Cruise to Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria aboard Le Bougainville

Overview

The fascinating lands ringing the legendary Black Sea—Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria—are an ancient crossroads of history, filled with the reminders of vanished civilizations, vibrant contemporary cultures, and a wealth of beautiful landscapes. Accompanied by an expert team of archaeologists and historians, embark aboard the newly-built 160-passenger Le Bougainville expedition vessel, to explore these fabled lands of minarets and monasteries. Your journey begins in Istanbul where you have your choice of tours including the Sultanahment district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll visit the ancient ruins of Georgia’s Gonio Fortress, dating back to the first century AD, explore the Potemkin Steps in Odessa, Ukraine, with its ornate 19th century architectural gems, cruise on the Danube River Delta, a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, and admire one of the largest Roman mosaic floors in Histria, Romania’s earliest-founded city.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary

Day 1, Jun 26, 2020
Depart

Board your overnight flight to Istanbul.

Days 2-3, Jun 27-28, 2020
Istanbul, Turkey

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

The next day choose from several tours that reveal the highlights of this legendary city, including the Sultanahmet district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All tours will include lunch, after which, there is leisure time to explore on your own. Return to the Pera Palace Hotel this evening for dinner and overnight.

Day 4, Jun 29, 2020
Istanbul / Embark Le Bougainville

After breakfast, several guided tours will be available, offering a more in-depth exploration of the city. Or, choose a morning at leisure with lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon, board Le Bougainville and cruise toward the Black Sea up the scenic Bosporus, a strait which runs through the center of Istanbul.

Day 5, Jun 30, 2020
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 6, Jul 1, 2020
Samsun / Amasya

From the port of Samsun, drive inland to Amasya, former capital of the kingdom of Pontus during the third century BC. Explore the photogenic alleys lined with 19th-century Ottoman-era houses, the ethnographic museum, and an Islamic seminary. Enjoy lunch overlooking the town and Pontic Tombs.

Day 7, Jul 2, 2020
Trabzon / Sumela

Ancient Greeks settled in Trabzon along a branch of the Silk Road from Asia. A highlight of our 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. Meet with a local expert who will share details on the extensive project to restore the magnificent interior frescoes to their former glory. Then take a stroll through this stunning alpine setting that 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 Trabzon.

Day 8, Jul 3, 2020
Batumi, Georgia

Today the ship docks in the charming port of Batumi. Visit the colorful farmers market and 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 AD. 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 9, Jul 4, 2020
Sochi, Russia

Today the ship docks in the charming port of Batumi. Visit the colorful farmers market and 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 AD. Return to Batumi for a dinner of regional delicacies and Georgian wines at a local restaurant, accompaniedThis Russian mineral-spring resort community with a sub-tropical 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.by a fantastic folk performance of traditional music and energetic dances.

Day 10, Jul 5, 2020
At Sea

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

Day 11, Jul 6, 2020
Odessa, Ukraine

Odessa’s European-Russian heritage is evident as we 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. We also 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 12, Jul 7, 2020
Danube River Delta, Romania

The Danube is Europe’s second longest river as well as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Take a walking tour of the small port of Tulcea and visit the Danube Canal Museum and Danube Ecologic Museum. Then, 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.

Day 13, Jul 8, 2020
Histria / Constanta

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. We walk through fascinating seaside ruins, tour the new museum, and spot birds in this wetland environment. Next we explore Constanta where we 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 14, Jul 9, 2020
Varna, Bulgaria

The modern port city of Varna was once the Greek colony known as Odessos. We 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. We also explore the extensive remains of the 2nd-century Roman thermae, or public baths, which make up the largest Roman ruins in Bulgaria.  Or take a tour of the Balchik Botanical Gardens and Aladzha Rock Monastery. Reboard the ship for lunch as we sail toward Turkey.

Day 15, Jul 10, 2020
Istanbul, Turkey / Disembark

Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport for homeward flights.

Highlights

Highlights

Choose from several tours highlighting Istanbul's wealth of historic sites and architectural treasures
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
Wander through a wealth of well-preserved Ottoman architecture in Safranbolu

Details

Length: 15 days
Cost From: $16,180  
Arrive: Istanbul, Turkey
Depart: Istanbul, Turkey
Lodging: 11 nights aboard a 160-passenger expedition vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Walking, Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Small Ship Cruising, Wildlife & Natural History, Special Interest, Photography
Trip Level:

13-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours
Cruise collection 2020 brochure

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