Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Oberoi Zahra Luxury Nile Cruiser

I believe in the saying “the price is what you pay; the value is what you receive”. I have never found this truer than on our stay with Oberoi Hotels and Resorts on their luxury Nile cruiser, the Zahra. While the price was high the experience was unmatched. Let me share, with apologies in advance, for any “over the top” moments, descriptions, or “ain’t this just too great to believe” mutterings.
We started our excursion with an odd moment. Having disembarked from the plane landing in Aswan, we along with another couple boarded a large airport bus. The doors quickly closed behind us and the bus whisked away. We totaled four passengers on a bus that could hold probably 80 people. My first thought was that we were being abducted. Wrong; we were being Oberoied. We along with our new chums, Chris and Sarah Hockey, were being transferred to the Zahra.

Next stop … unbelievable!
The Oberoi Zahra, Luxury Nile Cruiser
Billed as the Nile’s most luxurious vessel, Zahra impressed us with its first class facilities, elegant décor and exemplary service.

Stairwell Between Decks
Deck C with 12 Cabins
Deck D - Spa and Our Cabin
Our Bedroom
Desk and Sitting Area
The 25 luxury cabins are plush and comfortable, with a good-sized bed, table and chairs positioned towards the flowing Nile. But the piece de resistance is the en suite bathroom. Half the size of the bedroom, the en suite consists of a shiny new toilet and large sink, complete with delicious L’Occitane products, and a huge shower in glass and aquamarine tiles, with an over-sized showerhead. The bathroom’s river-facing wall is dominated by an enormous picture window and, at the push of a button, the blinds wind up to reveal breathtaking panoramic views of the Nile. Just don’t do this after sunset; the blacked-out windows are not as concealing as they appear once the lights have been switched on inside!

Restaurant Entrance
The accommodations were brilliant; matched only by what was to follow.

8 Days – 7 Nights Cruise

Embarkation: Aswan to Luxor
Day 1 - Tuesday
12:00 p.m. - Embarkation
12:30 p.m. - Lunch
2:30 p.m. - Visit the High Dam and the PhilaeTemple      
7:30 p.m. - Dinner
Overnight in Aswan

Day 2 - Wednesday
7:00 to 10:00 a.m. - Breakfast
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  - Spa Time
1:00 p.m. - Lunch
After Sunset – Sound and light show at the Philae Temple
7:30 p.m. - Dinner
Overnight in Aswan

Day 3 - Thursday
7:00 a.m. - Sail to Kom Ombo
7:00 to 10:00 a.m. - Breakfast
10:00 a.m. - Visit the Temple of Kom Ombo
11:30 a.m. - Sail back to Aswan
11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. - Spa Time
12:30 p.m. - Lunch 

3:00 p.m. - Visit to Botanical Garden by felucca
5:00 to 7:00 p.m. - Spa Time
7:30 p.m. - Dinner
Overnight in Aswan

Day 4 – Friday
9:00 a.m. - Sail to Edfu
7:00 to 10:00 a.m. - Breakfast
9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. - Spa Time
1:00 p.m. - Lunch
2:00 to 6:00 p.m. - Spa Time
6:00 p.m. - Visit the Temple of Edfu
7:30 - Dinner
Overnight in Edfu

Day 5 - Saturday
6:00 a.m. - Sail to Luxor
7:00 to 10:00 a.m. - Breakfast
9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. - Spa time
12:30 p.m. – Lunch
3:00 p.m. - Visit Karnak Temple and Luxor Museum
 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. - Spa Time
7:30 p.m. - Dinner
Overnight in Luxor

Day 6 – Sunday
6:30 a.m. onwards - Breakfast
8:00 a.m. - Visit Valley of the Kings, with its royal tombs, King Tut's tomb
1:00 p.m. - Sail to Quina
1:00 p.m. - Lunch
2:00 to 5:30 p.m. - Spa Time
6:00 p.m. - Travel to Dendara
Private visit to the Temple of Dendara
7:30 p.m. - Dinner on board
Overnight in Quina

Day 7 – Monday
5:00 a.m. - Sail to Luxor
7:00 to 10:00 a.m. - Breakfast
10:30 a.m.  - Visit the West Bank; Temple of Hatchepsut
1:00 p.m. - Lunch
2:00 to 4:00 p.m. - Spa Time
4:30 to 6:00 p.m.  - Visit Luxor Temple
7:30 p.m. - Dinner

Day 8 – Tuesday
5:00 a.m. - Disembarkation

We had the good fortune to have Adel Ashour as our guide
Adel is from Aswan, Upper Egypt, and is pursuing a doctorate (4th year) in Egyptology in Geneva, Switzerland. Adel is meeting his costs by guiding at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva as well as maintaining his reputation as “the best guide on the Nile” in working with a few select Nile cruises. A personable young man with an open mind yet provocative social and intellectual demeanor. Adel would make a fine and strong minded American Democrat…always ready to give advice to the party’s leadership. Current advice or editorial on Obama – rather than “going to the church to pray” Americans should “go to the hospital for an operation”.
The guests on our cruise numbered 23 (capacity is 54). The number of crew members was reported to be 82. While the crew to guest ratio was high it was the Oberoi quest, if not obsession, to exceed expectations that drove our experience. Meet the staff that we encountered (supported by crew members that we never saw).
Mohamed Aziz

Mamdough was the cruiser's Consignor

Mohaned was our General Manager

Mamdouh Milad
Wait Staff
Mona El_Shazly and Joan
Accolades also to Chef Ajeet and his kitchen staff of 7. Arguably the best collection of 20 consecutive meals that we have ever eaten … and this was on a cruise ship. The food was wonderful. Oberoi relocated one of their finest chefs from India who brought with him a spectacular collection of Indian recipes to sit alongside traditional Egyptian fare. The a la carte menu was changed for every meal and included fresh salads, seafood, curries and fresh lamb cutlets, accompanied by an impressive list of local and international wines.
Scenes from on-board the Zahra ~

An experience is a good one when expectations are met. An experience is a great one when expectations are exceeded. An experience which takes you one step further, a special surprise, is one that you remember for the rest of your life. The surprise was meeting and spending time with some extraordinarily terrific and interesting people ~
Sarah a.k.a. The Mrs from Blighty
Chris a.k.a. Chunka
from Chunka ...“Looking forward to hearing about the Egypt leg and about “those extremely pleasant English people you met?!?!” Make sure you keep in touch as we don’t get out much over here and have few friends so we have now officially branded you both our “best friends” even though we just met ya!”
Cheryl and Dave

Julian and Sue
Robert and Silvia
Strange Bedfellow

Monkey Boy
Thank you to all that made this an experience that we can add to our collection of lifetime memories.
Allah Akbar



1 comment:

  1. Great blog Brent. Can't believe me and Sarah made the "rogues gallery" and we are now worried that we will go "Viral"?....Can you let us know what the de-gustibus is about if you get a minute. Hope your still having a ball out there. Lots of love, Chris & Sarah.