Egypt: Jewels of the Nile

Welcome to the Egypt: Jewels of the Nile Forum - Find the answers to your trip questions, answer questions posted by fellow travelers, plus share your Tauck experiences and stories. Stop by often and join in on the discussions.



  • To Tauck - we are very excited about the itinerary on this trip but wanted to know if Tauck would change the itinerary to accommodate a visit to the brand new GEM museum scheduled to open up in 2020.

  • edited September 2019

    You probably won't get an answer on the forum (it is rarely monitored) but I am going on Jordan & Egypt: Petra to the Pyramids in March, and was told by a Tauck agent that if the GEM is open by then WE WILL GO THERE The future of the Old Egyptian Museum is uncertain, but what is pretty much certain is that all Tut artifacts and most other archaeological items will be transferred to the GEM. If the GEM is open, I guarantee you will go there instead of the Old Egyptian Museum.

  • Thanks Alan S for the info. We will probably wish list the 10 day Egypt trip for a year or two away. By then, the bugs of a new trip will be worked out. Will be interested in seeing your comments about the GEM if open upon your return. All your comments on the Forum are really helpful!

  • I'm not too confident, but keeping my fingers crossed- they have just over 6 months to have the GEM ready for me! :D I check every week for new updates.

    Unfortunately, building things can be like an inverse pyramid (analogy intended) - you start with a few major assemblies (e.g. four walls and a roof) which go up fairly quickly, but then you get to the point where you have many, many detailed tasks which always seem to multiply- electrical, plumbing, air conditioning, painting and finishing, signage, etc. then you need to build and install the displays, information placards/computer displays, and finally the treasures. Then there are a myriad of administrative tasks- hire and train people, work out onsite and online website and ticketing, etc., etc. A number of tasks can be done in parallel, but it just boggles the mind. One positive note- the GEM is a MAJOR Egyptian government project which will help the economy as well as being a matter of significant national pride, so they want to get it done an opened.

  • Alan - where do you check for updates? Have you seen anything new other than the ambiguous “by 2020”?

  • edited September 2019

    I Google it,(often going thru 10 - 15 pages or more of responses, but typically only look at articles dated June 2019 or more recent (my browser remembers what sites I have already visited). I also look at the GEM, archaeology, construction, architecture, etc. websites (ArtNet, Lonely Planet, ConstructionWeek*, etc.) contractor and subcontractor websites (e.g. Hill International- architects, BuroHappold Engineering, Heneghan Peng, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Besix- construction, "hsd" the exhibition design consultants for the Phase II galleries. I check out any English language Egyptian news sites (Egypt Today, etc.) I can find. I've seen nothing more definitive than "by 2020."

    The architecture websites will often show early design or competition entry drawings as well as some of the best photos.

    It is interesting Viator and other similar tour brokers are advertising tours, but all with a disclaimer

    *by Jack Ball
    24 Jul 2019

    Overall construction progress has hit 93% at the Grand Egyptian Museum project, which is being built by Belgian construction giant Besix with its 50% owner, Egyptian contracting heavyweight Orascom Construction, the project director for Phase 3 of the project – located next to Egypt’s Giza pyramids in Cairo – told Construction Week.

    Speaking during a visit to the site, Laurens Schokking told Construction Week that concrete and steel works had respectively hit the 98% and 99% progress rate.

    Mechanical, engineering, and plumbing works at the museum – which includes a main building; a main square; and the Ramses hall, featuring the 3,200-year-old statue of King Ramses II, weighing 75 tonnes – currently stands at 84%.

    Schokking said finishes were 96% complete, adding that the Besix-Orascom joint venture was aiming to complete “the majority of the building work by the end of this year”.

  • Alan - thanks!

  • If anyone talks with Tauck and determines when/if they plan to include the GEM onto the itinerary please let the rest of us know. I'm scheduled for this trip in October 2020. If the GEM does open prior to that and anyone is able to attend, again please let the rest of us know the details of how tickets where obtained, when you visited the GEM relative to the tour start, tour end, or if it was included in the itinerary. If you did it on your own, any tips about getting tickets, getting to/from the GEM, etc would also be useful.

    Tauck pioneers in visiting the GEM, please help the rest of us by posting your findings.

    Thanks is advance.

  • edited October 2019

    I'll certainly report back after our late March 2020 Jordan & Egypt tour, but, remember, while the status of the GEM may change, Tauck may only be able to adjust the itinerary from tour to tour for partial benefit since the museum is so large. Tauck assured me, "If the Gem is open we will go!". When and how long is TBD. I've come to realize it will only be a minor disappointment If we don't get to see the GEM because there is so much more to see on this and the Jewels of Nile tours. We are staying an extra day which we can spend more time at the GEM, or if it is not open, we can return to spend more time at Saqqara, Dahshur, etc.

    So, while it may not be open when our tour hits Cairo in early April 2020, it could be (should be) open when you get there in Oct/Nov 2020.

  • Thanks AlanS - Sounds like you may be the Tauck Tip of the Sword on this. I'm sure it will be very dynamic, but any information you can provide after your trip will be much appreciated.

  • Hi Sealord - We are very interested in this new 10 day Jewel of the Nile trip. Probably going to wish list it for Feb 2022 since we are doing the Australian Kangaroo Island and Tasmania trip in Feb 2021. Have either of you been to Egypt? If so, what do you think of the itinerary? Also, I saw that there is a non-stop flight from Dulles to Cairo on EGYPTAIR. I know it is a long way off and the flights will probably change, but (1) would you fly on EGYPTAIR and (2) what other airlines WOULD YOU FLY and NOT FLY on to Egypt?

  • I flew from Boston to Cairo on Air France, with a stop in Paris (business class). Good flights.

  • Hey Virginia Travelers - I'm considering this trip, as well, in 2021. For me, the only negative is the cruise. I'm an "always on the go" type and I find cruises waste a lot of time with doing nothing and moving at a snail's pace. I did the China trip a few years ago that included the 3 day Yangtze River cruise (before they offered the land-only tour) and found that portion pretty boring. That's why I jumped ship (pun intended) and did Alaska earlier this summer with another company that offered a land-only trip. It's too soon for me to start researching for 2021, as I have 3 trips already booked through Fall 2020, but I'll probably look at other alternatives for that region. Would appreciate you keeping us informed what you find.

  • We agree with you BKMD. We don't do cruises or riverboats and find them very boring. The only cruise we've ever done was Alaska and that was to give it a try and to see Glacier Bay from the sea. That one cruise convinced us we prefer land trips too as we need to be more active. But the itinerary for this trip looks amazing and going to the Grand Egyptian Museum would be fantastic. It might be a trade off for Egypt. That's why we want to wait to get some feedback from folks going in 2020 and 2021 and also let the bugs of a new trip be worked out. An alternative is the Jordan/Egypt trip but we just did Israel/Jordan in October 2018 and don't really want to return to Jordan after having seen the identical sites.

  • edited October 2019

    Virginia_Travelers, 5:17PM. Hi Sealord - We are very interested in this new 10 day Jewel of the Nile trip. Have either of you been to Egypt? If so, what do you think of the itinerary? Also, I saw that there is a non-stop flight from Dulles to Cairo on EGYPTAIR. I know it is a long way off and the flights will probably change, but (1) would you fly on EGYPTAIR and (2) what other airlines WOULD YOU FLY and NOT FLY on to Egypt?

    Not Sealord, but I have been to Egypt courtesy of my Uncle and one of his big gray boats :D I only had a chance to see Alexandria and a bit of Cairo and Giza. But whatever trip you take (Jewels of the Nile or Jordan & Egypt) should be legendary- the itineraries look fabulous. Personally, I would need to do some serious research of Egyptair. We flew Ethiopian Air to K&T. They didn't have the best rep but most of the criticism was focused on ground personnel. They even provide training to maintenance staff (and flight crew?) from other African Airlines, but look what happened this year! Sealord did considerable flying into Africa so he might have some comments about Egyptair.

    BKMD, 9:25PM, Hey Virginia Travelers - I'm considering this trip, as well, in 2021. For me, the only negative is the cruise. I'm an "always on the go" type and I find cruises waste a lot of time with doing nothing and moving at a snail's pace.

    I wouldn't be too concerned about time spent on the boat. First, only 4 out of 10 NIGHTS are spent on the boat. You tour during the day and the boat, like Tauck River Cruise boats, will probably move mostly during the night. It takes a lot of time and there is not a lot to see except sand dunes if you were to travel between stops by bus- that is why you take flights and travel by boat at night). Finally, the boat, owned and run by Oberoi, is probably quite a bit nicer than the hotels in some of the locations you will go.

  • AlanS - Thanks for that info. As my time frame is still a ways off, I hadn't read the details of the cruise. I simply saw cruise and thought UGH to myself.

    Virginia_T - I'm in the same boat (there's that nautical pun again) as you. Doing Israel/Jordan in a few weeks and can't imagine wanting to repeat Jordan. Be nice if Tauck offered an Egypt/Dubai trip, or something else along those lines.

  • I’m also doing Israel and Jordan in 2020 but have no interest in visiting Egypt. But much prefer land tours. We will be booking Alaska as soon as 2021 dates are available and that will be our first big ship experience. Trying to please everyone must be a constant nightmare for Tauck. For me, I don’t particularly like the change to more small group travel, it means that even fewer people might be able to afford their tours and that’s a shame, especially as my theory is that Most of the extra cost is probably an increase in pay to the tour director or otherwise I don’t see how you can attract them to lead groups of 24 instead of 40 because that’s a huge drop in potential tip revenue.

  • Just completed the Israel and Jordan tour, doing the Iceland small ship tour in June and the Egypt Jewels of the Nile tour in October 2020. I wouldn't do the Egypt and Jordan tour if you already done the Israel and Jordan tour. Jordan was wonderful (Jerash and Petra were spectacular), but for me there are too many places still to see to repeat the sights of Jordan.

    British, good luck with your Alaska big ship experience. Seeing that you already have an aversion for cruise adventures I can't imagine you enjoying the large ship experience where the population of some of the visited locations will double when your ship shows up, but who knows.

    I tend to enjoy land based tours more as well, the reasons being that with land based tours your hotels place you in the best location in each stop, usually allowing you to explore on your own when free time is available. In addition, as a general rule, it seems like the daily rate on land based cruises is less than for cruise based tours, likely because Tauck has to pay the boat operators. For the cruises, to avoid bus rides, you're limited to coastal and riverside cities. In addition, in some of those cities, it still involves perhaps a 30 minute bus ride to get to the main sights of the city (eg. Vienna). Plus for the cruises you have more people to load onto more buses. That said the totally cruise tours offer some advantages (in my opinion): load and unload suitcases only once, tour director tip is included, all meals would be included. For me, if the itinerary and the sights you see are important enough to me, then I'll do either type. We've done 1 river cruise (combined land and river - Berlin, Danube, Krakow), two small ship tours, 1 combined tour (Peru and the Galapagos), and 6 land based tours.

    Basically each person makes the decision of land vs cruise type of adventures based on what's important to them.

  • Virginia Travelers -- When Tauck was on haitus from Egypt tours, I went with another tour company. On my own, I flew from Boston to Cairo on Air France, with a connection in Paris. CDG can be a nightmare if you don't allow a lot of connection time. (I like to have a minimum of 3 hours.) The tour used Egyptair for internal flights. They were fine.

  • Something Sam said brought to mind another point about land tours and the Egypt, Jewels of the Nile land/river cruise tour. I totally agree with those who like land tours over tours by river boat or small cruise ship, due to Tauck's selection of convenient located hotels. But, consider this about the Jewels (and second half of Jordan & Egypt)- unlike European tours, most of these tours are focused on the historical - ancient culture, architecture, etc., except for Cairo where get to see the suq (market) and a few other parts of the modern city. You are not going for the chance to roam around and see cities and local people along the way, you are going to see really incredible antiquities of one of the major ancient civilizations of the world at various sites. Most historical sites (like most of the current population) are within a few minutes of the Nile river, in fact they are visible from the ship or need just a short trip by horse/donkey cart from the dock to get to the site. It is not a place where you would (or where it would be wise to) step out of your hotel and walk 15 min. though town to get there.

  • I totally agree with Alan's comments about the Egypt, Jewels of the Nile land/river cruise tour with respect to the boat being a perfect venue for seeing the ruins within Egypt. Where there are acceptable hotels, Cairo and Aswan, Tauck uses them. European tours have a completely different focus - castles and cathedrals, along with other things, which are old, but not ancient.

    Starting next Spring we should start getting first hand accounts of this tour. I expect it to be spectacular.

  • Thanks everyone for all the comments. This trip will be amazing!

  • We have booked the October 2020 trip and look forward to hearing from anyone who has gone earlier. Thanks, Judy

  • We are going to book this trip for 2021 and was wondering if anyone can comment on the pluses and negatives for the 2 River Boats used on the trip - the Oberoi Philae and the Oberoi Zahra. We know the Philae is the more expensive of the 2 and is used for the small groups and has about 5 fewer staterooms but we were trying to get more information - which boat is newer?, which is more comfortable?, quality of staff? etc. Any feedback would we appreciated.

  • edited January 2020

    Based on the fact that they both carry the Oberoi name, both should be fantastic- literally over the top for hard product, amenities, and service. The Philae is older, built in 1995, but was purchased by Oberoi in 2011, and underwent an often interrupted (Arab Spring) multi-year overhaul (actually a $10 million transformation*) and re-emerged in 2015/6 while the Zahra was built in 2007, (I expect they were lightly used over the past several years!) but you can't go wrong with either. Remember, other than a few meals and sleep, you won't be spending much time aboard ship.

    Check out the info on the Tauck and Oberoi websites for minor differences, e.g lux cabins on Philea are 388 sq. ft. (shower only) and lux. suites are 594 sq. (have sep tub) and lux suites w/terrace (also have hot tubs) are 388 sq. ft.while on the slightly larger(?) (w/5 more cabins) Zahra cabins are 284 sq. ft. (shower only) and suites (with tub) are 584 sq. ft. FYI, most exterior photos of the Philea on the web, including the ones that used to be shown on the Tauck and that are still on Oberoi websites, are the old pre-renovation configuration (see photos below for both configs.) Also note, Tauck may not have all cabins. We are on the Zahra for a small group tour which would normally require 12 cabins (for 24 people), yet the Zahra has 27 cabins. The Philea has 22 cabins. For more up-to-date info, you'll need to wait until the first few departures have returned and ChicagoTravelers, karen1672 and others file their reports.

    Better act fast, 2021 full Jordan & Egypt tours are rapidly selling out, I expect the Jewels of the Nile tour will start to do the same once everyone sees the 2021 dates are posted!

    p.s. factoid about Oberoi- like Tauck, it is a family owned company- the founder chairman, and the other top 3 execs of the Oberoi Group are all familly:

    Oberoi Philea in new livery:

    Old (note, windows only, no sliding doors to the veranda):

  • We just booked Egypt Small Groups for March 2021 and postponed our Australia trip to Kangaroo Island and Tasmania scheduled for February 2021 to February 2022 because of the fires and devastation to those areas. We chose the Philea based on what we read, your comments, and our travel agent's highest recommendation. Our TA told us the Philea was most recently renovated in 2017 and it is gorgeous. As of today, there are only 4 staterooms available for our trip!

  • Virginia_Travelers, 2:05PM, . . . . We chose the Philea based on what we read, your comments, and our travel agent's highest recommendation.

    Oh, just put pressure on me! I am not a doctor and don't play one on TV! I accept no responsibility. :D

  • LOL. Very good Alan. Maybe you could ensure that the GEM is open, up and running, and in the Tauck itinerary for our trip ?

  • Virginia_Travelers, 2:39PM, LOL. Very good Alan. Maybe you could ensure that the GEM is open, up and running, and in the Tauck itinerary for our trip ?

    I wish!!!!! I just did a Google search for GEM updates- nothing new. :/

    FYI, Tauck has "looked" at the behind the scenes tour of the restoration labs (+ partial (unfinished) museum tour). Whatever that means, but I don't think they will spring for that. The museum only takes very small groups (10?) and the cost is $250 p/p

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