Travel Blogger Keira Rumble heads on to a river cruise with Sanctuary Retreats Sunboat IV to the mighty Nile River flowing through the heart of Egypt.
Pulling up from the minibus, we enter across a narrow drawbridge into the main reception foyer. Our initial reaction was that it was much more than just a cruise boat, it had hints of elegance and exclusivity throughout. We were ushered up into the lounge and bar area and served with a cold sweet hibiscus drink (the country’s choice of welcome drink).
The Bridge Deck is made up entirely of the lounge area towards the back of the boat. As the Sanctuary Sunboat IV had just undergone a bit of a refurbishment, the lounge had a little ‘Gatsby” feel to it. Contemporary and elegant with relaxing lounges and an art deco vibe. Completely air-conditioned. The bar is towards the end of the room and in the middle, which serves drinks (or cocktails) all day and refreshments of an afternoon.This is the only place on the boat where Wi-Fi is available.
Behind the bar is also a small outside deck with some egg chairs, which we only found during the last few hours of the trip. (The boat is rather large so this can be forgiven).
The Promenade Deck has more rooms at the front of the boat while there is a small library at the back. This landing opens up to an outside shaded dining area. We didn’t spend any time here at all. There is a small staircase that leads up to the pool area where we spent most of our time outside.
Finally, the Sun Deck, this is where (providing it’s not too hot when you go) is where you will spend a lot of your time while on the Sanctuary Sunboat IV. There is a heated rooftop dipping pool (not that the heated aspect was needed) countless day beds and two shaded cabanas.
Even though it was a modest 40 degrees every day haha, the cabanas we’re great as you got a refreshing breeze off the river. Late in the afternoon is where it became really special as when the heat died off you could really spend the last few hours up here and take it all in.
We were in a standard cabin on the main deck. Which is small yet comfortable. There was a very homely feeling and waking up on the water has a nice feeling to it (make sure if possible, reserve one of the river-facing rooms). The room had a king bed, dresser, built-in wardrobe and bathroom, and wall-hung plasma. The bathroom was what you would expect on a boat, small and pokey but for what it was it was good, and it was always clean.
The food was delicious and catered for everyone. There was a mix of a la carte and buffet options. The buffet-style for lunch and dinner had a mix of Middle Eastern influence, meats, and poultry, fish, dips and salads, pastas & lovely desserts. The a la carte normally consisted of a fresh salad or warm soup, followed by mains which ranged from pasta to fish and veg. Every meal we had was refreshingly light, portion-controlled and to top it off, there are matching house wines & beer which were moderately priced.
We did a 4-night cruise from Aswan to Luxor. We were in a group of 6 from the boat with our own Egyptologist Mohammed (who is very very passionate about his job). Without ruining the entire trip and leaving something as a surprise we visited the Valley of The Kings, Philae Temple, The Unfinished Obelisk to name a few. Each one is enchanting and outstanding in its own way.
A once in a lifetime experience everyone should do. Thousands of people have dedicated their lives studying Egypt and have still not scratched the surface so while there is so much to see and listen it does tend to morph together.