My Wife and I recently (May 27th) returned from a 7-night Nile Cruise on the M/S Monica, and whilst we would not have missed it for the world and the fact that the visits and trips were magical, you should be aware of the downside.
The M/S Monica is in the top 50 vessels that cruise the Nile, and probably one of the best “value for money”. The vessel is of a good size, good facilities and friendly staff. The Restaurant serves reasonable food, some could say a little bland, but that is really down to taste. During some discussions we were told it had been “spiced down” because of the problems of upset tummies. Hygiene is excellent, so water etc OK , but there is plenty of bottled water anyway.
The organised trips were excellent as were our guides Amr and Amier, they realy made the experience “come to life” Our week we had about 50 x UK passengers so we were split into two groups. The rest of the passengers were mainly German, with a smatter of other nationalities. We were very surprised to find that Children were allowed, as it was our understanding that Children under 12 were not allowed.
Most of the visits started relatively early in the morning Breakfast around 7am and leaving at 8am or sometimes earlier. This is so that we missed the “heat of the day” , and I think we were all very grateful for this. Our guides also ensured that during their explanations & talks that we were in shade. Some other groups were left out in the full sun. So again thank you Amr and Amier. Most days we were back by Lunchtime 1pm or 1.30pm with the afternoons free. Unfortunately too late to find a sunbed, with only 30 sunbeds and about 160 passengers and a large German contingent I think you will understand the problem. However with temperatures over 40C’s it was often too hot to sit out in. The boat should do what some other cruise ships do, remove any towels that are left unattended more than 30mins, thereby ensuring everyone has a “fair chance”. Some towels were left on overnight.
The Cabins are no-where near those represented on the web-site. They are adequate, but a little in need of updating as they are rather dowdy. Another problem is the noise from the engines which are continually running (all night) to power the air conditioning and lights etc. Several guest had to be moved , so check your cabin numbers carefully and ask where they are and if at the rear “MOVE”
Several nights the vessel was “double parked”, which yes you are warned about. What you are not warned about anywhere is the 24hour noise, this double parking causes, nor is the fact that you are unable to use your French balcony, or draw back our curtains, as you are only inches from the vessel moored beside you. Quite honestly the noise is intolerable and having to keep your curtains drawn all the time, it’s a bit like living in a black hole. Not only do you have to put up with this, but also the noise of the M/S Monica’s engines but also the vessels moored beside you !!! Several people were unable to sleep making the whole experience a bit of a trauma.
Another down side is the “hawkers” that pester you at every site you visit. Yes you are warned but please be aware they are a major “turn-off” and we believed that the Egyptian tourist police should do something about it . These tourist police are everywhere for your safety, but even they will ask for money, say for taking your picture, showing you something or just generally being there.
Take toilet roll with you on your trips, as if you need it whilst visiting any of the sites, you will be charged for it ! Basically if there is a scam the Egyptians around the Nile know and use it.
Also be aware that payment for additional trips, Visa , tips etc is in “CASH” in our case this amounted to around £170 for two, however we did not do the Abu Simbal trip which was an additional £60 - 120 per person, dependent on mode of travel.
We took our Holiday end of May, which is the low season with only about 100 vessells on the Nile, during the high season there is up to 320. With so many boats the problem of double parking and number of people (mobs) at the sites I think can be understood.
The temperature is also a very important factor, so please check before booking.
Did we enjoy our holiday ? the answer has to be yes, it really was awe inspiring to see the Temples, Tombs and other sites. But to be honest the experience was, we think a bit of an endurance test, mainly because of the inability to sleep, early mornings and heat, so be aware.