Egypt and Red Sea cruises are a great way to explore some of Northern Africa’s most enthralling sites while sailing on a sea synonymous with a number of history’s mightiest civilisations. The Red Sea is an inlet of the Indian Ocean well-known because of its Biblical significance. It was first explored in ancient times by the Egyptians, later by Alexander the Great and became a popular artery for Roman trade with India and for the spice trade in the Middle Ages. Today, it forms a gateway for cruisers to the wonders of both ancient Egypt and Jordan.
Though it lies on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast and not on the coast of the Red Sea itself, Alexandria offers a great opportunity for cruisers to experience a little of the country for themselves. As well as being an enthralling city to explore, it also serves as a gateway to both Cairo and Giza. Though the fabled Lighthouse at Alexandria is long gone, some of the stones from it can still be seen today if you pay a visit to the imposing Fort Qaitbey, built in 1480 to defend the city. Alexandria’s National Museum is also a great place to go if you want to immerse yourself in Egypt’s past, while the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa offer a subterranean historical journey as well as a little relief from the sun.
The majority of Red Sea cruises pay a visit to Egypt’s prime beach destination, Sharm El Sheikh. You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing the perfect location to work on your tan or take a dip in the warm waters but popular beaches include Ras um Sid and Terrazzina Beach. If you fancy getting a little more active however, there are a large number of dive sites to choose from. The city is also home to Sinai Mountain, which many believe to be the Biblical Mount Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments. If you’ve a little extra time to spend in Sharm El Sheikh, you´ll be rewarded on your own pilgrimage up the mountain with some amazing views.
Port Sokhna is another key port for Red Sea cruises, being that it is the seafaring traveller’s gateway to Egypt’s bustling capital Cairo. This ancient city is now a modern metropolis and has the heavy traffic to prove it. Venture through its crowded streets however, and you’ll uncover some true architectural gems such as Mohamed Ali Mosque and the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. The world’s largest collection of Egyptian artefacts can be found in the Antiquities Museum, but to see some larger-than-life treasures, take a trip out of the city to Giza Plateau, home of the great pyramids and of course, the mighty Sphynx.
Safaga is another popular port of call for Red Sea cruises and it’s from here that you´ll have the opportunity to explore Luxor and some of the most spectacular temples and monuments of the ancient Egyptians. The Temple of Karnak is in fact a complex of temples and an awe-inspiring must-see, while the Valley of the Kings is a burial ground which is home to the tombs of such legendary pharaohs as Tutankhamun and Ramses III. A more personal experience can be found in the Valley of the Artisans, which showcases the creativity and skill of the Egyptians and is the place where painters, carvers and stonemasons lived.
Aqaba is your port of call for Petra, Jordan’s most famous tourist destination. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and after spending a day exploring its historic wonders, you’ll soon see why. An ancient Arabian city, it is home to a host of archaeological treasures. Take a walk through the Siq – a narrow gorge flanked by 300-foot high cliffs – and you´ll enter Petra itself, where sites such as the Treasury await. Carved from the sandstone, its façade is a truly spectacular must-see. Take a trek up the city’s sandstone steps, meanwhile, and you’ll be rewarded with one of Petra’s largest and most beautiful sites, the Monastery.
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