2009, 02:42 PM
  #2  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,632
I can't imagine going to Egypt for the first time and missing the chance to see Cairo. This is a crime against tourism!! You should be thrown overboard!!

Just kidding.

OK I'll be serious now. I took a similar cruise in 2000 and I chose that cruise because it was my lifelong dream to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Why on earth would you pass by the opportunity to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx? Don't you want to see the only remaining wonder of the ancient world? In addition you will see the Cairo Museum which is another big don't-miss as well as the Mosque of Mohammed Ali. (not the boxer) We were supposed to go to the Papayrus Factory but we got behind schedule and blew it off.

More recently I went to Egypt in Dec 2007 and again, I saw things I had always dreamed of seeing. Egypt is such a remarkable country in terms of history. Although I've been to Cairo twice I would do it again if I were on your cruise. I can't say this loud enough, you MUST go to Cairo!! If you refuse to do this, your passport and all tourist priveleges should be revoked. ;-)

JUST DO IT!!
P_M is online now  
Oct 25th, 2009, 02:43 PM
  #3  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,632
PS You have posted this in the Europe forum but Egypt is in Africa. If you want more opinions you might consider re-posting in the correct forum. But everyone will probably tell you the same.
P_M is online now  
Oct 25th, 2009, 02:57 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4
Thank you so much for your reply...this is valuable information. I have always dreamed of seeing the pyramids bu I was letting others tell me it wasn't worth it. I'm so glad that you think it's worth it. How long is the drive from Alexandria to Cairo...could we do it on our own or do you recommed a guided tour?
tracyfarber is offline  
Oct 25th, 2009, 03:01 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4
Did you see the other destinations on the itinerary? What are your opinions on those ports? Rome (I think I'm good with this one), Greece, Malta, Turkey - definitely could use some help here.
tracyfarber is offline  
Oct 25th, 2009, 03:23 PM
  #6  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,632
I haven't seen the itinerary but if you provide a link that will be helpful.

In Egypt it might be easiest to go with the ship's tour. Traffic in Cairo is horrible and if you get delayed with a ship tour they will wait, however if you are on your own the ship will not wait for you. Our tour did get delayed a couple of hours but I was with a ship tour so they waited. I haven't been to Malta.

I've been to Turkey and I assume your ship will stop in Istanbul and/or Kusadasi. You can do Istanbul on your own if you wish. In Istanbul I recommend Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Haiga Sophia, in that order. If time allows see the Bazaar and the Cistern. These places I named are all within walking distance of each other. I don't know where the dock is so you might have to taxi to this area. Beware of carpet salesmen, they are everywhere and will waste a great deal of your limited time. If you stop in Kusadasi you must see Ephesus. I went with the ship tour but you can hire a taxi if you wish.

I've been so several Greek Islands. Rhodes is definitely doable on your own, be sure to visit the big castle in the middle of town. Santorini is also fabulous but do not ride the donkeys. These animals are not treated well so do not give the owners any of your business. Take the cablecar up and down the hill instead.

If you'll post a link to your itinerary I'll offer more help if I can.
P_M is online now  
Oct 25th, 2009, 03:53 PM
  #7  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,632
I forgot to answer your question about travel time from Alexandria to Cairo. It seems like it was about an hour but in Egyptian traffic, anything is possible. Your bus will probably go with a convoy. This is for your protection but that doesn't mean there is any danger. The people were lined up on the street as our convoy went by and when I waved they smiled warmly and waved back. I felt like a movie star being welcomed by the locals.

You've probably heard that Egypt is chaotic and yes, that's an understatement. You've probably also heard it's dirty and I'm not going to lie to you, in some ways that's true. But it all adds to the charm and excitement of being in this vibrant country. Although you will encounter a lot of touts it is perfectly safe. Use the same common sense you would anywhere else to guard your wallet and beware of pickpockets and you will be fine. Do not be surprised when you see armed guards at tourist sites. Once again this is for your protection but that doesn't mean you are unsafe. These guards are actually very friendly and they are looking out for your well being.

Above all, most Egyptians are warm, friendly and glad you are visiting their country. Be sure to wave at children you see on the school bus, they get a big kick out of that. If you meet them on the street they will enjoy practicing their English with you. While the sights are incredible, these encounters with Egyptians are my fondest memories of Egypt.
P_M is online now  
Oct 25th, 2009, 03:55 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4
here is the link to the itinerary...again...any advice would be appreciated...http://www.ncl.com/nclweb/booking/cr...kageId=1620768

Thanks,
tracyfarber is offline  
Oct 25th, 2009, 04:12 PM
  #9  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,632
OK, it looks like you are stopping in Izmir instead of Kusadasi so I don't know if hiring a taxi is practical or not. In any case I still say don't miss Ephesus. I don't know if you are a Christian or not, but near Ephesus there is a place believed to be the home where the Virgin Mary lived out the end of her life. I'm not 100% convinced this is legit or that she really ever lived in that house. But if you have any interest in seeing this it's still a beautiful drive to the house.

As I recall the port of Pireaus is not very near downtown Athens but you can taxi. If you can get there by metro that is probably faster and cheaper. When I was last there they didn't have the metro so maybe someone else can help with instructions for that. In Athens of course see the Parthenon as well as the National Archaelogical Musuem. The Agora (ruins of the old city) are near the foot of the Parthenon and that is worth a visit. There is also Syntagma Square and the Plaka area, but I would do the other things I mentioned first. There's a lot to see in Athens but your time is short so you might want to google Athens and find the sites that interest you the most.

I can't help with Barcelona but I've heard it's a great city. I also can't help with Malta but I hope someone else can. It looks like a fine cruise.
P_M is online now  
Oct 25th, 2009, 04:31 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 68
Hello. We did a similar cruise two years ago on the Jade. I would definitely recommend taking the ships’ tour to Cairo, which is expensive, but absolutely worth it. Don’t do it alone. You have to take a bus to get to Cairo from Alexandria and, if I remember correctly, it was over two hours. Our tour guide was wonderful. She talked the entire time about Egypt, which was fascinating. The hotel the ship arranged was beautiful. The tour included the Cairo Museum, the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, an evening light show at the Pyramids, a dinner cruise down the Nile, the Mosque of Mohammed Ali, the Papyrus Factory, etc. We went in May and it was already very hot. Don’t forget to bring some bottles of water with you. The only let down I had was that the Pyramids of Giza are VERY touristy. There are people trying to sell you things who are VERY pushy. They do not take no for an answer. One trick that was played was they accept that you have said no, then give you a small token saying that they are happy that you have come to Egypt. Then they ask for money for the token. Every picture I have seen of the Pyramids show them in the middle of the desert. However, pictures are misleading. They are in the middle of the city. The buses drive right up to the pyramids and there is a parking lot right at the base of one of the pyramids.

Ephesus was awesome! It is bigger than you can imagine. We also took a tour from the ship. Again, the tour guide was fantastic. If it rains, be very careful where you step because the streets can get very slippery. The tour also included a shopping trip to a carpet dealer. It was really interesting to see the people making the carpets by hand. The carpers were incredibly detailed and beautiful.

Have a great time!!
Nancy_W is offline  
Oct 25th, 2009, 05:05 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
On that type of cruise many of the day trips are very long - because the port if often a long distance from the city it serves. IMHO I would never miss the pyramids or the Cairo museum. But, then I would never take a cruise like that either - way too frustrating to be near so many great places and not be able to see them due to rushing to and fro the ship.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 25th, 2009, 10:26 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,154
"We have heard mixed reviews of Egypt."

Really?

Practically no-one who's ever been there would disagree with the following sentence: Some of the most amazing sights anywhere are in and around Cairo, but the country's chaotic, easily overwhelming and it's not always comfortable being a tourist.

You CAN do all this yourself, because tourist Cairo, for all its chaos, is surprisingly compact, Personally, if I had only 14 hours between arriving and departing at Alexandria, I'd be tempted to break all my rules and take the ship's tour because if anything goes wrong with the following suggestion, the ship will sail without you.

I've absolutely no idea what being stranded means for visas - but virtually all foreigners need an Egyptian visa, though in some countries, this is waived for 12-hour cruise passengers. Being stuck without one (which is what happens if you didn't get a visa on arrival) can often involve interminable bureaucracy. Arriving at an outgoing passport check at an Egyptian airport without one will almost certainly involve missing your plane too (and probably forfeiting your fare), and even longer bureaucracy.

However, visa complications aside, if you're comfortable organising things for yourself, this is what you do:

1. Get a train from Alexandria to Cairo. It's 140 miles by road, roads are getting more congested all the time and I'd doubt you'd get a driver to do it in less than 2.5-3 hrs. The trains go every hour or so during the day, take 2 hrs and cost about £E 60 (€10ish) in a/c first class each way.

2. Get the metro at Ramses railway station to Sadat station (15 mins, including finding the station and buying the ticket). Visit the Egyptian Museum (about £E 150 incl the mummy hall. Seeing the mummified body of the Pharaoh who saw Moses is one of the most extraordinary moments in my tourist career)

3.Get the 355 or 357 bus from the museum to the Pyramids (about half an hour: the Pyramids aren't in the city centre, but in a massive, sprawling suburb called Giza, which is connected to the centre by a mostly quite fast road.) About €0.30 for the bus: £E 100 or so for entrance to the plateau

4. Get a taxi back to Ramses station. Avoid if you can all suggestions from guides or taxidrivers who want to show you their brother's souvenir shop.

It's a lot easier than it might sound. But you might find worrying about missing return connections will worry you so much you'll be shortchanging yourself all day
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 12:42 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,601
I think you have excellent advice on Egypt and Turkey.

Regarding Barcelona, I definitely recommend a "Private Gaudi tour" if you can arrange one beforehand. Being herded around is a requirement in Egypt but not in Turkey or Barcelona. Just find enough friends for a group of four so you can fit in one car and go with a private guide.

If you check the web on Gaudi and you like what you see, the Guel Park, Sagrada Familia Cathedral are musts.

Miro museum and the castle are more standard fare. The Picasso Museum is interesting because it has a large number of his early work before cubism.

Also be ready for pickpockets in barcelona. Immediately put up your guard if any people (usually in teams of two) approach you whispering something. My wife says i actually danced with a guy who had an interest in my walet in my right back trouser pocket.
otherchelebi is offline  
Oct 26th, 2009, 02:28 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,601
One other thing,

If you can find a restaurant which serves goose neck barnacles (Percebes) they are terrific for people who like raw oysters. I forgot the name, but the restaurant which used to be frequented by Miro, serves them.
otherchelebi is offline  
Oct 28th, 2009, 06:53 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1
Hey all the best for your trip. I have been on Nile cruise. Its a wonderful experience. Hope you enjoy like we did. You will feel the heaven on earth during this journey for sure on the five star cruise
viky is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:49 PM.