Egypt is one of the most fascinating countries I’ve ever been to. I stopped there several years ago on an ocean cruise and visited Luxor, with its breathtaking Valley of the Kings that is home to the tomb of Tutankhamun and other great pharaohs.
Until recently, Egypt has been a tough destination to explore, but that’s quickly changing. Recently, Viking Cruises announced plans for its 2020 season of river cruises along Egypt’s amazing Nile River. And those plans include not one, but two ships — one of which will be purpose-built just for Viking.
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Inspired by Viking’s award-winning Viking Longship river cruise vessels, the new Viking Osiris will debut on the Nile in September of 2020. Having a brand-new, specially-built river cruise ship in Egypt is no easy task, and the completion of Viking Osiris will make Viking the only Western company to build, own and operate its own ships on the Nile.
The 82-passenger vessel will operate Viking’s 12-day “Pharaohs & Pyramids” cruisetour itinerary that begins and ends in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. While on board Viking Osiris or her Egyptian fleetmate Viking Ra, guests will be able to visit Qena, Luxor, Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo and Aswan. It is an imaginative and adventurous itinerary that is suitable for experienced travellers looking to discover both modern and ancient Egypt.
“Egypt has inspired explorers for generations, and it remains a top destination for many of our guests,” said Torstein Hagen, Viking’s founder and chairman. “For more than two decades, we have led the river cruise industry with our fleet development and experiences that bring travellers closer to the cultures of the world. We remain committed to Egypt, and we look forward to introducing the historic treasures of the region to even more Viking guests.”
The thing that genuinely impresses me about Viking, and has for years, is that the company seems dialed-in to what its guests want. And when we talk about river cruising along the Nile, it’s hard to ignore the pull of Egypt’s ancient and mysterious history.
Someone at Viking clearly feels the same: Next year, the line is introducing two new “Privileged Access” pre-cruise extensions that allow guests to retrace the steps of explorer Howard Carter, and his benefactor, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon.
A new five-day “British Collections of Ancient Egypt” extension begins in London, with an early morning visit to the British Museum’s Egyptian Collection before it opens to the public; and a visit to the home and personal museum of Sir John Soane, where the architect’s private collection of Egyptian antiques will be showcased to travellers by candlelight.
Sounds cool, right? There’s more: Viking then takes guests to Oxford to visit the Ashmolean Museum and Oxford University’s Griffith Institute before continuing to Highclere Castle (of Downton Abbey fame) to view the Earl of Carnarvon’s collection of Egyptian artifacts.
The second pre-cruise tour, available through April 2020, also begins in London and includes an opportunity to visit a special exhibit at London’s Saatchi Gallery presented in conjunction with Viking.
Needless to say, this is one itinerary I’ve got my own eye on for next year, along with its pre-cruise extension.
Egypt isn’t an easy destination to travel to. During my three days there a few years back, I found it fascinating but stressful, punctuated with long coach rides to and from deepsea ports. Viking takes a lot of that stress away with its highly-curated river cruisetours along the Nile, making its rich history, past and present, accessible to us all in a way that would have been impossible a few years back.
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