Circumnavigation of the Black Sea

May 20, 2015 - June 3, 2015
June 1, 2015 - June 15, 2015
October 4, 2016 - October 18, 2016

Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.

Activity Level

For most activities, a relatively moderate level or exertion is required. You must be able to walk distances of one to three miles, unaided, over sometimes uneven surfaces such as cobblestones, and climb stone steps that at times may not have handrails. Opportunities will also be available for hikes requiring more exertion. Should you have any physical limitations, please notify us in advance of your departure. 

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Arrivals and Departures

Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures

Please arrive at the airport for your international flight at least two hours prior to departure and have access to your passport and airline E-ticket confirmation. Do not pack your passport or other travel documents in your checked luggage. Be certain the check-in agent properly tags your bags through to the final destination allowed, and that you have all baggage and E-ticket receipts.

Airlines change flight times frequently and if you booked your tickets through our air department, Zegrahm Expeditions will send you any updates as they are received from the carrier. Still, we recommend reconfirming the departure time of your flights with the airline directly within 24 hours of departure. This can be done easily online and will ensure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to board your flight.

Please contact Zegrahm at 1.800.628.8747 or 206.285.4000 should you encounter significant delays or problems en route. Proceed to your airline’s ticket counter or flight gate for immediate assistance. Advise Zegrahm of all changes to your arrival at your destination city so that we may inform our expedition staff.

Arrival / Departure Transfers

Transfers and assistance between airports and group hotels are arranged for participants arriving and departing on group dates only. If you are arriving prior to the group day and Zegrahm Expeditions has booked additional night(s) at our group hotel, an airport transfer will be provided.

If you are handling your own travel arrangements, please forward a copy of your itinerary to Zegrahm Expeditions as well as contact information where you can be reached prior to and after the program.

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Baggage Allowanceimportant

International flights from North America to Istanbul and return generally allow one piece of luggage, maximum weight 50 pounds (22 kilograms) in economy class, plus one carry-on.

If stopping over in Europe before or after the program, or if beginning air travel in Europe, the following checked baggage restrictions will apply: 66 pounds (32 kilograms) maximum in business class and 50 pounds (22 kilograms) maximum in economy class. Carry-on baggage is limited to one piece weighing no more than 11 pounds. As baggage restrictions vary, please check directly with the airline carrier or contact our Air Department at 206.285.4000 or toll-free at 800.628.8747 for precise specifications.

Cappadocia Extension

Due to baggage restrictions on domestic flights within Turkey, baggage for the Cappadocia extension is further limited to one piece, maximum weight 44 pounds (20 kilograms), plus one carry-on. Extra baggage can be stored with the land operator in Istanbul.

We recommend the use of soft-sided luggage, as it is easier to store. Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry with you essential toiletries, prescription medications, and a change of clothing appropriate for the initial activities of our itinerary, so that you will be more comfortable in the unlikely event that your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.

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Climate

Because of the distance between some of the locations in the Black Sea, the weather conditions can vary considerably from Turkey to locations further north. The climate is changeable from day to day so come prepared for both warm and cool temperatures. Generally, it should be mild, with temperatures ranging from the lows in the 50s°F to highs in the upper 70s°F and a moderate amount of precipitation. Bring along wet-weather gear, sun block, and other protection, as we will be outdoors for extended periods.

Due to the inland location, temperatures in the Cappadocia region (extension only) have a wider range. Highs will reach into the mid-70s°F and can fall into the 40s°F at night and in the morning.

If you wish to do your own research on the region’s climate, you may want to check local weather conditions on the Internet, the Weather Channel, or Accuweather shortly before departure.

The following are average high/low temperatures in May and June for selected locations on our itinerary:

 

High

Low
Ankara, Turkey

73º

47º
Istanbul, Turkey 76º 64º
Sochi, Russia 70º 56º
Odessa, Ukraine             70º 55º
Constanta, Romania 71º 63º

 

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Currency

The Euro is the standard currency on board the Variety Voyager. Your voyage includes most necessities; therefore, we strongly recommend that you carry most of your spending money in smaller denominations. At the end of your voyage, you may settle your onboard account with your Visa, MasterCard, or American Express credit card. The Variety Voyager will charge your credit card in Euros and your bank will convert the charge to the currency it honors.

As of December 2014 the exchange rates are as follows:

$1 US dollar (USD) 0.84 Euro (EUR)
$1 US dollar (USD) 2.29 Turkish lira (TRY)
$1 US dollar (USD) 1.89 Georgian lari (GEL)
$1 US dollar (USD) 60.14 Russian ruble (RUB)
$1 US dollar (USD) 15.80 Ukrainian hryvna (UAH)
$1 US dollar (USD) 3.79 Romanian new leu (RON)
$1 US dollar (USD) 1.65 Bulgarian lev (BGN)

ATMs are a good option for obtaining local currency if you have a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card, although access to ATMs will not be available in the more remote areas. Please have some cash available as back-up. Also, ensure you have a four-digit PIN (Personal Identification Number) for your debit or credit card if you wish to obtain currency at ATMs.

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Documentation

You will receive your Pre-Departure Packet—including a Personal Information Form that will need to be returned to Zegrahm, a complete packing list, reading list, and gift certificates—approximately five months prior to departure. Final documents—including a final itinerary, contact list, and staff biographies—will be sent approximately one month prior.

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Electricity

The electrical unit in Europe runs at 220V with round-prong European-style plugs that fit into recessed wall sockets /points. If you are bringing standard, North American appliances with you, bring a converter and an adapter. Electricity onboard Variety Voyager also runs at 220V and outlets.

PLEASE NOTE: Some appliances, such as video camera battery packs, require heavy-duty converters rather than the normal travel type. Please check your equipment to be sure you bring what is necessary for your personal needs.

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Extending Your Stay

Interested in extending your stay? Speak with one of our Expedition Advisors to find out how easy it is for you to stay an extra night or two. Or, our Private Travel department is available to design customized extended stays for individuals, families, and groups of friends—the same horizon-broadening adventures and life-changing experiences as our group expedition, but on a flexible, intimate, and personalized scale. Call 800.628.8747 or 206.285.4000 for more information. 

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Flight Information

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements.

You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Istanbul and Istanbul/home city. For more detailed information, please contact our in-house Air Department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.

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Health Informationimportant

At this time no inoculations or prophylaxes are required in conjunction with this expedition. However, it is strongly suggested that you have an up-to-date flu shot, hepatitis A vaccination, tetanus, and diphtheria inoculations. People who travel frequently to international destinations should also consider vaccinations or boosters against meningitis, typhoid, measles, and polio. Please check with your doctor or local travel clinic to determine what is right for you. Obtain inoculations at least four to six weeks before departure for shots to take effect.

Be sure to bring a sufficient amount of your personal medications, as pharmacies are not found in the remote areas of this expedition.

The most common health problem passengers may encounter is what is known as Traveler’s Diarrhea, which can vary from mild to extreme cases. Anti-diarrhea tablets (Imodium or Lomatil) should be carried as a precautionary measure against upset stomachs, but we strongly suggest that you also bring along an antibiotic that can help you resolve the problem quickly and get you back to enjoying the expedition. Consult with your physician about what medications will be best for your use.

Protect yourself against dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty. This can prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. We will be out of doors for long periods, so take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun. Bring a sun hat with a wide brim or scarf, sunglasses, and a high-SPF sunscreen.

During our program, food and drink taken as part of our itinerary and at our hotels are perfectly safe. However, it is best to only drink bottled water.

In case of serious injury or illness while traveling, it is important to understand that satisfactory medical facilities may not exist nearby. Should you require emergency medical care, it may be necessary to depart the country by international medical evacuation services. The cost of your expedition includes $100,000 in emergency evacuation and $25,000 in medical expense. Details of this policy are available online at www.travelguard.com/zegrahm.

The information herein is a guideline and is subject to change without notice. Contact your physician or local health center for current and other information concerning health precautions, immunizations, and prescriptions based on your physical condition and medical history.

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Internet and Phone

Contact information will be included in your final document package.

Wi-Fi is available in the Riviera Lounge on the Variety Voyager; Internet cards are available for a cost of 20 Euro for 240 minutes.

There are four computers available in the ship library.

Whilst access to Wi-Fi has improved, connection cannot always be guaranteed.

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Meals

Should you have any dietary needs, please let us know on the Personal Information Form included with the Pre-Departure packet, and we will do our best to prepare for them. Unfortunately kosher meals cannot be accommodated.

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Packing Suggestions

General Information

It is essential to maximize the versatility of your travel wardrobe by packing clothing that can be layered. Wash-and-wear, lightweight, natural fabrics are recommended. As you pack, consider your own internal thermostat and personal tastes and adjust accordingly. Laundry service is available, and by using it, you can limit yourself to just four or five outfits and not be inconvenienced by an overabundance of clothing.

Clothing on Board

The ship is air-conditioned and heated throughout, with individual controls in each cabin. Comfortable and casual clothing, in the expedition spirit, is recommended.

Typically there are two occasions on board when you may wish to wear slightly more formal attire: the captain’s welcome aboard and farewell cocktail parties followed by dinner. On these two occasions, women may choose to wear a dress or other appropriate, dressy attire, and men, possibly a jacket and tie. The degree of dress is in accordance with one’s personal preference.

Clothing Ashore

Sporty summer-weight clothing is a good basis for your wardrobe. Loose, lightweight, wash-and-wear slacks, skirts, blouses, shirts, and T-shirts are recommended. The sun can be strong, so bring adequate sun-protective clothing and gear, wear hats, and use sun block, as we will be out in the sun for extended periods of time. Also, keep in mind that we may encounter a rain shower or two on our excursions.

Shore excursions will involve a fair amount of walking and hiking over uneven trails. Sturdy walking shoes with thick soles or light hiking boots are recommended for walking on the often-rough terrain. If you have weak ankles, high-top hiking boots will provide better support than shoes. Make sure your shoes or boots are well broken-in before your trip.

Conservative clothing should be worn when visiting and entering any religious venue. Women should not expose their shoulders and all guests are asked to make sure shorts are at least knee length.

You will receive a complete Packing List with your Pre-Departure Packet, approximately five months prior to departure.

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Passport and Visa Requirementsimportant

Passport

A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It must be valid for at least three (3) months after you return home, September 3, 2015. If you do not have a passport, or if it is not valid for the correct length of time, you should apply for one as soon as possible. Please be sure you have at least one page for each country visited available in your passport for entry/exit stamps, and secure additional pages if necessary. We suggest that you carry a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.

Visas

U.S. and Canadian nationals require a visa for entry into Turkey. You will need to purchase your entry visa via the Turkish Government website, www.evisa.gov.tr, prior to travel. To obtain your e-visa, you must have a valid passport, proof of a flight reservation, and a Visa or MasterCard credit card. Each traveler must apply for their visa individually.

We have arranged a group visa for entry into Russia. This group visa will include all passengers of American, Canadian, or European nationalities.

At this time, no visas are required for U.S. and Canadian nationals for entry into Georgia, Ukraine, Romania, or Bulgaria if traveling per the group arrangements of this expedition.

PLEASE NOTE: Nationals of countries other than the U.S. and Canada should check with the nearest consulates for specific visa and entry requirements for their entire itinerary, including both the group arrangements and any travel prior to or after the program.

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Payments and Cancellations

Reservations

A deposit totaling 25% of the expedition fare will reserve a place for you on this Zegrahm program. The balance of the expedition fare is due 120 days prior to departure. Air fare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars and must be paid in U.S. dollars.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Notification of cancellation must be received in writing by Zegrahm. At the time we receive your written cancellation, the following penalties will apply:

  • 180 days or more prior to departure: $750 per person
  • 120 through 179 days prior to departure: 25% of expedition fare
  • 60 through 119 days prior to departure: 50% of expedition fare
  • 1 through 59 days prior to departure: 100% of expedition fare

Please note, fees associated with cancelled airline tickets are in addition to this and will be clearly outlined for you on your flight itinerary.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance

We strongly advise that all travelers purchase trip cancellation and interruption insurance to protect themselves from an unforeseen emergency that may force you to cancel or leave an expedition while it is in progress. Information describing coverage will be sent to you upon receipt of your deposit for the expedition. Unfortunately we are unable to offer insurance to guests residing outside the United States.

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With Our Compliments

We are pleased to offer complimentary amenities to our explorers so they can be fully prepared before departing on one of our expeditions. Gift certificates to our Zegrahm Store and Longitude Books will offer you the opportunity to choose one of several specially selected items from our store along with books or maps suggested in the highly recommended titles sent. The certificates will be sent in your Pre-Departure Packet approximately five months prior to departure. Please refer to the gift certificates for more details.

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