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Voyages to Antiquity: The Black Sea, from Istanbul to Istanbul

Program Number: 19520RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/26/2015 - 5/11/2015; 9/1/2015 - 9/16/2015;
Duration: 15 nights
Location: Turkey/Georgia/Russia/Ukraine/Bulgaria
Price starting at: $5,895.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises
Meals: 40; 14 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 13 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt; Gluten Free    

Embark on a voyage that brings to life the intriguing history of the Black Sea. Begin and end in Istanbul, a city of spectacular architecture and mystical atmosphere. Sail to fascinating ports including Batumi, Georgia, celebrated for its lovely botanical gardens; Sochi, Russia, the elegant resort that hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics; and the beautiful, ancient port of Nessebur, Bulgaria.




Activity Particulars

Walking up and downhill, up to two miles per day. Standing up to four hours per day, with breaks; uneven terrain and steep stairs without railings at historic sites.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Istanbul (Turkey), 3 nights; aboard Aegean Odyssey, 11 nights.



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




Days 2-4: Arrival Istanbul (Turkey):

Discover the architectural treasures of Istanbul, including the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque. Explore the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar and enjoy a private boat excursion on the Bosphorus.
Lodging: Four-star hotel.



Days 5-6: Embark Aegean Odyssey / At Sea:

Voyage along the southern coast of the Black Sea and take part in onboard expert lectures.



Day 7: Trabzon:

Enjoy a field trip to the Sumela Monastery, a stunning Greek Orthodox monastery built into a sheer cliff face in the 4th century.



Day 8: Batumi (Georgia):

In this Georgian port city, walk through the seaside Batumi Botanical Gardens, containing over 1,000 varieties of roses and featuring beautiful views.



Day 9: Sochi (Russia):

Stroll through Riviera Park in this Russian seaside resort whose subtropical climate attracted Joseph Stalin, who built his favorite dacha there. Most recently, it hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics.



Day 10: Feodosiya (Ukraine):

Journey to the Genoese fortress at Sudak, a remarkably well-preserved citadel perched high on a clifftop protecting the town.



Day 11: Yalta:

Explore this elegant town that was once the summer residence of the tsars, including visits to Chekhov’s house-museum, Livadia Palace, the Swallow's Nest Castle, and the Vorontsov Palace.



Days 12-13: Sevastopol:

Delve into the story of the Crimean War at the Panorama Museum of Sevastopol. Go inside a Soviet nuclear submarine base known as the “fish’s nest.”



Day 14: Odessa:

An expert-led excursion in Odessa is highlighted by the neo-baroque Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater and the famous Potemkin Stairs.



Day 15: Nessebur (Bulgaria):

Explore Nessebur’s beautiful old town including the Byzantine-style Church of Christ Pantokrator and the Archaeological Museum.



Day 16: Istanbul / disembark / departure




Aegean Odyssey

The Aegean Odyssey is a premium class ship especially rebuilt to allow for a unique combination of ocean and river cruising, whether amongst the islands of the Mediterranean or on the great rivers of Asia. These journeys take you from uncrowded Mediterranean harbors to the African savannah, the Mughal monuments of India to the jungle temples of Southeast Asia. Public areas include Mediterranean-influenced restaurants, a library, Internet center, sweeping sun decks, outdoor pool, gym and spa.


Meals and Lodgings
   Armada Hotel
  Istanbul, Turkey 3 nights
   Aegean Odyssey
  Aegean Odyssey - At Sea, At Sea 11 nights
 Armada Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The 4-star Armada Hotel is located in the historic peninsula of Istanbul, with views of two of the great masterpieces of world architecture; the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The hotel offers modern comfort and convenience discreetly incorporated into the Turkish-inspired architecture, and period engravings throughout the hotel provide an insight into Istanbul's by-gone eras. The name of the Armada Hotel is a tribute to the memory of the renowned Ottoman Admiral Hayrettin Pasha Barbarossa. Located in the heart of the Old City, the hotel is within walking distance of museums, churches and other major attractions.
  Contact info: Ahirkapi Street 24
Sultanahmet
Istanbul,  34122 Turkey
phone: +90 212 455 44 55
web: www.armadahotel.com.tr
  Room amenities: Each room has a mini bar, hair dryer, bathrobes, telephone, LCD television, safe box, free wireless Internet, 24-hour room service and air conditioning.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers two restaurants, a bar, lounge, meeting rooms, business center with computers and printers, library, free WIFI Internet access throughout the hotel, laundry service and air conditioning. The rooftop restaurants offer magnificent views of the area.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. 1-800-241-1404
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Aegean Odyssey
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The Aegean Odyssey offers boutique-style cruising at its best. In contrast to the massive vessels cruising to and from major ports, it is a midsized ship adapted for island and coastal cruising. The Aegean Odyssey can visit smaller, less crowded harbors and sail closer to the coast enabling you to really appreciate the magical views.
  Ship Information: Ship’s Tonnage: 11,563 Length: 461 feet Beam: 67 feet Draft: 20.5 feet Cruising Speed: 18 knots Passenger Decks: 7 Stabilizers: 2 Passenger Staterooms/Cabins: 198 Passengers – lower beds: 378 Classification: Lloyd’s Register Society London Ship’s Registration: Malta
  Contact info: Voyages to Antiquity
1800 SE 10th Avenue, Suite 230
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA
phone: 877-398-1460
web: www.voyagestoantiquity.com
  Room amenities: All cabins are equipped with a flat screen TV, air-conditioning, and personal safe. Particular importance is placed on the standard of bedding in cabins. Luxury bedding, including fine duvets, covers and sheets, ample soft pillows and quality towels can be expected. Also, shampoo, bath and shower gel, soap, and shower cap are provided. Your cabin steward is always available. Cabins and suites feature outlets with 220 voltage, using the “European” two round pin plug. Hair dryers are provided in your cabin and electric rollers, curling irons, electric shavers and other small appliances can be used in your cabin. For safety reasons, travel irons are not allowed.
  Facility amenities: Dining: Aegean Odyssey offers many dining facilities: The Marco Polo Restaurant is the ship's more formal restaurant, providing casual country-club elegance for lunch or dinner; The Terrace Cafe offers a combination of indoor and outdoor seating where you can indulge in breakfast, lunch and dinner from the grill or the sumptuous daily buffet. In the evenings, enjoy breathtaking views over dinner at Tapas on the Terrace. *There is a complimentary choice of wine, beer, or soft drinks with your evening meal. There will be a string trio, pianist and casual dancing before and after dinner. You may also wish to partake in afternoon tea, served in the Observation Lounge or enjoy an evening snack and cocktail, available in the Lido and Rendezvous bars. A limited room service menu is available. Special Diets: Please advise us at the time of booking of any special dietary requirements. The ship can usually meet most general requests such as those made with an air carrier; however, this cannot always be guaranteed. Services: Library; outdoor pool; spa; health center, saunas, massage and beauty treatment rooms and early morning yoga on the Lido Deck; elevators; beauty salon; medical center; laundry and pressing services (order form and laundry bag is provided in cabin); lecture theater and cinema and on board shop. Internet: The Internet center (open 24 hours and a charge of $18 for 4 non-consecutive hours is applied, wireless available in reception area). PLEASE NOTE: Due to the nature of satellite connectivity on board a ship, the internet connection is slow, erratic and may be unavailable at times.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Istanbul, Turkey. Meet at 6:00 PM in the hotel lobby. You will be staying at Armada Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Istanbul, Turkey. Program ends after breakfast on the last day. You will be staying at Aegean Odyssey the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. The Voyages to Antiquity Guest Registration Form is required.
  Parking availability:
N/A
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Istanbul
  Nearest city or town:  In town
  Nearest airport:  Atatürk International Airport
  Transportation to site: The Armada Hotel is located about 10 miles from the airport. Taxi ride to the hotel from the airport costs approx. 45 Turkish Liras (approx. $30) and takes roughly 30 minutes. Alternatively, to book a private transfer ($65), please contact info@baltactours.com.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Aegean Odyssey - At Sea
  Transportation from site: The Aegean Odyssey will provide transfers to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST).
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
(Sunday, April 26)
   
 In Transit: Depart US/Canada on international overnight flight.

Day 2: Welcome
(Monday, April 27)
   
 Afternoon: Arrival at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport (IST). Meet group outside of customs. Transfer to the Armada Hotel. Welcome Orientation at 6:00 PM in hotel lobby.
 Dinner: Dinner in hotel dining room.
   
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Istanbul, Turkey
(Tuesday, April 28)

Note: The excursions in Istanbul involve significant walking -- up to five miles. As we will be visiting religious sites, please no shorts or sleeveless shirts. Ladies may be asked to cover their heads.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room.
 Morning: Start the day by visiting the amazing church of Hagia Sophia, possibly the most important architectural monument in the city, standing gracefully since 537 AD. Field trip to the Hippodrome, the civic center of ancient Constantinople, where chariot races were run between the four teams of Blues, Greens, Whites and Reds. Then visit the 17th century Blue Mosque, world renowned for its exquisite Iznik tiles surrounding the interior of this wonderful mosque.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon explore the beautiful Underground Cisterns, built by the illustrious Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 532 AD to store water underground. Visit the award winning Archaeology Museum to examine an outstanding collection of artifacts spanning across millennia including the magnificent Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
   
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Istanbul, Turkey
(Wednesday, April 29)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Start the day by exploring the opulent Topkapi Palace including the Imperial Harem. The Topkapi Palace was the seat of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years and a great testimony to the wealth and power of the Ottoman Empire.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon, visit the Chora Church/Kariye Museum to behold its exquisite mosaics and frescoes dating from the 14th century, a period of Byzantine reawakening in the arts.
 Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.
   
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Istanbul, Turkey - Embark the Aegean Odyssey
(Thursday, April 30)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: We embark on a private cruise on the Bosphorus to explore the stunning palaces, mansions, and fortresses dotted along the Asian and European shores of this marvelous strait. We visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque, built by the famous architect Sinan, a small but gem-like mosque demonstrating the most stunning examples of 16th century Iznik tiles.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Spend the rest of the day visiting the Spice Bazaar, where exotic aromas capture visitors upon entering, and the Grand Bazaar with its maze-like streets and alleys and 4,000 shops! Embark the Aegean Odyssey in the late afternoon and depart for Trabzon. Late afternoon Road Scholar orientation to the ship in the "Observation Lounge."
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Cruising the Southern Coast of the Black Sea
(Friday, May 1)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: At sea. Treat yourself to one of many spa services offered by the ship. Attend a lecture given by a shipboard guest speaker.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: At sea. Enjoy the Observation Deck if the weather is nice, or dive into a good book from the ship's library as the ship makes it way to Trabzon. Attend a talk by your Road Scholar Group Leader.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Trabzon, Turkey
(Saturday, May 2)

Note: Heavy walking for one or more hours over uneven terrain, with multiple uphill segments.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: A full-day in Trabzon. This morning's field trip will take us to the Sumela monastery. Built high in the mountains in the 4th century, the monastery is a place of astounding natural beauty.
 Lunch: Road Scholar lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, take a coach to Findikli, a small mountain village outside of Trabzon, whose name means "the village with hazelnuts." Travel to a local villa where we will visit the local mosque, meet the imam of the mosque and the mayor of the village, and share tea and coffee with the locals at a coffeehouse. There will be time for a discussion about life in this small Turkish village where hazelnuts are harvested. Return to Trabzon for some free time before re-embarking the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure for Batumi. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Batumi, Georgia
(Sunday, May 3)

Note: The excursion in Batumi involves strenuous walking.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Founded as a Greek trading colony in the 2nd century BC, Batumi is situated in a charming natural harbor. This morning we will visit the Botanical Gardens, covering 280 acres and containing over 5,000 plant species. Following exploration of the gardens return to port for a walk around the city, including the impressive Piazza Square.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: A free afternoon to explore Batumi. You may wish to visit the vibrant market or the Ethnographic Museum.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure for Sochi. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Sochi, Russia
(Monday, May 4)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: A short drive through the picturesque tree-lined streets of Sochi brings you to the heart of this fashionable resort city, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Walk along the popular seaside promenade, and then take a field trip to Stalin's summer villa.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: At sea. In the afternoon, we depart for Feodosiya, Ukraine. Attend a talk by your Road Scholar Group Leader.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Feodosiya, Ukraine
(Tuesday, May 5)

Note: This day includes heavy walking for one or more hours over uneven terrain with multiple uphill segments.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: A little less than two hours’ drive from Feodosiya is the Genoese fortress at Sudak, the destination of this morning’s field trip. Built in the 14th and 15th centuries and perched high on a cliff-top, this massive citadel is a truly remarkable site.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: A free afternoon to explore the resort town of Feodosiya.
 Dinner: Dinner on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Evening: A late evening departure for Yalta. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Yalta, Ukraine
(Wednesday, May 6)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: There is much to enjoy in this elegant town that was once the summer residence of the Russian royal family. This morning we will visit the Chekov House & Museum where the famous Russian author sought refuge from tuberculosis. From here, it is a short drive to Livadia Palace. Built as a summer residence for Tsar Nicholas II in 1911, the palace was the site of the historic Yalta Conference of 1945 between the 'Big Three' allied powers represented by Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore Yalta -- enjoy a stroll along its beautiful promenade.
 Dinner: Dinner on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Sevastopol, Ukraine
(Thursday, May 7)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Begin the day at the Panorama Museum, where a circular painting is augmented by displays that tell the story of the 349-day siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War. Then drive out of the city to Balaklava visiting the "Valley of Death," site of the Charge of the Light Brigade.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Enjoy a free afternoon in Sevastopol. Stroll along the avenues and boulevards encircling the Central Hill, under the famous Sevastopol chestnut trees, ending at the waterfront Marine Boulevard.
 Dinner: Dinner on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Evening: The ship will overnight in Sevastopol. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Sevastopol, Ukraine
(Friday, May 8)

Note: Some uneven surfaces. Hats, sun block and walking shoes recommended. Temperatures inside the Balaklava Harbor museum can be cool, so consider a sweater or jacket.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: It is a short drive from port to Balaklava Harbor. Here you will visit the Naval Museum, which was once a Soviet nuclear submarine base. Known as the "fish's nest," this is housed in a natural underwater cave and harbor protected by massive nuclear-blast proof doors.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or explore local fare on your own.
 Afternoon: Free time to explore Sevastopol on your own.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure to Odessa. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Odessa, Ukraine
(Saturday, May 9)

Note: Please dress respectfully entering the cathedral. Women are asked to cover heads. No shorts for men. Photos and video are not allowed inside the Cathedral.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: This morning's excursion in Odessa will begin at Catherine Square and take you along Prymorsky Boulevard starting from the Potemkin Steps and the monument to the Duke de Richelieu - the town’s first mayor - who wanted to make the city as beautiful as his native Paris. Enjoy a guided visit inside the stunning Opera House followed by a short drive to City Garden and a stop at the Preobrazhensky - or 'Transfiguration' - Cathedral.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to enjoy the wonderful amenities onboard as the ship sails towards Nessebur.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Nessebur, Bulgaria
(Sunday, May 10)

Note: Extensive walking, some uneven terrain and 70 steps. Most sites are not accessible by wheelchair.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Sailing toward Nessebur.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: A lunchtime arrival in Nessebur allows us an afternoon to explore the sites of this beautiful old town including the Byzantine-style Church of Christ Pantokrator, the 5th-century Old Metropolitan Church, and the Archaeological Museum. Following the field trip, there will be some free time to meander through the town's quaint maze of cobblestone streets.
 Dinner: Farewell Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure for Istanbul. Free time to prepare belongings for departure.
   
Accommodations: Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Istanbul, Turkey / Departures
(Monday, May 11)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Disembark and transfer to Istanbul's Ataturk Airport (IST) for departures.
   
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.


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