Nile River cruises have been part of Egypt's history for millennia. The Nile floods predictably every year, leaving behind rich silt. The ancient Egyptians depended on this deposit of silt for their crops, but also fished in the river. Most ancient Egyptian villages rose up along the river and so almost all transit and transport took place on the Nile - royals and commoners alike rode up and down the Nile river on barges, small sailboats (called fellucas), or rowboats. Food, transport, even religion in Egypt focused or all out centered around the Nile. Trade with other countries created the city of Alexandria, which sits on the Mediterranean at the mouth of the Nile.
Today you can reach back and touch a vital part of ancient history by taking one of many Nile River cruises. While in the past the Nile was a working river, a survival river, today Nile river cruises offer a luxurious way to tap into Egyptian history. Egypt Nile River cruises typically use ships featuring pools, hot tubs, lounges or bars, internet access, and exercise rooms. Often cruise ships include a spa and panoramic windows in many or all cabins. Contrasting this, Egypt cruises are also available on a felucca, a traditional Egyptian sailboat, but these are usually only for half-day excursions often offered to cruise passengers in the Nile city of Aswan.
The Nile is the longest river in the world starting at Lake Victoria in East Africa and flowing through Uganda, Sudan, and finally Egypt before reaching the Nile Delta in northern Egypt just before the river empties into the Mediterranean Sea. With such a long river full of historical hotspots, Nile River cruises are available to visit many destinations, ranging from short day trips to overnight cruises to voyages of almost two weeks. The cost also ranges, being quite reasonable for a daytrip and usually ranging from about $1,000 to much more, depending on the ship. These journeys are virtually all-inclusive of all meals and most shore excursions. Many of the higher end cruises will have complimentary wine and beer with dinner and other onboard perks.
Some Egypt cruises begin in Cairo, but most include a Cairo hotel stay for two or three days and then fly to either Aswan or Luxor and cruise between those two places. The land stay in Cairo will usually include a city tour,visit to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities, and a visit to the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx. At Luxor - the ancienct city of Thebes, the most notable attractions are the Valley of the Kings, where King Tut's tomb was dicovered, and the Valley of the Queens where the magnificent Temple of Hatshepsut is located. These two areas are located in the desert on the west side of the Nile. All tombs were originally on that side of the river (where the sun sets). Living cities were located on the east side (where the sun rises). Since those days, the Nile has shifted its course several time, and now some burial sites can be found on the east side. In the city of Luxor itself, the main attraction is great Temple of Karnak and the Luxor Museum. On the route between Aswan and Luxor, ships stop at a number of other notable temples and ruins, like Kom Ombo and Dendera. From Aswan, a popular shore excursion is a flight to the manificent ruins of Abu Simbel, which were moved in their entirity in the 1960s to save them from being submerged by the Aswan Dam. Some cruise ships also sail in Lake Nasser, a huge resevoir created by the building of the Aswan Dam. There are numerous temples here, including Abu Simbel.
You can book complete land/cruise vacation packages from operators in many countries, including North America and Europe. If you're an independent traveler, you can also book them on site from local cruise ship operators. If you are traveling during peak season, it's a good idea to book in advance. While most other Egyptian tourist attractions are heavily traveled and offer a glimpse at only ancient Egyptian life, Nile river cruises give the chance to peek into what the life of ancient Egyptians might have been like as you sail past villagers living and working near the river, fishermen, and wildlife.