Day 7, How To Book a Five-Star Cruise For Less, Oh, and Kom Ombo

Sara and I awoke on Day 7 in a nice comfortable bed, groggily stumbled a few yards to the dining room for our breakfast buffet and checked our day's activity list to see what was planned for us.  We were aboard our five-star Nile cruise ship, still docked in Aswan.  The plan of the day consisted of free time in Aswan until 2pm, at which time we would sail to Kom Ombo, a temple located 40 km north of Aswan, right on the river.

One of the goals of this blog is to teach the casual traveler how to save money whenever possible.  Sara outdid herself on this booking.  The first thing that you need to know about traveling overseas is that most foreigners view Americans as fabulously wealthy, with money spilling out of their pockets to be taken at will.  When we are visiting Sara's parents in Taiwan and we need to go out shopping, I am not allowed to walk with Sara's father when he is getting ready to purchase something.  If the shopkeepers see me tagging along, they automatically apply the 'white boy tax' to everything and negotiating a rock bottom price is impossible.  Her dad is a master at getting the best price, but I will ruin it every time if I am seen to be a part of the family.  The same holds true when booking travel.  If you book through an American travel agency, you are going to get gouged.  Sometimes you have no other choice, but if possible, find a few local travel agencies (local to where you are going, that is) and have them compete against each other for your business.  This is fairly easy in today's virtual world and you do not even have to be verbally confrontational; you can do everything by email.  Just make sure it is a reputable travel agency you are dealing with and you should be ok.

This is how Sara did it.  She googled (or is it Googled) for local Egyptian travel agencies and then emailed them all with relative dates and desired activities.  She developed a strong rapport with one in particular (K.E.T. Travel) and began booking a few things.  She told the agent that we wanted a three- or four-star cruise ship for a three night cruise.  The agent found a nice four-star ship for $285 per person, which included everything (except drinks):  room, food, a guide, applicable buses and boats, and all entrance fees.  It was a good deal by itself, but a couple of days later, the agent emailed Sara with a very limited opportunity to book a five-star ship for the same price.  There is a very famous Swiss hotel chain throughout Europe called Movenpick, that is known for its luxury.  This was their cruise ship.  Needless to say, Sara jumped on it and it was quite a change from our $18 per night hotel from the night before (although I am not bashing that hotel because it was great as well, just different).

Since Sara and I had already seen most of the sights of Aswan, and were feeling lazy, we opted to spend the morning reading on the top deck of the ship.  It was too hot to sit in the sun, but the ship provided plenty of shade and with the strong breeze out of the north, it was quite comfortable.  We ran into some friends that we had made on the tour the previous day:  a nice couple, Paula and Bob, and their son, Eli, who was graduating from high school and soon off to college.  From Philadelphia, they were a well-traveled couple, having taken a major worldly vacation almost every year of their marriage.  They managed to do this with three children (Eli being the youngest of the three) and were truly an inspiration to us.  All three of their kids were close in age, and we had plenty of questions as to how they did it.  Sara and I struggle with one toddler and my teenage daughter from a previous marriage.  Apparently, Paula is an extremely organized person, which helps.  When they were very young, she color-coded her children.  Up until that point, the kids would always fight over each other's toys, claiming ownership rights when it was not clear who the original owner of a toy was.  Paula came up with the idea that the first child was green, the second, blue and the third, red.  Everything that was purchased from toys to clothing was in the color designated for that child.  No more fighting.  Brilliant.  Unfortunately with only one toddler, this did not help us, but she still kept us enthralled with all of their many tales.

We set sail at 2 and arrived soon at Kom Ombo for our late afternoon tour.  The temple was walking distance from the ship and we dutifully kept up with the group.  We learned that this was the land of Sobek, the crocodile god of fertility, and consequently, this was his temple.  Side note, if you watch the TV show Lost, the giant statue that was on the island is thought to be a statue of Sobek.

Truth be told, the temple was not the most memorable and unless you are on a cruise that stops there, it is not really worth a special trip.  Sara, however, considers this day her second favorite of the trip for quality pictures (the most favorite day being our time on the felucca in Aswan).  I guess you can be the judge of that by checking out all of her pictures below.

We re-boarded our ship and soon set sail for Edfu, a most memorable temple, but we would not see it until the following morning.  We went to dinner and, because there was a mix up with our table (tables were supposed to be assigned for the entire cruise, but we seemed to always have someone sitting at our previous table, so we had so far not sat in the same table twice) we were seated next to a nice couple from Brazil, Alex and Maria.  They were just finishing up a 29 day vacation and on their way back home soon.  One of the fun things about traveling to distant lands is meeting people who share your same passion for travel.

Another nice relaxing day aboard ship.  I could get used to this.

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Day 6, Aswan And The Start Of Our Nile Cruise, That Is, If We Can Find The Ship

To bring you up to speed, Sara and I had been traveling through Egypt and we have reached Day 6. ...