The MS Royale is a beautiful riverboat, built in 1992, modern and air-conditioned throughout. She carries about 100 passengers. It offers a sundeck with pool and a Jacuzzi. Plenty of bars and restaurants and large cabins.
M/S Royale 7 Day Nile River Cruise Augus...
"M/S Royale 7 Day Nile River Cruise August 2006. Note: J.Wilson is from England and all prices referenced in his review are in English pounds.
About the Boat
The MS Royale is a beautiful riverboat, built in 1992, modern and air-conditioned throughout. She carries about 98 passengers. Although there were only about 30 on board during our trip, due to going out of season we were overwhelmed with staff all eager to make you stay a pleasurable one. Often we would be the only people in the large lounge/bar or on the sun deck.
There were always plenty of tables and chairs available in the shaded deck area aft, where a small bar was ready to serve us drinks, coffee, or tea. On the top sundeck with small pool (literally 2 strokes long!) and a Jacuzzi, but in August it was hot, but a nice cooling breeze while we were sailing.
The cabins were very large for a ship, they had good big beds, plenty of closet space, table and chairs by the window, dresser, additional drawers in the closet, TV with video movies at fixed times, (although in a different language) a fridge, phone, individual air-conditioning controls, shower, and bidet (no bathtubs). Every cabin had a large picture window looking out over the Nile. The cabins were cleaned twice daily and were immaculate in every way. We very rarely saw the man who cleaned our cabin; service was discreet and quiet.
The reception area was large, with staff always available behind the counter. There was an electronic safe deposit box, (programme your own code) for each cabin, there was a notice board detailing the itinerary for each day. There was a same-day and a 2-hour laundry service but we just rinsed out our clothes in our cabin.
There was a tiny shop next to the restaurant, which sold postcards, camera film, and the obligatory photograph of you in your gallabeyah on Egyptian night, jewellery, T-shirts, and gallabeyahs (the Egyptian robe). Prices were steep in the shop, and everything there could be purchased much more cheaply off of the boat. There were no toiletries available, such as sun block, toothpaste, shampoo, aspirin, etc. For these you had to go to a local pharmacy.
Meals were in a single assigned seating at tables for 8. There was no dress code; people wore whatever they liked, including shorts and sandals at dinner. The waiters (all men) were playful, often taking away our plates before we were anywhere near finished, the staff were always correctly dressed, complete with bow ties and white gloves.
The food was, as usual on a boat, plentiful. I never had a complaint about the quality or cooking. There were 2 vegetarians on board and the cook made individual meals for them. Breakfast was self-service except for coffee (very strong) and tea (also very strong); fresh fruit juices, hot croissants, other breads and rolls, butter/jam/honey, Danish, fresh fruit (bananas, dates, oranges, melon), fresh fruit salad, a bowl of delicious plain yogurt, hot things that changed daily (crepes, sausages, potatoes, etc.), eggs cooked to order by a chef at the central island, and the Egyptian breakfast (hot fava beans in sauce, which I thoroughly enjoyed).
Lunch, again, was self-service: at least 8 salads, breads and rolls, fruit, hot entrees much like those at dinner. Dinner was composed of self-service starters and puddings, the entree brought to you. Beef figured as one option almost every night. We also had fish, liver, chicken, and turkey. Puddings were varied and delicious. There was always plenty of fresh fruit and an interesting variety of salads, including Egyptian type dips and bean salads.
At first we thought the starters were the meal, due to their quantity and type (lasagne, a variety of other hot pastas, noodles with different toppings, sweet and sour vegetables, etc.). Every day there were a hot Oriental dish and a hot Italian dish. Watermelons and other fruits were carved into imaginative and complex shapes. The table linens changed to reflect the dinner theme.
A funny tale about the level of attention you could expect to receive. One free morning our lady traveller decided to for go breakfast in favour of a lie in. A decision, which is not recommended. Later that morning we all met up on the sun deck only us six again, the lady began to explain that when she left her room every staff member wanted to know why did she miss breakfast, was she alright, did she need medication.
After we all had a laugh we settled down for some R and R. When up pops the matredee from the Restaurant and approached our lady traveller, again asked why did she miss breakfast, was she all right did, she need medication. When she explained she just wanted a lie in, he said âI will make you breakfastâ, she declined his kind offer but he insisted. At the finish she gave in and requested some Danish buns and tea. âNo he said I have prepared breakfast for youâ, with a click of his fingers 2 waiters appeared laden with trays of food.
There was fruit salad, cereals with chilled milk, tea, coffee, yogurt and pastries, cheese and meats in other words a full selection of what was available for the continental breakfast, the small table was covered with food. The problem was once she had eaten what she could it was nearly time for lunch, so as to not have a repeat she came down to a light lunch, and never missed a meal again.
The holiday itself
What can I say about the whole experience my wife and I being near our 50âs. It was fantastic from stepping into the Luxor terminal to stepping back into Heathrow terminal.
We travelled with Libra Holidays on a 7day cruise from Luxor to Aswan and back, then an internal flight to Cairo for 3 days. At Luxor our rep met us inside the terminal he gathered the other guests a young couple with a 10-year-old daughter and a young woman traveller. He preceded to âfast trackâ us though the normal delays and escorted us to our waiting air-conditioned mini bus and our luggage was taken care of.
A mini bus was a big part of our holiday we always travelled by air-conditioned mini bus, escorted and what you must remember it is very difficult driving in Egypt. All our drivers were excellent. On returning home people asked âdid you not find it hotâ. Yes it was 40Deg C in Aswan, but as an idea of the level of fitness, if you can walk onto and off a mini bus, you should be fine.
Once on the boat we met our guide for the weeks cruise. A nice man with a degree in Egyptology he looked after us the whole trip day and night. His guided tours were excellent, and as some say he knew his stuff. We all spent many an hour chatting either on the tour or up on the sun deck in the cool of the night. The tours started the very next day early to make most of the cool morning temperatures with a walk around the Karnack and Luxor Temples. I have always been interested in Egyptâs history ever since some of the Tutankhamen treasures were exhibited in London. When I booked up for this trip I went crazy reading everything I could on Egypt even 3 Egyptian novels by Willber Smith. All this reading was not a patch on seeing it for yourself, the carvings and what remains of the original colours and the sheer size of some of the temples and blocks of stone they moved by hand. To give you some idea in 10days I took over 600 photographs and 2 hours of video.
After the tour we were back on the boat by lunch and sailing to our next destination. We moved up the Nile (heading south) like this each day stopping off twice to visit Temples at Ensa and Edfu until we reached Aswan here we stopped for 2 nights. Took in the included tours and elected to go to Abu Simbel, yes the temples have been moved from their original site but what a loss if they had not been cut from the cliff and moved. Two and a half hours there and two and a half hours back with an early start was well worth it. The included excursion to Philea Temple was a treasured moment, then to go back at night for the light show the best I have seen in Egypt.
After Aswan we sailed back down the Nile (north) quicker than we went up it, calling in at Kom Ombo to visit the two temples in one there. Our journey then continued to Luxor. At Luxor, again an early start to fit it all in a hot air balloon ride. (Should have been Â£130 per person, our deal was Â£135 per couple) Valley of the Kings, Hatshtputâs Temple and the Valley of the Queens. Pay the extra to go into King Tutankhamenâs Tomb its may not be the best for colour and carvings but it is very different, the only problem is you are not allowed to take photographs or video in any of the Valleyâs so you have no record and it is so much to take in. There are people trying to sell you photographs of the tombs but they are of very low quality and composition they do not do the sights you see justice.
At our time on the boat the news covered the attempted bombings of the trans American flights from England. We never felt unsafe or in any danger everyone we met was pleasant and very helpful, sometimes to helpful. Be aware when going around the sights that if someone shows you something or you take their picture even when they ask you, they expect to get tipped. If someone âhasslesâ you, you may need say âla Shukranâ âNo thank youâ a few times or even just âlaâ âNoâ. If it is to a child âim sheâ âGo awayâ. Prior to my visit I was advised to take pencils to hand out to the children, these went down a treat. I later found out they were overjoyed to get anything, which had English writing on. As mentioned most of the shop keepers try and sell you a gallabeyahs (the Egyptian robe), what they do not seem to realise once we have bought one what do we do with it back home apart from the odd fancy dress. What I tended to look for were shirts I bought 2 very nice ones for 50 Egyptian pounds about Â£5.
We were all very sad when we had to leave the boat, after all it had been our oasis and with only a small amount of guests to look after we got to know the staff. So we said our goodbyes and headed off back to Luxor airport to fly to Cairo. Again all the reps, guides and drivers were excellent we were well looked after there was always a friendly atmosphere.
We stayed at the SOFITEL LE SPHINX Hotel a little way outside the centre of Cairo but very nice, again good food and a nice pool. The one small down point with this Hotel is a high wall very nicely covered with plants surrounds the pool area. On the other side is the traffic, the traffic in Cairo is something else, and on a three-lane carriageway there are five lanes of traffic constantly. The noise of the car horns is off putting if you are trying to get 40 winks. In Cairo the drivers have developed a car horn code, a certain pattern for âI am hereâ, âLook out I am coming throughâ and even a code for âI love youâ. The rooms on the other hand are very clean with big beds a lockable fridge and an Italian style bathroom, with air condition and important they are peaceful. We had a ground floor room and could walk out into the green and lush garden via our small patio area.
We did the pyramids, Sphinx, the light show and the tour of the Citadel and Cairo museum. Once again our guide had a degree in Egyptology and did a good job looking after us. The only place he could not go in was the light show, which I found to be disappointing. Inside we were ushered to the âbest seatsâ I should have known better, these were the seats he could sell you luke warm drinks my wife and I ordered a well known lemonade and got a poor copy. The music and sound is very good, but the let down was the slides shown most of them were out of focus yet others were pin sharp. There was an effect that really stunned us, in the tale a procession takes the dead pharaoh up and into the pyramid. In the distance you could see a set of moving lights great effect I thought. Then the light became brighter and brighter then they turned to our direction and with full beam in our faces you realised it was a lorry. As the lorry came over the hill and got closer the driver must have realised he was in the light show so he switched off his lights. It was then we could see it was the refuse collector. If you ever visit the Pyramids and Sphinx and its time to eat, can I recommend a fried chicken or pizza fast food place opposite the exit from the Sphinx. They must have one of the best views, and sitting there in air-condition surrounds enjoying a âwestern mealâ overlooking the Sphinx and pyramids.
In conclusion I would highly recommend this holiday, as a sight seeing holiday it has everything there is lots to see and do. I am often asked, âWould I go back?â Yes I would but in a larger group of friends itâs a kind of holiday you need to share, but people need too see it.
It was the most âdriestâ holidays I have been on as alcohol is rare. The local beer was Â£2.30 for 0.5lts at 5% proof, known spirits ranged from Â£4-Â£5 per shot. Other expenses were the tips and our holiday welcome package included some guidelines. Also extra excursions available.
Tipping and Excursions
Whilst you are on board, your guide will ask if you prefer they handle any tipping during the various tours. Should you agree, the guide will collect Â£7 per person. This money (tipping kitty) will be used to tip coach drivers, doormen, local Egyptian reps etcâ¦
If you feel you would like to tip more here are some guidelines,
Bars/Restaurants 10-15% of the Bill
Porters/Drivers 10 Egyptian Pounds per Person
Egyptologist Guides 20 Egyptien Pounds per Person per Tour.
Cairo reps 20 Egyptian Pounds per Person per Stay.
Housekeeping/Maid Service 20 Egyptian Pounds per Person per Stay.
A good tip regarding gratuities, is little and often.
Excursions offered on the cruise,
Philae Temple Light show Â£20 per person
Abu Simbel by Flight Â£135 per person
Abu Simbel over-land Â£70 per person
Karnak Temple Light show Â£16 per person
Camel Safari Â£12 per person
Hot Air Balloon Â£130 per person (We were offered Â£135 per couple)
Full Day Pyramids Â£33 per person
Cairo Museum, Citadel Â£28 per person
Giza Pyramids Sound and Light show Â£16.00 per person
Nile Dinner Cruise Â£30 per person
Overday Overland Alexandria Â£43 per person
Pharonic Village Â£15 per person
Payment was accepted by a number of ways but a 3% handling charge was added on all credit card transactions. I hope this has been of some help, remember this is my opinion, and I apologise if I have offended anyone.
- Travel date: Sun 10th of September 2006