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Review: Nile cruise on the MS Kasr Ibrim

Review: Nile cruise on the MS Kasr Ibrim

Old Apr 20, 07, 3:38 pm
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Review: Nile cruise on the MS Kasr Ibrim

My partner and I selected this cruise because it was a good way to get from Abu Simbel to Aswan and see some sights on Lake Nasser that are difficult to get to otherwise. It's also very nice as there's only 6-8 ships in lake Nasser vs. some 325 that sail between Aswan and Luxor.

The ship and its stable mate the Eugenie are run by an Egyptian line. http://www.kasribrim.com.eg/

For bookings, it is much cheaper to arrange the cruise through a tour operator. We got a nice private tour (including the cruise, 3 nts accomodation and flight) for slightly more than the quoted rate directly from the line.

Ship:

It has a very belle epoque style to it, especially the lounge with its blond wood and alabaster covered lights.

As far as passengers go, the bottom deck has the dining room and the cheaper cabins forward.

The main deck has the entry deck, and cabins forward.

The upper deck has the lounge and bar aft, and cabins astern.

Executive deck has cabins forward and a covered/semi-sheltered oudoor lounge area, as well as a much-underpatronised shop.

On top is the sun deck, pool (unheated so very cold in February), and a sundeck on top of the bridge.

Lots of stairs and no elevators (and you need to climb up and down many stairs at the Aswan and Abu Simbel docks so it isn't for the less mobile.

I didn't get a chance to have a look at the Eugenie but it is much smaller looks like a much older/classic design with outdoor corridors.

Cabins:

There are several grades of cabins. The cheapest are the water line ones on the bottom deck (aft of the dining room). All the cabins above water line have a private veranda with a chair and table (there's a small sitting bench on the veranda partition). The main deck rooms are a slight upgrade. The upper and executive decks can come at a small premium

The rooms are rather small. 10-12' wide and about 15' deep. There's just room for 2, 2 closets, a desk and a chair. The bathroom has a bath/shower (telephone showers!), small sink and toilet with some racks to put your stuff. The toiletries provided were of decent quality. Beds can be separated or joined together.

There are at least 8 suites but don't try to get a cheap upgrade! The cheapest suites are slightly bigger than standard cabins with enough room for a couple of armchairs and a coffee table.

There are 5 suites in the forward part of the ship that are large. The four on the main and upper decks have huge open decks. The Kasr Ibrim was simply huge (more than 3-4 times the size of a standard cabin.

The executive deck and upper deck were fairly cheap upgrades which provided a fridge that was stocked with 4 juices/soft drink at the beginning of the trip and stocked with a bottle of water daily.

Food: Very good to excellent depending on the dish. The restaurant is on the bottom deck. 3 meals are included for every full day. It's served buffet style but you're served instead of selecting (except for the bread). Mix of Egyptian/Mediterranean and European fare. Very fresh (including the sea food) and well presented/served. On days where the cruise speed is slow, lunch may be served on the covered deck. Seating is assigned.

Service: Very nice and cordial, from the restaurant servers, cooks (who served the food) to the cabin staff. The line will board guides speaking the language of the guests. For out cruise (a mere 28 pax), there was 1 english-speaking guide for 6, a french-speaking guide for some 19 French tourists in a group, and another french-speaking guide for 3 Quebecois.

The drinks on board were sort of expensive. Local beers were EGP 30 and water (large bottle) was EGP 10.

Day 1:

Jetted in from CAI via ASW on MS, arriving in ABS at 0630 or so. Sun had just risen as the a/c was approaching ABS. Bussed in for the short walk to the terminal. Bulk of pax on the A321 were on a day trip from ASW/CAI so only 8 of us were there to collect bags. Met by the tour rep who had us driven to the temples in Abu Simbel. Ship was there from the night before and we embarked, greeted by staff offering us a drink (orange drink and/or hibiscus tea). The ships are now docked around from the temples instead of directly in front as in the past.

Lunch was served in the dining room (there are too many insects (don't bite/sting but settle and get stuck on anything light coloured) to eat on the covered deck though the temperature was just right.

Spent the afternoon walking around Abu Simbel. There's next to nothing to buy in town (especially alcohol). Did walk to the Seti hotel which is in a very nice setting (great resort). It was deserted when we were there, but fully booked then and months in advance! The hotel is pretty much block-booked by tour operators for tourists who come in one day and leave the next. There are 3 banks in town so no problem about taking out EGP if needed.


Tourism is pretty much the only business in town so tourists are unfortunately hounded by souvenir sellers when approaching the temple entrance. There are bargains to be had if one is bargains well.


The first tour was to the 2 temples. The admission ticket was included (EGP 80). The evening light and show tour is optional. Dinner was also served in the dining room.

Day 2:

There's time scheduled in the morning to see the temple at sunrise which we chose to do (had to pay another EGP 80 each). We just missed Abu Simbel day where the sun penetrates into the sanctum and lights 3 of the 4 gods (the god of the underworld was deliberately left unilluminated). Sailing was scheduled at 0730 but the ship pushed back just a few minutes before! If you decide to go in the morning, it's best to notify the ship's purser so you're not left behind. That way, they'll have the advertised tea and coffee for you in the morning (no tea/coffee facilities in room).

The ship does slow in front of the temple for one to take pictures (and look at the multitudes of busses and tourists from the Aswan convoy), and probably to see if anyone is desperately waving to get on the ship.

The ship then sails to Kasr Ibrim (where you do get this strong impression you're on a ship in the middle of the lake in the middle of the desert) which was once a Nubian fortress high above the Nile but now just a low island. You can't go ashore so the tour is conducted from the bridge deck. Saw 3 other cruise ships en route headed to Abu Simbel. We didn't see another cruise ship until we got to Aswan.

Lunch was served on the covered deck (very nice Egyptian/Mediterranean fare). An afternoon shore excursion (admission included) is offered for the temples of Derr and Amada, and the tomb of Penout, which like the temples at Abu Simbel were relocated when the lake was created. These sites are miles away from the Aswan/Abu Simbel highway so they're visited almost exclusively by cruise pax. Shore excursions are escorted by armed guards (a cruise official with a machine pistol and 2 sailors with Kalashnikovs. On return to the ship, a refreshment drink and cool towels are offered.

The ship then takes a leisurely sail to Wadi El Seboua (wadi of the crocodiles) where it overnights.

Day 3:

The next morning, a shore tour of the Dekka and Meharakka temples (and another small one) are offered. These temples aren't very far from the Amada/Derr ones but like them, are very remote and undervisited.

The ship then sails from Aswan. It's a fast cruise so too windy for lunch on deck which is a pity. The ship arrives in Aswan after dinner. The Eugenie was there and would sail in the morning. There was also a big cruise boat that seemed to be unused.

Day 4:

After an early breakfast, you're taken by the launches to the Kalabsha temple, Beit El Wali, and the kiosk of Kertassi. The visit is somewhat short. You return to the ship and basically wait for disembarkation.


The schedules of the 2 boats are different though sites visited are the same. The Kasr Ibrim takes 3 days to sail north and 4 south, while the Eugenie takes 3 south and 4 north.
YVR Cockroach is offline  
Old Apr 27, 07, 1:49 pm
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Thank you YVR Cockroach for an interesting TR! ^ I'm really interested in these Lake Nasser cruises... I lived in Egypt for a year during which time I did the Luxor-Aswan cruise a number of times, but never had the opportunity to do the Abu Simbel-Aswan route. Assuming you've done the former as well, how would you compare the two routes? I guess what I'm getting at is whether the trip you just made is "worth it" given how amazing Edfu, Dendara and Esna are. The Lake Nasser boats are more expensive, no? I'm debating on whether or not to take the time to do this trip the next time I'm there...
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Old Apr 28, 07, 5:34 am
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Thank you for an interesting read! ^
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Old Apr 30, 07, 11:36 am
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Originally Posted by as219 View Post
Thank you YVR Cockroach for an interesting TR! ^ I'm really interested in these Lake Nasser cruises... I lived in Egypt for a year during which time I did the Luxor-Aswan cruise a number of times, but never had the opportunity to do the Abu Simbel-Aswan route. Assuming you've done the former as well, how would you compare the two routes? I guess what I'm getting at is whether the trip you just made is "worth it" given how amazing Edfu, Dendara and Esna are. The Lake Nasser boats are more expensive, no? I'm debating on whether or not to take the time to do this trip the next time I'm there...
We didn't do the Luxor-Aswan cruise (no time given we wanted to spend a lot of time in Luxor). We surmised that one would see more of what rural life in Egypt is with that cruise (you see very little on the Nasser cruise other than the odd distant settlement and some fishing boats) but you'll see many many other cruise boats (there's about 2 for every km of the Nile).

The lower Nile cruise may give you more time in Edfu and Kom Ombo. The convoys only give 45 mins and 1 1/2 hrs at either IIRC. No stops at Esna on the northbound Aswan to Luxor convoy currently.

Note that there are no cruises north of Luxor at the moment (nor for the past few years). There's a rumour of a day cruise to Dendara from Luxor but that was never confirmed by more than one guide.

As for cost of the lake Nasser cruises, I have no basis to compare for the Luxor-Aswans but I do know the Oberoi cruises costs a lot lot more, and the Movenpick ones aren't cheap.

Check De Castro Tours. They get good pricing on the Eugenie/Kasr Ibrim cruises.
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