Journal: 17 April 2002
It’s been a year since I was last in Egypt. My long-time travel companion Jenny has not been able to get back to Egypt and last year another friend, Mary stepped into her shoes at the last minute to go with me on a pre-planned trip. As Mary has always wanted to do a Nile Cruise, this year I decided to go with her, agreeing that this is a great way to see many of the Upper Egypt sites that are not always easy to get to by road. I have already enjoyed two cruises and we decided to use the same company, Thompson and PNC, who operate a tiny fleet of older-style cruise boats. So, a week on the boat followed by a week in the relatively luxurious Novotel in Luxor was something I had been looking forward to after my absence.
Unfortunately, travelling with a tour company entails rather a long journey from the far west of England where we live. The overnight train to Gatwick airport in London means leaving our home town at 9.00pm and not arriving in Luxor until the next afternoon at 4.30pm. This is the only time I envy people living near the major airports. But the flight was good and the journey from the airport to our cruise ship moored on the Luxor Corniche was made easy by the tour company transfer coach.
We were settled into our cabin on the boat in time for dinner. This boat, the Commodore, is an exact replica of the other PNC boats I’ve been on – the Legend and the Admiral. It’s one of the older cruise ships that sail weekly up and down the River Nile between Luxor and Aswan, a little frayed around the edges compared to the more luxurious floating palaces that have arrived on the river in recent years. One of the things I like about them is that they are small – with groups of 30-40 passengers. You can get to know everyone quite quickly and there is a feeling of belonging to an extended family after only a couple of days. I think I would feel out of place on one of the larger trendy ships and besides, my wardrobe doesn’t really run to elegant dinner attire. I felt comfortable here in the tiny cabin with its mahogany-panelled walls and we were fortunate to have a cabin on an upper deck with a lovely view of the river and the West Bank. What more could I ask?
Dinner was as usual, superb and Mary and I enjoyed getting to know our fellow passengers. Afterwards we spent an hour up on the top deck just absorbing the familiar and unique sights, sounds and smells of my beloved Luxor in the warm balmy air of an April evening. We’d both missed a night’s sleep on the train journey last night and by 10.30pm we were fit to drop, but excited to be back as we made our way down to our cabin for an early night.