Circumnavigation of the Black Sea

Istanbul, Turkey
October 4, 2016
15 Days
Aboard the Island Sky
100 Guests
From $12,980

Just Announced: $1,000 Air Credit

Enjoy an air credit of up to $1,000 per person for new bookings on this expedition—contact our office to learn more!

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Expedition Highlights

  • Visit Istanbul's top sites including Topkapi Palace and the 17th-century Blue Mosque.
  • Enjoy an energetic performance of traditional dances in Georgia while sampling local wines. 
  • Explore the grand city of Odessa, with splendid examples of elegant 18th- and 19th-century architecture, including a tour of the magnificent Opera House. 
  • Cruise through the winding canals of the Danube River Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, as we search for over 200 species of birds.
  • Tour Safranbolu, an important center of saffron production and stopover for Silk Road caravans—this UNESCO World Heritage Center boasts a wealth of well-preserved Ottoman architecture.

The staff was outstanding—planning, explaining, participating, everything worked out with good humor and flexibility. The excursions provided a variety of experiences; the overall expedition was fun and we learned a lot!

Harold & Sarah N.

Expedition Team

Island Sky

Built in 1992 and recently refurbished, the Island Sky is a comfortable and contemporary expedition vessel. Public spaces include a large lounge, elegant bar with piano, library stocked with fiction and reference books along with a selection of games, and a single-seating dining room. Outside decks feature a bar, spa pool, and a sun deck where meals are served in pleasant weather. All suites feature ocean views, a sitting area, en suite bathroom, large wardrobes, small refrigerator, and television.

Additional Exploration

Pre-expedition extension:
Cappadocia & Istanbul
September 27October 5, 2016
From $4,980

Turkey’s Cappadocia region is a land of striking volcanic terrain marked by thousands of pyramid-shaped rock spires. Throughout the centuries, Cappadocia’s inhabitants have carved their homes and churches in these columns and in caves, creating tunnels and chambers in the rock. This pre-voyage extension highlights the region’s cultural treasures, beautiful vistas, and fascinating history. You will also enjoy additional time to explore Istanbul, Turkey’s magnificent cultural, political, and commercial center.

Gear Up!

  • Alpine Softshell Jacket
Adze Alpine Softshell Jacket

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.

Buy Now

Beyond the Destination

Interesting Perspectives from Previous Expeditions to the Black Sea

  • Hagia Sophia, Trabzon, Turkey

    The Church of Hagia Sophia

    February 23, 2016 | Video

    On our recent Circumnavigation of the Black Sea expedition, marine archaeologist Susan Langley was delighted to share the history of Trabzon's Hagia Sophia church. The third, and youngest, of the Hagia Sophia's in Turkey, it began life as a church but later became a mosque, a museum, and then a church again.

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    Circumnavigation of the Black Sea

    A Circumnavigation of the Black Sea

    January 26, 2016 | Video

    On our recent Circumnavigation of the Black Sea, guests explored six countries on two continents, learning about the incredible history of the region. From Istanbul's hippodrome and Trabzon's Sumela Monastery to the art of Turkish coffee, our adventurers learned about the staggering historical dimensions and cultures of Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria. 

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    Turkish Coffee

    The Art of Turkish Coffee

    January 8, 2016 | Video

    On our recent Circumnavigation of the Black Sea expedition, art historian Allan Langdale took some time to describe the process of preparing traditional Turkish coffee.

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  • Istanbul, Turkey

    Circumnavigation of the Black Sea Field Report, May 2015

    July 27, 2015 | Field Report

    Tuesday & Wednesday, June 2 & 3, 2015 - Istanbul, Turkey / Embark Variety Voyager: Welcome to Istanbul!

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    Khinkali and wine

    The Supra - A Georgian Feast of Tradition and Taste

    June 2, 2015 | Blog Post

    While sampling the local cuisine is an integral part of any travel experience, you’ll find that partaking in a traditional Georgian supra is much more than time set aside to simply eat.

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    Caviar and vodka

    On Location: Happy Hour on the Black Sea

    April 25, 2015 | Blog Post

    Circumnavigation of the Black Sea, 2012

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  • Pygmy cormorants

    On Location: Our Black Sea Finale

    April 25, 2015 | Blog Post

    Circumnavigation of the Black Sea, 2009

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    Circumnavigation of the Black Sea

    Circumnavigation of the Black Sea 2014 Field Report

    November 15, 2014 | Field Report

    Saturday, September 20, 2014 - Istanbul, Turkey: Converging in Istanbul, our flights touched down at the busy Ataturk International Airport from many different parts of the world. Seven different nationalities were brought together for the start of our odyssey around the Black Sea, and a happy buzz filled the opulent Pera Palace Hotel.

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    Circumnavigation of the Black Sea

    Circumnavigation of the Black Sea 2013 Field Report

    November 1, 2013 | Field Report

    Thursday & Friday, September 5 & 6, 2013 - Istanbul, Turkey / Embark Island Sky: Welcome to Istanbul! On arrival at the historic Pera Palace Hotel, some of us opted to unwind in the luxury of this newly renovated landmark. Others chose to relax at a nearby hamman, the ultimate Turkish bath experience, or to set out to explore the city.

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  • Sumela fresco, Turkey

    Welcome Home to our Black Sea Explorers!

    October 15, 2012 | Blog Post

    Kevin Clement was so inspired by his time circumnavigating the Black Sea, he put pen to paper and crafted a poem to remember.


    The Discharge of the Trite Brigade

    The verse that started it all (my contest entry):

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    European robin

    On Location: The Black Sea

    October 7, 2011 | Blog Post

    A palette of white darkening to slate-grey painted the storm clouds around the ship as we steamed in the direction of Yalta, Ukraine. As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones caught out in the driving rain and wind on this particular day in the Black Sea. Some migrant land birds, on their way to wintering grounds far to the south, had found themselves in a bit of a predicament. 

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    Sumela Monastery

    On Location: Sumela Monastery

    October 5, 2011 | Blog Post

    We stepped out into the cool crisp air of a shaded streamside valley in northeastern Turkey. The temperature here in the mountains was noticeably different than the Black Sea coast from where we came, some 4,000 feet below us. Imbedded in the cliff face high above our heads sat the spectacular Sumela Monastery, its buff-colored stone glistening in the bright morning sun.

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