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The Spirit offers some interesting 9-day Back Sea itineraries next year. I'm soliciting thoughts and opinions from SS cruisers who have experienced the Black Sea on SS.


These cruises are round trip from Istanbul and, in addition to the fairly routine Black Sea ports, also stop at Trabzon, Turkey and Sochi, Russia.


Thanks in advance for your comments.



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We were on the Spirit this last July on a 7(maybe 9??) day Black Sea itinerary. Because it was only a short cruise, and the travel to get there is strenuous, we tacked on 7 days to Athens.


We had a wonderful time. We especially enjoyed Odessa, and we're delightfully surprised by how much we liked Nessebur Bulgaria. We took what was billed as a Cooking Class..thinking that we would get instruction on how to prepare an exotic, to us, Bulgarian recipe. What we got was a delightfully irreverent guide with whom we took a two hour walking tour, and then we went to a terraced restaurant on a seafront cliff. Our class consisted of a demonstration in how to cut up cucumbers and tomatoes for a traditional Bulgarian salad. Fortunately no one laughed. We all drank a lot of nice local wine, drank in the fabulous view, drank some more good wine, and had a great time.


Hope Nessebur is on the itinerary you are considering.

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We also did the Black Sea but on Wind which was a longer cruise of 11 days. It was a wonderful cruise, very port-intensive, and a very interesting itinerary. Nessebur was a lovely surprise, Constanza in Romania had interesting Roman ruins, lots of history in the Crimea and time before and after in Istanbul, one of our favorite cities.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Really enjoyed our cruise on Silver Wind to the Black Sea 3 years ago. Nice mix of small unknown ports like Sinop, Turkey; and Constantza, Romania. We did not visit Nessebur though, which might be a valid excuse to go back some day...


Didn't expect the geography in Crimea to be so beautiful, but really enjoyed that as well. We had a nice mix of ship's tours and wandering about on our own in each port. We started in Athens and ended with an overnight in Istanbul - because of scheduling, we didn't have extra time in either city.


We definitely would visit Istanbul again and spend more time; one busy day allowed us to see some of the major sights but was not remotely enough.


Here is a rundown of the ports we visited, copied from my post on an earlier thread - note we didn't visit Trabzon or Sochi:


Did not do a full review, but brief recollections:


We too have been to Athens so we flew in the morning of the cruise and did not do anything here.


Canakkale - went to the Gallipoli battlefields, and then to the site of Troy. Nice tour; lots of history at the battlefields that we Americans know very little about. Troy is neat to have seen but there's not much there.


Sinop - charming little seaside town that oozes "oldness" - easily walkable on your own. We did a tour that went to a museum, mosque, and then drove a few miles out of town to a "fiord" called Hamsilos bay. Very picturesque. After our tour we wandered the town for a bit. Really liked this stop and sorry to see it does not appear in future itineraries.


Yalta - Tries to be an upscale resort town but once you get off the seaside promenade there's poverty interspersed among luxury. We did a tour of the Czarist castles and then in the afternoon wandered the beachfront, took a cable car to the top of the mountain for a nice view, and meandered through the back streets for an interesting contrast to the seaside promenade.


Sevastopol is more industrial but has its nice spots. It seemed more of a military town - lots of war memorials in the waterfront park. We took a tour to the Monastery with a church built into a cave, and then explored the waterfront memorials in the afternoon. There's also a section of waterfront that has a carnival atmosphere, with music, performers, salesman working out of tents, and all sorts of general craziness... I thought this was different enough from Yalta.


Odessa is old glamor - beautiful in spots (the opera house is gorgeous) but some of it is in need of repair. We did a guided city tour for the morning and wandered on our own in the afternoon (sorry if this sounds redundant)... There are a ton of things to see here - neat archeological museum, churches, and we actually wandered into a grocery store to see what was being sold there. To us, this had the feel of an old European city that used to be glamorous, but is past its prime - maybe a neglected / run-down Paris? Definitely different from the other two ports.


Constanta - DISCLAIMER: many do not like this port. We enjoyed it but realize we may be in the minority. We did a tour to some Roman-era ruins (Histria) which drove through the Danube delta. Very pretty, and decent ruins with a small museum next to the site. We spent a few hours wandering the city which I'd warn you, be careful. There are seedy areas and pickpockets, etc; we heard stories from others though we did fine. Nonetheless, there's lots of really nice architecture to see, there's a great Archeological museum, a Roman bath house with a great mosaic floor, etc. There is a beautiful seaside casino and park which is sadly abandoned and badly in need of restoration.


Istanbul needs no other introduction though obviously 1 day is not enough. It's on our return list.


Bottom line - we thought the ports were different enough so that even the 3 Ukrainian stops were not at all redundant. Looking forward to seeing what others think. We know nothing about Sochi or Trabzon which appear on some future itineraries.


If you want to look at (too many) pictures of the different ports, there's a link in the signature below.


Would be happy to answer any other questions about ports we visited.

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