With the pyramid building in Memphis and the reconstructed wreckage of the USS Cairo, which we visited on our premium Vicksburg battlefield excursion, Egyptian references kept popping up along our American Queen Voyages journey from New Orleans to Memphis. So in keeping with our riverboat theme this week, here are some enticing river cruising opportunities outside the U.S. with AmaWaterways - including sailing on the Nile!
Excerpt adapted from 4/1/21 article produced by Virtuoso and AmaWaterways is HERE.
In cruising’s comeback, AmaWaterways has big plans. The line has a new ship to sail Egypt’s historic Nile, offer fresh itineraries in France, and prepare for Europe’s longest-ever river-cruise itinerary. “As the oldest form of transportation, waterways go to the heart of a destination,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Vanessa McGovern, who cites the cruise line’s “high level of personalization” that extends to remembering how guests take their coffee. “On Ama, you feel like you’re in someone’s home.”
Newcomer on the Nile
The 68-passenger AmaDahlia in Egypt sails the Nile River between Luxor and Aswan. Chief among generous cabins are suites ranging from 370 to 420 square feet, including four on the bow of the ship with wraparound balconies and another 12 with a full balcony and a French balcony. Among the amenities: a sundeck pool and bar, a fitness center, massage rooms, and a salon. In addition to the main dining room, The Chef’s Table specialty restaurant offers an included seven-course dinner cooked in an open kitchen and served with wine. Evening entertainment might include an Egyptian galabeya costume party or a hypnotic performance by spinning Darawish dancers.
AmaWaterways’ 12-day Egyptian journeys begin with four days in the capital of Cairo, where introductions to the ancients begin with viewing artifacts from King Tut’s tomb at the Egyptian Museum and a visit to the Pyramids of Giza. A short flight to Luxor delivers guests to the AmaDahlia, moored on the banks of the Nile, for a deep dive into temples and tombs. Passengers explore Egypt’s millennia-old history over six days on board, with daily excursions to archeological wonders including King Tut’s tomb; the vast Karnak Temple complex, expanded by more than 30 pharaohs; hieroglyphic-filled Philae Temple; and, in a private tour for ship guests only, Queen Nefertari’s tomb.
Encounters with the gods and goddesses of love, chaos, and fertility punctuate tranquil cruising past palm groves and grazing cattle, as well as forays into contemporary Egyptian life, including lunch in a Nubian village and a sunset sail on a traditional felucca. An optional side trip visits Abu Simbel, the monumental temple devoted to Ramses II and Queen Nefertari.
Sailing with Impressionists
More than 20 of AmaWaterways' 25 ships ply Europe’s rivers, where two new itineraries mine the cultural wealth of France. Beginning on May 6, the 144-passenger AmaDante will sail a new route from Paris to Le Havre, focusing on the Impressionist masters who worked in Normandy while offering opportunities to savor the province’s culinary richness – such as chocolate, cheese, and cider.
Highlights of the eight-day sailing include a full day in Giverny at the home and gardens of Claude Monet. The tour continues to Rouen – where Monet famously painted a series of the town’s Notre-Dame Cathedral – and Honfleur, a seaside town and popular subject for Monet, as well as artists Eugène Boudin and Gustave Courbet. Excursion options en route include visiting the Renaissance Château d’Anet that King Henry II built for his mistress, Diane de Poitiers; viewing the renowned Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the 1066 Norman invasion of England; exploring World War II’s D-Day beaches; and rural bike tours with picnic lunches.
France for Wine Lovers
Both the Normandy itinerary and a new eight-day river cruise through Burgundy and Provence offer several sailings with international winemakers who will lead tastings and vineyard visits and compare local vintages to their own New World styles. “Wine cruises bring together people of like minds to deepen that bond with wine and each other,” says McGovern. “You really get to know the wine and winemakers.”
Of course, exploring Burgundy and Provence via the Saône and Rhône rivers includes more than vineyards. The itinerary also visits the French culinary capital of Lyon, the former papal stronghold in Avignon, and Langlois Bridge in Arles, made famous in paintings by Vincent van Gogh. The Saône, gateway to the French countryside, makes for a particularly good place to take one of the ship’s bikes for a riverside spin.
The Big Time
AmaWaterways is planning the longest-ever river cruise in Europe on June 1, 2023. The 14-country, 47-day journey launches from Paris aboard the AmaLyra for seven days on the Seine, followed by a week on the Saône and Rhône rivers aboard the AmaKristina. Next, the AmaPrima takes the Rhine, Moselle, and Main rivers from Switzerland to Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, and the AmaVerde completes the sailing on the Danube, calling in Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. In total, the 144 passengers will encounter 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and may choose from 130 shore excursions.
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