23513
Turkey/Ukraine/Romania/Bulgaria

Odyssey at Sea: The Best of the Black Sea

Embark on an epic adventure aboard our premiere 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
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12 days
11 nights
29 meals
10 B 9 L 10 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Istanbul, Transfer to Port, Embark Aegean Odyssey
Istanbul
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.

Morning: Transfer from the airport to the Port of Istanbul. Meals aboard ship will begin with dinner; a light lunch will be available for those who arrive in time.

Afternoon: Embark the Aegean Odyssey. Complete boarding procedures, get your cabin, unpack, and freshen up. Then begin to explore this comfortable ship that will be our floating home. The ship’s courteous and friendly 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. During succeeding 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. Most mornings will begin with a group stretch session. On each full day of the program, we will gather for an informal “port talk” about what’s ahead. Each evening, we’ll get a briefing memo in our cabins with highlights of the next day’s activities. 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. In most ports, we will have shuttle buses, or tender boats, running from/to the ship during the day for your convenience if you wish to explore independently. The extent and duration of elective walking and other free time activities depends on personal choice. 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: Aboard ship, enjoy your first dinner on board in the venue of your choice: the a 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 ingredients in tasty preparations including healthy choices. Both restaurants offer open-seating dining. All meals aboard ship — as well as afternoon tea and late night snacks — are included. Non-alcoholic beverages and select wines at dinner are included; other beverages are available for purchase upon request.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. The ship is scheduled to remain in port tonight.

DAY
3
Istanbul, Topkapi Palace, Archaeological Museum
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking about 5 miles including steps at Palace; 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.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café — and on the Lido Deck in nice weather — there are hot and cold dishes to choose from such as eggs, breakfast meats, cereals, fruits, breads, pastries, and a variety of healthy choices as well as milk, juice, coffee, tea, water. Meals feature fresh ingredients in tasty preparations.

Morning: Orientation: We will gather in the morning, and the Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. After the orientation session, we will step off the ship, walk to and board a motorcoach, and ride 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: In a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Next, we will visit the Istanbul Arkeoloji Muzesi, or Istanbul Archaeological Museums, complex. The museum was founded in 1875 by accomplished archaeologist, Osman Hamdi Bey, and is actually comprised of three different museums. Discover ancient treasures from the Assyrian, Hittite, Egyptian, Greek, Byzantine, and Ottoman civilizations.

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 Istanbul on our journey to Sinop.

DAY
4
Free Time, Lectures at Sea
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. 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, including a lecture on topics relevant to our program. 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'll continue our journey to Sinop.

DAY
5
Sinop, 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 4 miles; mostly flat terrain, steps at mosque; no handrails; standing up to 2 hours. Popular sites may be crowded at certain periods. NOTE: This day may be operated in reverse for some groups. NOTE: The “On Your Feet” activity level group will not be visiting the ruins on Balatlar Kilisesi.

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 medieval Sinop, a walled city perched on a promontory overlooking the Black Sea. Founded by colonists from the Aegean port of Miletus in the 800s BCE, Sinop became a major port thanks to its fine natural harbor. We will explore remnants of its medieval city walls; the Alaeddin Mosque dating from 1267 and its medrese (seminary); and the ruins on Balatlar Kilisesi, a Roman temple converted into a Byzantine church. The Greek philosopher Diogenes — one of the founders of Cynic Philosophy who carried around a lantern “looking for a good man” (and not finding one!) — was born in Sinop.

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, this may occur in the morning for some groups. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship, or take advantage of this time for independent exploration. The ship is scheduled to leave Sinop on our journey to Odessa.

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.

DAY
6
Free Time, Lectures at Sea
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.

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

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship, including a lecture on topics relevant to our program. 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'll continue on 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: 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.< br> 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 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 Odessa on our journey to Constanta.

DAY
9
Constanta, National Archaeology Museum, Winery, 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.

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. We will then travel through the vineyards of the Romanian countryside to a local winery. We’ll sample some of the region’s popular wines and enjoy a performance of traditional Romanian folk music before returning to the ship.

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. 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, 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 Varna on our journey to Istanbul.

DAY
11
Istanbul, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Bosphorus Cruise
Istanbul
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: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: We will set out from the ship by motorcoach for field trips 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.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Next, we will ride to a chartered boat for a cruise on the Bosphorus. A local expert will provide commentary as we view palaces, yalis (waterfront mansions), and fortresses along its shores before returning to the ship.

Dinner: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during your final dinner on board.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for disembarkation and departure in the morning. The ship is scheduled to remain in port overnight.

DAY
12
Disembarkation, Transfer to Airport, Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Disembarkation begins as early as 2:00 a.m. or earlier depending on local schedules.

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

Morning: We will complete disembarkation procedures. This concludes our program. 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!






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