Avanti expands to Egypt with ready-to-sail trips

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The deck on the renovated British Navy steamship the SS Misr, which sails the Nile.
The deck on the renovated British Navy steamship the SS Misr, which sails the Nile.

Although river cruising remains largely shuttered around the world, Egypt and the Nile are open and welcoming travelers.

And while bigger international players like Viking, Avalon Waterways and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises have their global operations on hold through at least April, there are a variety of other Nile ships that can be booked for immediate travel alone or in conjunction with land packages.

Options include the exclusive, four-suite SB Feddya and a renovated British Navy steamer operated by Movenpick, medium-size boats from the Indian luxury hospitality company Oberoi and four-star options from Steigenberger.

To help travel advisors navigate the different choices and combinations of land and river itineraries, Avanti Destinations last month announced it has begun selling Egypt with a variety of land and river packages that include mostly private tours.

Options include five customizable vacations packages, six destinations, 19 hotels and 38 experiences and activities. The river itineraries range from three- to 12-day sailings across four routes on 11 four- and five-star ships. Advisors can add or subtract destinations, activities and the number of days to each.

Avanti CEO Paul Barry said the itineraries build on classic packages popular with guided travel through Egypt for years.

"We did start with some of the more standard programs," Barry said. "However, they are kind of like making your basic meal. You start with a bowl of pasta, and it's the rest of the ingredients that really provide the spice."

Among the itineraries that advisors can build from:

• Best of Egypt: Nine days, featuring Cairo and a four-night Nile cruise between Luxor and Aswan. Includes a private, full-day tour of the pyramids, the Sphinx, Memphis and Saqqara; and a private, full-day Egyptian Museum and Old Cairo tour.

• Treasures of the Nile: 12 days, featuring Cairo and a seven-night Nile cruise between Luxor and Aswan on Movenpick's historical, five-star, deluxe steamship, the SS Misr. Includes a private, full-day tour of the pyramids, the Sphinx, Memphis and Saqqara; private tour of Cairo's medieval Salah El Din Citadel, the 19th-century Mohammed Ali Mosque and the Khan El Khalili bazaar; and a sound and light show at the pyramids.

• Ancient Lands of Egypt: 11 days in Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, an exploration that skips the multiday Nile cruise but takes in the most ancient sites. Includes a dinner cruise on the Nile. The tour includes a number of private tours, including of the Egyptian Museum, the pyramids, the Sphinx, Memphis, Saqqara, Salah El Din Citadel, Mohammed Ali Mosque, Khan El Khalili bazaar, East Bank (Karnak and Luxor temples), West Bank (Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut's Temple, the Colossi of Memnon), Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Philae Temple, Aswan High Dam, the unfinished obelisk, St. Simeon Monastery (by camel) and Aswan's botanical garden (by felucca, a traditional wooden sailboat).

• Grand Tour of Egypt: 12 days in Cairo, Alexandria and the oasis city of Siwa, with a four-night cruise between Luxor and Aswan. Includes a private, full-day tour of the Egyptian Museum, Old Cairo, the pyramids and the Sphinx; overnight in Alexandria and a private Alexandria city tour with lunch; three nights in an all-inclusive ecolodge; a sunset desert safari; and a cultural tour of Siwa.

• Egypt Sand & Sea: 10 days in Cairo and the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada and a three-night Nile cruise between Luxor and Aswan. Includes a private, full-day tour of the pyramids, the Sphinx, Memphis and Saqqara and a private, full-day Egyptian Museum and Old Cairo city tour. 

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