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devilsadvocate March 16th, 2013 11:47 AM

Egypt at the bottom of tourist bucket list. Anyone going to Egypt?
I read in WSJ that Egypt was at the bottom of tourist destinations. The reason is government instability,violence, etc. I wouldn't go, but I was wondering if there were any cruisemates going and their motivation - i.e., cheap cruises, low-cost hotels?

Paul Motter March 16th, 2013 04:31 PM

I have been to Egypt and so I research this question every couple of weeks.

There are still quite a few European tourists going, and the new government just opened up the stretch of the Nile from Luxor to Cairo, which had been closed for decades since some really bad incidents of violence happened there.

So the "full Nile" is now open from Aswan to Cairo, and if you Google you can find some reports from it, because they invited a lot of European press people.

Most US companies have dropped it completely. One exception is Abercrombie & Kent which does individual package tours (small groups) and also puts together charter groups for bigger river boats.

The company has even called me to try to convince it is perfectly safe to go, but like you, being honest I do not feel I would go right now. I don't want to be a "fear-monger" but look up the reasons they closed the lower Nile in the first place, then research the ongoing demonstrations in Tahrir Sq. and the sacking of the Intercontinental Hotel (near the square) just about two or three months ago.

devilsadvocate March 16th, 2013 04:46 PM

Thank you for the detailed and up-to-the moment report on this subject. I would hesitate to travel anywhere in the Mideast at this time because of the state of instability, but this is my choice. There are probably other cruisemates who like to live on the edge and will cruise or travel in this area.

Mike M March 17th, 2013 08:00 AM

I developed an "online friendship" with the guide we used in Egypt a few years ago. His business is way down and he has taken on a second job at the Museum of Cairo in order to get by. He has a Masters degree in Egyptian History and is an excellent guide but the Americans and Europeans are not coming to Egypt since the uprising and he doesn't see them returning in the same numbers as before the uprising. According to him, he is not the only one suffering because of this.

Take care,

Paul Motter May 10th, 2013 01:02 PM

I just read a news report of an American being stabbed near Tahrir Square on May 9, 2013. They are not sure if there was a fight, but what is being reported is that the perp asked the fellow where he was from and when he replied "America" he stabbed him.

aerospace May 10th, 2013 02:02 PM

There are a couple of nutters in every country unfortunately. Can anyone say that couldn't happen to an Egyptian tourist in the US?

When I went in November all the guides said not worry. The people are mad at the politicians, mad at employers for not giving them jobs, mad at each other(factions), but love tourists for the money they bring in.

They loved us so much by the end of the day some people where hiding on the bus because they wouldn't back off. Everyone wanted to take your picture, be your guide, buy your wife(literally someone got an offer), or sell you a trinket. I give them credit as we didn't see anyone begging but man do you need some thick skin to go there.

Paul Motter May 10th, 2013 02:10 PM

I thank you for a real eyes update - that is the kind of information I crave the most.

I am not surprised at all - as I travel around the world I have discovered that "average" people in the streets are all really not that much different from all of us here. They want jobs, security, good health, etc. And in most cases the last thing they are concerned about is taking responsibility for whatever their government stands for.

Tourism is a huge business is Egypt. One of the top 2 businesses (they also grow a lot of quality cotton).

The problem is the government and the zealots have been cracking down on the tourism business because they are easy targets - they cater to the "great Satan" - Americans. The official tourism association of Egypt has registered many official complaints and even staged demonstrations about how they are being treated, and things have gotten a little but better on the government side, but not where the zealots are concerned.

There are still people in Egypt who are attacking tourist guides (and tourists) because of what I said above. So, while I understand what you are saying about "average people" in Egypt, those are not the people I am worried about.

And don't get me wrong. I love Egypt and it is one place in the world I would recommend everyone should see in their lifetime. Just not now. May 10th, 2013 07:31 PM

I had clients just return from there and they had a wonderful time. They said the people were going out of their way to make them feel welcome and comfortable. They also said that everyone told them what areas to avoid and they would have no problems. So they were happy they went because it was not crowded and because there weren't alot of tourists, they were made to feel special everywhere they went.

We had the same experience when we were in Athens during the time they were having problems. We hired a cab for the day and he said he would take us around the problem areas and we would be fine. We had a great time, saw what we wanted to see, and were treated wonderfully by everyone.

Basically everyone is saying the same thing; as long as you stay well outside the problem areas, stay in your group (if traveling with one), stay in the heavy tourist areas, and simply use common sense.

But based on the feedback we've been getting, Cairo is still currently #1 on our Bucket List. We have a combined tour of Cairo & Petra as well as a river cruise down the Nile on Avalon Waterways in our sights. Hopefully in the Fall, if we get our move completed by then.


Dave Beers May 10th, 2013 07:46 PM

Funny you mention Athens. I was there in the Navy in 1981 and an election was upcoming with lots of attention to the KKE party which is the Greek communists. I was on the commuter train heading out to the Acropolis with my friends and we had to stand and use the handstraps. We were talking quietly and suddenly one of my buddies got an alarmed look on his face which was followed mere seconds later by my feeling something hit me in the rear end. I turned around and an older Greek man was glaring at me and muttering something as he sat back down. My buddy says 'that guy just kicked you in the ass.' Obviously I didn't do anything about it since that would not have gone my way no matter what, and I didn't relish seeing a Greek jail. I suspected the old man was not too fond of Americans and wanted to make his point using me. The lesson here is you do need to 'turn the other cheek' if confronted in a foreign country. If you aren't from there, it'll likely be your fault, whatever 'it' is. Nothing wrong with a tactful retreat and swallowing some of your dignity. May 10th, 2013 08:12 PM

I agree! When traveling in foreign countries, we really need to remember not to be the 'ugly Americans'.

But one thing we've learned traveling around the world is that everyone everywhere is basically the same - we all recognize that it's politics and religion that causes the most problems - it's not the people themselves. Given the opportunity, everyone can get along with everyone else.


Dave Beers May 10th, 2013 08:43 PM

On the same 6-month Med cruise that saw me assaulted in Greece, we also stopped in Alexandria for a few days. In Egypt we were required to wear our uniforms (in Greece we had to wear civvies to 'blend in'). The uniforms in Egypt were actually helpful since people could see we were in the Navy and they were universally nice to us. A few of us met up with a man who worked for the local United Seaman's Service (which is sort of a USO for merchant mariners) and he was our tour guide for two days and kept us 'on the beaten trail' and out of trouble. We saw the ruins, archaeological digs, etc. Had a great time except that I got the 'pharoah's revenge' from eating something that was not clean.

I'd go back to Egypt but when the time is right.

Surfguyxxx1 May 11th, 2013 05:10 AM

We had booked a cruise last year that was supposed to stop at Egypt but it was cancelled due to the unrest. So, we booked it on our own with a travel group there. It was the most spectacular time I've ever had. We were literally treated like royalty there. On our excursions, the government supplied armed police to go with us in the event of any event but all was quite.

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