I have been on a Nile Cruise on the RAII about 3 years ago which was wonderful but we wanted a cheaper option this time. I just hope we haven't gone for something too cheap....?
We enjoyed a very pleasant cruise a few months ago ( October ) on this boat joining it at Luxor. We had opted to split our holiday and had the previous 4 nights at Cairo in order to take in the Great Pyramids.
The RA II is a very pleasant boat. Everything is very laid back with willing and helpful staff there to make sure you enjoy yourself and relax.
You board the boat ( apologies to anyone who knows the difference between a boat and a ship ) a deck above the waterline and enter the reception. All of the tour parties tend to congregate here at the start of each trip. Very spacious area with staircases leading down to the restaurant and up to a couple of shops. The central area is open at this level adding to the perception of space. Corridors run from both these floors along the centre of the boat - with cabins to both left and right.
This second storey is where the bar is located. The bar is also used by the reps for both introduction and closing meetings. This is a large area and easily holds all of the guests for the fancy dress party night ( Do join in its great fun ). The stairs continue up to the top ( open deck ). Most of the top deck is covered by canvas awnings with tables and chairs for guests. There are sun decks at both front and back for sun lovers and one side of the boat is lined up with sun loungers. There is a small pool at the front and the back sun deck could double as a helipad. There is a bar on this top deck. As we went during ramidan there is little point in describing the opening hours of this top bar as it may change during the seasons. It is worth being aware of the sunset times - when we were there it was about 5.15 with it remaining light for a little while and then getting very dark. The top deck had lights on ( powerful enough to read if you sat close but not too overpowering if you just wanted to sit ). Neither of us are real sun lovers and as we had made use of the swimming pool in Cairo and we had very nice table companions for meals we never rushed from meals up to the sun deck. By the time we arrived all of the sun loungers under the awning area were often taken. However sitting at the tables affords views of both banks.
The food is great mainly buffet style ( only table service for 2 of the 7 nights we were on board ) but with a wonderful selection ( this is probably one of the marked differences between this and cheaper cruises ). My wife is a vegetarian and was very pleased with what was on offer.
Do not overlook the Omelette / pancake chief at breakfast and always look to this corner at mealtimes as some dishes are hiden away and not on the central counter area. All food is included in the price but drinks are extra. Whenever you order drinks on the boat you will be given a copy of a triplicated docket. A copy of this is sent to reception so when you come to leave you settle your total bill. Drinks are not overpriced - the 2 litre bottles of water cost 60p each and could be obtained chilled. Cans of coke etc were again 60p with the soft drinks on the top deck a little bit more ( maybe £1.00 - £1.20 ) Lager Beer ( the local Stella was also about £1.20 although I have a feeling that some of these may have been (£2.00 - perhaps difference is between bottles and cans? ) Wine was about £10 to £12 a bottle - not huge selection.
Most of the tables are circular and we were placed on a table. They tend to keep the tour parties together. We tended to rotate seats each day between the 6 of us rather than have our own place. But this was just us it was not compulsory.
Passengers join and leave the boat at different times so there were always different faces on board ( Tour groups tend to stick together - We went with Somak - only the 6 of us with Somak onboard. We joined up with Longwood between 10 and 15 of them - for trips ). You also find that not all of the passengers go on the inclusive trips let alone the optional extra excursions which again is not a bad thing as it enables passengers to plan their own programmes.
You can read about these many excursions on this forums many pages and seek further information from its many contributors. I have a great passion for history and never tire of looking at buildings and ruins but I can understand it when people state that the trip can leave them 'templed out' ( a reference to the many similar temples you can visit. We had an excellent guide who appears to operate from the RA II boat. His name is Wallid and if you get this guy you know you are in for a great time. Upon our first visit to a temple he sat us down in the shadows and explained the relationship between the varios gods by pulling us passengers forward one at a time and naming us. I was Seth for the week and the lady in the cabin next door to me was my mother, someone else my father, brother etc. Fortunately my wife was also my wife if this amkes sense. It had the effect of making us bond quicker as it was easier to remember some fellow passengers by their egyptian name rather than their own. There after as we visited each temple we were shown how to read the hieroglyphics and work out which characters were depicted. Wallid would call forward the various passenger when pointing this out. My only regret was going in Ramidan as Wallid observed his belief in not letting food or drink ( including water ) pass his lips during sun up he had to pace himself with his speech. I came back thinking how much more I could have learned had he been more able to discuss with us. ( Please accept I am in no way being critical - the afternoon we spent with Wallid in a mosque in Aswan talking about Religion and cultural differences was a wonderful experience and taught me a lot more about the country, its culture and people than I could have picked up from any book - like I said above I crave knowledge on history )
The rooms on board the RA II are small but functional. We had our own bathroom ( bath with shower over ) WC and washbasin - twin beds 2 upright padded chairs ( comfortable ) and a small table. There was a TV ( only turned on once to see what stations they receive) and a radio. A wardrobe and drawers, somewhere to place the cases and a small fridge. Independent lights in case you both do not want to turn in at same time. No kettles or irons in rooms ( laundry service on board with price list in cabin ). Hairdryers in main cabin. However one of the things that attracted us to the RA II was its balcony. Ok it is not huge - once you open the doors you can only just get a foot outside and lean against the handrail. But I had this picture in my head of opening the window and standing or sitting down as the boat went along and whenever the opportunity presented itself this is what I did. Upon arrival on the boat in Luxor one of the first things I did was open these doors and look out across the Nile ( We had cabins on the reception deck on the right as you look at the front of th boat - We were lucky because most of the times we moored up on the other side - the cabins here would look onto the bank a few yards away ). The smells were fantastic - a heady heavily scented smell occassionally wafting on the light breeze, the moonlight shining back up to me from the water a few feet below ( no clouds - I live in Uk so I do not see many clear cloud free skies ) no ambeient street lights leaving a hazy shadow across the horizon, complete darkness and a stillness - and this was just my initial opinion after a few minutes on board.
We had a fantastic time. Would go again and have no hessitation in recommending this boat or holiday to anyone. If you want answers to specific questions about boat, what it has or has not got etc then please feel free to ask and I will get back to you.
Someone asked about pictures I do have a few of the boat - plenty of dusky old buildings and piles of rock but very few of boat. Some of interior and some of deck. Never posted a picture onto one of these forums so will need some guidance unless you would be happy for me to e-mail direct.
Just booked to go early March 2006 on Etoile du Nil - any suggestions/tips please? (Tipping, What to wear/when etc. This is our first trip on the Nile. We haven't booked any excursions - which do you recommend? I promise to post a review on return. Thanks TandA
Has anyone been on the First Choice Nile Goddess 1- 7 night cruise recently?
We have booked to go on 6th March and would apreciate any tips/hints for our first visit to the Nile.
We will also be staying at the Sofitel Karnak in Luxor for the second week.
Thanks for taking the time to reply.
I see you have found this site
Have you looked at the reviews for the Sofitel on The Trip Advisor site
and also on Holidays Uncovered
(you will have to do some scrolling on this one)
They are all excellent so I don't think you will have to worry about staying there.
I am sure I am correct in saying that this is a new programme for FC in 2006 and there have been no actual cruises so far, I think the first cruise is departing within the next few weeks, so we may find out more info then.
The actual boat is the MS Orchid so somebody may be able to give some info on it.
Could anyone who has been on this boat please tell me if you have had any problems. I am booked to go on this cruise boat by my travel agent
Direct Holidays. I am in a cabin (twin beds) for sole use as I am on my own. Do you have to take all your spends in EL pounds when on board.
Any other information about this boat would be helpful.
lots of thanks. TB.
We visited Egypt during Ramadan and had a few reservations before we went - We need not have bothered.
If anything it adds to the experience.
Many of the crew who serve you throughout the day in the on board restuarant observe Ramadan and it presents no problem to them. Our Tour guide was again excellent and told us all to just act as normal as possible but to try and observe respect for the cultural and religious beliefs.
In Luxor we delayed our return to the Cruise boat after the sun had set in order to travel back via the crowded streets where low ( knee high ) tables had been prepared with food for the many public workers. These groups of people sitting chatting away to each other all appeared well content with life and so relaxed. We saw the many young lads standing alongside the road who offered ( gave )food to drivers who had been travelling or working when their fast ended. Our guide explained why this was done and it is seen as a form of acquiring 'credit' by putting the needs of others before themselves.
In the traffic jam ( on the river ) at Kom Ombo we left the temple just before sunset and were back on board watching what was going on along the river bank. Many of the merchants broke their fasts with baskets of bread passed around and plenty of visits to the water standpipes to sate dry throats. People took time out to pray - sometimes openly on the public walkway and others in the backs of their shops.
At Aswan we took tea high up on the hill at a Nubian cafe and then travelled back to the busy streets that run parallel to the river. We left the coach and with the guide a few of us went on a shopping experience to savour. Again people were breaking their fasting and there were wonderful smells of cooking wafting from doorways. We visited a bakery and were taken inside and to the back of the premises where men were busily preparing loaves before they were transported through the oven on a grilled conveyor belt before dropping off the other side. We were then given great big chunks of hot bread to take with us as we continued our shopping trip. Everyone was busy but everyone had a genuine smile for us as we were lead around.
We only ever took water out with us on the excursions. We had been asked to try and not eat out in public and to be honest we were so well fed on board that you never needed anything else.
We heard a lot about Ramadan and had never appreciated that true observers do not pass either food or drink ( including water ) during daylight hours. We would often comment and try to put ourselves in this position especially the water ( as we easily drank 2 -4 litres each per day ). People have less energy when fasting and could easily become grumpy and aggressive quickly ( We were however assured that the traffic in Cairo is always like this - horns day and night with flashing lights added at night with no one giving an inch ) but we never experienced this. If you can be ashore at night to observe what happens after sunset take the opportunity it is an experience and does restore ones faith whatever your religion.
the very first entry in this thread is a review I posted about our trip on the MS Grand Star in September 2004 (I've tried to attach a link - but unsuccesfully - Briar has also added it to the Nile Cruise Reviews thread). There are a couple of other posts also on page 1 which may help with your currency questions.
Just as a rider to this, everyone in our party had a brilliant holiday, the MS Grand Star is NOT a luxurious cruise boat (in comparison to others that you may come across) but we all reckoned it was worth it's 4 star rating. In the interests of fairness I have read one scathing review on here from someone holidaying at the same time as us who produced a list of grievances (none of which were encountered by our party).
Please feel free to ask or PM me for any specific queries.
Thanx for the info, youve been v.busy!
I think i've scrolled the legs off my mouse!
When are you travelling?
*edit please do not post in phone text Briar
*edit please do not post in phone text Briar
But could Boothers as you have give such a good discription of your time
on this boat. Please tell me how the cabins were ie description/condition ect. As I could have mist any info on this one subject. I did send you
both a PM thank you but may have got that wrong if so sorry not to good at e'mails. Get back to you some time in the future.
Thanks again thomas.
ps. Is page 18 the right one for Q&A
The food on the cruise was a bonus. I have a stomach disorder which means I am a very picky eater and was a bit dubious with Egypts reputation for digestive problems, but I've never eaten so well on a holiday! There was a large range of food at all meals (the majority were self service buffet style, although there were two evening meals where you were waited on at your table (menu choices were given you at lunch) including a fresh pasta man who would serve you that days pasta cooked as you wished. I personally (and unbelievably) didn't suffer a single stomach upset for the entire fortnight although most of the other members of our party did miss the odd meal. Generally these problems were sorted out by some local medicine available from your guide (or the boats reception staff).
Hope this has been useful!
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