Turkey, the exotic country where Europe and Asia meet, is being discovered by more cruise lines and their guests. Visits to Turkish ports are often combined with a voyage either through the Greek Isles or around the Black Sea.
Black Sea cruises often begin and end in Istanbul, Turkey’s capital, providing a wonderful opportunity for a pre- or post-cruise stay. This vibrant city has been the capital of three empires: the Roman, the Latin and the Ottoman. It’s filled with notable architecture, historic houses of worship, museums brimming with antiquities and modern art, excellent seafood restaurants, high-end shopping districts and the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s largest and oldest covered markets.
Additional Black Sea ports in Turkey include Amasra, a charming fishing village where you can tour Amasra Castle and enjoy Turkish tea; and Trabzon, located on the historic Silk Road, where you can tour the Hagia Sophia or take an excursion to the Sumela Monastery, established in the fourth century.
Other wonderful ports on the Black Sea include Odessa, Ukraine, a city of beautiful parkways and lavish architecture; the Romanian resort town of Constanta, which also serves as the port for the elegant city of Bucharest; and Sochi, Russia, home of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
If you combine your Turkish cruise with the Greek Isles, you can also expect to visit Istanbul (the city is accessible to both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean), as well as the Aegean Sea ports of Izmir and Kusadasi. Izmir is a modern city with fascinating remnants of the Roman Empire, including the Agora of Smyrna. Kusadasi is the port for Ephesus, where archeological excavations have uncovered incredible Roman ruins, including the remains of a basilica built over the tomb of St. John and a theater where St. Paul once preached.
Your sojourn through the Greek Isles may include port calls on beautiful islands like Santorini, Mykonos, Crete and Rhodes, which are renowned for their beaches, beauty, historic interest and laid-back vibe.
The ports of Turkey are at their best from mid-April through mid-September, when the skies are reliably sunny and the seas are calm. The summer months can be hot, but humidity is generally low, and a wide-brimmed hat or a dip in a shipboard pool can refresh you at any time. For more ideas about cruising Turkey, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.