Viking River Cruises' tours through ancient Egypt include time on two different ships. Passengers board MS Mayfair for a four-day journey on the Nile, then switch to MS Omar El Khayam for a three-day cruise on Lake Nasser. Built in 2010, MS Mayfair is a 150-passenger, five-deck ship with classic decor and a black, white, and silver color palette. All staterooms have floor-to-ceiling slide-open windows, and 10 of them also have full balconies. Since it sails in the lock-free waters of Lake Nasser, the 160-passenger MS Omar El Khayam is free from the size limitations of most river ships. The staterooms (each one with a full balcony) and common areas are noticeably more spacious.
What We Love
Sundeck: MS Mayfair's sundeck is the place to be, with its shaded green spaces (using artificial turf) and a gorgeous dark teak deck. There are also cozy private loungers, two hot tubs, and a small pool. This is where the daily teatime takes place, sometimes including crepes.
Spa and Fitness: MS Omar el Khayam has a large fitness area as well as a spa with a complete line of services like full-body massages, facials, and reflexology. Cruisers get a deal when packaging these treatments: 90 minutes for $100.
Best Known For
Egyptian Night: Passengers and crew dress in “galabias” (traditional long garb) and enjoy a buffet of authentic Egyptian dishes like “koshari” (seasoned pasta, rice, and lentils mixed together) as well as a performance by a Nubian dance group. Warning: Audience participation is strongly encouraged.
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Who It's Best For
Well-Traveled Cruisers Looking to Disconnect: Time on shore includes stops in Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan and visits to Egypt's ancient sites. But much of your time on board will be spent relaxing in a lounge, in your room, on the sundeck, or perhaps in the spa, as you get refreshed waiting for your next meal or excursion. MS Mayfair has unreliable Wi-Fi, and MS Omar el Khayam has none.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Not Owned by Viking: The line leases space on these ships, so your group will be on board with others — cruisers from Germany, England, and Japan, for example. The ships are also completely different from the line's Scandinavian-style ships on the rivers of Europe.
Swat: While all MS Omar el Khayam cabins have balconies with chairs and a table, you'll probably never even want to open your window because of the swarms of little bugs on Lake Nasser.
John Roberts is a New Jersey-based writer for ShermansCruise who worked at The Virginian-Pilot.
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Egypt Class at a Glance
- Line: Viking River Cruises
- Class: Egypt Class
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