By PATRICK SCOTT JAN. 11, 2017
The New York Times
The engine room started rumbling about 3 a.m. the first night of our four-day Nile River cruise, setting the mirror knocking against the wall and stirring me from sleep. The shaky start to our first-ever cruise was continuing.
My wife, Susan, and I and our two daughters, Jenna and Michaela, both in their 20s, are not an organized-trip type of a family, and we hadn’t done our homework before arriving in Aswan, about 540 miles south of Cairo, to start the voyage north to Luxor.
After checking in at noon we were surprised to discover that we were not actually cruising until the middle of the night. We had boarded what was essentially a moored hotel, sandwiched between identical four-story boats — one of which was blocking a river view from our tight cabin.
Instead of airy nautical décor, our 77-cabin boat was fitted with the dark wood, coffee-colored carpets and red and purple fabrics you might find in a private library. And on our outing that first day to the Philae Temple of the goddess Isis, my image of strolling in solitude amid its colonnades was upended as we arrived on the island with two large groups of Egyptian tourists.
Later, as I lay in bed, something else distracted me. Outside the sliding glass door the moon was a white circle, low on the horizon, racing along as if to keep up with the boat. It seemed to barrel through the palm trees and mud-brick houses that dotted the hushed riverbank, casting a white beam on the water. It was magical, and soon it was gone, fading in the haze of daybreak.
Life, especially in Egypt, can be confounding and exasperating, then suddenly filled with enchantment. That contrast pretty much summed up our Nile cruise.