Road Scholar : Home
Emperor, Caesar, Sultan, Tsar: Empires of the Black Sea Aboard Minerva

Program Number: 21636RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/25/2015 - 5/11/2015;
Duration: 16 nights
Location: Turkey/Georgia/Ukraine/Bulgaria
Price starting at: $4,449.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 43; 15 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 15 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

From Alexander and the Byzantine Empire to the Ottomans and Peter the Great, the lands surrounding the Black Sea have been conquered and reconquered by history’s greatest imperial powers. The result is a culturally complex region of countless languages and lavish artistic traditions. On this Black Sea voyage, go ashore with leading scholars to experience the richness of these interlocking histories and cultures.




Activity Particulars

Walking up to two hours on varied terrain, steps without rails, steep gradients. The ship and hotel have elevators. Stairs may be difficult to avoid on excursions.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Athens (Greece), 1 night; aboard Minerva, 15 nights.



Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.


Days 2-4: Arrival Athens (Greece) / embark Minerva:

Visit the Acropolis of Athens and the Acropolis Museum, offering excellent collections in a state-of-the-art exhibition space. Lodging: Four-star hotel.



Day 5: Canakkale (Turkey):

Discover the remains of Troy, fabled site of the Trojan War.



Days 6-7: At Sea / Sinop:

Admire the Byzantine-era city walls of Sinop and pay a visit to the 13th-century Alaeddin Mosque.



Day 8: Trabzon:

Enjoy a spectacular drive up through the steep forests of the Pontic Alps to the ruins of Sumela Monastery, founded in the fourth century.



Day 9: Batumi (Georgia):

Visit the ancient fortress at Gonio and explore highlights of the State Museum of Achara, one of the oldest research institutions in Georgia.



Days 10-11: At Sea / Yalta (Ukraine):

Walk in the footsteps of the tsars at Yalta’s Livadia Palace, the venue of the historic 1945 conference of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin.



Day 12: Sevastopol:

View the entrance to the harbor from atop the newly completed, 130-foot Monument to Marine and Soldier. Visit the gold-domed Vladimirsky Cathedral.



Days 13-14: Odessa / At Sea:

Walk along Primorsky Boulevard overlooking Odessa’s iconic Potemkin Steps to the Archaeological Museum, and admire the Opera House.



Day 15: Nessebur (Bulgaria):

Discover this important Byzantine town and examine its charming 19th-century wooden houses.



Days 16-18: Istanbul (Turkey) / disembark / departure:

Explore Old Istanbul, center of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, and visit the Hagia Sophia, the famed Blue Mosque and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.



MV Minerva

This stylish, newly upgraded vessel is operated by a long-established British company and boasts a loyal following of British travelers. It offers its 350 passengers two restaurants plus al fresco dining, a cinema, two bars, a library/card room, a swimming pool, a gym and a sauna. The spectacular Orpheus Lounge provides panoramic views of your surroundings.


Meals and Lodgings
   Titania Hotel
  Athens, Greece 1 night
   MV Minerva
  Aboard the MV Minerva, UK:England 14 nights
 Titania Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: This classically designed modern hotel is an urban oasis conveniently nestled in the historic and commercial center of Athens, between Syntagma and Omonia, the city's major squares. Reflecting the ancient atmosphere of its location, the hotel features a typically decorated interior with traditional touches that evoke images of the city’s historic heritage. There are also artistic antique-style elements which decorate the rooms, creating the perfect atmosphere for your stay in this wonderful city.
  Contact info: Panepistimiou 52
Athens,  106 78 Greece
phone: +00302103326000
web: www.titania.gr
  Room amenities: Guestrooms feature satellite television with pay movies, refrigerators, and minibars. Bathrooms include bathroom phones, hair dryers, and bathtubs. Other amenities include complimentary newspapers, air conditioning, housekeeping and wake-up calls.
  Facility amenities: Titania Hotel features a restaurant, serving breakfast only. A complimentary breakfast is served each morning. The property provides 24-hour room service. Meeting facilities include conference rooms, exhibit space, banquet facilities, and meeting rooms for small groups. Titania Hotel also offers a bar/lounge, a business center, and a coffee shop/café. The property has a 24-hour front desk.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBD Please contact your program provider for details.

 MV Minerva
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: No matter which corner of the globe you choose to discover, after exploring ashore, you will always appreciate Minerva’s stately comforts: a relaxed lounge with entertainment, well-stocked library, restaurants, gym, Wheeler bar and Shackleton's bar. An elegant environment in which polished wood and gleaming brass are complemented by works of art and fresh flowers. With over 50 years experience in discovery cruising, Swan Hellenic knows all the ingredients for the perfect cruise. From the on board environment to inspiring itineraries, and from our knowledgeable reservations team to our European ship's officers and attentive crew, we are committed to providing you with the ultimate discovery cruise experience. You will travel with like-minded people and as you share the experiences of your voyage, you may find acquaintances turn into lasting friendships. Your cruise will be further enriched by the presence of distinguished speakers drawn from the academic, diplomatic and media worlds. Their presentations and the more informal conversations you can enjoy in the Darwin Lounge will really bring our destinations to life.
  Ship Information: Gross Tonnage - 12,449 Length - 437 ft Beam - 66 ft Draft - 19 ft Cruising Speed - 14 knots Passenger Decks - 6 Stabilisers - retractable fin Registration - Bahamas Passengers - 350 Crew - 160; mainly Filipino and Ukrainian Officers - British and European Entered Service - 29th April 1996
  Contact info: Swan Hellenic - North America
1800 S.E. 10th Avenue, Suite 205
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA
phone: 866-923-9182
web: us.swanhellenic.com/homeus.html
  Room amenities: TV, Hairdryer and Personal Safe in Every Cabin
  Facility amenities: Facilities include: 44 Balcony cabins 100 Outside cabins (74% outside cabins including 23% balcony cabins) 2 Restaurants Orpheus Lounge Internet Lounge Livingstone Lounge Darwin Lounge Shackleton & Wheeler Bars Cinema Library/Card Room Boutique and Gift Shop Swimming Pool Gymnasium, Sauna and Spa Services Complimentary Launderette with Washers and Dryers Beauty Salon Medical Centre Telephone, Fax and E-mail Facilities
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program begins at 6:00 pm on Day 2 at the program hotel in Athens You will be staying at Titania Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
This program ends after breakfast on board the MV Minerva. You will be staying at MV Minerva the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. **IMPORTANT: REGISTERING FOR YOUR CRUISE ONLINE** Swan Hellenic requires all guests to register online prior to sailing. They will ask you to provide full passport details, including address and telephone number. They also require next of kin contact information in case of an emergency. This information must be received no later than 60 days prior to departure. Passengers must visit the website at www.swanhellenic.com - click on "Already Booked" then "Required Passenger Information" to enter your details. The embarkation date is the date you board the ship. Furnished data will be provided to foreign government immigration officials and is required for on-board administration. PLEASE NOTE: Your cruise documents will not be issued prior to your online registration, and embarkation onto the ship may be denied. If you did not receive a booking number or if you need assistance registering online, please contact our program department at 1.866.359.5966 and someone will assist you.
  Parking availability:
We do not recommend driving to the site
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Train/Bus not recommended
To Start of Program
  Location:  Athens
  Transportation to site: All participants who purchase their air travel through Road Scholar Travel Services will be provided with a transfer from the airport in Athens to the program hotel. If you did not purchase your air travel through Road Scholar, you may join the desginated group transfer as long as your flight arrives at the same time or before the group flight. The designated group transfer time will be sent with your final program materials, approximately 5 weeks prior to the start of your program. Please try to arrive by 4:00pm, so you join the Program Orientation and Welcome Dinner.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Aboard the MV Minerva
  Transportation from site: All participants who arranged their air travel through Road Scholar will be transfer from the ship to the airport in Istanbul at the end of the program. If you did not purchase your air through Road Scholar, you may join the designated group transfer as long as your flight departs at the same time or after the group flight. The designated group transfer time will be sent with your final program materials, approximately 5 weeks prior to the start of your program.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures from North America
(Saturday, April 25)
   
 Arrive To: Flights depart North America.

Day 2: Arrive in Athens, Greece
(Sunday, April 26)
   
 Arrive To: Flights arrive in Athens, Greece.
 Afternoon: Check in at your hotel and take the afternoon to unpack and relax. In the early evening you will meet with your group for introductions, a review of the program itinerary and site orientation.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.
   
Accommodations: Titania Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Athens, Greece
(Monday, April 27)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Visit the Acropolis of Athens, one of the earliest settlements in Greece. From the 5th century BC, the acropolis has been dominated by the elegantly beautiful Parthenon, the largest Doric temple in the country.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Enjoy some free time in Athens before transferring to Piraeus embark the Minerva.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Athens, Greece
(Tuesday, April 28)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship. Breakfast - with a wide range of options - can be enjoyed in the Swan Restaurant, the Veranda or out on the open deck around the pool. Morning coffee and pastries are served in the Veranda and afternoon tea in the Swan Restaurant. Both restaurants offer the same wide choice of menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
 Morning: Today you will get a different perspective of the Acropolis at the Acropolis Museum. The museum offers some excellent collections in a state-of-the-art exhibition space measuring some 14,000 square meters (which is over 10 times larger than the original museum on the hill of the Acropolis). Glimpse the slopes of the Acropolis through occasional glass panels in the floor and view objects found from the sanctuaries on the slopes. View exhibits from the Archaic period, throughout the 7th century BC until the end of the Persian Wars (480/79 BC), as well as the Parthenon Gallery where you can enjoy a video presentation on the Parthenon. Among many other exhibits, you can also view the coffered ceiling of the Propylaia and sculpture from the parapet of the Temple of Athena Nike during your guided visit.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure. Minerva is scheduled to depart Piraeus at 13:30
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Canakkale, Turkey
(Wednesday, April 29)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Discover the remains of Troy, fabled site of the Trojan War – and today one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. Excavations have revealed nine layers of settlement, covering some 4,000 years of history with a few of the ancient walls still standing. You’ll also visit the Çanakkale Archaeological Museum, housing artefacts discovered in the region.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure. Minerva is scheduled to depart at 18:00
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: At Sea
(Thursday, April 30)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Relax on board the ship. On board presentations from the shipboard lecturers will offer an in-depth look at the locations you will be visiting.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Continue cruising. Enjoy on board presentations and other shipboard activities.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Sinop, Turkey
(Friday, May 1)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Admire the impressive city walls, mostly dating from Byzantine/Genoese times and, if you wish, walk up 57 fairly steep steps for superb views over Sinop and its fine harbour. Your walk will include a guided visit to the prison, almost 800 years old, and the unusual 13th century Alaeddin Mosque, the oldest in the city.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure. Minerva is scheduled to depart Sinop at 14:00.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Trabzon, Turkey
(Saturday, May 2)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Enjoy a spectacular drive up through the steep forests of the Pontic Alps to the ruins of Sumela Monastery, seemingly embedded into soaring cliffs. Sumela was founded in the 4th century when an icon of the Virgin Mary was taken there and the monastery, which grew around the shrine, gained increasing importance over the centuries until being abandoned in 1923. During your visit you’ll be able to enjoy both the beautiful frescoes and the monastery’s stunning location.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure. Minerva is scheduled to depart at 19:00.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Batumi, Georgia
(Sunday, May 3)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship.
 Morning: Visit the ancient fortress at Gonio, a city founded in the 2nd century BC at a strategic point on the crossroads from the west to the Caucasus. A short drive will take you to see some of the highlights of the State Museum of Achara, one of the oldest research institutions in Georgia. There are more than 1,000 exhibits here, with archaeological artifacts found in the area including samples from the ‘Gonio Treasury’ and displays of ethnographic exhibits. Drive to Primorsky Boulevard for a short walk and a photo stop before returning to Minerva.
 Lunch: Return to the ship for lunch. Lunch is served in the Swan Restaurant or the Veranda.
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure. Minerva is scheduled depart at 22:00.
 Dinner: Group dinner on board the ship.
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: At Sea
(Monday, May 4)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Relax on board the ship. On board presentations from the shipboard lecturers will offer an in-depth look at the locations you will be visiting.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Continue cruising. Enjoy on board presentations and other shipboard activities.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Yalta, Ukraine
(Tuesday, May 5)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Enjoy walking in the footsteps of the Tsars as you stroll through Livadia Palace, Tsar Nicholas II’s summer residence and the venue of the historic 1945 conference between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. There will then be a brief stop at the observation platform overlooking the dramatically sited Swallow’s Nest before you visit Alupka Palace, an imposing mansion built by Count Vorontsov in the 1830s with stunning interiors and beautiful grounds overlooking the Black Sea. Visit the Palace and enjoy a stroll through the park which has many species of cedar, pine and oak trees. Enjoy fine views up to the Ai Petri Mountains before returning to Minerva
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Minerva is scheduled to depart at 23:00.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Sevastapol, Ukraine
(Wednesday, May 6)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: A short drive away is the impressive Monument to Marine and Soldier, 40 metre-high monument dedicated to the soldiers of World War II. Building commenced during the 80’s but was only completed in 2007. From the observation platform it is possible to view the entrance to Sevastopol harbour. The next stop is a visit to the gold domed Vladimirsky Cathedral. From the view point you can see landmarks such as the monument to Lenin. Continue to the magnificent Panorama, a vast circular canvas celebrating the defense of Sevastopol during the Crimean War, vividly recreates the fierce battle scenes; as an observer you feel you might almost be standing on Malakhov Hill. Drive to Nakhimov Square to view the Admiral Nakhimov Monument before a stroll to Grafskaya Quay and the Scuttled Ships Monument.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure. Minerva is scheduled to depart Sevastopol at 18:00.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Odessa, Ukraine
(Thursday, May 7)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: After a short transfer, begin your sightseeing with a walking tour along Primorsky Boulevard overlooking the iconic Potemkin Steps and passing the Pushkin Monument as well as City Hall, to the Archaeological Museum, which houses a collection of relics from ancient Greek and Roman settlements in the northern Black Sea area. After the museum visit you will view the Opera House exterior before rejoining your coach for a short transfer to the Preobrazhensky Cathedral, the largest Orthodox Church in the city, destroyed by Bolsheviks in the thirties, which has been newly restored. A sightseeing drive will introduce you to more of this city’s many attractions.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
 Evening: Minerva will remain in port overnight.
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Odessa, Ukraine / At Sea
(Friday, May 8)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Minerva is scheduled to depart Odessa at 7:00am. On board presentations from the shipboard lecturers will offer an in-depth look at the locations you will be visiting.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Continue cruising. Enjoy on board presentations and other shipboard activities.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Nessebur, Bulgaria
(Saturday, May 9)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Discover the fascinating town of Nessebur, built on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea that dates back more than 3,000 years. In the Middle Ages it was one of the most important Byzantine towns on the west coast of the Black Sea, as you will discover on your walking tour. Visit the town’s Museum of Art & History and the Church of St Stephen (also known as Novata Mitropolia or New Metropolitan Church) and view other Byzantine churches, including Archangels Michael & Gabriel and the ruined Church of St John Aliturgetos, overlooking the sea. You will also see the town’s 19th century wooden houses, typical architecture of the National Revival Period.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure. Minerva is scheduled to depart Nessebur at 18:00.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Istanbul, Turkey
(Sunday, May 10)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Explore the heart of Old Istanbul, centre of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, with a resulting mix of architectural styles and cultures. Visit Aghia Sophia, lavishly decorated with mosaics and Egyptian marble and for almost 1,000 years the largest enclosed space in the world; the famed Blue Mosque, whose domes and minarets dominate Istanbul; and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts to marvel at its superb collections, beautifully displayed.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the ship
 Afternoon: Afternoon at leisure.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship
 Evening: Minerva will remain in port overnight.
   
Accommodations: MV Minerva
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Istanbul - Departures
(Monday, May 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the ship
 Morning: Disembark the ship and transfer to the airport for your return flights.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.


As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.



Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:


© Road Scholar 2014 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768