19 of the best Nile cruises for 2024

Sailing the River Nile is a bucket-list experience. Since the first tourists travelled down the river in 1869, it has attracted visitors enthralled by Egypt’s pharaohs, prophets and pyramids. The world’s longest river flows through 11 African countries for 4,100 miles before spilling out into the Mediterranean, but it’s the Upper Nile, which snakes through southern Egypt, that offers the most cruise itineraries. These visit some of the country’s famous ruins and archaeological discoveries, including the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Aswan and the Temple of Horus. Cruises operate year-round but sailings between October and May will avoid scorching summer temperatures. Whether you choose to sail on a modern cruise ship, a restored paddle steamer or even a traditional two-masted dahabiya, these are some of the best Nile cruises and itineraries for this journey of a lifetime.

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1. G Adventures: Pyramids, Temples & the Nile

A traditional dahabiya cruises the Nile at sunset

A traditional dahabiya cruises the Nile at sunset

GETTY IMAGES

Best for a dahabiya experience
Leave the crowded ports to the oversized ships and opt for a more serene sailing with G Adventures. Its ten-day Egypt: Pyramids, Temples & the Nile itinerary includes four nights in Cairo and five on board a traditional dahabiya, which has no engine so you can sit back and listen to the sounds of the waves. With just ten cabins, it can dock at small sites close to villages for a more authentic experience. These include a visit to a nonprofit charity working with young people in the West Bank, a barbeque on a remote island in the middle of the Nile and a trip to Nubian village for mint tea with a local family.

Passengers 16
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome N
Price £££

2. MS Farah: Taste of Egypt

Best for on-board experience
The real attraction of a Nile cruise lies on dry land, but guests on an Avalon Waterways cruise will be in no hurry to disembark. This ship has 56 deluxe cabins and two suites, and all have oversized balconies to watch the world sail by. Treats on board include free use of a sauna and steam room, complimentary wi-fi, barbecue lunches and dinners on the sun deck, a library and welcome amenities including a fruit basket and canapés. Guests can join an Egyptian cooking class, use a telescope to stargaze or attend a lecture by an Egyptologist. Ten-day Taste of Egypt itineraries feature five nights in Cairo, including lunches in local restaurants, trips to the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Aswan High Dam, and an optional dinner cruise with live music and belly dancing.

Passengers 124
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y (aged over eight)
Price ££

3. MS Nile Plaza: Cairo, Alexandria and a Nile Cruise

The port of Alexandria is part of the 12-day MS Nile Plaza tour

The port of Alexandria is part of the 12-day MS Nile Plaza tour

GETTY IMAGES

Best for visiting Alexandria
While most cruises include time in Cairo before sailing from Luxor, Titan Travel’s Cairo, Alexandria and a Nile Cruise itinerary also squeezes in a full-day excursion to the port city of Alexandria, the former capital of ancient Egypt. The 12-day tour includes seven nights on the MS Nile Plaza with its restaurant, bar and sundeck, two and a half days of free time and even a VIP transfer from your home for your flight to Cairo. Highlights of the sailing include the Valley of the Queens, the beautiful Temple of Philae and an excursion on a traditional wooden felucca.

Passengers 110
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites No
Children welcome Y (aged over 16)
Price ££

4. Mövenpick MS Darakum: Wonders of the Nile, Cairo to Luxor

A cabin on MS Darakum

Best for watching the world go by
Those who like to take the long route and stay on a boat for the duration of their Egyptian adventure in Egypt will enjoy a cruise on the 52-cabin MS Darakum. Thanks to its very low draft, it is one of the few vessels that can sail from Cairo to Luxor. After an intoxicating few days in the capital, exploring its markets, mosques and ancient wonders, it’s time to travel south. The beauty of covering a much longer distance than a traditional Nile cruise is the extra time it allows to simply sit and watch the world go by. Riviera Travel’s Wonders of the Nile: Cairo to Luxor itinerary is sprinkled with long and leisurely sailing days where there’s little to do except relax on the sun deck and gaze out at the small farms and date plantations, before retreating inside to attend the fascinating onboard lectures.

Passengers 104
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y
Price £££

5. Mövenpick MS Royal Lily or Royal Lotus: Premium Nile Cruise

Relax in comfort on an Exodus premium Nile cruise

Relax in comfort on an Exodus premium Nile cruise

Best for ticking off the sights
All of Egypt’s most significant sites are given adequate attention on Exodus’ nine-day Premium Nile Cruise. After time in Cairo and a short flight to Luxor, it’s time to board for a voyage through 7,000 years of history. The traditional-style ships include large Royal suites and very high levels of service and comfort throughout. As well as all the usual big hitters, there are plenty of offbeat options that make this an eye-opening choice for the curious traveller. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the impressive seventh-century St Simeon Monastery, the nearby traditional Nubian village and the chance to see Cleopatra’s unfinished obelisk.

Passengers 126
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome N
Price ££

6. Oberoi Zahra: Luxury Nile Cruise

The Oberoi Zahra

Best for maxed-out luxury
Devotees of the namesake hotel chain can enjoy the brand’s luxury on the water aboard the plushest boat on the Nile. The modern and minimalist Oberoi Zahra enjoys prime position at its private mooring spot on the banks of the corniche in Aswan. Its elevated approach doesn’t end there. As well as offering trips to the temples of Edfu and the island of El Nabatat on itineraries that include a four-day trip from Luxor, the boat has plenty to keep guests entertained, from a library and games room to a gym and open-air pool. At night, astrology lectures reveal how the night sky influenced life in Egypt in the past. The 27 cabins are tasteful and decorated in a natural colour palette; both of the suites have a private terrace and a hot tub.

Passengers 54
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome N (minimum age is 12)
Price £££

7. Tui Al Horeya: Legends of the Nile

Best for home comforts
Tui River Cruises launched its first Nile ship in November 2024. The sailings are aimed squarely at the British market and include charter flights from Gatwick and Manchester. The five-deck ship was fully refurbished for Tui and seven-night round-trip Legends of the Nile sailings from Luxor include two excursions to the Temple of Horus in Edfu and the Temple of Kom Ombo. Other optional shore tours available to purchase include the atmospheric sound and light show at Karna, a hot air balloon ride over Luxor and a visit to the Valley of the Kings. Tui Al Horeya also has a top-deck pool, an area for alfresco dining on warm Egyptian nights and an on-board Egyptologist.

Passengers 145
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome N
Price £

8. SS Sphinx: Splendors of Egypt & the Nile

The lounge on board SS Sphinx

The lounge on board SS Sphinx

MUNDY CRUISING

Best for first-timers
The SS Sphinx showcases the very best of Egypt, both old and new, in the utmost comfort. Uniworld’s 11-night Splendours of Egypt & the Nile itinerary provides the perfect introduction to Egypt. The Cairo-to-Cairo trip begins with highlights that include the Pyramids of Giza, as well as tea with a Nubian family and even a spot of fishing and birdwatching. The onboard experience is no less delightful, with 42 suites decked out with Egyptian art, hand-carved furniture, a massage room, swimming pool and two gourmet dining rooms. Trips include guided tours of the Egyptian Museum and sailing on a felucca.

Passengers 84
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y
Price £££

9. Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau: private charter

The Farouk Suite on Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau

The Farouk Suite on Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau

SANCTUARY RETREATS

Best for families and groups of friends
This 164ft-long traditional dahabiya sailing boat may be small but it is perfectly packaged. The first of its kind on the Nile, it is available through Sanctuary Retreats for private charter with personalised week-long itineraries to suit specific interests. This cruise is a great option for families or groups of friends looking for privacy and flexibility. On board there is a heated plunge pool and six individually designed cabins influenced by the country’s culture, geography and heritage, including the Farouk Suite on the upper deck, where the decor is inspired by Egyptian royalty. Guides can be arranged according to guests’ interests — from food to history.

Passengers 12
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y
Price £££

sanctuaryretreats.com

10. SS Sudan: On the River Nile

SS Sudan

SS Sudan

NATHALIE BELLOIR/ORIGINAL TRAVEL

Best for Agatha Christie lovers
One of the most historic and atmospheric vessels to ply the Nile’s waters, this celebrated 19th-century steamer once welcomed Agatha Christie aboard. It is widely believed that it was that trip in 1933, accompanying her husband on an archaeological mission, which paved the way for one of her most accomplished murder mysteries. Following Kenneth Branagh’s 2022 adaptation of Death on the Nile, the SS Sudan is the perfect ship for fans of the Queen of Crime; there are cabins named after Christie and her character Hercule Poirot. The boat exudes opulent period charm, from the teak decks and parquet flooring to the brass bed frames in many of the rooms. Guests also have exclusive access to a network of expert archaeologists who will help bring the historical ruins to life.

Passengers 46
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites Y
Children welcome Y
Price £££

originaltravel.co.uk

11. SS Misr: Timeless Nile

SS Misr

Best for traditionalists
Misr, which means “Egypt” in Arabic, is a propeller steamer that has long enjoyed a romance with this country. Built in Preston in 1918 by the Royal Navy, in 1938 it was converted into a luxury yacht that played host to King Farouk, the country’s penultimate monarch. The vessel has now been fully restored to its former glory, and its 12 and 14-night trips are known for celebrating local food — there’s a rather regal feeling inside the main Marasem restaurant, with framed photos of past royalty dotted about and waiters smartly dressed in attire inspired by the glory days of Farouk. The food is largely international but local flavours are celebrated in dishes such as bessara, a local dip made from fava beans.

Passengers 45
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites Y
Children welcome Y
Price ££

noble-caledonia.co.uk

12. MS Esplanade: Nile cruises

MS Esplanade

Best for R&R
A sophisticated option, focusing on the Upper Nile, the MS Esplanade offers cruises of up to seven nights (minimum three nights) that take in both the east and west banks of Luxor, the Temple of Horus at Edfu and even the mummified crocodiles of Kom Ombo. When it comes to relaxation, guests can spend time on their three, four and seven-day sailings in the hushed spa on the lower deck or relax on one of the shady poolside cabanas on the breezy top deck.

Passengers 150
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y
Price ££

mayfaircruises.com

13. La Flaneuse du Nil: traditional-style sailing

La Flaneuse du Nil

Best for return visitors
For those who have already sailed the Nile and may be looking for something different, La Flaneuse du Nil is a tempting option. While most boats travel north from Aswan towards Luxor, this intimate five-day cruise heads south into Lake Nasser bound for the rock-cut temples of Abu Simbel. Powered by sails and tugs, just like the original dahabiyas that were once a regular sight on the waterway, this cosy vessel showcases the subtle beauty of the vast man-made reservoir that straddles Egypt’s border with Sudan. The boat sails at a leisurely pace, with stops for lake swims, sunset hikes and solitary mornings on quiet beaches, as well as guided trips to some of the most impressive ancient wonders Egypt has to explore.

Passengers 14
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y (aged over six)
Price ££

authentichotels.com

14. Sanctuary Sun Boat III: luxury cruise

Sanctuary Sun Boat III

Sanctuary Sun Boat III

SANCTUARY RETREATS

Best for fun on the river
An extremely attractive boat, and one of the few vessels to (occasionally) cruise from Cairo to Aswan, the Sanctuary Sun Boat III takes its inspiration from the glamour of the 1920s and 1930s. Think ecru tones, four-poster beds draped in the finest Egyptian linen and entertainment in the form of belly dancers and whirling dervishes. There are modern touches, too, with air conditioning and a swimming pool on the Cleopatra Oasis sundeck: the perfect spot on which to sip a hibiscus juice and watch the world go by.

Passengers 32
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y (aged over ten)
Price £££

sanctuaryretreats.com

15. RV Da Vinci: Land of the Pharaohs

Best for value
With its understated style, the RV Da Vinci is a good choice for passengers who want to travel in more contemporary surroundings. Built in 1993 and fully refurbished since, it offers a comfortable base to travel on the classic route from Luxor or add on a few days in Cairo. CroisiEurope’s eight-day Land of the Pharaohs cruise includes excursions to all the headline sights, such as the Valley of the Kings and Temple of Kom Ombo, and options to book others, such as a breathtaking balloon ride over the Nile Valley or the evocative sound and light show at Karnak. At the end of the day, enjoy a final cocktail as the sun goes down — all drinks are included in the fare.

Passengers 108
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y
Price £

croisieurope.travel/en

16. River Tosca: Splendours of Egypt and the Nile

The lounge on the River Tosca

The lounge on the River Tosca

UNIWORLD BOUTIQUE RIVER CRUISES

Best for those with children
Luxury line Uniworld has expanded its family-friendly Generations programme with an all-new multigenerational itinerary in Egypt. The adapted version of its 11-night Splendours of Egypt and the Nile holiday is aboard the River Tosca and includes child-friendly menus and two dedicated family hosts to oversee activities for junior cruisers aged four to 12 and teen cruisers. Alongside famous sights such as the Pyramids of Giza, the Valley of the Kings and Karnak, activities include a football match with local children and some of the ship’s crew, sand dune boarding, swimming in the Nile, exploring the river by bike and traditional felucca, and a behind-the-scenes visit to the captain’s wheelhouse. While youngsters are having fun with the onboard hosts, adults can relax on the sun deck with its shaded cabanas and swimming pool.

Passengers 82
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y
Price £££

uniworld.com

17. MS Radamis II: Nile River Cruise including Cairo and Hurghada

Best for solo travellers
If you’re fed up with being stung by single supplements, don’t want to set sail with loved-up couples, or simply just enjoy travelling alone, then check out the Travel Department’s dedicated sailings for singles. The company charters this comfortable ship, which has 75 cabins, and for solo travellers it makes for an exclusive and intimate holiday. The sun-deck bar is a top spot to mingle over cocktails with newfound friends and enjoy barbecues. The supplement-free solo itineraries take in a 12-night Nile cruise, with included shore trips to the Temple of Horus, Valley of the Kings, High Dam and temples of Karnak and Luxor. At the end of the cruise you’ll fly and flop with a couple of days of relaxation in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada. The tour operator also uses the vessel for its escorted group tours on the Nile.

Passengers 150
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y
Price ££

traveldepartment.co.uk

18. Sonesta Dahabeya Amirat: Nile cruise

Sonesta Dahabeya Amirat

Best for groups
You can sail the Nile in style on this twin-masted dahabiya, which harks back to the graceful travel of bygone times. Inspired by the 19th-century vessels used by royalty and aristocrats, this intimate and sophisticated 14-passenger ship is the smallest in the fleet owned by the international Sonesta hotel group. It’s a wonderful choice for extended families or groups of friends who want to book an entire ship for an exclusive holiday. Sumptuous cabins are decked out in blue, gold and cream, and guests can wallow in baths after a busy day sightseeing. The ship goes back and forth on week-long trips between Luxor and Aswan and wherever possible sails under wind power.

Passengers 14
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites N
Children welcome Y
Price £££

sonesta.com/sonesta-dahabeya-amirat

19. AmaLilia: Secrets of Egypt and the Nile

Abdeen Palace in Cairo

Abdeen Palace in Cairo

ALAMY

Best for being pampered
AmaLilia, which sailed on the Nile for the first time in March 2024, would impress even the most discerning pharaoh with its marble bathrooms, heated pool, massage treatments — and even a nail bar. Its suites are stylish and contemporary, and the decor throughout the ship has an understated elegance, showcasing Egyptian ornaments and artwork. The thoughtful Secrets of Egypt and the Nile itinerary includes extras such as the Abdeen presidential palace for lunch and a lesson in papyrus making in Luxor. AmaLilia is an almost identical ship to AmaWaterways’ first Nile ship AmaDahlia, with the addition of more plush suites.

Passengers 72
Private guides Y
Private access to historical sites Y
Children welcome Y (aged over four)
Price £££

amawaterways.co.uk

Additional reporting by Jeannine Williamson and Siobhan Grogan

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