Circumnavigation of the Black Sea Cruise

Mike Moore
Dwellings carved out of stone
Mike Moore
Traditional dancers around the Black Sea
Allan Langdale
The beautiful interior of a cathedral
Allan Langdale
Spices found in markets around the Black Sea
Jenny Kemp
A cathedral around the Black Sea
Relax in the library aboard the Island Sky.
Island Sky's Category 2 Columbus Deck.
This Black Sea expedition features all of the countries rimming this infamous sea: Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria. In the company of expert leaders, explore lands with centuries upon centuries of history, rich architecture, contemporary cultures, and stunning landscapes. As you venture forth from Istanbul for your Black Sea tour, discover four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Romania's winding Danube Delta, and several archaeological masterpieces. Enjoy a local Georgian dining tradition, visit busy bazaars, and sample regional wines. In the land where Jason and his Argonauts searched for the Golden Fleece, you'll find much treasure of your own.

Day 1

  • Dinner

Istanbul

Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to your hotel. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before attending a welcome dinner and briefing.

Day 2

Istanbul / Embark the Island Sky

After breakfast set out to explore the heart of Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the 17th-century Blue Mosque and continue to the beautiful Hagia Sophia. Alternatively, visit the Byzantine Church of the Holy Savior of Chora, the beautiful Rustem Pasha Mosque, and the colorful Spice Bazaar. After lunch explore opulent Topkapi Palace, which served as the chief residence of Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years.

In the late afternoon board the Island Sky and cruise toward the Black Sea up the scenic Bosporus, a strait which runs through the center of Istanbul and forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia.

Day 3

Bartin / Safranbolu

From the port at Bartin, travel inland to Safranbolu, a World Heritage Site. Once an important center of saffron production and stopover for Silk Road caravans, Safranbolu boasts a wealth of well-preserved Ottoman architecture. A walking tour visits the marketplace as well as a mosque, traditional house, and Turkish hammam that date back to the 16th century. Enjoy lunch in a converted Ottoman caravanserai, with free time to explore on your own before returning to the ship in Bartin.

Day 4

Sinop

Sinop has been continuously occupied since the 7th century BCE. Tour the ancient fortress walls; the small archaeological museum, with fascinating artifacts spanning the centuries; and the 11th-century Alaaddin Mosque. After lunch there is free time to explore on your own.

Day 5

Trabzon / Sumela

Ancient Greeks settled in Trabzon along a branch of the Silk Road from Asia. A highlight of your 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 explore the 13th-century Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine church with exquisite frescoes, and spend some free time wandering through the modern city of Trabzon.

Day 6

Batumi, Georgia

Dock in the charming port of Batumi and visit the colorful farmers market. Take a relaxing walk through the lovely Botanical Gardens. After lunch on board, take a short drive to the ruins of ancient Gonio Fortress, which dates back to the first century CE. Return to Batumi for a dinner of regional delicacies and Georgian wines at a local restaurant, accompanied by a fantastic folk performance of traditional music and energetic dances.

Day 7

Sochi, Russia

This Russian mineral-spring resort community with a subtropical climate is sometimes called the Russian Riviera. This morning 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 8

At Sea

Attend lectures today and enjoy the passing scenery during a relaxing day at sea.

Day 9

Odessa, Ukraine

Odessa's European-Russian heritage is evident as you 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. 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.

Days 10-11

Danube River Delta, Romania

The Danube is Europe's second longest river, as well as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. During two full days, discover a wealth of natural and cultural wonders. Take a walking tour of the small port of Tulcea and visit the Danube Canal Museum and Danube Ecologic Museum. The next day, 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 Romanian snacks.

Day 12

Histria / Constanta, Romania

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. Walk through fascinating seaside ruins, tour the new museum, and spot birds in this wetland environment. Next explore Constanta where you tour the archaeological museum and view one of the largest Roman mosaic floors in Europe. In the late afternoon, enjoy wine tasting and a cultural performance on board.

Day 13

Varna, Bulgaria

The modern port city of Varna was once the Greek colony known as Odessos. 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. 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 you sail toward Turkey.

Day 14

  • Breakfast

Disembark in Istanbul, Turkey

Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport for homeward flights.
 Category 1Category 2Category 3Category 4Category 5Category 6
2016-Oct-05$12,980$13,980$14,980$15,680$16,780$18,880
- Rates are quoted in U.S. dollars and represent costs per person, double occupancy. Request the Twin Share Program where you are matched with a cabin mate of the same gender. Even if a cabin mate is not found for you, no single supplement will be charged.
- Cabins may be available for single occupancy at 1.6 times the double occupancy rate. The supplement for a suite is 2 times the shared rate.
Price Includes: All gratuities; accommodations in hotels and on board as outlined in the itinerary; all onboard meals and group meals ashore, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner; arrival and departure transfers on group dates; services of the expedition staff, including lectures, briefings, slide/film shows; all group activities and excursions; landing and port fees; medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance.

Not Included: All air transportation (except where listed); excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, bar charges, alcoholic beverages (other than listed above); e-mail/Internet/fax/telephone charges.