In yet another sign that Egypt is experiencing a robust renaissance, Viking has said it plans to launch a second vessel on the Nile River.
From Luxor to Aswan, from the Valley of the Kings to Abu Simbel, the Nile River serves as a scenic floating highway along some of Egypt’s most significant ancient archaeological sites. It’s no wonder there used to be hundreds of river cruise vessels plying its desert-flanked currents.
Following the Egyptian revolution of January 2011, however, tourism to the country and consequently traffic along the Nile dried up almost overnight. In the years since, Egypt has been gradually rebuilding.
And in one of the many signs that this fascinating North African country is truly back in favor with travelers, Viking Cruises has revealed that it will be building a second river vessel for the Nile, just two years after its first-ever, company-owned ship set sail along the storied waterway last year.
The 82-passenger Viking Osiris is currently under construction and is set to debut in September 2020. It will reflect the modern Scandinavian design for which Viking ships are known and will join the company’s existing ship on the Nile, Viking Ra, which launched in 2018.
Tracing famous Egyptologist Howard Carter’s past
The two vessels will sail the river cruise portion of Viking’s 12-day Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary, a combination of a land tour and a cruise along the Nile. The trip begins with a three-night stay in Cairo visiting sites that include the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali, after which guests fly to Luxor to begin their eight-day, round-trip river cruise. The cruise portion includes stops at the Temples of Luxor and Karnak, the Valley of the Kings, the Dendera Temple complex, and Abu Simbel, among other Egyptian relics.
Viking is also adding two new pre-cruise extensions to its Egypt offering — but these won’t actually be in Egypt.
Designed to retrace the steps of the famous Egyptologist Howard Carter, and his benefactor, George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, the five-day extensions will actually be tours of London and Oxford led by a modern-day Egyptologist.
The “British Collections of Ancient Egypt” and “King Tut & the UK’s Egyptian Collections” extensions will include a private visit to the Egyptian Collection at the British Museum as well as to the home of architect Sir John Soane, whose collection of Egyptian antiquities includes a 3,000-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus.
Also on the itinerary will be London’s Petrie Museum, which houses artifacts from ancient Egypt and Sudan. The tour continues on to Oxford, where guests will visit the Ashmolean Museum, home to Egyptian mummies and art, as well as Oxford University’s Griffith Institute, where Carter’s archives detail the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Lastly, at Highclere Castle (made famous by the PBS show Downton Abbey), guests will have access to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon’s private Egyptian artifacts collection.
Those traveling through April 2020 can opt for the King Tut & the UK’s Egyptian Collections extension, which includes a visit to the Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery.
Guests would then fly to Cairo to begin their Egypt journey.