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 our expert leaders, explore lands with centuries upon centuries of history, rich architecture, contemporary cultures, and stunning landscapes. As we venture forth from Istanbul for our Black Sea tour, we 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


    Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to the Pera Palace Hotel. Enjoy an afternoon at your leisure before attending a welcome dinner and briefing.

    Day 2

      Istanbul / Embark the Island Sky

      After breakfast, explore the 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. 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.

      In the late afternoon, 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 3

        Bartin / Amasra, Turkey

        Dock in Bartin and drive to the harbor town of Amasra. Your tour on foot reveals panoramic views of the coastline and rugged nearby islands. 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 4

          Samsun, Turkey

          From the port of Samsun, 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. Explore photogenic winding alleyways, the ethnographic museum, and a medrese, or Islamic seminary. Enjoy a feast of regional Turkish cuisine for lunch in a local restaurant with commanding views of the town and the Pontic Tombs.

          Day 5

            Trabzon, Turkey

            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 Aya Sofya, 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 and savor regional delicacies and Georgian wines during lunch at a local restaurant. Enjoy a fantastic folk performance of traditional music accompanied by energetic dances. In the afternoon, board a coach and take a short drive to the ruins of ancient Gonio Fortress, which dates back to the first century A.D. Return to Batumi where you will have free time to explore on your own.

              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

                  Yalta, Ukraine

                  Yalta is a seaside resort on the Crimean Peninsula, long a favored spot for Russian and Ukrainian elite who constructed palatial homes here. Visit the magnificent Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, with its intricate Byzantine adornment. A scenic coastal drive brings you to the elegant Renaissance-style Livadia Palace, summer home of Tsar Nicholas II and location of the 1945 Yalta Conference.

                  Day 9

                    Sevastopol, Ukraine

                    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 visit the nearby World Heritage Site of ancient Chersonesus, once a splendid Greek seaside colony.

                    Day 10

                      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.

                      Day 11

                        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 your Romanian chef.

                        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 will 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

                              Disembark in Istanbul, Turkey

                              Disembark mid-morning and transfer to the airport for homeward flights.
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                              - 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 are available for single occupancy between 1.6-1.7 times the double occupancy rate. The supplement for a suite is 2 times the shared rate.
                              Price Includes: Accommodations in hotels and on board Island Sky as outlined in the itinerary; all onboard meals; all group meals on land; group transfers and departure transfers on group dates; landing and port fees; $50,000 medical expenses and $75,000 in emergency evacuation insurance; all gratuities; internal air fare on the pre-extension.

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

                              Deposit & Payment

                              Initial deposit is 25%, and most travelers will call our office and pay the deposit with a credit card. We accept Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, and Discover. Alternatively, you can send a check to our Missoula, Montana, office or register online at:

                              Final payment is due 130 days prior to departure.

                              Final payment by bank transfer, check or Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Amex.

                              Booking last minute? No problem! Please contact one of our trip planners, and we can get you on your way if booking less than 130 days prior to departure.

                              Click here to see a copy of our Terms and Conditions.

                              Cancellation Policy

                              Days Prior to departureFee
                              180+ days$750