Special OffersSPECIAL OFFERS if booked by MARCH 31, 2014!
$595 ROUND-TRIP AIRFARE from 60 North American gateways, including all airline and government fees and taxes.
Prices include shore excursions, educational program, cruise staff gratuities, most meals, wine or beer with dinner onboard, port fees, service charges, and more.Overview
Between Europe and Asia Minor lies the legendary Black Sea, along whose shores the fortunes of ancient empires waxed and waned. Cruise from Turkey’s ancient capital to sites in Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, and Bulgaria and explore the region’s Byzantine and Ottoman past. Following a two-night hotel stay in historic Istanbul, embark Aegean Odyssey
and sail the Bosphorus to Trabzon, one of antiquity’s great cities, then continue to Georgia’s Batumi, known for Jason and the Argonauts. Cruise across the Black Sea to the Russian spa town of Sochi, home to the 2014 Winter Olympics. Arriving at the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine, explore the Genoese fortress at Sudak; the Russian imperial palaces of Yalta and Sevastopol; and Odessa’s great sites, the Potemkin Steps, the Archaeological Museum, and the Odessa Fine Arts Museum. Conclude with an afternoon in the ancient town of Nessebur, Bulgaria, before disembarking in Istanbul.
This popular cruise features fascinating excursions to historic sites with a small group of Smithsonian travelers. Your tour also provides the flexibility to determine your own schedule: after your included excursions you can choose to explore sites or ports further on your own, join an optional excursion, or simply relax. And cruising aboard Aegean Odyssey
(a mid-size ship accommodating 350 guests), you'll enjoy the many amenities of a larger ship as well as the ambiance and gracious service of a more intimate vessel.Check out our slide show for a photo journey of this cruise!
View photos by clicking "Next Photo" at the top of the page!Itinerary
October 4-5 — U.S., Istanbul, Turkey
Depart the U.S. on your overnight flight. Upon arrival in Istanbul, transfer to your hotel for your two-night stay.October 6-7 — Istanbul, Embark
Explore Istanbul’s Byzantine and Ottoman sites during your included tour and marvel at the Topkapi Palace and Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque)
. Known throughout history as Byzantium, Constantinople, and now Istanbul, this city is home to some of the most significant buildings and works of art in the Western world. Witness the 6th-century Cathedral of Hagia Sophia
combined with either a tour of the Archaeological Museum
and Basilica Cisterns
or a visit to the Byzantine Chora Church
and the grand Suleymaniye mosque
, built during the classical period of Ottoman architecture. Enjoy an optional tour sailing on the Bosphorus to view the city’s highlights from different vantage points. Alternatively, explore other aspects of this historic city during ample free time.
Transfer to the port and board Aegean Odyssey
. (2B, D)October 8 — At Sea
Enjoy informative lectures and review the extensive range of volumes in the ship’s library while cruising Turkey’s Black Sea coast. (B,L,D)October 9 – Trabzon
Explore the Sumela monastery
during your included morning tour. Sumela is considered one of Turkey’s most magical destinations, built in the 4th century and perched on a mountain ledge
. Construction began in A.D. 385 and to this day it remains a wonder how this huge monastery was built into the rock cliffs, given the primitive technology of the time. Legend holds that this ethereal structure was built to house the miraculous icon of the Blessed Virgin painted by St Luke. Enjoy free time to explore the city of Trabzon
, founded in the 9th century B.C. and mentioned in the writings of Herodotus. (B,L,D)October 10 — Batumi, Georgia
Throughout history, Batumi played host to the Greeks, Byzantines, Persians, Turks and Mongols. Visit the Gonio Fortress
built at the mouth of the Chorokhi River in the latter half of the 1st century A.D., and witness the mighty towers, the remains of Roman baths and the garrison mosque. Visit Adjara State Museum
, where over 100,000 exhibits illuminate the history, culture and life of Adjara. Alternatively you may choose to tour the Batumi Botanical Gardens
, nestled above the shores of the Black Sea. Opened in 1912, these vast gardens were the work of Russian botanist Andrey Krasnov and are home to over 5,000 species of plants. (B,L,D)October 11 — Sochi, RussiaThe Russian spa town of Sochi
was established as a fashionable resort under Joseph Stalin. During your choice of included tours, you have the opportunity to discover the magnificent building of the Winter Theater
in the center of Sochi, and to tour Stalin’s summer home
or “dacha” complete with furnishings of Stalin’s everyday life.
Enjoy the panoramic view of the coast, the foothills of the Caucasus and surrounding forests from the 100-foot tower at Akhum. As the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics
, Sochi’s presence on the world stage is increasingly evident. (B,L,D)October 12 — Feodosiya, Ukraine
Discover the remarkable Genoese fortress at Sudak
during your tour from the port of Feodosiya. Built in the 14th and 15th centuries and perched high on a cliff top, this massive citadel overlooking the town of Sudak is a truly remarkable monument. This superb example of Genoese fortification architecture resembles a mini Great Wall of China. Choose an alternative tour, focusing on Feodosiya’s Museum of Antiquities
and the home and picture gallery of artist Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900) who lived in the Crimea and devoted himself to painting the sea and coastal towns. Visit the Archaeology Museum and visit the ruins of Kaffa, a Genoese settlement established in the 13th century
. (B,L,D)October 13 — YaltaThe elegant town of Yalta
was once the summer residence of the Russian royal family. During included half-day tours, witness exotic Alupka Palace and tour the lavish interior including such splendors as the Wedgwood blue room, the English dining hall and indoor conservatory, all enhanced with period art and furnishings. From a viewpoint above the famed Swallow’s Nest Castle
, enjoy a superb view of this Gothic fairytale castle jutting out over a sheer cliff. Visit the home of writer Anton Chekhov
and tour Livadia Palace
, summer residence of Tsar Nicholas II and site of the 1945 Conference between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.
(B,L,D)October 14-15 — Sevastopol
Your overnight stay onboard in Sevastopol allows two full days to explore, with several included tours and ample free time. Visit the Panorama Museum, where the circular painting tells the story of the 349-day siege of the city during the Crimean War and continue to Balaklava
for a visit to the “Valley of Death”, site of the Charge of the Light Brigade
. Discover a top-secret Cold War facility, now a Naval Museum, one of many historic spots on Balaklava’s seafront. Visit the Naval Museum
, formerly an underground plant for submarines which could carry nuclear weapons, responsible for making Balaklava one of the most restricted towns in Russia until the Soviet Union collapse in 1991. (2B,2L,2D)October 16 — Odessa
Discover historic and cultural landmarks of Odessa during your highlight-filled tour, including the Potemkin Steps, the Archaeology Museum and the Odessa Fine Arts Museum
. Enjoy a walking tour along historic Prymorsky Boulevard, lined with majestic trees and aristocratic palaces. Marvel at the exterior of the grandiose Opera and Ballet theater
, a 19th-century structure by Viennese architects, where Anna Pavlova once danced. Following a visit to the Transfiguration Cathedral, Odessa’s largest church, enjoy free time before returning to the port.
(B,L,D)October 17 — Nessebar, Bulgaria
Enjoy the morning onboard ship, cruising the Black Sea’s west coast. Following the mid-day arrival in Nessebar, your afternoon walking tour will take you to the heart of Old Nessebar, one of Bulgaria’s most endearing towns and a World Heritage Site
. Marvel at the walls of the original Thracian fort and learn of the abundant churches representing the Byzantine Empire including Christ Pantokrator and St Paraskeva. Savor the charm of the small squares lined with 19th-century wood houses and admire the brilliant display of local icon paintings at the Archaeological Museum, illuminating the city’s Byzantine past. (B,L,D)October 18 — Istanbul, Turkey
Disembark Aegean Odyssey
this morning and transfer to Ataturk Airport for your flight home. (B).