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
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
12 days
11 nights
28 meals
10 B 8 L 10 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Istanbul, Transfer to Hotel, Orientation
Istanbul
D
Marmara Taksim

Activity note: Istanbul International Airport (IST). Refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information. Transfer to your hotel. Check-in begins at 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After checking in at the hotel and getting your room, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room, have what you like from the dinner buffet with beverage choices of wine, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check-out in the morning.

DAY
3
Istanbul, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Embark Aegean Odyssey
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking about 1 mile including ship and port corridors and gangways; further walking of about 2 miles; steps at church and mosque; standing up to 2 hours.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we'll board a motorcoach for our Istanbul field trip, beginning with Hagia Sophia — Holy Wisdom — one of the world’s great historical and architectural wonders. It was built from 527-565 CE during the reign of Emperor Justinian. It was considered the Eighth Wonder of the World and served as a Christian church for nine centuries before being converted into a mosque. Hagia Sophia was declared a museum in 1935 after the founding of the Republic of Turkey under Kemal Atatürk. With a local expert, we will learn more about its history and architecture. Resources were brought from all corners of the Byzantine empire such as rare marbles; green porphyry; mosaics of gold, silver, glass, and colorful stones; and more than 100 columns including some taken from far older sites such as the Temple of Ephesus and Egypt. We will imagine this great monument at the height of its glory before natural disasters and the ravages of war that preceded its modern restoration. Moving on, we will visit the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque for what were originally richly hued blue tiles decorating its interior. It was constructed from 1609-1616 facing Hagia Sophia. Still an active mosque, it is the only one in Istanbul with six minarets where a Muezzin calls the faithful to prayer five times each day. Beneath its multiple domes, there are more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, some 260 stained glass windows, and verses from the Qu’ran displayed in calligraphic art. Transfer approximately 30 minutes to the Port of Istanbul and embark the Aegean Odyssey.

Lunch: Late lunch on board the ship. Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Afternoon: After completing boarding procedures and having lunch, take some time to unpack, freshen up, and relax. Then begin to become familiar with this comfortable ship that will be our floating home for the duration of the program. The ship’s friendly and courteous staff are scrupulous about hygiene and you will find numerous dispensers with hand-sanitizer we are encouraged to use. Along with everyone on board, we will meet at muster stations when called for the ship’s safety drill. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. The extent and duration of elective walking and other free time activities is according to personal choice. In most ports, complimentary shuttle busses will be available for those who wish to explore independently.

Dinner: Aboard ship, have dinner in the venue of your choice: the à la carte Marco Polo restaurant, open for dinner as well as lunch on full days at sea; and the Terrace Café with its extensive buffet, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meals feature fresh local ingredients in tasty preparations. Both restaurants offer open-seating dining. All meals aboard ship are included, as well as afternoon tea and late night snacks. Non-alcoholic beverages plus select wines at dinner are included; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: On different evenings aboard ship, there will be activities to choose from such as a guest speaker, a performance by talented musicians, and opportunities for interaction with fellow Road Scholars. There is also a well-stocked library with daily newspapers received via satellite. Each evening, a briefing memo/daily journal will be placed in our cabins with highlights of the next day’s activities. Most mornings will begin with a group stretch session. On each full day of the program, we will gather with our Group Leader for an informal “port talk” about what’s ahead. The ship is scheduled to leave Istanbul on our journey to Trabzon.

DAY
4
At Sea, Shipboard Activities, Lecture
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Extent and duration of free time activities dependent on personal preference.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship, including a lecture on topics relevant to our program. You might like to take a seat in the observation lounge with fellow Road Scholars, find something to read in the library, relax by the pool, or enjoy the spa.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship. We will gather for our first port talk in the late afternoon.

Dinner: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. We will continue our journey to Trabzon.

DAY
5
Trabzon, Sumela Monastery
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking about 3 miles; uneven surfaces. NOTE: Sumela Monestary is under ongoing renovations; some areas may not be open to the public.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: We will step off the ship and board a motorcoach for a field trip to the Sumela Monastery. This historic monastery, founded in the 4th Century AD by the Greeks, defies gravity clinging on to the sheer face of the cliffs high above the silent forest of evergreen trees. Commanding a spectacular position on a clear day, it offers glorious views of the nature that surrounds this extensive monastery complex. We will explore Trabzon to learn how this important port city flourished because of its location on the Silk Road of the Black Sea region. The remnants of its fortress, churches and monasteries remind us of its illustrious past.

Lunch: Late lunch aboard the ship. Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant, or you may choose to stay on shore and dine on your own.

Afternoon: Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship.

Dinner: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. The ship is scheduled to leave Trabzon on our journey to Odessa.

DAY
6
At Sea, Shipboard Activities, Lecture
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Extent and duration of free time activities dependent on personal preference.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship, including a lecture on topics relevant to our program.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship. At the end of the afternoon, we will gather for a port talk.

Dinner: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. We will continue our journey to Odessa.

DAY
7
Odessa, Free Time
Odessa
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Driving from the port through the city to the first stop could take 1/2 hour or so depending on traffic. Walking about 3 miles; mostly flat terrain, steps at Cathedral, no handrails, standing up to 2 hours. Popular sites may be crowded at certain periods. Elective walking during free time according to personal preference. NOTE: The “On Your Feet” activity level group will not be going to the Archaeological Museum.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: Odessa was compared to Paris as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe in the early 19th century. We will set out by coach to explore the highlights of Odessa with either our Group Leader or a local expert for an overview of Prymorsky Boulevard, lined with 19th-century gas lamps, majestic trees, and aristocratic palaces, and ride past Catherine Square and the Potemkin Steps. Next, we’ll visit the Transfiguration Cathedral, Odessa’s largest church. The original edifice dating from 1794 was expanded throughout the 19th century, only to be destroyed by the Soviets in 1936. Rebuilding commenced in 1999, and was completed in 2003. We will then move on to the Archaeological Museum. This is the oldest museum in the Ukraine, established in 1825. The museum’s permanent collection houses around 170,000 exhibits, and was declared a national treasure in 2008. We will return to port after our field trip where you are welcome to enjoy free time aboard ship or stay ashore and explore independently.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant, or you may choose to stay on shore and dine on your own.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship or take advantage of the shuttle bus available for independent exploration.

Dinner: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant, or you may choose to stay on shore and dine on your own.

Evening: This evening, you may take in a performance at the Opera House or spend some time at leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. The ship is scheduled to remain in port overnight.

DAY
8
Free Time, Nerubaiskoe, Odessa Catacombs, Shustov Museum
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Driving from the port through the city and environs to the first stop could take an hour or so depending on traffic. Walking about 4 miles; mostly flat terrain; at catacombs, 90 steps with handrails; standing up to 2 hours; at Factory Museum, 68 steps with handrails up/down. NOTE: For some groups the activities on this day may run in reverse, and times will be staggered so some may take place in the afternoon.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: Our motorcoach will leave the city center and take us through the countryside. We will pass small villages, farms, and gardens in the environs of Odessa on our way to the village of Nerubaiskoe that was first settled by Ukrainian Cossacks as a fortress. With a local expert, we will enter the labyrinthine underground interior of the famed catacombs, stretching more than 1,600 feet (500 meters). The catacombs were first made to provide the city with limestone. During World War II, they were an underground fort of the Soviet army. We will visit the command post and learn about the defense of the catacombs at the local museum. On our way back to Odessa, we will stop to visit the Shustov Cognac Winery Museum. The factory was founded in 2002. Nowadays it is modern enterprise producing one of the best cognacs in Ukraine. We will learn about the production process, the history of cognac making, and have a tasting. We will return to port after the field trip where you are welcome to enjoy free time aboard ship or stay ashore and explore independently.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant, or you may choose to stay on shore and dine on your own.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship or take advantage of the shuttle bus available for independent exploration. We will gather aboard ship for a port talk late afternoon.

Dinner: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. The ship is scheduled to leave Odessa on our journey to Constanta.

DAY
9
Constanta, National Archaeology Museum, Free Time
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down; driving from the port through the city to the first stop could take 1/2 hour or so depending on traffic. Walking about 2 miles; mostly flat terrain, steps with handrails; standing up to 2 hours. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal preference.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: After stepping off the ship, we will board a motorcoach and ride to the National Museum of History and Archaeology in Constanta. The museum boasts a marvelous collection of prehistoric, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Medieval artifacts, including the famous statue of Fortuna Goddess and Pontos God.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant, or you may choose to stay on shore and dine on your own.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship or take advantage of the shuttle bus available for independent exploration. We will gather aboard ship for a port talk at the end of the afternoon.

Dinner: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. The ship is scheduled to leave Constanta on our journey to Varna.

DAY
10
Varna, Museum of Archaeology, Rock Monastery, Free Time
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving from the port through the city to the first stop could take 1/2 hour or so depending on traffic. Walking about 2 miles, mostly flat terrain, steps with handrails, standing up to 2 hours. At Monastery, walking about 2 miles roundtrip, 150 steps with handrails up/down. Free time activities according to personal preference. NOTE: The “On Your Feet” activity level group will not visit the Rock Monastery, and instead will visit the Roman Baths.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: We will leave the ship by motorcoach and ride to the Varna Museum of Archaeology to explore with either our Group Leader or a local expert. Human habitation in the region dates back to the Early Paleolithic age — about 100,000 BCE! The most treasured elements of its collection were excavated from a nearby necropolis that is considered one of the foremost sites in pre-history studies. The so-called Varna Gold, the oldest such discovery in the world, has been estimated to be more than 6,000 years old. Next, we will ride to the Aladzha Monastery, carved out of the rock, where a local expert will lead our exploration. Hermit monks lived here during the 13th and 14th centuries, and it is today a place of mystery and legends. The Roman baths of ancient Odessos are the largest on the Balkan Peninsula, and the fourth largest in Europe. Explore the ruins of the function halls and discover the heating system used to warm the water. We will return to port after the field trip where you are welcome to enjoy free time aboard ship or stay ashore and explore independently.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship or take advantage of the shuttle bus available for independent exploration. We will gather aboard ship for a port talk late afternoon.

Dinner: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. The ship is scheduled to leave Varna on our journey to Istanbul.

DAY
11
Disembark, Istanbul, Topkapi Palace
Istanbul
B,D
Marmara Taksim

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking about 5 miles including steps with no handrails; standing up to 2 hours at each site. Popular sites may be crowded at certain periods. NOTE: The “On Your Feet” activity level group will not be going to the harem apartments. Check-in begins at 3:00 p.m.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: After breakfast, we'll disembark and board a motorcoach for our field trip to the Topkapi Palace. Constructed from 1460-1478, it served as the residence of Ottoman sultans as well as their administrative and ceremonial center until the mid-19th century. A local expert will lead our exploration as we see aspects of the Imperial Treasury that holds riches of royal history including thrones, jeweled pendants and precious stones, sacred items from the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed, decorated weapons, and much more. We will also see parts of the harem apartments that originally contained more than 300 rooms including living quarters for the sultan and his family, bath houses, courtyards, dormitories for concubines, a hospital, laundry, mosques, and pavilions.

Lunch: On your own. Your Group Leader is happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Check into our Istanbul hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free to pack, relax, and independent exploration of Istanbul.

Dinner: At the hotel. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for departures in the morning.

DAY
12
Transfer to Airport, Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This concludes our program. See your program's travel details regarding transfers. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback