As I write this, we are about half way through our 16-day journey traveling in Egypt and Jordan with leading luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent. So far, we have seen an abundant number of interesting places and learned quite a bit about the ancient civilization that once existed here. By land, air and river the experience is resolving to be far more than I had anticipated. Looking ahead, what lies before us promises to be equally interesting too. Let’s take a break from minute-by-minute coverage to answer a couple reader questions.
Safety And Security In Egypt
Reader Roger C from Tulsa, Oklahoma is back with our first question via direct message on Twitter, one that has come up a number of times from the very beginning asking “Chris- It looks like you are having a great time…but is it really safe there? Tell me str8.”
Roger’s question does indeed ask the question that is apparently on the minds of many concerning travel in Egypt. The answer deserves more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. (Forced to choose between the two for those with extremely short attention spans, the answer would be ‘Yes!’ though.)
Before the recent and highly publicized civil revolution in Cairo, there were over 300 ships sailing the Nile. Today there are about 50, a huge reduction of which the effect can be seen everywhere we go. The initial, noticeable result is undeniable:
- Merchants present on the way in and out of every major attraction are persistent in selling their wares; they have families to feed and the ocean full of fish (tourists) has become nearly empty. In my lifetime, I have seen people do a lot of things to keep food on the table. Persistent nagging to buy things from them is to be anticipated.
- Construction projects, apparently booming before the revolution, are as frozen in time as the many artifacts we have seen along the way.
- Security Levels are high, every place we go. Access to our hotel in Cairo was strictly controlled. Every motor coach we have been on had the front two seats reserved for our Egyptologist and a security person. It is not uncommon to have a police escort both ahead and behind that motor coach too. Touristic Police armed with handguns or rifles guard every attraction and seem to be on every street corner.
Perhaps more importantly, the enduring memory of this land will probably include a thought that ‘in an abundance of caution, we were kept safe by increased security’…much like we experienced last month in the Dominican Republic.
No, it does not appear to be safe to wander the streets on our own at the various places we have visited along the way. But yes, I have felt safe in the care of very detail-oriented Abercrombie & Kent. Not to say that waking one morning to find a machine gun mounted on the front of Sun Boat IV did not catch our attention. It did.
Going to the Cairo airport early in the morning for our flight to Luxor, we passed four different security checkpoints after passing back by the two checkpoints right by the hotel. In a way, this might be the very most secure trip I have ever been on because, frankly, we have not even come close to a situation where I felt my personal safety was in jeopardy. It’s kind of exciting really, like being in Istanbul last month when Syrian refugees were crossing the Turkish border. We’re out in the world, experiencing it much closer than biased cable news coverage might deliver back home.
Regular readers, like Roger, know that we visit the topic of Safe Travel from time to time, much like we visit the topics of International Travel, Packing and Planning as new information presents itself. They know that going off on our own into the ‘bad side’ of town, anywhere on the planet, is not a good idea. That’s the way it is here. If we stay aware and follow the direction of our A&K hosts, no harm will come to us.
Abercrombie & Kent Advantage #11 – They Tell It Like It Is
Sally from Omaha wants to know about shipboard life and our daily routine, asking via email “Let’s hear more about the ship, the (onboard) program and the crew. Enough with the Temples!”
Tell me how you really feel Sally. Let’s start with the Temples, and get that out of the way right up front. Initially, the Temples of Egypt seem to be akin the Cathedrals of Europe; everywhere and abundant. Different that the massive religious structures that dominate the skyline of nearly every European town along any given river, the Temples of Egypt are each unique. I find myself more interested in our Egyptologist’s engaging narration of what we are seeing as we go along; the opposite of the cumulative effect of Cathedral viewing in Europe. While Euro cathedrals have a similar theme, each Egyptian temple is unique, with qualities of its own. Look for an Exposure photo narrative titled The Temples Of Egypt in the very near future.
Moving along to onboard programming, the choreography of what we see and do on the ship and along the way, A&K gets it about storytelling. For example, yesterday’s program called for an Egyptian Cooking Lesson in the afternoon. That was followed by Egyptian Night, a costume party for all guests and featured the item made during the demonstration earlier in the day. There is something rather enchanting about recognizing local fare by sight without having to ask “What is this?”.
Abercrombie & Kent Advantage #12 – An Amazing Storytelling Ability
That’s a recurring theme we are seeing unfold every day to the point where I can accurately say “Just go with it” and the program will bring marvelous experiences and lifetime-quality memories. Chris in a dress (actually called an Egyptian Galalbyya) is certainly one of those memories.
The crew is helpful, friendly and efficient. All speak English fluently as their second language. A bit different here, they speak Egyptian among themselves quite frequently which is initially a bit disconcerting; one wonders if they are talking about us in some mysterious way. As time goes on, I think that’s just the sound of the Egyptian language, much like comparing pretty Castilian Spanish to rough-sounding German. You just have to let that go; not worth the time focusing on it and we see this on other ships in other parts of the world too. Perhaps we see/hear that practice more so here but it is not a big deal.
Coming up: I’ll be back with more reader questions before this is over. Ask yours via email (Editor@ChrisCruises.com) or any of the social platforms mentioned below.
For now, let’s close with a look at the culinary creations of the Egyptian Night event on board Sun Boat IV as we sailed along the Nile River. Do scroll down to see new, updated links to more photos, galleries, albums and a complete list of what we have published here so far.
Follow Along On Our Abercrombie & Kent Journey:
- Right Here at ChrisCruise.com via these previous posts:
- Social Egypt And Jordan, A&K Style: Your Guide To Our Journey
- Our Luxury Small Group Journey: Detailed Itinerary
- Abercrombie & Kent Luxury: Arriving In Egypt
- Abercrombie & Kent Luxury: They Do Your Homework
- Abercrombie & Kent Luxury: They Can Turn On A Dime
- Abercrombie & Kent Luxury: Speaking Of Kings And Queens
- Abercrombie & Kent Luxury: And Then He Paused
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