Exotic winter breaks aren’t anything new – in fact Thomas Cook has been operating these kinds of trips since 1870.
It’s clear to see that company founder Thomas Cook was in awe of Egypt’s most famous river. He said that: “Cairo is not Egypt, but Egypt is the Nile”. Mr Cook first got inspiration to offer holidays to Egypt during an 1869 trip down the river, which ended up making his desire to improve the standards of comfort on the boats used by Thomas Cook a reality.
Something Old, Something New
Before 1870, it would be a massive understatement to say a trip down the Nile would be a little different compared with today! Cook was keen to set up his own fleet, after seeing conditions on charter boats at that time. The entrepreneur was known for acting as a steamship and rail agent, so this was quite a successful step in a new direction for him and his son, John Mason Cook. In fact, it was the younger Cook who was crowned ‘King of Egypt’ as he won contracts to run dedicated Nile steamers, which would cruise past the ancient sites lying on the river bank.
The Cook family managed to snap up so many steamers that they could offer three different kinds of on-board lodgings. As popularity increased for these trips, the business-minded father and son team also set up hotels in Luxor and further along the river in Aswan. Back then you could choose between a traditional steamer for small groups, or boats with luxury facilities – like on-board plumbing, libraries and entertainment- with the third option being mail streamers. These had a range of amenities and set meal times – almost like modern cruises. A three-week holiday in Egypt cruising from Cairo to Aswan in 1900 cost the equivalent of £2,853 in today’s money.
Cruising and Moving On
Thomas Cook really cornered the market at this time, with his efforts to create a winter holiday market really taking off. Now of course you can go on Egypt holidays at any time of year, and squeeze in lots of different activities, as well as cruising down the magnificent Nile. Egyptian travel agent, Bright Sky Travel, describes how, if the fancy takes you, you can go on stargazing trips in the middle of the night or see the ancient land from beneath the waves diving. Even travel across the sandy terrain can be brought up-to-date by riding a quad bike or you can go back to basics by seeing the desert by camel.