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Sonesta Cruise Collection

Sonesta Sun Goddess (Photo/Sonesta Cruise Collection)

About Sonesta Cruise Collection

The Sonesta Cruise Collection is part of Sonesta International Hotels Corporation which owns a growing portfolio of global hotel brands.

The six ships in the fleet -- Sonesta Nile Goddess, Sonesta Sun Goddess, Sonesta Moon Goddess, Sonesta Star Goddess, Sonesta St. George Nile 1 and Sonesta Dahabeya Amirat -- sail three-, four- and seven-night itineraries between Luxor and Aswan on the classic and most popular Nile route.

Carrying between 10 and 118 passengers, the ships are described as five star by Sonesta and offer upscale hospitality and accommodations -- including spacious suites on the majority of vessels, which are much larger than cabins on European riverboats. All ships, aside from Sonesta Dahabeya Amirat which is the smallest in the fleet, offer facilities such as a pool and spa.

The Sonesta history goes back to 1937 when real estate mogul A.M. "Sonny" Sonnabend moved into the hospitality trade after and purchased the Preston Beach Hotel in Massachusetts with six other investors. In 1944 the newly formed Sonnabend Operated Hotels purchased the Biltmore, Whitehall and Palm Beach Country Club in Florida.

The company continued to expand throughout the U.S., acquiring hotels in cities such as New York and Washington DC, and opening the first international hotel in San Juan in 1959. The company remains family-run and in 1970 was rebranded Sonesta International Hotels Corporation. It now operates 10 hotel brands, ranging from value-for-money Sonesta Essential to premium Royal Sonesta properties, throughout North America and in countries including Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Peru and St. Maarten.

Sonesta's first cruise ship, Sonesta Nile Goddess, was launched in 1989, followed by Sonesta Sun Goddess in 1993 -- replaced with the current Sun Goddess in 2020 -- Sonesta Moon Goddess in 2000, Sonesta Star Goddess and Sonesta St. George I in 2006, and Sonesta Dahabeya Amirat -- a boutique 14-passenger vessel based on ancient Egyptian sailboats -- in 2009. Providing a range of options to cruise the Nile, itineraries range from three- to seven-nights.

  • More about Sonesta Cruise Collection

  • Who goes on Sonesta Cruise Collection cruise ships?

  • Do I have to dress up on a Sonesta Cruise Collection cruise?

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Sonesta Cruise Collection Tips, Activities, and Overview

Who goes on Sonesta Cruise Collection cruise ships?

Many passengers will already be familiar with the Sonesta brand and have stayed in one of their hotels for work or leisure. The ships appeal to well-traveled passengers from North America and English-speaking countries looking to explore Egyptian history and culture and travel in comfort. To make the most of Nile sailings you need to be in reasonably good health and able to walk around unpaved areas and stand for periods of time.

Do I have to dress up on a Sonesta Cruise Collection cruise?

As with most river cruises, there is no dress code and there are no formal nights. You need to bring clothes suitable for hot days and, depending on the time of travel, cooler nights. The most important thing to pack is comfortable sneakers or sandals for shore tours, where the terrain can sometimes be rocky and uneven. Loose clothing made from natural fibers is best and women should dress conservatively, covering up knees and shoulders, when visiting temples and religious sites. Back onboard, folks tend to change into smart casual attire for dinner. Winter nights in Egypt, from December through February, can get quite cold so bring a sweater, fleece or light jacket.

Is everything free on Sonesta Cruise Collection cruises?

No. Fares cover all meals, excursions, guides, a welcome cocktail party and onboard entertainment such as belly dancing and whirling dervish performances, folkloric shows and a galabya party where passengers have the option of dressing in Egyptian costumes. Cruises booked through Sonesta and the majority of tour operators featuring include a complimentary bottle of wine on arrival and drinks with meals, including wine and beer with dinner. Some tour companies do not include the wine on arrival or alcoholic drinks with meals. Extras include spa services, laundry, Wi-Fi and gratuities.

What are Sonesta Cruise Collection’s most popular activities?

A Nile cruise is an awesome way of being fully immersed in Egyptian history, and shore tours to ancient sites are the main activities. A highlight is a visit to the Valley of the Kings containing the tombs of pharaohs, most famously Tutankhamun whose burial chamber was unearthed by English archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. Excursions are accompanied by expert and knowledgeable Egyptologists that bring thousands of years of history to life. An authentic experience includes the chance to sail on a traditional felucca, a single-sailed wooden vessel unchanged for centuries. When ships are sailing, the most popular pastime is relaxing in the shade on the sun deck to watch day-to-day life on the Nile.

Best for: Curious globetrotters, active retirees and history lovers that want to explore Egypt and the Nile in style.

Not for: Cruisers looking for big ships packed with entertainment, folks that want multiple dining options and families with young children.

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