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Circumnavigation of the Black SeaSeptember 4, 2013 - September 18, 2013
September 19, 2014 - October 3, 2014
Priced from: $11,970
This is a trip preview. The final itinerary, rates, expedition vessel, and leaders will be available shortly. Please let us know if you would like to be notified by email once this trip is released.
Below please find the day-by-day itinerary for this expedition. Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our best to adhere to the scheduled itinerary, but in the spirit of our expeditionary style of travel we may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.
An itinerary from a previous expedition is displayed below.
Day 1 USA
Depart on your overnight flight to Istanbul.
Day 2 Istanbul, Turkey
Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to the spectacular Pera Palace Hotel. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before our welcome dinner and briefing.
Day 3 Istanbul / Embark Island Sky
After breakfast we explore opulent Topkapi Palace, which served as the chief residence of Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years. After lunch set out to explore the heart of Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visit the 17th-century Blue Mosque and continue to the beautiful Aya Sofya. Alternatively, visit the Byzantine Church of the Holy Savior of Chora, the beautiful Rustem Pasha Mosque, and the colorful Spice Bazaar.
In the late afternoon we board the Island Sky and cruise toward the Black Sea up the scenic Bosporus, a straight which runs through the center of Istanbul and forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia.
Day 4 Bartin / Amasra
Today we dock in Bartin and drive to the harbor town of Amasra. Our tour on foot reveals panoramic views of the coastline and rugged nearby islands. We walk the cobblestone streets, where local houses are interspersed with remnants of Byzantine churches and Genoese castles. Visit the local market or museum, or enjoy a scenic hike.
Day 5 Samsun / Amasya
From the port of Samsun we drive inland to Amasya, former capital of the kingdom of Pontus during the third century B.C. The town of red-roofed dwellings and 19th-century Ottoman-era wooden houses is set along the dramatic Yesilirmak River Gorge. We explore photogenic winding alleyways, the ethnographic museum, and a medrese, or Islamic seminary. For lunch we enjoy a feast of regional Turkish cuisine in a local restaurant with commanding views of the town and the Pontic Tombs.
Day 6 Trabzon / Sumela Monastery
Ancient Greeks settled in Trabzon along a branch of the Silk Road from Asia. A highlight of our visit is a morning drive in the countryside to see the 13th- and 14th-century Byzantine Sumela Monastery, perched dramatically on a cliff face in the monastic tradition of Greek Orthodox architecture. Detailed frescoes, etched in brilliant blues, reds, and golds cover the interior. This stunning alpine setting is also a national park. This afternoon we explore the 13th-century Aya Sofya, a Byzantine church with exquisite frescoes, and spend some free time wandering through the modern city of Trabzon.
Day 7 Poti, Georgia / Kutaisi
We dock at the port of Poti in the republic of Georgia. Situated in the southern Caucasus Mountains region, the country possesses a scenic beauty that is legendary; snowcapped mountains sweep down to lush forests and pastoral vineyards and plains. Enjoy a full-day excursion inland to Kutaisi, a World Heritage Site. The city offers splendid monuments surrounded by sweeping mountain views. We visit the Gelati Monastery complex, one of Georgia’s most famed sites, founded by King David IV in the 12th century. During lunch we are entertained with a performance of energetic traditional dances. Afterwards, stroll the cobblestone streets to visit Bagrati Cathedral, an imposing 11th-century church.
Day 8 Sochi, Russia
This Russian mineral-spring resort community with a subtropical climate is sometimes called the Russian Riviera. This morning we explore the town with a special visit to Stalin’s dacha. Well-hidden among trees on the outskirts of town, this house was a favorite summer retreat for the infamous leader.
Day 9 Yalta, Crimea, Ukraine
Yalta is a seaside resort on the Crimean Peninsula, long a favored spot for Russian and Ukrainian elite who constructed palatial homes here. We visit the magnificent Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, with its intricate Byzantine adornment. A scenic coastal drive brings us to the elegant Renaissance-style Livadia Palace, summer home of Tsar Nicholas II and location of the 1945 Yalta Conference.
Day 10 Sevastopol
This morning we disembark in the military port of Sevastopol for a tour of the submarine tunnels at Balaklava and to visit the Panorama Museum depicting scenes from the Crimean War. After lunch we visit the nearby World Heritage Site of ancient Chersonesus, once a splendid Greek seaside colony.
Day 11 Odessa
Odessa’s European-Russian heritage is evident as we ascend the Potemkin Steps to explore cobblestone streets lined with shady plane trees. Explore the compact central district’s spectacular architecture, including monuments, statuary, parks, and ornate 19th-century gems such as the Opera House and Gagarin’s Palace. We also visit one of the country’s oldest archaeological museums, housing an extensive collection of Ukrainian artifacts ranging from the Paleolithic age to the medieval period. Enjoy free time this afternoon to stroll the graceful boulevards, with the option to dine ashore on your own.
Day 12 Danube River Delta, Romania
The Danube is Europe’s second longest river as well as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Board a local boat to explore this wetland habitat looking for over 200 species of birds, including pygmy cormorants, purple herons, white-tailed eagles, and Dalmatian pelicans. On board, sample local vodka and snacks prepared by our Romanian chef.
Day 13 Histria / Constanta
Histria was Romania’s earliest-founded city and flourished as an extraordinary trading center, later to be abandoned and swallowed by alluvial deposits and sand. The site has been under excavation since its rediscovery in 1914. We walk through fascinating seaside ruins, tour the new museum, and spot birds in this wetland environment. Next we explore Constanta where we tour the archaeological museum and view one of the largest Roman mosaic floors in Europe. In the late afternoon, we enjoy wine tasting and a cultural performance on board.
Day 14 Varna, Bulgaria
The modern port city of Varna was once the Greek colony known as Odessos. We disembark in the morning and visit Varna’s archaeological museum that chronologically traces the progress of human society in the region over the course of millennia, and includes the oldest worked gold in the world. We also explore the extensive remains of the 2nd-century Roman thermae, or public baths, which make up the largest Roman ruins in Bulgaria. Reboard the ship for lunch as we sail toward Turkey.
Day 15 Istanbul, Turkey / Disembark / USA
Disembark mid-morning and transfer to the airport for homeward flights.