A Nile cruise has long been one of the classic experiences of travel. Long stretches of the river have changed little over the centuries, and the landscape has a memorably timeless quality. Lounging on the sundeck, watching the ancient scene slide past, can be an almost meditative experience.
Due to political instability, cruise traffic on the Nile has been greatly reduced in recent years, and many boats have spent long periods moored to the quayside. But American and international visitors have now begun to return to Egypt, and a majority of the licensed vessels are once again plying their trade.
Most Nile cruises are between Luxor and Aswan and take between three and four nights to cover the approximately 135 miles. A majority of the most famous ancient Egyptian sites — Karnak, the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, the Valley of the Kings — are situated either in, or near, Luxor. The principal sites between Luxor and Aswan — Esna, Edfu and Kom Ombo — are fascinating but of lesser importance. The famous ancient Egyptian ruins at Dendera and Abydos are generally visited on day trips from Luxor by road. During the recent political turmoil, cruise boats ceased to operate from Cairo all the way to Aswan (10 to 15 days), but such extended trips may resume.