The Black Sea
Surrounded by Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Ukraine, and Russia, the Black Sea coast is lined with resort towns and ancient sights to explore while in port. It's also a very volatile region, though, where cruise itineraries fluctuate depending on the current conditions. Trips are typically one to two weeks, or part of longer, months-long European voyages. Since the Black Sea connects to the Mediterranean via the Bosporus and Dardanelles, many cruises start or end in Piraeus, Greece, or Istanbul, Turkey.
What We Love
Coffee and Tea: Drinking strong coffee and herbal tea is a large part of the culture here, and the cafés are great for people-watching.
Best Known For
History: A long, rich history defines the region, from Greco-Roman up through the various ruling empires of the day, spanning the Vikings to the Byzantines, Mongols and Ottomans. The architecture, ruins, and museums reflect it.
Bustling Seaside Life: Beachfront bars, restaurants, and shops are omnipresent in Black Sea ports.
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Varna, Bulgaria: The temples, mosques, and churches are a testament to Varna's various occupants over the millennia, while the seaside promenade and golden beaches carpeted with sunbathers reflect Varna’s modern side.
Constanta, Romania: This ancient city of crumbling beauty, from Greek and Roman ruins to the early 20th-century art nouveau seaside Casino Constanta, is a fascinating place to spend the day.
Yalta: Against the backdrop of the Crimean Mountains, this seaside resort town has some gorgeous architecture. Two standouts are the late 19th-century Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with its gilded domes, and the early 20th-century Italian Renaissance-style Livadia Palace, the summer home of the last Russian czars and the place where the Yalta Conference was held after World War II (today it’s a museum).
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Political Unrest Might Change Your Port Stops: It's not surprising that recent conflicts in the region have led many cruise lines to cut their Black Sea itineraries, or at least cancel ports of call in the Ukraine and sometimes Yalta, too.
Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.