Mody Tours promised to reveal the name of the boat 3 days prior to the trip and didn’t until 12 hours before boarding. It is the Radamis II, and having experienced this 3 star boat from the 90’s, with dated and worn decor, stained bathrooms, and tattered bed sheets, I understand why. If you knew the name of the boat in advance, you would cancel. The only way it would be considered a 5 star cruise is if it were based on a 10 point scale.
When I brought my disappointment to the attention of Mody Tours via WhatsApp, I was ignored. Upon meeting our group on the boat, the guide - Talaat - told me to share my concerns with the group, and worked to publicly shame and pressure me, giving me the ultimatum to accept the boat as is or leave immediately (not in private, but in front of everyone). No empathy, no compassion, just a threat. This level of service was consistent with our experience.
A few notable things to be aware of:
- The 5 star reviews are achieved through coercion and not reflective of the real experience. Talaat, our guide, pressured each guest to either write a 5 star review or no review at all, and started this process the day before the cruise ended. He indicated that if we didn’t write a glowing review, he would get fired. This emotional manipulation and coercion is why there are so few critical reviews, hindering prospective guests from making an informed decision based on real experiences.
- The boat stays docked until 4pm on Day 2, and is parked beside Radamis I. In other words, you are on a stationary boat for the first 36hrs, and half the rooms have no view given they are 12” away from the Radamis I. Of the time we spent on the boat, we had approx. 4hrs of daytime cruising. The balance of our time was cruising after the sun went down, or stationed at a dock.
- This is a 3rd tier tour. Similar to airline tiers, there are 3 tiers of tours and this is the discount version (think Easy Jet). Tier 1 - beautiful, luxury boats, that are docked in the city centres, with attentive guides, that arrive at sites first (think Ritz Carlton). Tier 2 boats, with more rooms, that are nice, and docked a bit further away and arrive at sties second (think Sheraton), and then Tier 3 boats (Radamis II), that are old, docked 30km away from the city centre and arrive at sites last (think Motel 6 or Travelodge). Given the expensive nature of travel, it is helpful to have tiered options; however, that requires cruise companies to be honest and transparent about their accommodations, services, and amenities - so that you can choose the tier that fits your budget and expectations.
- The boat doesn’t have the amenities described. The fitness centre was out of order and had 2 machines. The wifi is dial up speed and only available in the lobby at a cost of $5 USD/hour. The spa is an unoccupied room with a twin bed. The satellite TV doesn’t work unless you’re docked in Aswan.
- Mody Tours is all about extra money. An extra $25 USD per person for tips to the cruise and support staff (though our group suspected much of this was kept by our guide), $35 USD per person for a tour of the Nubian Village on Day 1, $60 USD per person for admission tickets, plus the tip to guide. And that is in addition to the commissions received from stops to various local shops you are encouraged to visit (Dr. Herb - not the actual spice market in Aswan; Alabaster workshop; etc). In fact, the focus on extra money is so intense, that we we only had 10 minutes to visit the Philae Temple and were pressured to rush, so that we could have 1 hour to spend shopping at a store that we suspect gave our guide a kick back.
- The food is decent and the lunch and dinner buffets have lots of options (fish, chicken and beef), but of the breakfasts mentioned in description, 3 of them were bagged (cheese sandwich, soft croissant, juice, water, fruit) due to the daily 3am or 4am wake up and departure times. And they wanted to charge us for coffee on our last day, as apparently that was not included.
- Our guide wasn’t great. He tried to brush off his inappropriate comments as jokes, but many were offensive. Our hot air balloon crashed into a pick up truck, almost hit power lines and ultimately drifted towards the airport (across the nile - which is not allowed) and performed and emergency landing in a farmer’s field as we were received by the police. Our entire group, including kids, were shaken by the harrowing experience, and at no point did he ask how we were or empathize. This lack of trust, empathy and rapport, really soured our already questionable experience.
The saving grace to our experience was our group of 13 from across the world. Our shared frustration while trying to maintain a positive attitude and enjoy the trip brought us together and solidified our bond. I’m so grateful for them. As for you, the reader, beware of this tour. The reviews are inflated and NOT representative of the experience. It is decent, but definitely not as advertised. Calling this a 4 day Nile cruise on a 5 star boat is simply untrue, and this tour should be evaluated relative to other options including: flying to visit Abu Simbel versus the 8hr return bus trip, spending more time leisurely enjoying a cruise on the Nile, having more time to explore the sites on your own rather than being rushed to allow for commission based shopping experiences, and with a guide that genuinely cares about your experience, is kind and knowledgeable - like every other guide we had on our trip.