In addition to visiting two countries full of historical wonders, it allowed me to become familiar, for the first time, with CroisiEurope, a French cruise line.
CroisiEurope is a company specializing in river and coastal cruises, with 55 vessels on rivers, seas and canals in Europe, but also in Asia and Africa.
The treasures of the Red Sea between Egypt and Jordan, the work of man and nature
On CroisiEurope’s ships, a very “cozy” and advantageous formula is offered, allowing you to travel without worrying about the various drinks ordered throughout your stay.
Named ” The treasures of the Red Sea, the work of man and nature “, this exceptional cruise, which sailed along the Sinai Peninsula, started its itinerary from Hurghada in Egypt before reaching Aqaba in Jordan and returning to Egypt at Sharm el-Sheikh, then to its point of departure.
Going to Egypt with points
Example of fares when paying for airfare
The following departures for this cruise with CroisiEurope will be from January 28 to February 4, 2023, and from February 4 to 11, 2023. The average best price is around $1,500 CAD when looking at Google Flights:
Rates example when paying with points
WithAeroplan, the average lowest price is about 80,000 Aeroplan points. Indeed, the fare is fixed when using a Star Alliance partner but dynamic on Air Canada. Sometimes it is more optimal to use Aeroplan points; in other situations, it will make more sense to pay in cash.
A valuation calculation will need to be performed to determine whether or not it is beneficial to use this program. So the best credit card to maintain such flexibility is the American Express Cobalt® Card, because it allows you to earn Membership Rewards points quickly. Depending on the situation, you can use these points as cash back or transfer them to Aeroplan.
My 8 day itinerary
Located on the shores of the Red Sea, Hurghada is said to be a diver’s paradise. At my destination, I took part in an optional excursion: a semi-submersible escapade to the seabed for which the Red Sea is famous.
Another optional excursion took me to the city’s souk and a visit to the Great Mosque and the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Known as one of the most important symbols of Arab countries, the souks are arranged by trade and specialty. They are full of all kinds of objects, and although they look chaotic, they are very well arranged.
Jordan is a cultural destination of the first order, having been the place of passage for building peoples for millennia. I particularly appreciated this country’s more “relaxed” and warm atmosphere.
A day trip to the Wadi Rum desert is a must! Classified as a UNESCO world heritage site, I travelled through this impressive desert on board a Jeep. The brightly coloured sands and austere rock formations make this one of Jordan’s must-see tours.
Here, some of the ridges are more than 300 meters high, often topped by domes worn by the desert winds.
For many centuries, the freshwater springs attracted trade caravans between Arabia, Syria and Palestine. Today, several Bedouin tribes have settled in the valley.
Known for their hospitality, I was invited to enjoy tea and get some souvenirs under one of their tents.
An optional (and highly recommended!) day trip to Petra is also offered. This mythical city sculpted in pink sandstone is undoubtedly one of man and nature’s greatest wonders ever erected. Dating back to about 300 BC, it was once the capital of the Nabataean kingdom.
Accessible by a narrow canyon, the site contains many tombs and temples cut into the cliffs. The tour includes dinner, and it takes about 2 hours to drive to the driveway and the same time to return. I was happy to have taken my water bottle, cap, and windbreaker with me when we were in the shade.
Sharm el-Sheikh (between desert and sea)
The cruise also made me discover Sharm-el-Sheikh, a seaside town located between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. Here, two excursions are offered: snorkelling in Ras Mohammed Nature Reserve, one of the most beautiful diving sites in Sharm el-Sheikh, or a sea trip on a glass-bottom boat to immerse yourself in the richness of the seabed in Naama Bay.
Like me, most participants chose to snorkel where coral and colourful fish were present!
Luxor and the Valley of the Kings
The last excursion on the program – and not the least! – led me to the ancient Thebes, the capital of the Pharaohs, as part of the Luxor and the Valley of the King’s excursion. The road is nearly 4 hours for the driveway and the return trip, but the effort is well worth it.
Luxor is a must-see destination located on the west bank of the Nile in the hollow of Theban Mountain, a mythical place which plunges us into more than 4,000 years of history.
Symbol of the kingdom of the dead and classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Valley of the Kings contains the tombs of the greatest pharaohs.
Not all of the 62 tombs dug into the mountain are accessible to the public, but I was able to visit four of them, including the tomb of Seti I, the largest and best preserved of the 64 graves in the Valley of the Kings.
Further on, dominating the western bank from the top of their 18 meters, a stop was necessary for front of the colossi of Memnon, faceless effigies sitting on a throne, which are the relics of the funerary temple of Amenophis III.
My day in Luxor continued with a delightful dinner on the Nile at the Steigenberger Nile Palace Luxor hotel, followed by a visit to the Karnak temple, a great site dedicated to the god Amon.
Experience on board the ship
We cruise to marvel at such incredible destinations as Egypt and Jordan, but what about the onboard experience on a ship of this kind with more human dimensions than the giants of the seas?
First of all, it is essential to know that the four-deck ship accommodates 197 passengers for 47 crew members, which makes the service on board very efficient and the animation very friendly. The dishes served at the restaurant are tasty, mostly of French inspiration.
On CroisiEurope ships, the menu prepared by the chef is part of the experience. I enjoyed it from morning till night.
As part of this Red Sea cruise, I was treated to an Egyptian-themed evening, including a traditional dinner followed by an excellent Egyptian dance show.
The MV La Belle de l’Adriatique was renovated in 2017. It has 99 cabins across the 4 decks: upper, boat, main, and lower.
Cabins on the upper and boat decks have large windows, while those on the main and lower decks have portholes.
In the cabins, you will find the following amenities: television, safe, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, a bathroom with shower, a hair dryer and a selection of bath products.
The cabins are relatively standard without being particularly luxurious. On the other hand, everything is designed to put comfort first.
The restaurant serves all meals on the main deck during the cruise. Like the lounge/bar, it was designed to accommodate all passengers. Thanks to its large panoramic windows, beautiful landscapes pass by during meals.
The lounge/bar welcomes guests on the boat deck during lively evenings. This is where destination-related conferences are held.
On the upper deck, there is also the Pianoramabar, another pleasant, more intimate space that can accommodate 40 people. You can relax and enjoy a cocktail while listening to a piano piece.
As for the vast sun deck, which is ideal for relaxation, it is equipped with two Jacuzzis and deckchairs, so you can relax while enjoying a panoramic view of the landscape. There is also a shaded area.
On board this ship, different cruises are offered in 8, 10, 11 or 12 days, depending on the season.
For the Canadian market, CroisiEurope offers a cruise with a departure price starting at $2600 in an outside cabin. It is possible to obtain group prices or even charter a boat.
This type of cruise includes a 100% French-speaking animation, including conferences on board and thematic evenings, Wifi (not always functional during navigation), entire board (3 meals per day), drinks and two free excursions.
Useful information about CroisiEurope
As a reminder, CroisiEurope is a company that specializes in river and coastal cruises. Each year, the company welcomes nearly 200,000 passengers (of which 100,000 are loyal customers) of its 55 human-sized ships on Europe’s rivers, seas, and canals and in Asia and Africa.
CroisiEurope accepts Canadian credit cards: American Express, Mastercard, and Visa. You could, for example, use one of these credit cards and apply your travel points to your cruise reservation with CroisiEurope:
- National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard®
- Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card
- American Express Cobalt™ Card
Since this is a European company, we advise paying with a card with no foreign currency conversion fees, such as the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard. card.
This cruise gave me a lot of pleasure. It offers quality excursions without having to worry about practical details. From the Egyptian visa to the meals during the activities, everything is well organized by the CroisiEurope team. I liked the warm atmosphere on a human-sized boat, with crew members taking care of everything.