Nile cruise, Giza among the highlights of Ritz Tours packages

Luxury operator Ritz Tours, long a purveyor of upscale vacations to Asia and Europe, has expanded into North Africa with four new packages to Egypt for 2011. Departures begin in January and continue throughout the year.

Ritz's new eight-night Egypt Discovery tour takes in Cairo and a Nile cruise to Luxor and Aswan; rates start at $2,199 plus tax. The 10-night Egypt Treasures & Alexandria packages adds a visit to Alexandria and starts at $2,399 plus tax, while the 10-night Egypt Treasures & Sharm El Sheikh instead visits that Red Sea resort. Ritz pairs Egypt with the Persian Gulf, meanwhile, in the new 10-night Egypt Discovery & Dubai, which adds a visit to that booming Arab emirate to the eight-night Egypt Discovery itinerary; rates start at $2,999 plus tax.

Ritz Tours' package prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and include airfare from New York Kennedy and fuel charges; luxury hotel accommodations; meals featuring local cuisine; sightseeing with an expert guide; cultural experiences; and travel insurance with interruption coverage (if paid in full 60 days prior to departure). For more, see  

Know before you go
Ya'lla Tours, based in Portland, Ore., is offering travel agents a free Egypt tour video titled "Day With the Pharaohs" available on DVD or online at  

The video, made in cooperation with the Egyptian Tourist Authority, follows a basic Egypt tour to Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel. Ya'lla offers similar itineraries with its nine-day Deluxe Tour of Egypt and Taste of Egypt packages.

"The destinations we feature are very stunning visually, and in order to sell our tours, videos and DVDs really help amplify the impact," Ronen Paldi, president of Ya'lla Tours USA, said in a statement. "This DVD is a very important tool for our agents, as it shows the wonders tourists will see when they visit Egypt."

Paldi noted that the participation of the tourism board "shows that the information presented is truly authentic." Visit  

Accolade on the Nile

The Oberoi Zahra, a luxury cruiser operated on the Nile by upscale hotel, resort and cruise ship company the Oberoi Group, has won an award for excellence in tourism and biodiversity from Egypt's Ministry of Tourism for the second year in a row. This year's honor was awarded in recognition of the Zahra's initiatives in the "conservation of biological diversity," according to Oberoi.

"This award is recognition of our staff's dedication to exceed guests' expectations and Oberoi Hotels & Resorts' relentless commitment to offering the highest standards of hospitality in a manner that is environmentally and socially sustainable," Liam Lambert, president of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, said in a statement.

The Oberoi Zahra, which sails seven-day itineraries on the Nile, boasts 25 luxury cabins and suites, a full-service spa, theater, library/cigar lounge, fitness center and restaurant. The ship sails numerous departures through 2011. For more, see

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