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My Nile River Cruise Review (Featuring Amwaj Living Stone 4-Night Cruise)

Taking this Nile River Cruise in Egypt marked my first cruise experience. I had always vehemently protested being trapped on a boat with a bunch of people and unable to explore a foreign land at my own pace.

However, cruising the Nile River had piqued my interest. It held a novelty factor, being the highway of the Ancient Egyptians and all…and everything I had read about it was quite positive. It seemed this wasn’t “a normal cruise experience.”

So, after some added persuasion from my husband’s coworkers who had taken one of these cruises, we ended up booking our journey through Memphis Tours for The Amwaj Living Stone Nile Cruise for 4 nights.

This cruise started in Luxor and ended in Aswan. We took a flight to Luxor from Cairo, and then once we reached Aswan, we took a flight back to Cairo.

I’ll give my full, unbiased review of this cruise experience + share what to expect if you choose to book it.

Amwaj Living Stone cruise boat floating on the Nile River in Egypt
The Amwaj Living Stone Nile Cruise Boat

Tips for Choosing Your Perfect Nile Cruise


Even during the off-season, many different kinds of cruise ships travel between Aswan and Luxor. Depending on your budget, you can choose from a variety of cruise ships, from luxury Nile river cruises to sailing down the Nile in feluccas. 

The boats and cruises are graded by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism using a new system that conforms to international standards, going from 5 starts to none. The older system was based solely on facilities available, but the new one adds quality of service on top of that – and you get what you pay for.

However,  it’s important to note that you could find two different cruises with the same ratings, but they’ll provide different experiences. 

This is also why I made sure to do my research and read tons of reviews before choosing the perfect cruise, and this review relays my unbiased opinion of the Amwaj Living Stone Nile Cruise for 4 nights and 5 days.

But before you book your trip, there are some other things to know and consider: 

Things to Consider and Look Out for Before You Book


  • Cruises Travel On Specific Days – There aren’t cruises every day. For example, the Amwaj Living Stone leaves Luxor and heads to Aswan every Thursday, and goes from Aswan to Luxor every Monday. My advice is to book your cruise first and then arrange your other travel arrangements around it.
  • Cruises Don’t Depart from Cairo – Cruises only go from Luxor to Aswan and back. For this reason, most tourists fly or take an overnight train from Cairo to Luxor or Aswan.
  • Check What’s Included – Always check to see what is included in the price on board. A cruise may not seem expensive, but you need to know what is included. People can pay for drinks, extras like the pool, and WiFi on many cruise ships.
  • Pick a Reputable Cruise – You’ll find all kinds of price ranges, but choosing a reputable (and probably a slightly higher priced one) will do you good. Since most cruises are full board, you want to make sure you book with a hygienic company because this will be your main source of food for four to seven days straight. You don’t want food poisoning to ruin your vacation!
  • Make Sure Excursions Are Included –  If you book directly with the cruise line, the prices of the attractions, a guide, and transportation to get there will most likely not be included. That low price goes up by a few hundred dollars very quickly! Personally, I would schedule it with a tour operator like Memphis Tours because all of your attractions and transportation are included, making it a much better deal.
Cruise ship on Nile River

Is it better to start from Aswan or Luxor on a Nile cruise?


It really depends on your trip plans and personal preference, in my opinion; there is no one correct way. 

Many tourists choose to start from Aswan and move their way north, while others (including myself) choose to do it the other way around. It all depends on your itinerary and how many days you’re spending in Egypt.

The cruise that leaves from Luxor is slightly longer by one day (4 nights instead of 3), so it costs slightly more. They run in the same order, serve the same kind of food, and stop at all the same sites, but you’ll have a slightly different schedule and different nights of entertainment. 

If that’s something you’re interested in, you may want to check with your tour company to know the differences which should help you decide better. 

View of the Nile River and a few feluccas from the deck of a Nile River Cruise boat in Egypt
The view from the sundeck on our Nile River Cruise – not too shabby!

Full Review of The Amwaj Living Stone Nile Cruise


The first question I always get asked about this cruise is, “How are the rooms?” 

Our room was one of the upper deck cabins. What this means is it’s slightly more expensive because you have a slightly better view from your window. (You’ll be up higher on the boat, and therefore will be able to see more as you’re cruising along.) From what I could tell, the quality and size of the rooms were all about the same, though.

This boat is one of the “newer” boats, it’s around 5 years old at the time we were on it (May 2019) and has around 60 rooms. However, the rooms were clean, no-frill, rather small places to get some sleep and watch the world go by from a little chair by the window. 

Our room was plenty clean, but it had a well-used feel to it. (This wasn’t quite the luxury we had experienced at the Marriott Mena House in Cairo!)

Photos of our room on the cruise…pardon my disorganization!

We also enjoyed the staff’s daily creations with our towels! This little monkey almost made me pee my pants when I opened the door, haha.

A hanging monkey made of fresh towels by the staff on the Amwaj Living Stone Nile Cruise.

*Note: no irons are permitted inside the rooms because they are a fire hazard. So, if you have wrinkly clothes, you’ll have to ask the front desk where you can go to iron your clothes. I had packed my travel steamer – which turned out to be a lifesaver for this trip. (I can’t stand wrinkly clothing! I’m high-maintenance like that.)

Dining Aboard the Nile River Cruise


The next question that I’m always asked is, “how is the food?” 

Now, this is a typical buffet-style meal, and they’re cooking for a large group for every single meal every single day of this cruise (all of your meals will be on this boat for the entire duration). 

Cooking food in bulk means some things will get rather repetitive, but overall, I was quite surprised by how good the food was on the cruise.

They did their best to switch up the food and had quite a variety of dishes to choose from at each meal. The desserts were quite dangerous, too! 

But, if you’re a salad lover, you’ll likely be disappointed, as the salad bar did leave a bit to be desired. (I did always like their selection of fresh fruit, though.)

Are Drinks Included?


For our tour package at least, drinks were NOT included. This was a separate bill we paid at the end of the cruise. This included bottled water. 

My husband did the math, and it would be slightly cheaper to buy the bottled water from stores and bring it on the cruise. However, the amount wasn’t too much. 

We ended up deciding the prices were fair, and we paid for the water onboard the cruise. We also had our share of cocktails; we’re from Wisconsin, after all. (I drink alcohol, however, my husband does not. They do have non-alcoholic options for beer and drinks.) 

Our bill at the end was around $70 for both of us.

View from the Amwaj Living Stone while cruising on the Nile.
Cruising along on the Nile!

Entertainment on Amwaj Living Stone


When you’re not exploring, the crew does their best to keep you entertained on the boat. You’ll generally have around 4 hours on the boat in between temples. I’ll explain the schedule a little better, below, though.

Some of the activities they had for us were: an afternoon tea on the sundeck, a happy hour social hour in the bar with free cocktails, a belly dancing performance, and a costume party (available to rent on the cruise).

There is also a swimming pool up on the sun deck where you can lounge and enjoy the views from sunchairs. (You can check out photos of the top deck here – sorry I have no idea why I don’t have any.) There is also a covered area with fans where you can get drinks from the outdoor bar and sit and watch the world go by. (This was our activity of choice!)

We also spent a good portion of our time napping, reading or just sitting in our bed watching the views. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know this is NOT the norm for us when we’re traveling. We’re sunup to sundown explorers and are usually dead tired by the end of a trip. So, napping and sitting were weird travel activities to have!

Amenities


Gym – There is a super small gym on board. This really just consists of a table for massages and two ellipticals that are all jammed in a room the size of a closet. (I like to exercise, but it was not happening on this cruise!)

Laundry – They also have a laundry and dry cleaning service, that wasn’t horrifically priced either. (Sorry, can’t remember the exact prices, but my husband did get a pair of pants washed, and I remember not being upset about the price…)

Medical Services – There is also a medic on the cruise.

Gift Shop – If you want any souvenirs while in Egypt, there is also a gift shop on the cruise that is quite reasonably priced – and there is NO haggling. We actually bought a personalized cartouche necklace on this cruise for a fraction of what we had paid for the same one in Cairo. (If you’re curious to learn more about buying souvenirs, check out my guide on buying souvenirs in Egypt)

A woman wearing a hieroglyphics (cartouche) necklace.
Souvenirs, like this necklace, are for sale on the cruise.

Is Wi-Fi included on board the Amwaj Living Stone?


So, there is Wifi on this cruise. However, you have to pay for it. I believe it was about 150 LE (Egyptian pounds) per day. So, we decided to skip getting Wifi. 

Our T-Mobile international plan would work here and there, and that sufficed for the occasional Snapchat or email. Other than that, we disconnected for this journey.

Wide angle view of the Karnak Temples during one of the stops on the 4-night Amwaj Living Stone Nile cruise.
Karnak Temple – one of the many stops along the way!

Tours on the Cruise


The main reason you would take a Nile Cruise is to see all of these wonderful destinations at a relaxed pace. We had booked our tour guide through Memphis Tours. This was the same tour guide for each spot (except for the Nubian Village experience at the end and Abu Simbel.) 

His name is Ahmed, and he was hands down the BEST tour guide we have ever had. He was so knowledgeable about ancient Egypt and culture and accommodating throughout this tour. We really lucked out having him as our guide!

We were grouped together with 3 other people who had also booked through Memphis Tours. So, this was a “small group” tour experience.

We were also seated next to our tour group mates at dinner. We also really lucked out here because we were grouped with a FANTASTIC group of people. They were so fun to spend time with and were exactly the kind of group you’d want to be stuck on a boat for 4 days with!

A group of tourists sitting on a dining table and smiling at the camera on the Amwaj Living Stone cruise on the Nile River.
Our lovely tour group!

Where Does the Amwaj Living Stone Stop on the Nile Cruise? 


The Nile Cruise usually stops at around 4 different places during the trip. I’ll take you through our itinerary and schedule of tours on the Amwaj Living Stone:

Day 1 – Arrived in Luxor at around 9:30 am. We spent the morning checking in and relaxing. That afternoon, we went to Karnak Temple and Luxor Temples.

Day 2 – We were up quite early this morning. (I got up at 5 am because I’m pokey.) Breakfast began at 6 am and then we were off to explore the Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut Temple. we had lunch on board then set sail for Edfu. The rest of the day was relaxing on the boat.

Day 3 – Another early morning start in Edfu! We went to the Temple of Horus in Edfu. Then set sail for Kom Ombo. We had lunch on board. Then we stopped in Kom Ombo to explore briefly. We then set sail for Aswan and arrived very late that evening.

Day 4 – Early morning start to sightseeing in Aswan. We went to the Temple of Isis, the High Dam, and the unfinished obelisk in Aswan. We then had lunch and relaxed for a couple hours. You then had the option to stay on board the cruise or visit the Nubian Village in Aswan. Overnight in Aswan.

Day 5 – Departure. We opted to take a tour to Abu Simbel this morning. So, we packed up our bags and headed out at 3 am to make it to Abu Simbel from Aswan that morning.

View of the Temple of Horus at Edfu during a 4-night Nile River cruise.
The Temple of Horus at Edfu

The Verdict?


My overall verdict of this cruise experience was that it was great! I had a lovely time despite my reservations about cruises. I have no prior cruising experience to compare it too, however, I am continually told that this was not a “normal” cruise experience. 

That being said, I also realize we were incredibly lucky because we had a fantastic tour guide and tour group, and the staff onboard the cruise were great. 

If we would have had a bad guide for the duration of this cruise or some crabby tour mates…this could have been a disaster to be stuck with them for 4 days.

Deciding whether or not a cruise is right for you depends on your personal preference, of course. If you want to see all of the sights listed above, you don’t need to take a Nile cruise. 

You could take the train or fly and then take day tours to each spot or hire a taxi. The ladder may save you a bit of time, and if you decided you’d rather not see some of these sights you can simply skip them. 

A cruise is a set schedule, so if you’re looking for more flexibility but still want to be on the Nile River, a felucca cruise could be your answer. This would be for the more adventurous traveler, of course!

A felucca sailing along the Nile river near the Nubian Village in Egypt.
This is a felucca.

Overall, I was happy with this experience and loved seeing all of the sights along the way. It was weird for us to have so much downtime while touring, but overall, it was a nice change of pace! I do understand that we really lucked out with the people we were surrounded with though, too.

A woman wearing a modest, flowy blue dress on the top deck of the Amwaj Living Stone during a Nile River Cruise.

Dress Code on a Nile River Cruise


One more quick note about how to dress on these cruises. Again, this is not a “normal cruise” experience. There won’t be any nights on here where you’ll need a cocktail dress or evening gown.

That being said, most people were dressed “nice” for dinner. (You know, clean clothes, sundresses, button-up shirts, etc.) I’ve written an entire guide about Nile River Cruise outfit ideas that will help you understand more about dressing for the cruise. 

For women, it’s also worth noting you could wear shorts or tank tops or a swimsuit while by the pool or on the sundeck. (For the tours, though, dress conservatively. Read more about how to dress comfortably but stylishly for the heat in Luxor here

If anyone has any additional questions about taking a Nile Cruise, fire away in the comments section below!

Check out my other travel articles about Egypt before planning your trip! And visit the Amwaj Living Stone website to learn more about the itinerary and cruise. You can also learn more about the 3-night cruise here.

If anyone has any additional questions about taking a Nile Cruise, fire away in the comments section below!

Check out my other travel articles about Egypt before planning your trip! Visit the Amwaj Living Stone website to learn more about the itinerary and cruise. You can also learn more about the 3-night cruise here.

Important Information Regarding Traveling to Egypt


Travel Insurance

It’s a good idea, no matter where your adventure takes you, to have travel insurance. You never know what might happen! Whether you get sick before your trip and can’t go, or you become sick or injured while on your adventure – being covered with travel insurance is a must. 

Some credit card companies do provide this service (check with yours), or you can get a quote from companies such as Squaremouth to find the best plan for you and your adventure. (This is the company I, personally, use. They are even recommended by Forbes!) Start by getting a free travel insurance quote

Visa Requirements

Before planning your trip and buying your tickets, check if your country requires a Visa for traveling to Egypt.

My Nile River Cruise Review (Featuring Amwaj Living Stone 4-Night Cruise)
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16 Comments

  1. The tour companies also plan/include your flights. The valley of the kings is huge over 63 tombs only 3 are included in the base price (king Tut is extra). I can’t imagine trying to navigate thru them then going to Queen Hatshepsut temple and back to the boat on time without a guide. This is a trip of a lifetime, I recommend planning as much in advance as possible to get the greatest bang for your buck and as little hassle as possible.

  2. I highly recommend this cruise. It’s a nice way to get to the different cities to see the different sites. There are 8 major sites and a few small ones along this cruise. Way better than car riding from place to place. You can relax on the boat. The cabins were nice. I liked the food, agree that it’s bulk cooking, still lots of choices for a small boat, you get to try local foods. You don’t have to try to find a restaurant. I agree that using tour company is the most efficient way to visit Egypt. Transfers could be a headache/hassle without them (note that once you get to each port you still need to get the the historical sites). Also the guides know the history of the sites, how much time to spend at each site (important since the cruise is on a schedule), you can ask them questions, they help keep you away from solicitors I went with ETB tours which is a local company (rated well on trip-advisor). Booking with a local company is cheaper than the Mainstream established companies since they have no overhead and offer the same or better experience. Most of our tours/transfers were private. Note that the website does not state the size of the tour group. Since they use vans, chances are if there’s a group it will be small. ETB gave us good advice in taking the van from Abu Simbel to Aswan instead of a plane. Another couple that took the plane leaving 2 hours before us and their flight from Aswan to Cairo was later than ours.

  3. Hello we only have 10 days to spend in Egypt and the always dilemma of a traveler we want to see it all haha, so i was wondering if you reccomend the cruise as a faster way to see all the sites, also did you book it in advanced or once you get there? We’ll be staying 3 days at the Marriott as well in cairo to start our trip, but I’m not sure how to plan it from there and our flight back home is from luxor. Please helppppp Egypt has been my dream but it’s more complicated of what i thought

    1. I do think it is easier and quicker to see all of these places by doing the cruise. That was the main reason we had booked it as well. We had booked ahead of time through Memphis Tours. I highly recommend using them as they made this trip SO easy. You can email [email protected] with any questions and let him know Lindsey Puls sent you. I’m also happy to answer any questions you have about traveling to Egypt!

  4. In a month, we are scheduled to take the Amwaj Living Stone Nile Cruise for 4 nights. Were there other people who bought water in advance and brought it into the dining room for drinking? Did you have to take transportation to any of the temples during the cruise (outside of Abu Simbel and Nubian village)? If so, did you go with just your tour guide group or everyone on the ship?

    1. Hi, there! That is fantastic. You’re going to have a great time! There was one couple who did buy their own bottled water ahead of time and brought it with to dinner. I didn’t notice anyone else, though. (But there very well could have been – I just didn’t notice.) Our tour company (Memphis Tours) provided all transportation to and from the temples and the cruise ship. We were a small group and were transported by a van. Everyone on the ship was booked through different tour companies – there are quite a few of them. Hope that helps!

  5. You’re bringing up so many memories with your Egyptian stories! When I went as a kid with my parents we also had part of the trip on a cruise. I remember that our rooms were way more below than yours, we couldn’t open the windows because half of it was underwater. I didn’t wake up with a crocodile eyeing me through the window though (fifteen years later, I regret it).
    I love the monkey towel. That kind of little touch really makes a difference to me!

    1. Oh my gosh, that would kind of scare me if the window was half underwater! haha. And I agree, those little touches really make a difference!

  6. Your review has made me think that I would need to do a cruise! Whilst I can see the attraction of a felucca, I think your cruise boat had many more amenities. It also sounded ideal to get up and out early before the heat of the day and then have somewhere to relax onboard when it’s super hot outside.

    1. Yes! Those were my thoughts exactly too. The felucca sounded neat…but it would be far more convenient (and quicker) to travel by the cruise. I’m not sold that I ever need to do a cruise, again, though. Haha. However, I was really glad I did this one on the Nile!

  7. Haha the towel monkey is epic!

    Sounds like such a lovely relaxing cruise. I’ve never been on a cruise as I always assumed that they’re just for old people but now I’m thinking I might give a river cruise a go. I’ve never been to Egypt either so it might be a good way to see the country in a unique way.

    1. Haha, the monkey sure was a hit! And the cruise really was a good time! The age of the people of the cruise varied a lot, there were actually quite a few people who were younger than us as well. Lots of different nationalities as well!

  8. I love the monkey towel! I’ve never been on a cruise before but this sounds like a really nice and relaxing one !I’ts great you enjoyed it so much! 🙂

    Hope that you had a great weekend!

  9. I’m glad you enjoyed this LIndsey. We have always loved cruising as an easy way to get around (only unpack once yet see many places). And good for you for relaxing. Sometimes this is the best thing you can do to really enjoy the trip!!
    I loved that monkey towel…hilarious!!
    XOXO
    Jodie

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