The next day the horror of our cruise began. We were surprised that the guide was supposed to pick us up only at 10 – quite late, considering that this was to be our only day to actually see Luxor. He took us to the boat, which was moored not alongside all the other beautiful boats we had seen on our previous evening walk, but in a deserted area just outside the main strip of the Corniche, with trash strewn about everywhere.
The boat was deserted except for a guy manning the reception. We were getting more and more apprehensive of what we were in for. We asked to see the room, and it was acceptable (although on the first floor, so our window was only a porthole). The reception staff wanted to hold our passports – alarm bells immediately went off. Every guidebook we’ve read told us that under no circumstance should you let your passport out of your sight. They showed us the pile of passports from other passengers (where were they?), and with a big leap of faith we handed ours over.
Next we were passed off from the guy who met us on the boat to our real tour guide, who barely spoke English. We established (mostly through gestures) that the other passengers had left at 7:30am from the boat, as we should have, but we were late. Explaining to him that we were told to only be ready to go at 10am didn’t help. We told him that we did NOT want to miss out on any of our guided tours because of Hamis Travel’s mistake, and that he was to skip the lunch and go on with the tour. We kept asking him when we’d join the other tour group – we thought he was just our temporary guide until we caught up with the rest of the group. He wasn’t able to answer that question.
Our guided tours of the sites we were seeing was a sad joke. He had very, very little information, and what he did have was mostly wrong. So typically he would give us his spiel for 5 minutes, then tell us “ok, free time now, meet in 30 minutes at car”. Our supposed tour of Karnak Temple was a little longer – 10 minutes – but all other tour guides were at least 1 hour. He refused to walk out of the shade, and kept complaining about how hot it was, while still wearing an enormous sweater… Fortunately, we had our Lonely Planet and Let’s Go guidebooks with us, so we ended up self-guiding. Then he would complain when we were back that we took too long, and that it was so hot. Unbelievable. He would complain every time Wendy tried to take a picture because she wasn’t listening to him. Not that there was much to listen to – either seriously every Pharaoh who ever made a statue of himself in Egypt was Ramses II, or our guide was sadly misinformed.
We finally established that we were never to join another group – he was our tour guide for the entire cruise. When we got back to the boat, we called Hamis Travel to complain. Their Luxor rep of course wanted to meet us in person to discuss (this seems to be a cultural difference – all discussions must take place in person, and not on the phone!). So we met him on a street corner, and he told us he would take care of it.