The Pyramids are definitely a sight to see in Egypt, but so-too are the country’s vast mountains and remote monasteries that can only be truly appreciated on a river cruise along the Nile.

That is, according to Egyptian local and Senior Boat Manager of Sanctuary River Nile, Adel Fathy, who says a cruise from Cairo to Aswan (or the reverse) is a must-do in Egypt.

Adel, a Nile expert with 27 years experience cruising down the ancient river, told KARRYON that he can’t understand why more visitors aren’t electing to a Cairo-Aswan cruise when it comes with “truly breathtaking” scenery along the way.

Read on for more of our chat with Adel:


Tell me a bit about your background & how you ended up working in cruising?


Although I am an Egyptian, with Egyptian parents, I was actually born in Kuwait! I lived there until I was 18 when I returned to Egypt to attend university.

I studied hotel management, graduating in 1990, after which I started working in hotels in my hometown of Alexandria for several years, before taking a job on a Nile river cruise ship in 1992.

This year, marks my 27th working on the river, the last 15 with Abercrombie & Kent and Sanctuary Retreats, who I joined in 2004.


Is it difficult to land a career in tourism in Egypt?


Image: Sherif Moharram/Unsplash

I think it is fair to say that it’s quite challenging pursuing a career in the Nile cruise ship industry – especially aboard one of the premium boats like the Sanctuary Nile Adventurer. It helps to have very good command of foreign languages and have plenty of people skills.


Did you always want to work on a river ship or did fate push you towards it?


No. Growing up and at university I never really contemplated a career working onboard cruise ships. But as fate would have it, a friend of mine, who I went to college with, suggested I join him and work as a receptionist on one of the river cruises back in 1992.

One thing led to another, I took the job, and have been working my way to more and more senior roles within the industry ever since. I reached my current position of Senior Boat Manager with Sanctuary Retreats, and I even went to Myanmar to launch our new river cruise ship, the Sanctuary Ananda, in 2014.


What does your role as Boat Manager require you to do?


My role is basically to supervise every aspect of each cruise onboard the boat.

I am responsible for both guests and crew, making sure that each and every one of the crew members is performing his role to the very best of his ability, so we can provide the best service for our guests. It also involves staying close to guests and remaining visible but discrete, so that we are always on top of their needs.


What are some of the tasks that you do that would surprise guests?

There are two specific tasks that fall to me on every cruise that our guests really love – delivering the welcome reception speech, and escorting guests on a visit to the bridge at some point during the course of the cruise to show them our local captains at work, where we explain to them the many and myriad challenges of navigating the river.


What do you enjoy most about working on Nile Adventurer?


What I enjoy most of all is meeting guests from so many nationalities and backgrounds, and seeing them finish their cruise, satisfied and happy.


Tell me one of your fondest memories while working on the ship?


Cruising to Aswan is a must. Image: Ali Hegazy/Unsplash

Not a lot of people elect to do it, but I’m actually really fond of the long cruise between Cairo-Aswan or Aswan-Cairo. The contrast in scenery along the way is amazing and truly breathtaking in some areas – taking in remote mountain monasteries, locks and railroad bridges along the way.


You must meet thousands of tourists everywhere, what’s everyone’s favourite thing to see along the Nile?


Image: Kavya N.M/Unsplash

I think a Nile sunset is the one thing that every guest really looks forward to seeing – especially if we are sailing along a section of the river with swaying palm trees in the background. It’s the quintessential Nile experience.


Do you meet many Australians tourists? What separates them from other nationalities?


I can’t say I met a lot of Australians in comparison to Americans and British guests, although lately, we are starting to welcome a great many more Australians on onboard the Nile Adventurer courtesy of charter clients like Scenic and Captain’s Choice.

My key observation at this point is that they have quite a sense of humour!


What is your favourite thing to see or do along the Nile and why?

Visiting the temple of Kom Ombo overlooking the banks of the Nile at night, or sailing past it, when it is all lit up, and when the area surrounding it is devoid of crowds and boats, is a truly amazing sight, and is one of my top WOW moments during every cruise.


What advice would you give an Australian wanting to go on a river cruise along the Nile?

View this post on Instagram

Visit the ancient Luxor Temple with Sanctuary Retreats' Egyptologists✨ Located on the east bank of the Nile River, the temple was built around 1400 BC for the god Amun ✨⠀ – – – – – – – – – – – -⠀ 📍 Sanctuary Sunboat IV⠀ 🌍 Nile River, Egypt⠀ – – – – – – – – – – – -⠀ #sanctuaryretreats #luxurynaturally #findyoursanctuary #mystopover #exploremore #bestvacations #wonderful_places #natgeo #travelstoke #liveauthentic #beautifuldestinations #letsgosomewhere #doyoutravel #stayandwander #lonelyplanet #passiopassport #luxurytravel #naturalworld #wanderlust #bucketlist #travelgram #travel #luxury #instapassport #traveldeeper #welltravelled #justbackfrom #followmetoo #whatsinmybag #cntravelereats

A post shared by Sanctuary Retreats (@sanctuaryretreats) on

I think any guests need to come to Upper Egypt with plenty of energy, given the sheer number of sites and attractions included in our cruise itineraries, quite a few of them off the typical tourist grid.

People also need to be prepared for the high price of alcohol in Egypt now, as customs and taxes on alcohol are exorbitant, although cheaper local Egyptian beers and wines are getting much better and more acceptable than they used to be.

Click here to learn more about Sanctuary Retreats’ cruises along the Nile, or click here to read about the resurrection of river cruising in Egypt.