23513
Turkey/Ukraine/Romania/Bulgaria

Odyssey at Sea: The Best of the Black Sea

Embark on an epic adventure aboard our first-ever floating campus, delving into the storied past of the Black Sea as you explore Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine.
Program No. 23513RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
3,999
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
FREE

At a Glance

Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine — history-rich countries on the shores of the Black Sea. Beyond the spectacular coastline of each lurks Cold War mysteries and stories untold, and you’ll dive into their thrilling, hypnotic past with a local expert on an epic learning adventure aboard our first-ever floating campus, the Aegean Odyssey! Unlike most cruise ships that are briefly in port, you’ll have overnight stays in many locations, giving you plenty of opportunity for deeper exploration. Make history with us and come aboard for our inaugural season!

For an easy travel experience...

We offer extra hotel nights before or after this program.

Odyssey at Sea: Lodging in Istanbul

Experience the lively streets and vast history of Istanbul on an independent exploration with a one-night stay in the heart of the city before your Odyssey at Sea voyage.
Activity Level
Choose Your Pace
This program offers two activity levels to choose from on every departure date: one that has less walking and fewer stairs and another at a more active pace.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Discover two Istanbul gems with a local expert, the breathtaking Church of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
  • Explore the highlights of Odessa including a visit to the Shustov cognac factory, complete with a special tasting.
  • Set off on a field trip to Varna’s Archeology Museum, home to the world’s oldest manufactured gold.
  • Sail exclusively with ship mates who are all Road Scholar participants, as dedicated to learning as you are.

General Notes

We’ll have up to 350 Road Scholar participants on the ship, divided into groups of 35 for shore excursions. Please note roommate matching is available in categories F, H and L. Give us a call to combine this learning adventure with select dates of "Odyssey at Sea: The Greek Isles, Ephesus & Istanbul" (#23587) for even more learning adventures on board the Aegean Odyssey.
Featured Expert
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Nigel West
Nigel West is a military historian specializing in intelligence and security issues. In 1989, he was voted The Experts' Expert by a panel of spy writers. He is the European Editor of the Washington D.C.-based International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence and a lecturer at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies in Alexandria, Va. In 2003, he was awarded the U.S. Association of Former Intelligence Officers’ first Lifetime Literature Achievement Award.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Nigel West
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Black Sea
by Neal Ascherson
In this skillful regional portrait, Ascherson weaves his own travels and impressions with a fascinating account of the Black Sea's history. From ancient mythology to modern politics, he admirably never loses sight of the sea itself.
Harem - The World Behind the Veil
by Alev Lytle Croutier
The author left Turkey at age 18 for the US, returning 15 years later to visit her birthplace and family. Intrigued upon learning that her grandmother had lived in a harem, she interviewed aunts and other family members about their recollections. About that same time (mid 1970’s) the Harem of Topkapi Palace was opened to visitors. With thoughtful research and richly illustrated, Croutier pieces together a realistic description of daily life in the Sultan’s Harem. Her fascinating insights into customs, food and ceremony of the Palace through 450 hundred years, make this an enjoyable read. The addition of family photographs and an amusing chapter about Western misconceptions of the term “harem” sets this work apart from all other books of its kind.
Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey
by Anastasia M. Ashman, Jennifer Eaton Gokmen
As the Western world struggles to comprehend the paradoxes of modern Turkey, Tales from the Expat Harem reveals its most personal nuances. This illuminating anthology provides a window into the country from the perspective of thirty-two expatriates from seven different nations—artists, entrepreneurs, Peace Corps volunteers, archaeologists, missionaries, and others—who established lives in Turkey for work, love, or adventure. Through narrative essays covering the last four decades, these diverse women unveil the mystique of the “Orient,” describe religious conflict, embrace cultural discovery, and maneuver familial traditions, customs, and responsibilities. Poignant, humorous, and transcendent, the essays take readers to weddings and workplaces, down cobbled Byzantine streets, into boisterous bazaars along the Silk Road, and deep into the feminine stronghold of steamy Ottoman bathhouses. The outcome is a stunning collection of voices from women suspended between two homes as they redefine their identities and reshape their world views.
Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds
by Stephen Kinzer
A passionate love for the Turkish people and an optimism that its ruling class can complete Turkey's transformation into a Western-style democracy mark Kinzer's reflections on a country that sits geographically and culturally at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Kinzer, the former New York Times Istanbul bureau chief, gives a concise introduction to Turkey: Kemal Ataterk's post-WWI establishment of the modern secular Turkish state; the odd makeup of contemporary society, in which the military enforces Ataterk's reforms. In stylized but substantive prose, he devotes chapters to the problems he sees plaguing Turkish society: Islamic fundamentalism, frictions regarding the large Kurdish minority and the lack of democratic freedoms. Kinzer's commonsense, if naeve, solution: the ruling military elite, which takes power when it feels Turkey is threatened, must follow the modernizing path of Ataterk whom Kinzer obviously admires a step further and increase human rights and press freedoms. Kinzer's journalistic eye serves him well as he goes beyond the political, vividly describing, for instance, the importance and allure of the narghile salon, where Turks smoke water pipes. Here, as elsewhere, Kinzer drops his journalist veneer and gets personal, explaining that he enjoys the salons in part "because the sensation of smoking a water pipe is so seductive and satisfying." Readers who want a one-volume guide to this fascinating country need look no further.
Constantinople; City of the World’s Desire, 1453-1924
by Philip Mansel
Mansel is a noted historian and author of several works about the Sultans and the Ottoman World. This book focuses on the political and architectural history of the capital Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) and covers the span of the Ottoman empire. The book ends on November 17, 1922 when the last Sultan and a small party slipped out of Palace at 8 AM and scrambled aboard a British naval ship that hauled anchor for Malta at 8:43 AM. A fine work, lots of detail, very readable and helpful in sorting out the complexities of 600 years of Ottoman power.
All Rivers Run to the Sea
by Elie Wiesel
Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel recounts his remarkable life, from his childhood in Romania to the horrors of Auschwitz, his days as a young writer in post-war France and New York and his many pilgrimages to Israel.
Eyewitness Guide Turkey
by Eyewitness Guides
Gorgeously illustrated and filled with excellent maps, this compact book is a thorough overview of Turkey, its history, traditions, cultures and sights. With hundreds of color photographs and illustrations.
Mediterranean Cruises Map
by Freytag & Berndt
A double-sided, full-color map of the Mediterranean, including the Iberian Peninsula, the Black Sea, North Africa and the Levant, at a scale of 1:2,000,000.
Istanbul: The Imperial City
by John Freely
Whether you call it Byzantium, Constantinople, or Istanbul, the “old Turkish hand” John Freely tells the story of each creation and decline up to today’s Istanbul under the Turkish Republic. Spirited and colorful, Freely gives his readers a lively account of the turmoil each incarnation brought. In addition to “page turning history”, Freely gives a complete listing of monuments & museums in the city - he has lived there for decades. This is the one to read on Istanbul if you have a short list of books and limited time to get into its history.
Romania, An Illustrated History
by Nicolae Klepper
An illustrated primer on Romania's eventful history, from the bronze age to the period of the Dacians before and during Roman rule, the principalities from the 14th century until 1821 and modern times.
Ataturk: A biography of Mustafa Kemal - Father of Modern Turkey
by Lord Kinross
Kinross tells the story of Ataturk in such an engaging way that you stay glued to the page. Beginning with his birth in 1881 in Salonika, Greece, during the usual Balkan struggles, the book traces his youth through his early education and military service. Along the way Kinross reveals the experiences that formed Ataturk’s rebel spirit, leads you through the evolution of his hatred for the rich, the corrupt, and the abusive religious and political classes. He takes you onto the battlefield where Ataturk’s leadership and inspiration routs the Greeks who invaded Turkey in the aftermath of W.W.I. Kinross takes you step by step through the formation of a new, secular Republic, free of domination by Sultans, Moslem Caliphs or foreign countries, and describes how Turkey secured a place among nations. You’ll learn of Ataturk’s commitment to equality for all people, men and women alike, and how he lead the new Turkish nation westward by adopting the western alphabet overnight, creating a new Turkish language, and provided free education for all. A “must read” in order to understand present-day Turkey’s struggle to maintain the secular principles Ataturk established.
The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution
by Marci Shore
Exploring the winter of 2013-2014 this intimate book gives a first hand look at the Ukrainian Revolution. Collections of true stories from soldiers who fought to children who lived through it, Shore looks to the past to understand the revolution and also the future as they had hoped to make it.
A Short History Of Byzantium
by John Julius Norwich
No time to wade, albeit enjoyably, through his three volume Byzantium series? This recent edition is based on his Byzantium trilogy and is equally as intelligent and inspired. Norwich is, as always, ever entertaining and engaging about this subject. An efficient read without loss of style or spirit. If you can’t manage three volumes right now, this one is for you.
The Turkish Letters of Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, Imperial Ambassador at Constantinople, 1554-1562
by Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq
The Flemish nobleman wrote his Letters while on an ambassadorial mission to Istanbul between 1554 and 1562, making him a brilliant eye-witness of the Ottoman state at its height, under Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Busbecq was a botanist, linguist, antiquarian, scholar and zoologist; he brought back lilac and the tulip.
The Museum of Abandoned Secrets
by Oksana Zabuzhko
Following 60 years of Ukrainian history, Zabuzhko weaves a dramatic tale of multiple generations and the secrets that refused to remain hidden. Though fiction, the story helps those who read it better understand the dim days of World War II up until the eve of the Orange Revolution.
Bury Me Standing
by Isabel Fonseca
This marvelous portrait of the Roma, also known as the Gypsies, offers insight into their music, foods, religions and folk traditions and also examines their influential but complex relationship with Eastern Europe.
My Name Is Red
by Orhan Pamuk
A dead man, a dog, a murderer, a coin, two lovers, and a tree take turns narrating this tale, which is Pamuk's follow-up to the well-reviewed but little read The New Life (1997). Set in sixteenth-century Istanbul, the novel is equal parts mystery, love story, and a philosophical discussion on the nature of art and artistic vision. Two men have been killed: Elegant, a miniaturist engaged (with others) on a book project glorifying the life of the sultan, and Enishte, the man who hired the artists to do the book. During a trip to Venice, Enishte became particularly entranced with the new Italian painting, particularly its use of perspective and figurative art. He urged his employees to adapt the new art form in their illustrations of the grand book they are producing. Black, Enishte's nephew, wants to win the hand of Enishte's daughter, Shekure, which he can only do by solving the murders. This intellectual mystery will appeal to fans of Eco, Pears, and Perez-Reverte.





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