Many people consider a cruise boat when contemplating a trip to Egypt… I can honestly say I've found the boat to do this: the one and only steam ship to ply the Nile, the SS Sudan is beyond compare and stands head and shoulders above the rest.
The boat has 18 cabins and five suites laid out over two decks with beautifully polished wooden floors - in fact the boat positively gleams and purrs with so much love, care and attention that the crew pour into looking after it. Each cabin is named after a character with a link to Egyptian history - I had the Hercule Poirot bedroom at the front of the boat close to Agatha Christie - and in fact the boat made a star appearance in the adaptation of Death and the Nile. My cabin was cosy, yet elegant and the bed and accompanying linen gloriously luxurious and comfortable. I had a writing desk and adjoining bathroom with pretty tiles. Waking in the morning I would prop myself up on the plump pillows and open the little window that looked straight out onto the Nile and watch life go by on the opposite banks.
The upper deck has comfortable sunbeds and chairs to snooze, read, draw, and watch the lush greenery slide by as you pootle along. It's all rather hypnotic and extremely relaxing, and you can while away hours watching so much glorious exotic greenery and life; banana and palm trees; swaying reeds; bison wallowing; women washing clothes and children playing in the shallows. This is a bird spotter's paradise and both Ibis and occasionally the odd pink flamingo can be spotted if you're lucky.
What is there to do?
Each day is mapped out with timings for shore excursions and meals. The crew are utterly charming, ably led by the saintly Amir, nothing is too much trouble and there are professional, experienced guides on board who take you to the sights. The food is delicious - a mixture of traditional Egyptian and Western in an ever-changing menu of salads, fresh fish and home-made pastries. The bar is a wonderful place to prop up in the evening with an 'old fashioned' and there is even Wi-Fi on board although it's a pity to spend time inside when sitting on deck and being on the Nile is what it's all about. There is enough space should you want from other guests, although I found a lively mix of Europeans and keen Egyptologists and photographers which made up for a diverse cocktail of conversation, particularly in the evenings when we gathered for an aperitif before dinner.
How can I board the SS Sudan?
The boat has set departure dates and you can do a whole two weeks from Cairo to Aswan or the more frequent and popular Luxor to Aswan and in reverse for 4 days. Sights seen are those which you wouldn't necessarily get to otherwise and the attention to detail in every aspect, from dawn to dusk, make this one of the most unique, original and authentic journeys on the Nile that you will ever make.