A stylish and centuries-old way to experience the ancient monuments of the River Nile, a luxury cruise on a sunboat or large sailboat (dahabiyyah) is a journey first-hand into the true life-giving nature of this mighty river.
Best times to go: December and January are when the days are generally mildest (between 5 and 25°C/ 41 and 77°F) and good for stop-offs for sightseeing. However, these months mark high season and prices are at their steepest.
March and April, and mid-September to mid-November are the best options if you want to avoid the extreme temperatures of low season and the prices of winter high season.
July and August are low season, when the river and the sites are less crowded, and bargains can be had, but it is extremely hot – with temperatures on average between 24 and 42°C/ 75 and 108°F.
If you are travelling between Luxor and Aswan in Egypt’s Upper Nile please note that Esna Lock is closed twice a year for maintenance (June and December), thus obstructing cruises between the two cities.
From the many that navigate the Nile, we have selected a few well-regarded and reliable cruises to promote:
(Please note: we are an independent site for information and pride ourselves on not having any commercial or favourable relationships with the companies or anyone associated with the cruises we list below)
Abercrombie & Kent – River and Lake Nasser cruises with a variety of ships to choose from
Amarante Nile Cruises – Luxury travel between Luxor and Aswan on cruise ships Isis and Osiris
Audley Travel – Traditional travel drinking in the landscapes from the deck of the boat Agatha Christie travelled on and was inspired by to write ‘Death on the Nile’. (PLEASE NOTE: this is a steam ship. If you do not wish to travel on one there are lots of other cruises to choose from)
Explore Tour – Nile Felucca Sailing Trek. Traverse the great river in small traditional sailing boats
Memphis Tours – Alexandria-Cairo and Cairo-Alexandria Nile Delta cruises. Don’t miss the Pyramids of Giza and old Alexandria!
Thomson Nile Cruise – Experience the River and its ancient monuments from ships with stylish, modern cabins, on-deck mini swimming pool and sundecks
Wanderlust – Plan a cruise and travel tips
These are cruises on the Egyptian Nile, as tourist cruises on the river in Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and other countries closer to its source are rare and usually on a personal basis in smaller craft due to the water’s depth and width further upriver. Do check type of ship before you book – if it is a larger dahabiyyah rather than a smaller felucca sailboat (usually used for day-trips) you may well have times moored at the Nile’s cataracts and locks often alongside other cruise ships waiting for passage through to other parts of the waterway. If you are prepared for that type of trip, with perhaps less time visiting the onshore sights and more time experiencing travel on the river under the sun, and stars then the larger vessels could be for you.
Depending on month of travel, number of nights’ travel, type of boat, company and many other factors, cruises can cost upwards from £350. Shorter trips aimed towards stopovers at many of the major sights such as the Pyramids and Nile Delta on Lower Nile trips, and Karnak, Lake Aswan & Abu Simbel on Upper Nile journeys cost less than the longer, more leisurely ten-day to two-week cruises on the river, but I must advise are action-packed, with sometimes very early (2.30am-5.30am) starts from the ships to beat the crowds and heat to the monuments on the shore.
Whether you are already planning your cruise on the Nile or are thinking about one and want to know more, we hope this information and our links will help you in making your holiday plans and when you do go, we wish you an experience of a lifetime!