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DESTINATIONS CRUISE | EGYPT


TRIED & TESTED Adventurer


Sanctuary Nile


Sanctuary Nile Adventurer is looking fabulous after a four-month refurbishment this summer that upgraded all cabins and public areas, and gave the decor a distinct Egyptian flavour, with pastel colours, cushioned sofas and local fixtures and fittings. The restaurant has been


redesigned around a big new horseshoe-shaped servery, the massage room has replaced a small library and there is an outside ‘gym’ with an exercise bike and running machine. In the cabins, the beds,


furnishings, light fittings and TVs are new, and USB slots have been added by the desk and beds. Rooms are cosy but comfortable, and all have a river view. Two forward suites have private balconies, and spacious seating and sleeping areas. Other facilities include


an alfresco dining area and a beautiful sun deck with a small swimming pool and delightful four-poster cabanas. The lounge bar is a quiet place by day and used for evening entertainment – a movie, Egyptian party and whirling dervish show – after dinner.


CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Comfort and style on board Sanctuary Retreats’ Sanctuary Nile Adventurer PICTURES: Mark Williams; Shutterstock


RISING TIDE The Nile disappeared off the cruise radar after the Arab Spring in 2011 but holidaymakers are being tempted back by a combination of keen prices and upgraded products, and because the temples and tombs are such a bucket-list adventure. Sanctuary Retreats says it still has availability this winter but demand is high and some sailings are already full.


I am the only Brit on my cruise – most passengers are from the US – but there is growing demand from the UK, where the number of cruisers sailing the Nile grew from 4,700 in 2017 to 5,700 last year, according to Clia. “It’s much busier than last year but we need more tourists,” Medhat tells me as we peek into one of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, a highlight of our afternoon touring Luxor’s West


Bank. All tours are included in the cost of the cruise, bar an optional trip to Abu Simbel. Visitors are vital for the local


economy, but from a selfish point of view I think it’s perfect that the ancient sites are not overcrowded. On the downside, we’re fair game for the hawkers, whose shops are piled high with sphinxes, scarabs, T-shirts and other Egyptian trinkets, and who respond to a firm “no thanks” with a hopeful “maybe later”. Next morning, we round off the Luxor sightseeing with a trip to Karnak Temple, the grandest and most famous shrine in Egypt thanks to its starring role in Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile, which they showed in the lounge after dinner that evening. Those familiar with the film will remember what happened in the columned hypostyle hall; for those who have never seen it, I’m not giving anything away.


NEW ON THE NILE


E Discover Egypt’s new 11-night cruises between Luxor and Cairo let clients combine the sights of ancient Egypt with the new Grand Egyptian Museum, which opens near the Pyramids in late 2020. Prices from £2,319 per person including flights in September 2020.


E River lines Viking and Uniworld are launching new vessels – Viking Osiris and Sphinx respectively – on the Nile in 2020. AmaWaterways will follow suit in 2021.


E Agents have been advised to expect huge demand for Nile cruises as an exhibition of treasures from King Tutankhamun’s tomb, on show at London’s Saatchi Gallery from November 2 until May 3, 2020, revives interest in ancient Egypt.


56


24 OCTOBER 2019


travelweekly.co.uk


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