death on the nile –paddle steamer holidays

Charles Woods


One of the most unforgettable experiences in life, perhaps, is to be able to travel on the Nile in period elegance aboard an historic Paddle Steamer.  To enjoy the natural beauty of the river on one of the oldest passenger steamers and visiting some of the most famous of historic monuments, tombs and temples is a rare privilege enjoyed only by the few.

Probably the most famed of all the Nile Paddle-steamers was the one called “Karnak” immortalized in the novel by Agatha Christie “Death on the Nile” and later turned into successful films.   The ss 'Memnon' and the ss 'Sudan' were used in the 1978 and 2004 film versions respectively and were temporarily renamed 'Karnak' for filming purposes. The 'Memnon' was originally based at Luxor in Southern Egypt but in 1995 she was moved to Cairo where she is still awaiting renovation for luxury cruising. If anyone has any up-to-date information about the “Memnon” I would be most grateful to receive it and update this article. Another paddle steamer awaiting renovation is the 'Niagara' which was used as a cruise boat but was commandeered as a hospital ship during World War I transporting ANZAC troops from the battlefields up the Suez Canal to the hospital in Port Said.

There is another Paddle-steamer, however, that we know is fully operational, and she is the ss “Karim” built originally for King Ahmed Fuad I of Egypt, by an English shipbuilder.  She subsequently became the property of King Farouk and after the Revolution became State property.   She was since used by a number of Presidents, but is  currently in service as a luxury and unique form of Nile travel.  There are 15 cabins, and she can take up to only 30 passengers, making this a most exclusive holiday experience of a lifetime.  

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ss Karim

We do not normally advertise private travel companies on this non-profit-making site, but because of the preservation of these old steamships is held to be so important to us, we are prepared to refer our members and readers to the following link whereby they can look fully into the possibility of traveling aboard this famous historic vessel.  This is purely for the benefit of our readers and we take no responsibility in any way for any resultant holidays as we have no business connection with the company concerned.  When we receive the necessary permission, we will be able to print some pictures of the vessel and its interior.  In the meantime, you may wish to contact the following website for further information and pictures:

ss Sudanss Sudan
ss Sudan in Luxor

For those who are interested in knowing more about paddle-steamers worldwide, then we are delighted to refer you to “The Foundation for Paddle Steamers Worldwide” and their website is as follows: 

It is a wonderful website to visit and full of historic and current information about all known paddle-steamers worldwide, both in and out of service.  We have been given permission to use one or two of their images and just to give you an idea, we include a couple here from one of the largest to the smallest.  We are also presenting  photographs of the Nile Paddle-steamers still in service.
There is a  wealth of information on the website and you will see what is being done by all kinds of dedicated enthusiasts to record and preserve these wonderful historic vessels for future generations.  Indeed, you might even be inclined to join them and help in some way yourself!      We have not given any details here  as we would prefer you to visit the website direct where you will find all the information you need.  From there you will find all knowledge and  links as to how and where you can have the opportunity of viewing or even sailing on one of these vessels including the ones still in or out of service in the United Kingdom.

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ss Waverly - rebuilt Kingswear Castle .............................nnnnnnnn..........................Monarch
We would be most grateful if anyone is able to supply details and/or photographs of any of the Nile Paddle-steamers (in or out of service) or those in Sudan,  and we will appropriately update this article.   We are also in touch with Tramscape, so any knowledge or photographs (with your permission) will be shared with them.