Circumnavigation of the Black Sea

14 days
from
£10,780
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Small Ship Cruises
Suitable for:
Age 17+
Activity level:
Leisurely / Moderate
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Trip code: 
ZVB
Ways to Travel:
Small Ship Cruises, Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Max group size:
160
Min age:
17

Discover the Black Sea and the countries surrounding it - Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria.

Centuries of history come to life on this epic voyage around the legendary Black Sea. This region is renowned for majestic scenery, varied wildlife, and rich cultural traditions. Voyage to all six counties ringing this inland sea—Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria—and discover busy bazaars, archaeological treasures, and stunning landscapes that are home to a multitude of hidden cultural gems.

Our leaders on this tour have visited this region numerous times and will provide valuable insight and commentary on the history, culture, and wildlife of this intriguing corner of Europe. Fascinating lectures, photo presentations, daily recaps, and informal discussions will enhance your understanding and appreciation of the wonders you will see.

Highlights

  • Choose from several tours highlighting Istanbul's wealth of historic sites and architectural treasures.
  • Enjoy an energetic performance of traditional dances in Georgia while sampling local wines.
  • Explore the grand city of Odessa, with splendid examples of elegant 18th- and 19th-century architecture, including a tour of the magnificent Opera House.
  • Cruise through the winding canals of the Danube River Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, as we search for over 200 species of birds.
  • Wander through a wealth of well-preserved Ottoman architecture in Safranbolu.

What's included

  • Daily activity options including Zodiac cruises, nature walks, and cultural tours
  • All gratuities
  • All accommodations
  • World-class lecture and expedition team
  • All onboard meals and group meals ashore, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner
  • All entrance fees, taxes, and landing and port charges
  • Arrival and departure transfers on group dates
  • Gift certificates for recommended expedition gear
  • Medical expense coverage and emergency evacuation insurance

What's not included

  • Airfare from your home city/Istanbul and Istanbul/home city
  • Excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes
  • Transfers for independent arrivals and departures
  • Passport and/or visa fees;
  • Travel insurance
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, alcoholic beverages (other than listed above), and other incidentals
  • Email/Internet/fax/telephone charges
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Itinerary

Istanbul
to
Istanbul
  • Day 1

    ARRIVE ISTANBUL, TURKEY

    Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to the Pera Palace Hotel. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before our welcome dinner and briefing.

    Accommodation: Pera Palace Hotel

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    EXPLORE ISTANBUL

    Choose from several tours that reveal the highlights of this legendary city, including the Sultanahmet district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All tours will include lunch, after which, there is leisure time to explore on your own. Return to the Pera Palace Hotel this evening for dinner and overnight.

    Accommodation: Pera Palace Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    ISTANBUL / EMBARK LE BOUGAINVILLE

    After breakfast, several guided tours will be available, offering a more in-depth exploration of the city. Or, choose a morning at leisure with lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon, board Le Bougainville and cruise toward the Black Sea up the scenic Bosporus, a strait which runs through the center of Istanbul.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    BARTIN / SAFRANBOLU

    From the port at Bartin, travel inland to Safranbolu, a World Heritage Site. Once an important center of saffron production and stopover for Silk Road caravans, Safranbolu boasts a wealth of well-preserved Ottoman architecture. A walking tour visits the marketplace as well as a mosque, traditional house, and Turkish hammam that date back to the 16th century. Enjoy lunch in a converted Ottoman caravanserai, with free time to explore on your own before returning to the ship in Bartin.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    SAMSUN / AMASYA

    From the port of Samsun, drive inland to Amasya, former capital of the kingdom of Pontus during the third century BC. Explore the photogenic alleys lined with 19th-century Ottoman-era houses, the ethnographic museum, and an Islamic seminary. Enjoy lunch overlooking the town and Pontic Tombs.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    TRABZON / SUMELA

    Ancient Greeks settled in Trabzon along a branch of the Silk Road from Asia. A highlight of our visit is a morning drive in the countryside to see the 13th- and 14th-century Byzantine Sumela Monastery, perched dramatically on a cliff face in the monastic tradition of Greek Orthodox architecture. Meet with a local expert who will share details on the extensive project to restore the magnificent interior frescoes to their former glory. Then take a stroll through this stunning alpine setting that is also a national park. This afternoon, explore the 13th-century Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine church with exquisite frescoes, and spend some free time wandering through Trabzon.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    BATUMI, GEORGIA

    Today the ship docks in the charming port of Batumi. Visit the colorful farmers market and take a relaxing walk through the lovely Botanical Gardens. After lunch on board, take a short drive to the ruins of ancient Gonio Fortress, which dates back to the first century AD. Return to Batumi for a dinner of regional delicacies and Georgian wines at a local restaurant, accompanied by a fantastic folk performance of traditional music and energetic dances.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    SOCHI, RUSSIA

    This Russian mineral-spring resort community with a sub-tropical climate is sometimes called the Russian Riviera. This morning, explore the town with a special visit to Stalin’s dacha. Well-hidden among trees on the outskirts of town, this house was a favorite summer retreat for the infamous leader.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    AT SEA

    Attend lectures today and enjoy the passing scenery during a relaxing day at sea.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    ODESSA, UKRAINE

    Odessa’s European-Russian heritage is evident as we ascend the Potemkin Steps to explore cobblestone streets lined with shady plane trees. Explore the compact central district’s spectacular architecture, including monuments, statuary, parks, and ornate 19th-century gems such as the Opera House and Gagarin’s Palace. We also visit one of the country’s oldest archaeological museums, housing an extensive collection of Ukrainian artifacts ranging from the Paleolithic age to the medieval period. Enjoy free time this afternoon to stroll the graceful boulevards, with the option to dine ashore on your own.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    DANUBE RIVER DELTA, ROMANIA

    The Danube is Europe’s second longest river as well as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Take a walking tour of the small port of Tulcea and visit the Danube Canal Museum and Danube Ecologic Museum. Then, board a local boat to explore this wetland habitat looking for over 200 species of birds, including pygmy cormorants, purple herons, white-tailed eagles, and Dalmatian pelicans.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    HISTRIA / CONSTANTA

    Histria was Romania’s earliest-founded city and flourished as an extraordinary trading center, later to be abandoned and swallowed by alluvial deposits and sand. The site has been under excavation since its rediscovery in 1914. We walk through fascinating seaside ruins, tour the new museum, and spot birds in this wetland environment. Next we explore Constanta where we tour the archaeological museum and view one of the largest Roman mosaic floors in Europe. In the late afternoon, enjoy wine tasting and a cultural performance on board.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    VARNA, BULGARIA

    The modern port city of Varna was once the Greek colony known as Odessos. We disembark in the morning and visit Varna’s archaeological museum that chronologically traces the progress of human society in the region over the course of millennia, and includes the oldest worked gold in the world. We also explore the extensive remains of the 2nd-century Roman thermae, or public baths, which make up the largest Roman ruins in Bulgaria. Or take a tour of the Balchik Botanical Gardens and Aladzha Rock Monastery. Reboard the ship for lunch as we sail toward Turkey.

    Accommodation: Le Bougainville

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    ISTANBUL, TURKEY / DISEMBARK

    Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport for homeward flights.

    Tour ends here.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Turkey

From 2 March 2020, nationals of Great Britain, the European Union Schengen area, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Poland travelling to Turkey for tourist or business purposes will no longer need a visa for visits of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. If you’re travelling before 2 March, you will still need a visa.

Russia

All nationalities require a visa for Russia. These requirements will vary depending on your nationality. For British nationals visa applications must now be made in person at a visa processing centre, located in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. At the time of application, fingerprints will be taken. We will be providing a new type of service to assist with the application process; however we will no longer be able to submit the application on your behalf. It is your responsibility to arrange a visa prior to travel, but we will provide you with more information after booking to help and advice with this. The cost of the visa is currently GBP108.40. For more information please click here

Please note: The visa application takes approximently 20 working days. You can arrange for your passport to be posted back to you or returned to the visa processing centre to collect it in person. There is a £20pp charge to create an invitation letter if any pre or post tour accommodation is not booked with Exodus.

 

Ukraine

UK passport holders do not need visas for this trip. Other nationalities should check with the relevant embassies.

Georgia

Visas are not required for Georgia for UK passport holders, EU, Canadian and US nationals. Check with your travel agent or with the embassy for other nationalities.

Vaccinations

Turkey

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Russia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever.

Romania

There are no specific health risks.

Bulgaria

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Georgia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Ensure all primary courses and boosters are up to date for life in your home country. Recommended vaccinations are: Hepatitis A, Diphtheria, Hepatitis B, Rabies and Tetanus.

Is this trip for you?

This tour is operated in partnership with our sister company Zegrahm Expeditions. As such the departures are not exclusive to Exodus and groups may be a mixture of Exodus, Zegrahm Expeditions, and other clients. This trip is booked through Exodus and you will receive the same award winning customer service that you would expect. Zegrahm Expeditions operate with the same core principles used by Exodus and champion the benefits of small group travel.

For most activities, a relatively moderate level of exertion is required. You must be able to walk distances of one to three miles, unaided, over sometimes uneven surfaces, such as cobblestones, and climb stone steps that at times may not have handrails. Opportunities will also be available for optional hikes requiring more exertion.

Airfare
You will need to purchase airfare from your home city/Instanbul and Istanbul/home city. Please contact our in-house Air Department for fare quotes, reservations, or other air-related questions.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Le Bougainville

Le Bougainville features innovative and environment-friendly equipment, elegantly designed suites, and lounge areas that open to the outside. All suites feature ocean views and private balconies, while public spaces include an underwater lounge, as well as a pool, outside bar and dining area, theater, single-seating dining room, panoramic lounge, sun deck, salon, and a spa and fitness room. Le Bougainville carries a fleet of Zodiacs.

GENERAL

  • Six decks of guest facilities.

- Deck 0 (not pictured in deck plan)
– Blue Eye Underwater Lounge.    
- Deck 3 – guest suites, reception, main lounge, pool, outdoor bar and dining area, boutique, theater, and doctor’s office.
- Deck 4 – guest suites and restaurant.
- Deck 5 – guest suites and bridge.
- Deck 6 – guest suites, panoramic lounge, and outdoor seating.
- Deck 7 – guest suites, sun deck, outdoor seating, salon, spa and fitness room.

  • Stairs and an elevator service all decks.
  • The bridge is available to visit most times throughout the day, contingent upon weather, security, and navigation conditions.
  • Smoking is permitted only on outside decks.

SUITES

  • All suites feature ocean views and private balconies, with two twin beds that can be reconfigured into one king, a well-appointed   en suite bathroom, closets, desk, IpodTM players, small refrigerator, flat-screen TV, personal safe, hair dryer, bath robes, French toiletries, individually controlled air-conditioning and heating, and American style outlets (two flat prongs) at 110 volts.
  • Category 1, 2, 3, and 4 suites are 19 square metres and have a sliding glass door leading to a 4 square metre private balcony.
  • Category 5 suites are 27 square metres and have a sliding glass door leading to a 6 square metre private balcony.
  • Category 6 suites are 32 square metres and have a sliding glass door leading to a 8 square metre private balcony.
  • Suites are 45 square metres and have a sliding glass door leading to a 30 square metre private patio. The owner’s suite is the same size as the suites and features a Jacuzzi on the private balcony.

DINING

  • The main restaurant can accommodate all guests at one seating.
  • Most diets can be catered for on board, but special dietary requests must be made in advance.
  • Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style.
  • Dinner is served in the main restaurant with four, a la carte courses. When weather permits, meals can also be served on deck.  
  • Afternoon tea is served in the lounge and coffee and tea are available 24 hours a day.

SERVICES

  • Le Bougainville carries a fleet of Zodiacs.
  • Laundry services (no dry cleaning) and a small doctor’s office are available on board. Rates are posted.
  • The Euro is the currency used on board. Traveler’s checks, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted for payment of shipboard accounts.
  • Wi-fi access is available throughout the ship. Rates are posted.
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros  Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros  Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros  Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]