‘I mean, holy shit, I have to do this, right? It’s like, when am I ever going to find an experience this cheap again? I mean, I can afford it, right? No… but really, I CAN afford it… it’s just… I’ll be eating into the money I’d saved for when I move to Indonesia. But I should do it, right? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I’ll do it!’
I had this one-sided conversation with my Dad, my beau and two of my best friends. They knew I should I do it, I knew I should do it, and so I did it. ‘It’ being a two night, five star cruise on the River Nile.
I was pondering whether or not I should book the trip for a tad longer than necessary just because I was worried about my financial situation. As always, I had already overspent in the past two months I was in Jordan and Lebanon, and broke-ass me had decided to come to Egypt after hearing it was ‘cheap, very cheap, so cheap you won’t even believe how cheap it is’ from other travellers. So to spend £80 on two nights for a ship to take me from Aswan to Luxor was going to be a bit tight on my poor purse.
Did you hear that? That’s £80 for two nights on a five star, luxury cruise! On the Nile, nonetheless! That’s not expensive! Questionable hotels on the outskirts of London cost £50-70 per night, and they certainly don’t include three meals a day, a swimming pool, nightly entertainment and a library.
But you know what? I was already accustomed to how cheap Egypt was. Single rooms in good hotels were about £10 per night, my 16 hour train ride from Alexandria to Aswan was £16, meals could be as low as 20p, and even when I decided to say, ‘fuck it, I’m not budgeting for this incredibly delicious restaurant’* I still only spent £5, £10 maximum. After a week in Egypt, £40 per night seemed excessive, but I had to kick myself and put my ‘you’re from London’ hat on, meaning that I forced myself to remember that I would never get this kind of deal on a cruise in Europe from a reputable company, that I’d spent more money on shitty ‘hotels,’ that sometimes my nights out will cost £80 (because I think I have enough money for that sort of tomfoolery, which I now no longer do). In essence, this was a deal, and everyone agreed I would be stupid not to take it.
The experience was… OK, to say the least. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. I’ll check my privilege here though, and yes, I am incredibly grateful to have had this experience and to actually tick off my bucket list goal of ‘go on a Nile cruise,’ especially whilst so young. But I think that, under different circumstances, it would’ve been much better.
Different circumstances being: if I wasn’t a solo traveller.
I’ve never had this whilst travelling solo before, where all I have craved for is my family, or my friends, or my partner, or anyone, really. Just someone to talk to, because all I could think of was others. For example:
Having breakfast, or lunch, or dinner, in the dining room. Usually I’m fine with eating alone (I’ve gotten used to it from travelling), but when I looked up from my novel and saw the large groups of families and friends clinking glasses, laughing and chatting away, I wished it were my family around a big circular table, gossiping and stealing each others food. (I give it to the cruise ship though, that food was delicious, and when they found out I was vegan, catered to my diet and provided so many more dishes than they apparently normally do!).
Relaxing on the top deck and swimming in the pool was where I needed my friends. Even though I was so damn happy you wouldn’t even believe it, to be able to strip down into a bikini and sunbathe for the first time in 5 weeks since the Dead Sea in Jordan (and prove to everyone I had been on holiday with my tan!), it would’ve been nice to have my mates and cocktails.
Finally, my room was beautiful. It had a huge double bed, a lovely colour scheme, a television if I fancied watching BBC News, the most powerful shower and a gorgeous view as the ship trundled along. It was perfect. But you know, it would’ve been more perfect if my beau was there, stretched out and catlike and sexy on the bed.
I also started to go a bit stir-crazy. The first few hours of sunbathing with a magazine were great, but after that I started to get a bit antsy, and desired to walk around on land and be free. Solo travel often means that I typically do what I want when I want, so it was a bit odd to think that I was restricted in this manner and could only walk up and down the ship, trying to avoid any workers who thought it was appropriate to flirt (hard to do on a cruise, especially when one in particular follows you to your room and doesn’t take no for an answer graciously!).
It got better though, because I met two other female solo travellers during my second day. I had found like-minded people I could talk to, sit with, swim with and enjoy a drink with. I hadn’t realised how much I missed female company since I’d been in Egypt, and for that, I’m happy I went on this cruise and met these two fascinating, insightful ladies, even though I still pined for those from back home. I also had an hour long massage for £20 on my last night, so there were certainly no complaints there!
In the end I had a good time. Would I do it again, however? Probably not as a solo traveller. Too often I wanted company, finding it quite difficult to meet other people in this setting until I managed to scope out the other two women who had found each other earlier. I’m also too used to being able to go out and leave my accommodation whenever I want, so that was a personal challenge to stay put. I’m happy I went, but I’ll do my next cruise – if I should have another- when I’m with others. Who knows, maybe a coast around the Caribbean with my best friend is in order soon?*
*It’s not. I can’t afford it.