Our Cruise on the Nile started mid morning after we had a ‘memorable’ city tour of Luxor and checked out from our Luxor hotel. We were joining the ‘Steam Ship Sudan’ cruise to take us from Luxor to Aswan. It was low season and because of the political turmoil in Egypt the journey was cut down to half of the trip, otherwise the Steamship would have taken us all the way from Cairo to Aswan and would have taken as long as 8 days.
SS Sudan, so it was called, was not as big as the other boats that sail upstream on the Nile, but as we stepped on board, the ship’s staff welcomed us with a warm hand towel and a small glass of refreshment, a cold ‘karkadeh’ – hibiscus tea – a popular drink in the region, and everything else was so different from any other ship on the Nile. As soon as we entered the library/lounge which reminded me of a colonial style just before WW II. We were to proceed to the lounge where we should fill in our details on an arrival form, just like when you check in to a hotel. The dark timber paneled walls and columns and the antique furniture reminded me of Agatha Christie’s movie: “Death on the Nile”, where the act between Jackie and Simon starts and the camouflage of Linette’s murder.
We sat by the window with the ship’s staff helping us filling in the guest book. Another couple were sitting right in front of us also registering on the ship.
“There are only 7 passengers,” said our guide.
“7 passengers only?” I repeated his statement and was surprised with the fact that only 7 of us cruising the Nile, while for many this was supposed to be a trip of a life time.
“Yes, three are English and the rest are French speaking tourist plus us, said the egyptologist who accompanied us on the trip.”
After we checked in, they showed us to our room, to freshen up and lunch will be served at 13.00 hr in the dining room, just behind the bar and adjacent to the lounge. We were not introduced to the other guests as they were the French speaking guests, but I wondered what it would be like if there were more people on board? will there be rich or famous people? as this trip is not a cheap and cheerful like a Felucca cruise. What would the third English speaking person look like?
“Hey, look! There’s Miss Marple…,” My husband interrupted my thoughts of the scene on the “Death on the Nile” movie. I turned my head around and kept on thinking: “…there shouldn’t be Miss Marple here, it should be Hercule Poirrot’s job on this ship?” and I saw an oldish lady with a straw panama hat and walking stick… exactly like my imagination of how Miss Marple would look, walked towards her table at the end of the dining room.
We didn’t introduce ourselves to Miss Marple until after lunch and inside the car that took us on the afternoon trip to visit Luxor Temple.
Unlike the book Death on the Nile, where the ship sails from Aswan to Luxor, what we did was the other way around; from Luxor to Aswan. But yes, we are on the same ship where the movie was made, only that this ship has been refurbished; instead of white painted panels along the galley of the ship, today, it’s warmed tone wooden painted panels blend with the earth and sand colour of the surrounding scene. This cruise trip was like revisiting the movie of Death on the Nile, we are exactly on the same boat, with the same interior.
Actually the ship could accommodate 48 passenger out of its 24 rooms or cabins. Each cabin was named after a a famous international or Egyptian that had links with Egyptian history, and the cabins were furnished with brass bed-frames, classical furniture that reminded me of the Great Gatsby era, only this one was sailing on the Nile. On the upper deck (which was a new addition and which was not there when the movie was made) was another lounge where they served afternoon (high) tea as we sailed and enjoyed the scenery till sunset.
I would say too bad that it’s only seven passengers on board and with 24 crew made the ship look empty…. but maybe not, as this could also be a blessing in disguise as with very view passengers, we could sit anywhere we wanted, without bumping in to another passenger and converse with people (that is if I wanted to be anti social). However our English speaking companion, the “Agatha Christie/Miss Marple ” look alike said that she was not inspired enough to create a murder story but made a good traveling companion….
Website Steam Ship Sudan: http://www.steam-ship-sudan.com/ where you can find the cruise itineraries and where it will stop along the Nile. However, to off board and visiting the places mentioned on its itinerary was on your own. You should contact a travel agent to liaise with the ship and arrange trips to different places on shore and maybe provide you with an Egyptologist to explain all the Antiquities, Egypt history and other information that you might want to know and which is not in the travel book.