Explore the historic town of Amasya where Pontic tombs honeycomb the mountains and fine classical Ottoman buildings line the riverbanks. Enjoy energetic and colorful dance and music performances and sample a variety of delicious local cuisines. As we circumnavigate this historic body of water, expert lecturers and local guides will put this complex region into context for us, touching on the vastly different countries and cultures that have coexisted around its shores for millennia.
- Pricing from
- Trip Type
- Group Travel Tour, International Ocean & Sea Voyages
- Departure Dates
Oct 1, 2021 - Oct 12, 2021
Originally built in 1992 and refurbished and redecorated in 2010, the Island Sky accommodates all guests in 57 outside suites, each with sea views, a sitting room area, flatscreen TV, safe, mini-refrigerator, and an en suite, marble-appointed bathroom with robe, slippers, and hairdryer. Several suites have private balconies. Spacious and finely decorated public areas include a large lounge and elegant bar and a library. The dining room accommodates everyone at one seating, and house wine, beer, and soft drinks are included at lunch and dinner. Wi-fi access is available throughout the vessel (at additional cost and dependent upon satellite reception). The ship amenities also include a hair dresser, onboard clinic and doctor, elevator serving all passenger decks, top deck with Jacuzzi, and rear sun deck with a bar. The Island Sky is served by 75 experienced officers and crew.
Optional Pre-Tour Extension in Istanbul
September 28–October 2
Spend three days exploring the exceptional treasures of Istanbul, including the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, popularly known as the Blue Mosque; Chora Church, a Byzantine marvel of fine mosaics and frescoes; Topkapi Palace, an opulent royal enclave; and the delightful Grand Bazaar.
$1,000 per person deposit, all reservations are subject to the cancellation provisions set forth below and by which the passenger agrees to be bound. Cancellations shall not be in effect until they are received in writing and confirmed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Payments are 100% refundable if written notice of cancellation is received before June 28, 2021. Cancellations after June 28, 2021: All payments are 100% nonrefundable, regardless of booking date. Trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended. NOTE: Neither the National Trust for Historic Preservation nor Criterion Travel, the tour operator, accepts liability for any airline cancellation penalties incurred with the purchase of non-refundable tickets.
day 1 & 2
Home / Istanbul, Turkey
Depart home on an overnight flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival, transfer to the Island Sky for a welcome orientation and reception while cruising the Bosphorus Strait.
Relax aboard ship as the Island Sky cruises along Turkey’s coastline. Enjoy the beginning of the lecture program.
Samsun / Amasya
Dock in Samsun, where Ataturk orchestrated the birth of the new Turkish republic in the 1920s. Travel to Amasya, the former capital of the ancient Pontic Kingdom and a treasure of rock-hewn tombs, classical wooden mansions, and Seljuk and Ottoman monuments.
Upon arrival in Trabzon, travel to the spectacularly situated Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Virgin Mary (Sumela Monastery) in the Pontic Mountains. View the monastery’s colorful frescoes, some dating from the 9th century. Enjoy free time for an independent exploration before returning to the ship.
Batumi, a seaport on the Black Sea coast of Georgia, lies at the northern edge of the humid subtropical zone. This afternoon, visit the Batumi Botanical Garden, which overlooks the Black Sea and is one of the richest botanical gardens in the world. Admire lush plantings from nine different floristic sectors, from the Caucasus to Australasia, the Himalayas to the Mediterranean. Enjoy dinner off the ship and a performance by a noted Georgian folk dance ensemble.
Take an early morning charter flight from Batumi to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. On arrival explore the 4th-century Narikala Fortress, which dominates the Old Town skyline; Abanotubani, the historic bath house district; and the city’s churches and Eastern Orthodox cathedral. Return to Batumi for dinner on board.
Tour the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics and discover the Russian Riviera for Stalin’s Dacha and Matsesta Bathhouse.
The onboard lecture series continues as the ship cruises to Odessa.
Odessa is a city of resplendent mansions and fine old churches. Disembark this afternoon for a city tour and visit to the holocaust memorial and the Potemkin Steps, famously depicted in Sergei Eisenstein’s classic 1925 silent film Battleship Potemkin. Tour the stunning Hapsburg-style opera house and delight in the enchanting singing of the Eastern Orthodox Uspensky Cathedral choir.
Monday, October 11
Arrive in Varna, the largest city and resort on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, for an afternoon of exploration. Marvel at the world-class collection of Scythian gold from the 5th millennium B.C.E. at the archaeological museum, visit the imposing domed Cathedral of the Assumption, and enjoy an a cappella choir performance. Celebrate your Black Sea voyage at a festive farewell reception and dinner on board.
Istanbul / Home
Disembark and transfer to Istanbul airport for flights home.
Everything you need to know about the tour
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