As part of our 2001 holiday in Cyprus we arranged to take a two day cruise to Egypt, to see the pyramids at Giza and the treasures of Tutankhamun at the Cairo Museum.

We sailed on the Princesa Marissa from Limassol. The coach collected us from the hotel at lunchtime, ready for an afternoon sailing from Limassol port. We had a four berth cabin on one of the lower decks, with a porthole view. The cabin was compact but adequate for our needs, and bunk beds with ladders kept the kids amused.

princessamarissa tugboat

The evening meal on the ship was excellent, and we all got a good night’s sleep. By morning, we were almost in Egypt, and we were able to watch the ship’s arrival in Port Said as we ate our breakfast.

The short walk to the air conditioned coaches is lined with street traders, all of whom are very persistent at trying to sell their wares. The coach transfer to Giza takes about two hours, running alongside the Suez Canal at first, then across the Eastern Desert. Our guide gave us a fascinating talk on Egypt for most of that journey.

portsaid suezcanal

The Pyramids at Giza

Some distant views of the pyramids, and crossing the River Nile in Cairo.Considering the time and distance travelled, we were allowed very little sightseeing time at the pyramids themselves – 45 minutes at the great pyramid, 45 minutes at the Sphinx, and a short visit to a local papyrus factory and gift shop. The chap in the suit on our coach (who we assumed to be some tourism official) turned out to have a sub-machine gun under his jacket. Perhaps the authorities are concerned for the security of tourists following recently reported incidents, and are deliberately limiting our exposure.

cairogiza pyramidsandsphinx

Walking around the pyramids, and Matthew by the Sphinx. Expect to be hassled by locals selling postcards and camel rides. Someone on our coach agreed on a price for a camel ride, then found he was not going to be let down until he paid a new, higher, price! Don’t accept anything pushed into your hands as a gift either – they’ll charge you for it!

pyramids2 pyramids3
pyramids4 sphinx

After driving through the traffic in the centre of Cairo, our final stop was at the Cairo Museum to see the treasures of Tutankhamun. There’s a heavy security presence outside the museum, with armed guards and our ever-present plainclothes armed escort. Flash photography is not allowed inside the museum, and you need to buy a permit to use any cameras. Our tour guide gave us another great talk about the exhibits as she led us around the museum.

Back to the ship, in time for an evening departure and overnight cruise to Limassol.We had breakfast on board, and arrived back in port later that morning. Overall verdict – we are glad we went, and the cruise was an enjoyable new experience, but we were a little disappointed at not being able to spend more time looking around the site at Giza. Maybe one day when we have more money and more time we will return to Egypt and the Nile.