Last month, The New Times’ Bryan Kimenyi travelled to Egypt and among other things cruised on the River Nile. Below is his experience.
Looking at the current political situation in Egypt, you’d think it’s not wise of me to write about visiting Egypt. However, with all that is happening right now in Egypt, those cruising on the River Nile are the safest people. Egyptians will do anything but they will never threaten the River Nile.
First of all, I have to say that I had always heard of people who spend holidays on boats and read about super stars and their week long cruises along the French Riviera but it had never occurred to me that I would one day do just that.
So, while touring Cairo, I noticed that there were many boats floating all over the River Nile (the River Nile flows between Cairo) and I thought to myself, this is the only chance I have to cruise in those boats.
That’s when I inquired with my hosts and to my surprise, they had planned and booked dinner on the Nile Crystal, one of the most amazing boats on the River Nile that same night.
The cruise was to start at 8pm, but since I didn’t want to miss out on this ‘once in a lifetime’ experience, I insisted that we hit the road at 6pm to beat the traffic. To my surprise, there wasn’t that much traffic and we got to the dock a few minutes past 7pm.
Since the doors to the boat weren’t open, we sat at a nearby coffee shop and that’s when I saw someone doing shisha. Egyptians, like most Arabs smoke shisha like it’s a law. We got our own shisha pot at 20 Egyptian pounds (about Rwf 1,500) and smoked while we looked forward to the boat cruise along the Nile that was about to begin.
If you were to be blindfolded and placed on one of the dining tables in the Nile Crystal, you’d surely think you’re seated in one of those posh tables in the Titanic.
With its two large dining rooms, the Nile Crystal is a huge dining boat filled with colourful decorations. This boat, I later got to learn is famous for its entertainment than the food.
They have a well organised live band that plays western music, especially classic songs that play as the guests enjoy their food.
Dinner started at around 8:30pm and the boat set sail a few minutes later. The food is mainly Egyptian cuisine with lots of meat and some pasta. They also have a nice average dessert buffet.
The band later broke off and Tanoora dancers joined the stage. This dance has men dressed in long colourful skirts that they keep spinning as they also spin in one place. But a boat cruise along the Nile isn’t a success if you have no belly dancer to entertain you. Egyptian women are known world all over to be very beautiful. However these belly dancers exceed that.
What is interesting about them is that they know how to interact with the guests. The belly dancer on duty that evening invited some of the girls in our group to join her on stage and she taught them a few dance moves.
We cheered them on but a few minutes later, the belly dancer was on our table and now it was time for men to be men. We posed for photos, some people asked for autographs and I saw someone offer her flowers.
After having enough of the dancers and food, I maneuvered around, just to see what else goes around the boat and that’s when I realised there’s an outside opening. The fresh air at the balcony of the boat is refreshing but the well lit hotels like The Four Seasons Hotel, Sheraton, Hilton and many others make a magnificent view. It’s such a nice place for tourists to take photos.
Egyptians smoke cigarettes everywhere, but I noticed that smoking on the Nile Crystal was only allowed at the boat’s balcony.
While at the balcony, you get to meet many other boats sailing on the Nile. Since it’s around 9pm, every boat cruising on the Nile is escorted by a small boat of marines, just in case any of the guests fall into the river.
After two hours on the Nile Crystal, I realised that travelling by boat on the Nile is not only fun but also one of the best things to do when in Cairo as it allows you to see the beautiful resorts on the Nile.
The dinner on the cruise is $75 but other expenses like wine and beer are not catered for. Beer costs 45 Egyptian pounds (Rwf 4,058 and a glass of wine is 80 Egyptian pounds (Rwf 7,215).