Cruise Up the Nile


December 31, 2022–January 13, 2023

Traveling with You...

Deborah Starr is Professor of Modern Arabic and Hebrew Literature and Film in the Department of Near Eastern Studies and Director of the Jewish Studies Program at Cornell University. She received a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan. She writes and teaches about identity and intercommunal exchange in the modern Middle East, with a focus on the Jews of Egypt. She is the author of Togo Mizrahi and the Making of Egyptian Cinema (University of California Press, 2020) and Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt: Literature, Culture, and Empire (Routledge, 2009). She is also the co-editor, with Sasson Somekh, of Mongrels or Marvels: The Levantine Writings of Jacqueline Shohet Kahano (Stanford University Press, 2011). Her research and teaching interests include cosmopolitanism, postcolonial studies, minorities of the Middle East, film, and urban studies.

Program Overview

Explore the wonders of the ancient and modern world aboard Sun Boat III


At long last, we are thrilled to offer an opportunity to explore Egypt in company of a scholar, Cornell faculty Deborah Starr, who can help us commemorate the Jewish diaspora in northern Africa. Join the Museum of Jewish Heritage and Jewish Heritage Travel on a timeless journey along the Nile River for a 14-day exploration of Egypt’s rich heritage, including privately chartered on-tour flights between Cairo and southern Egypt and seven nights aboard the intimate, 18-cabin Sun Boat III. Among the many highlights of this itinerary are the Great Pyramids and special private access to the paws of the Sphinx of Giza; the Valley of the Kings; the spectacular funerary boat of Cheops; the fabulous Temple of Karnak complex; the double temple dedicated to the gods Sobek and Horus at Kom Ombo; and the colossal statues of Ramesses II and his favorite queen at Abu Simbel.

The Nile River, upon whose waters we travel between Luxor and Aswan, is the heart of Egyptian civilization, both ancient and contemporary. Most of the cultural and historical sites of ancient Egypt are found along its banks. As you enjoy the Art Deco elegance and modern amenities of the Sun Boat III, cruise to the sites of millennia-old pyramids, monuments, and tombs, including exquisite reliefs and stylized paintings and carvings. Learn about the unparalleled architectural and engineering skills of master pyramid builders and enjoy unique behind-the-scenes access to archaeological sites. Ashore, explore many of Cairo’s gems, including the historic Ben Ezra Synagogue, the highly anticipated new Grand Egyptian Museum, and UNESCO World Heritage Site al-Mu’izz Street.

We are teaming up with Cornell’s Adult University to bring you this program; Cornell alumni will also be in attendance.



  • Marvel at the Great Pyramids and enjoy special private access to the paws of the Sphinx of Giza; most guests can only view them from a distance.
  • Trace the deep Jewish roots in this land through stories and discussions with guides and Scholar Deborah Starr, Director of Cornell University’s Jewish Studies Program.
  • See highlights of Cairo, including UNESCO World Heritage site Al- Mu’izz Street, Ben Ezra Synagogue, and the highly anticipated new Grand Egyptian Museum.
  • Visit Elephantine Island, site of a 5th century B.C.E. Jewish settlement
  • Explore the labyrinthine tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Queens, with specially arranged access to one of the most beautiful: Queen Nefertari’s Tomb.
  • Fly to Abu Simbel to view the colossal temples built to honor Pharaoh Ramses II and his beautiful wife Nefertari.
  • Dine at a private home in Cairo and engage with Egyptian scholars to hear their thoughts about Egypt’s present and future.

Tentative Daily Itinerary*

Saturday–Sunday, December 31–January 1 | HOME / CAIRO, EGYPT
Depart home on overnight fights to Cairo. On arrival, transfer to the historic Mena House Hotel. From its early days as a royal hunting lodge and later transformation to a deluxe hotel, Mena House has hosted dignitaries and world leaders visiting the Egyptian capital. Spend the afternoon at leisure, then gather for a welcome orientation meeting and reception. Afterward, stroll the grounds and admire the pyramids lit in the evening shadows.

Monday, January 2 | CAIRO
Marvel at the last standing monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Pyramid on the Giza Plateau. Then enjoy specially arranged access to the “paws” of the 4,500-year-old half-man, half-lion known as the Great Sphinx. Gather for a special welcome dinner at a private Cairene home.

Tuesday, January 3 | CAIRO
After a special guest lecture, see some of Cairo’s significant Islamic monuments, including the Ibn Tulun Mosque, the oldest surviving Muslim place of worship, and the adjacent Gayer-Anderson Museum, a well-preserved example of early Ottoman domestic architecture. Continue to bustling al-Mu’izz Street, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This evening is free for independent pursuits.

Wednesday, January 4 | CAIRO / LUXOR (EMBARK)
Enjoy a morning visit to the expansive Grand Egyptian Museum, described as the largest archaeological museum in the world and featuring the first exhibition of the full tomb collection of King Tutankhamun. Board a fight to Luxor to embark Sun Boat III.

Thursday, January 5 | LUXOR / VALLEY OF
Enjoy special access to the evocative tombs in the Valley of the Kings–including that of the young pharaoh Tutankhamun–and across the Nile in the Valley of the Nobles, all hidden for thousands of years. Also visit Luxor Temple, constructed around 1,400 B.C.E. and known in ancient Egyptian times as the “Southern Sanctuary,” as well as the Abu Haggag Mosque, built in the 13th century atop the temple ruins and still in use.

Friday, January 6 | LUXOR / KARNAK
Explore the fabulous Karnak Temple complex, the largest ancient religious site in the world. Wander among the enormous 134 stone columns, and marvel at the myriad well-preserved obelisks telling stories of the ancients. This evening, visit the Luxor Museum, on the corniche overlooking the west bank of the Nile.

Saturday, January 7 | LUXOR / ESNA
Visit the remarkable (and rarely included) tomb of Queen Nefertari, widely regarded as one of the most beautifully preserved monuments in the country. Continue to the Colossi of Memnon, two massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III that have stood in the Theban necropolis since 1,350 B.C.E.

Sunday, January 8 | EDFU
Visit the best-preserved ancient temple in Egypt, dedicated to Horus, the ubiquitous falcon-headed god of the Egyptians. The main building includes a great Hypostyle Hall and, just outside, an entrance colonnade that still has original, colored reliefs. An optional cooking class
 is offered by the boat’s chef. This evening enjoy a festive galabeyya (traditional Egyptian garment) party featuring lively music and dancing aboard ship.

Monday, January 9 | PHILAE / ASWAN
Continue cruising to the island of Agilkia, where the Temple of Isis was relocated when the Aswan Dam project got underway in the 1960s. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island has numerous ruins including the Kiosk of Trajan. Upon return, see the Aswan Dam and venture to a nearby quarry to view the “unfinished obelisk” — the largest known ancient obelisk. Nearby is Elephantine Island where papyri discovered in 1893 reveal much about the lives of the Jews in the 5th century B.C.E.

Tuesday, January 10 | KOM OMBO
While cruising this morning, the educational program continues with a final lecture. Explore the unusual double temple, half of which is dedicated to the crocodile god, Sobek, the other half to the falcon god, Horus, at Kom Ombo. This evening gather for a special farewell dinner on board Sun Boat III. SUN BOAT III (B,L,D)

Wednesday, January 11 LUXOR / ABU SIMBEL / CAIRO
After breakfast, take a short flight to see the astounding monuments at Abu Simbel, located in former Nubian lands. At the twin temples built by Pharaoh Ramesses II, huge statues depict him and his favorite wife, Nefertari. Between 1964 and 1966, during construction of the Aswan High Dam, both temples were dismantled and reconstructed 65 meters higher than their original site to protect them from the rising waters of Lake Nasser. Fly to Cairo and spend the evening at leisure.

Thursday, January 12 | CAIRO
Visit Ben Ezra Synagogue, the oldest Jewish temple in Egypt, and the Hanging Church, one of the oldest churches in Egypt. Tour the recently opened National Museum of Egyptian Civilization which highlights achievements from pre- historic times through pharaonic, Greco-Roman, and Islamic to modern-day Egypt. Not to be missed are the 20 Royal mummies. Gather at the hotel this evening for a farewell dinner.

Friday, January 13 CAIRO / HOME
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flights home or to the extension in Jordan.




January 13–17

Extend your visit to this remarkable region with a four-night post-tour extension to enjoy Jordan’s archeology, history, desert culture, and rich cuisine. View the magnificent “rose-red” city of Petra, Jordan, where the 1,200-meter-long Siq, a narrow winding wadi (canyon), makes this site deservedly one of the modern world’s Seven Wonders; embark on a 4-wheel-drive adventure through Wadi Rum’s sweeping dun-colored expanses, otherworldly rock formations, and ancient hieroglyphs; and walk among soaring columns and arches on a guided tour of the ancient city of Jerash.

*Please Note: Daily schedule may be modified subject to weather or unanticipated changes.



Experience the wondrous beauty of the Pyramids from Marriott Mena House, Cairo. A frequent stop for dignitaries and celebrities, this 5-star hotel offers travelers a taste of modern luxury. Set at the base of the Pyramids, hotel guests can walk to one of Egypt’s most popular attractions. The Giza resort is also near the Sphinx, Cairo University and the Egyptian Museum. Inside, relax in upscale hotel rooms with indulgent bedding, marble bathrooms and private balconies with fantastic views of the pool, gardens or the Pyramids. Take a dip in our outdoor pool, work out in the 24-hour gym, heal in our spa and indulge at our restaurants. Our stunning venues are ideal for everything from small seminars to lavish weddings, with our picturesque 139 Pavilion Gardens.

Sun Boat III was built in 1992 and has been extensively refurbished to reflect the graceful style of the 1920s and 1930s. Of the more than 200 cruisers now sailing the Nile, none surpasses this elegant vessel in comfort, service, or cuisine. Its limited capacity and old-world elegance evoke the feeling of sailing the Nile on a private yacht. Secure, well-located, private docking facilities in Luxor and Aswan ensure that Sun Boat III is always convenient and easy to board. All cabins face outside with two picture windows and are equipped with full en suite bathrooms with shower and hair dryer, individually controlled air-conditioning, satellite television, internal telephone and external telephone with international line access, safe deposit box, individual CD player, and mini-bar. Sun Boat III has large, inviting lounges rimmed with windows for comfortable observation of the passing scenery. On the vessel’s spacious sun deck, comfortable lounge chairs surround a plunge pool, perfect for a refreshing dip under brilliant Egyptian skies. Other amenities include a gift shop, restaurant, laundry service, and wifi (intermittent).

Flanked by zoological gardens and the western bank of the Nile, our address in Giza’s prestigious First Mall complex puts you in the centre of it all. Catch a glimpse of the river or the Great Pyramids from your room as you head out to explore the ancient wonders, or spend the day by the pool, indulging in an aromatic massage once reserved for Egyptian royalty. Or opt for shopping in the high-end boutiques at the First Mall or experience the best of gastronomy aboard our newly opened First Nile Boat, offering panoramic Nile views and brilliant international cuisine.

Book Your Trip
Request Information
Travel in comfort. We stay at deluxe hotels with fine amenities. Accommodations for this trip listed below.

Book Your Trip

Program Details

Program Cost: $12,990* (plus $54 Museum of Jewish Heritage fee for nonmembers)

All accommodations, meals, and excursions as specified in the itinerary, including:

  • 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, and 9 dinners
  • Comprehensive program of briefings, presentations, and discussions
  • On-tour flights (Cairo/Luxor and Luxor/Abu Simbel/Cairo)
  • Group transfers for all participants on group arrival and departure dates
  • All gratuities to porters, wait staff, guides, drivers, and ship personnel for all group activities
  • Port charges and entrance fees
  • Welcome and farewell wine receptions
  • House wine and beer at all dinners
  • Bottled water on motorcoaches
  • Comprehensive packet of pre-departure information
  • Professional tour manager and Egyptologist throughout the program.

*Per person, double occupancy on the Nile Deck; single occupancy: $18,990; other accommodation options available, please inquire.

To reserve your place, please complete the registration form and submit with a nonrefundable deposit of $1,000 per person. Your booking will be confirmed and followed through by our partner Criterion Travel, who bring their over 30 years of experience and expertise to this trip. Final payment is due September 2, 2022 and must be made by check or bank transfer. For those who register after September 2, 2022, full payment is due upon registration.

Please note: If Covid restrictions cause us to postpone this trip, your deposit will be credited toward your choice of any 2022 or 2023 Jewish Heritage Travel program.


We consider this to be a moderately strenuous program that is at times physically demanding and busy. Daily activities can involve one to three miles of walking in hot, dusty conditions, often on uneven terrain where stairs are unavailable or do not have handrails. Participants should be fit and in active good health. All participants will be required to follow safety/sanitization protocols set forth by Jewish Heritage Travel or Criterion Travel, our tour operator; local staff; and host country laws. SARS-COV-2 (COVID 19) vaccinations are required for all participants as well as tour staff and shipboard crew. Up-to-date COVID-related protocols and procedures will be communicated in pre-trip documents.

Help with Travel Arrangements

One of the services we provide, at no additional charge, is to help with your travel arrangements. Our knowledgeable and patient staff can assist you in making your travel plans — including booking reservations that are available from the various airlines.