That makes me feel more confident. We really hate to take the cruise tours and get herded around. I know EKOL gets really great reviews (from its own website but so many that they appear genuine). I will check into the other company too.
Thanks a bunch for the recommendations!
I am not on your cruise (carnival), however, our cruise is docking in Alexandria. What we are doing is we hired a private tour guide to take us to Giza/Saqqura/Cairo. She is very highly recommended, and we love our contact with her so far. It saved us $200 per person to book with her instead of boat excursion. she is picking us up at boat dock, and transporting us everywhere and back again. We are staying overnight in Cairo, and she arranged for our dinner cruise on the nile. She is also going to go with us to the Khan Khalili Baazar to help us shopping so we don't get ripped off. included in her price is lunch for both days, private limo, and transportation to and from dock. We booked our own hotel. She, of course, will drop us off at end of day to hotel (right next to dinner cruise area) and pick us up on the second day at hotel in a.m. I suggest you go that route. the $400.00 it saved us we can use for shopping and better hotel than what boat excursion offers. I can provide her name and contact info or I can provide you a link to many Egyptian tour guides and a link for reviews regarding each. All the tour guides I looked into (including ours) are licensed by the Egyptian Government and registered with the Egyptian Tour Board.
Rocket Girl, That sounds like a great tour! About 3 years ago my wife and I spent 2 weeks in Egypt (on our own) and often hired private guides/drivers to help us get around. We totally loved those two weeks and found the Egyptian people to be warm and very friendly. When we would tell them we were Americans they would often shake our hands and say, "Thanks for coming to our country." The Khalili Bazaar was lots of fun and reminded us a lot of shopping in Istanbul. One of our guides had suggested we visit that bazaar in late afternoon (when its crowded with locals) rather than earlier in the daytime when its primarily loaded with tourists. As to the Nile dinner cruise, some are better than others and hopefully your tour company is taking you on one of the classier boats. My wife celebrated her birthday on one of those Nile dinner cuises and had hundreds of Egyptians and tourists (on the boat) sing her Happy Birthday. So much fun!
thanks for your info. We are very excited about our trip and our port stop in Egypt. Our guide also suggested/planned for us to go to Baazar in lat afternoon. Good to know she's giving us good advise. She booked us on the Maxim for our dinner cruise. It get's great reviews. Which cruise did the 2 of you choose? We have a friend who has visited Egypt many times, and she loved it!!!
She did say pickpockets are bad in Italy, though. So we are taking precautions (Magellen's). our cruise stops in Kusadasi (ephesus) Turkey. Have you visited there?
Have a nice day.
Rocket Girl, The Maxim was the boat upon which we cruised, and we still have an 8 x 10 photo they gave us (complementary) showing my wife and her birthday cake. They had a great belly dancer and the food (buffet) was about as good as you can expect on a large buffet. As an interesting aside, the couple sitting next to us (you sit a long tables) was an Ambassidor to Egypt from a major Middle Eastern country and his "girlfriend" who turned out to be fun dinner companions. Another internesting thing about that dinner cruise was that, even though it is in a Muslim country and many of the passengers where Egyptians, they did offer to sell wine and other alcoholic beverages.
Since you brought up pick-pockets I will give you my feelings on that subject. Pickpockets/purse snatchers are a problem thoughout Western Europe and Turkey and we do not think its any worse (or better) in Italy. You need to always be alert to your surroundings and take some reasonable precautions. My wife generally carries her purse cross-shoulders and she secures the outside purse zipper with a large diaper pin (makes it very difficult for anyone to open the zipper). As to me, I put two large rubber bands around my wallet (makes if very difficult to slip it out of my pocket) and carry it in a front pocket (I learned this trick from a Secret Service agent). In about 40 years of extensive international travel we have thwarted three attempts to pick our pocket and it was in Bologna, Italy; Istanbul; and Arles, France. We have also witnessed quite a few attempts (on others) in Barcelona which might be the pickpocket capital of the world. The good news is that these pickpockets will take your money, but they will not physically do you any harm...wheras in the USA they tend to put a bullet in your head and than help themselves to your money.
In terms of the pick pockets, what we do is first of all essential docs like passport and money is always under our clothes against our body. We have fairly extensive travel wardrobe for all seasons (Tilley Endurables) hidden pockets everywhere. We stay away from fanny packs. Be careful what you put in your backpack if you bring one. In Naples, we actually thieves actually sliced the bottom of people's backpacks and the contents fell out. Slash and grab they call it. If you have backpack wear it to the front. Also, we carry a lock and lock the zippers of the backpack. For the thieves who do not carry knives, it is a deterrent - really who wants to pick a lock. We wear no jewellery off the ship except our wedding bands and swatch watches. Backpack only contains water and sunscreen, maps, etc. Never had an issue in Barcelona where the thieves are rampant, they will steal your luggage as you are getting into a cab. On the streets of Bejiing or Shanghai where you are rubbing shoulders with your neigbour, we have used the same approach mentioned above and never had anything stolen in 25 years of travel.
To Britchris, Princess did have a tour of the Terrace Houses as well and our friends on the ship took it and said it was great. For the extra $30 per person we should have done it. But as I mentioned earlier, next time, we will simply drive to Ephesus. Seems pretty easy now that we have done it before with the Princess tour. Your lucky to be going to Alexandria. That should be wonderful.
Thanks for the advice. We went to Macchu Picchu twenty years ago and were waiting for the train when a man came through and slashed out the bottom of a friend's backpack who was wearing it to the front! His oranges dropped out!
I have booked the Princess cruise with the Terrace Houses as our time in port is only 6 hours and that seems a bit tight to use other resources. I think it will cost a bit more than using one of the other agencies but not significantly higher. Just hate having to go to the obligatory rug dealer. Hopefully the group size isn't too large.
I've also booked a sightseeing tour of Alexandria as I can't find out much information about it. We are also stopping at Port Said so we have a double chance to get to Cairo. We have been there previously and remember it well. I'd like to go again but I'm not sure it's worth $500 or so for us to get there from Port Said. Cairo was always on the top of my places to visit and it left an indelible impression with me. It has been twenty years since we visited but it feels like yesterday.
I think other than that we will visit the other ports on our own and not use the Princess tours.
Thanks again for all the advice!
Hank, Pink845, BritChris:
Thanks for info on pickpockets. We tend to employ several of the same ideas. It's been a while 6 years since we traveled overseas and we never had a problem then, however, I'm sure things have changed. We heard about the slash and dash from a friend who suggested Magellan's safe pack bags. We purchased a backpack and purse and wallet from them. (has steel/wire in straps and bags so slash proof). so I think/hope we're ready for pickpockets. I do worry about luggage being taken particularily when changing getting off train stop when you only have a few minutes before train continues on. I read something that suggest throwing your luggage off to someone on platform and then getting off train. this sounds problematic to me, also read that people offer to help you get your luggage off train (so they can disembark also. This seems problematic too as with any one of these suggestions a stranger is handling our luggage. anybody have any experience with taking trains through Italy and disembarking with luggage?