Let’s start with the trip. We were picked up directly from our Luxor hotel on the west bank of the Nile by the Princess Donia, from the hotel’s small pier. We felt very special from the moment we set foot onboard and were welcomed by Captain Hassan and the crew. After 4 glorious nights we arrived at Aswan and were taken to our next hotel by a complimentary taxi arranged by the captain. To make headway, the Princess Donia was assisted by its own tug, ably steered by Captain Essam, brother of Captain Hassan. The crew also hoisted sail, so Princess Donia sailed under wind-power alone, especially on the last day.
What a crew! What a boat! What a glorious time we had! If you get the chance, take the “Owner’s Cabin” albeit at a premium. It has a large private veranda with double doors leading from the cabin. We were lucky enough to have booked early and snapped it up. There are only 4 other cabins, so a great boat for family and friends to charter as well. All are ensuite and air-conditioned.
Our fellow passengers consisted of a family party of 3 fabulously witty French folk and their very earnest Egyptian guide. We were so lucky to have these lovely people for company and had many hours laughing and joking about the rivalry between, “les anglais et les francais”. The fish wars broke the ice but there was a definite stand-off between whose fish they are - all done with great humour. The owner, Lee also happened to be onboard and gave us an insight in how Princess Donia and the crew came to be. A real story in itself.
About the crew led by Captain Hassan. They were magnificent and could not have been more welcoming. On several occasions, the Captain moored up and led us to antiquities dotted along the banks of the Nile. We took Tuk-tuks into the camel market of a small town. Though it was known that the camel market was closed that day, Captain Hassan managed to find a local resident with a yard and two camels. No one had the urge to ride them! We went to the market and had freshly squeezed sugar cane juice and the captain bought some camel meat so that Chef Mohammed could rustle up something for dinner that evening. The Tuk-tuk drivers gave us a hair-raising ride but it wouldn’t have been the same if that hadn’t the case.
We visited a small school in a village on an island in the Nile. The children were inspiring. Not even in their teens, there were aspiring doctors, scientists, yes even a lawyer. There is a narrow line between being a voyeur and engaging with local people. I hope these visits serve the latter.
One evening the crew moored up and we had a BBQ on the riverbank and under the stars. The crew were dressed in their “whites”. The table was laid with a linen tablecloth and Chef Mohammed conjured up some delicious dishes, which in fact he manged for every dinner.
We moored one afternoon at a proper sandy beach and had a swim in the Nile. The water was cold but hey, how often do you get the chance to do that?
A special thanks to Adham, who was on hand at breakfast, dinner and behind the bar. Another special and humble man to whom we cannot thank enough for his warm-heartedness and absolute dedication to keeping us all happy, fed and watered, so to speak.
There was more, but you’re going to have to find out for yourself. Forget the ugly big floating hotels that ply their trade along the Nile. Just book the wonderful Princess Donia with her crew. It might just be the best four days of your travelling life.