Circumnavigation of the Black Sea
Before You Go
For most activities, a relatively moderate level of 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 optional hikes requiring more exertion.
Trip Preparation: Gear Up!
Designed to withstand the ups and downs of the mercury throughout your Black Sea exploration—from a windy cliffside monastery in Turkey to the mineral-spring resort of Sochi, Russia—this moisture-wicking, stretchy-for-comfort, wind-resistant jacket just may be your most-worn piece of travel clothing.
Please pay close attention to the following sections: Passport and Visa Requirements, Health Information, and Baggage Allowance.
Activity Level & Accommodations
For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. You must be able to walk distances of one to three miles, sometimes over uneven surfaces, such as cobblestones and climb stone steps that may not have handrails. Opportunities will also be available for optional hikes requiring more exertion.
Arrivals & Departures
Departure / Airport Check-In Procedures
Please arrive at the airport for your flight to Istanbul, Turkey 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, 206.285.4000, or 206.219.1641 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 into Istanbul so that we may inform our Expedition Leader.
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.
For your round trip international flight to Istanbul, Turkey, please check for luggage weight restrictions with your airline provider or our air department if you booked through Zegrahm.
If stopping over in Europe before or after the program, or if beginning air travel in Europe, please check for luggage restrictions with your airline provider.
Cappadocia & Istanbul Pre-Extension
Due to baggage restrictions on domestic flights within Turkey, baggage for the Cappadocia & Istanbul pre-extension is 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.
PLEASE NOTE: Most airlines strictly enforce their baggage regulations. Excess baggage charges, which can be substantial, are the personal responsibility of each participant.
We recommend using soft-sided luggage since it’s easier to store. Your carry-on bag should include anything you may need in transit. We recommend that you carry with you your 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 your baggage is delayed in transit or is slow to be delivered to your room upon arrival.
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 changes daily, so come prepared for both warm and cool temperatures.
Pre-Extension: Cappadocia has a continental climate characterized by hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. There is typically a sharp difference in temperature between day and night, and it is not uncommon to have freezing cold nights with scorching hot days. However, Cappadocia is much cooler and drier than its Mediterranean and Aegean counterparts.
The following are average high/low temperatures (ºF) in October for selected locations on our itinerary:
The British Pound is the standard currency on board the Island Sky. 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.
As of May 2016, the exchange rates are as follows:
|$1 US dollar (USD)||.87 Euro (EUR)|
|$1 US dollar (USD)||2.81 Turkish lira (TRY)|
|$1 US dollar (USD)||2.23 Georgian lari (GEL)|
|$1 US dollar (USD)||64.88 Russian ruble (RUB)|
|$1 US dollar (USD)||25.12 Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH)|
|$1 US dollar (USD)||3.89 Romanian leu (RON)|
|$1 US dollar (USD)||1.70 Bulgarian lev (BGN)|
ATMs are a good option for obtaining local currency in some countries if you have a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card, although access to ATMs varies greatly from region to region. Please carry smaller denominations as most merchants will require local currency. 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.
You will receive your Pre-Departure Packet—including a Personal Information Form that will need to be returned to Zegrahm, 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 to your departure.
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 the Island Sky requires American-style outlets (two flat prongs) at 110V.
The electrical currencies are as followed:
|Turkey||230V/50Hz with Types C & F|
|Georgia||220V/50Hz with Types C, E, & F|
|Russia||220V/50Hz with Types C, E, & F|
|Ukraine||220V/50Hz with Types C & F|
|Romania||220V or 230V/50Hz with Types C & F|
|Bulgaria||230V/50Hz with Types C & F|
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.
Flights to and from your home city 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.
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. Obtain inoculations at least four to six weeks before departure for shots to take effect.
Drink plenty of fluids whenever you can, not just when you are thirsty. By preventing dehydration, you may prevent a range of medical problems associated with traveling. Take precautions to avoid overexposure to the sun. Bring a sun hat with a wide brim or scarf, sunglasses, and a high-SPF sunscreen.
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.
Internet & Phone
Your final documentation will include contact information for our hotels, including phone and fax numbers as well as email addresses. Complimentary Wifi is available on the Island Sky.
Please note: The internet service onboard the Island Sky is satellite based, and can be intermittent and significantly slower than your typical home or office connection. This service typical works best for sending and receiving basic emails.
Following are local times that apply to this expedition when it is 7:00a.m. on the North American west coast:
|7:00a.m.||Seattle, WA (PDT)|
|10:00a.m.||New York, NY (EDT)|
|5:00p.m.||Turkey, Ukraine, Romania & Bulgaria|
|6:00p.m.||Georgia & Russia|
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.
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 onboard the Island Sky (for a small fee), 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.
Sporty mid-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 still be strong in autumn, so sunscreen, sun glasses and a brimmed hat are recommended. Also, keep in mind that we may encounter a rain shower or two on our excursions.
Temperatures will be mild, ranging from the low-50s to high-60s, and mid-weight layers are recommended.
Shore excursions will involve a fair amount of walking and hiking over uneven cobblestone streets, stone steps and occasional dirt trails. Sturdy walking shoes with thick soles or light hiking boots are recommended for walking on the uneven 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. When visiting Mosques, it is customary for women to cover their heads with a light scarf.
Passport & Visa Requirements
A valid passport is required for participation in this program. It is recommended that your passport is valid for 6 months after you return home, through April 18, 2017. 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. You need to have at least 7 pages available for entry/exit stamps in your passport. As of January 1, 2016, the US State Department has eliminated the application to insert additional pages into your passport. If you require additional pages, a new passport must be obtained. We suggest that you carry extra passport photos and a photocopy of your passport’s information page when you travel.
Visas are required 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 and Canadian nationalities. For all other nationalities, please contact an Expedition Advisor to confirm that you are covered under our group visa.
At this time, no visas are required for US 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 US 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.
Payments & Cancellations
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. Airfare is due at the time tickets are issued. All prices are quoted in US dollars and must be paid in US 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
- 1 through 119 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.
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 purchase gear 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.