I advise anybody to do the organised tours in the red sea area. We have done this cruise twice visited aquaba and cairo the first time and valley of the kings the second. They are too far to do it on your own. The coaches have to travel in convoy with police escourt. The second time we went we took a taxi into Aquaba but felt threatened by all the local people watching us. The women went swimming in their cloths so they didn't like us wearing shorts. My advise is take the ships tours you will be safer.
Hi I've not done Thomson But here's a piece I wrote Xmas 2007 on MSC Musica to Cairo & yes we did feel safe, our age range is late forties to early sixties.
The Ships Tours from Alexandria to Cairo for the Pyramids are done in convoy by coach with armed guards following on in theirs army trucks.
We did the trip by Blue Private Hire Car. We started with the intention of doing taxi to the train station & then train – taxi into Giza. On reaching the exit of Alexandria Port we were accosted by a taxi man who spoke good English & given the spiel that a car for the day would be quicker & more convenient than our original plan & we would see & do far more by risking life & limb with him. The’ taxi’ was a Peugeot 7 seater Estate of an unknown vintage & looked like it had entered a Demolition Derby on the previous day. Off we go into the streets of the town where no traffic rules apply & 5 minutes into ride we hit traffic, literally, as a Yellow & Black Cab had not left enough room for our man to get into the next lane, he ‘booted’ him up the rear to make sufficient space to drive through. The drivers never even looked at each other as we drove past.
Onto the desert toll road for 140 miles to Cairo with 4 lanes each side, but with a squeeze 5 & 6 cars can often be overtaking each other, any speed, any lane. We passed the tour bus convoy with their armed guards following in trucks. After an hour or so we stopped at a service area with typical facility’s & the added bonus of waiter service, a small zoo park with Deer, Llamas, Flamingo’s etc. Eventually we reached Cairo where the traffic is even worse & the local ‘centre’ busses had to be seen to be believed. We stopped at the Papyrus Museum & local Bazzar for 30 mins & then onto Memphis (Giza) to the Pyramids. 50 £Egp pp to enter (5 Quid in English) & this is where the taxi came into its own, as we could drive to the top of the hill (about a mile) for photo’s of all 3 pyramids, back into the taxi down get close up & touchy with the 2 smaller pyramids & then taxi again down to the Sphinx. If you are on a coach this means a lot of walking or camel/horse/donkey ride at your expense. By now our bravery is reaching heroic proportions, so we tell our man to take us for a local meal. He took us to a small restaurant in Giza where the owner spoke good English. We had salad, brown rice, sheesh kebabs, lamb & chicken, cooked on a charcoal grill plus bottled water, cokes & fanta. You would think we had never eaten for a week as we devoured the overladen plates & left nothing.
Back onto the desert toll road, flat out in the taxi, 120 kms an hour in lane 4, 2 tuk tuks come the other way side by side in lanes 1 & 2 taking a ‘short cut’. Our drivers only comment…….. ‘Crazy People’
On reaching Alexandria we went to a large out of town shopping mall for about 30 mins. & then a final tour of the city before going back to the ship. We were out 11 hours in total. The whole day including all our food & drink, taxi fare, tip came to £35 GBP per person for five of us. The Cruise tour fare 118 Euro pp.
The Egyptians are a most welcoming race of people & everyone we had contact with, including police, security & shopkeepers said welcome to our country & none of us felt the slightest bit threatened at any point in the day. It will certainly go down in our memory as one of the highlights of our cruising background. So if your adventurous, streetwise & travel savvy, give it a go, it’s more fun than tour bus, that’s for sure.
I'm afraid the previous (very comprehensive) answer may mislead you. The Red Sea ports are quite different to Alexandria and are simply container ports with quite literally nothing else. I don't believe it possible or even desirable to do your own thing from these ports, with the exception of Aqaba, from where it is possible to hire taxis and get to Petra etc but I certainly would not recommend this. For peace of mind, take the trips offered by Thomson or stay on the ship.
I think I would agree with the previous comment. We took the ships organised trips from the ports in the red sea. We are a couple in our early 40's and both decided we would not feel terribly safe organising our own trips....