On board the Azamara Journey, you’ll get…
Discover the beautiful sights of the Black Sea from the magnificent decks of the Azamara Journey. Stay in ancient Athens before embarking on the 14-night luxury cruise, calling at the likes of Istanbul, Romania and Georgia. This unforgettable ocean cruise really has it all; history, culture, art and natural beauty. From the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to the Museum of Odessa Modern Art and the lush parks of Sochi to the stunning botanical gardens of Batumi, enjoy a mix of meticulously planned tours and visits with our Riviera Travel experts. As you sail the Black Sea, you can relax and recharge on the Azamara Journey, whether you’re looking to lounge by the pool, enjoy the evening entertainment or even dress up for a dinner and casino night.
Following a four-star stay in historic Athens and tour of the Acropolis, your Azamara journey begins. After an evening on board the ship for you to enjoy at your leisure, we’ll smoothly cross the Aegean Sea overnight to Turkey. Tonight, there will be a private classical concert at the Odeon theatre of Ephesus, a historical, open-air concert hall and Bouleuterion (an ancient Greek assembly house) first constructed in 2nd-century AD. Our next stop is Istanbul, where you will experience a guided tour, stopping at the Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia and bustling Grand Bazaar. Over the next few days you’ll cruise to Varna, Bucharest and Odessa, to embrace the culture and cuisine of Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine.
After another day at sea, where you could book a spa day, work out in the gym or marvel at the sunrises and sunsets from the terrace, we make our way to Russia, with the chance to visit the Olympic Park and Stalin’s summer residence. The next day, you’ll wake up in the city of Batumi in Georgia, with plenty to uncover. The guided city tour includes highlights of the Batumi Boulevard, Europe Square and the Botanical Garden. After a relaxing day on the ship, we arrive back into Turkey. Here we discover the fascinating story behind Troy, an intricate archaeological site, famed by Homer’s Iliad. Following a loop back to Athens on board the luxurious Azamara Journey, you’ll find yourself back in the port of Piraeus for your flight home, returning with countless memories to treasure.
Arrive at the airport for your flight to Athens. On arrival we transfer by coach to the four-star Athens Marriott, where our overnight stay includes breakfast.
This morning we’re introduced to Athens, the birthplace of Western civilisation, on a walking tour. We visit the ancient citadel, the extraordinary Acropolis that represents the glorious achievements of Athenian culture. Among the magnificent monuments is the Parthenon temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. Many of the statues are on display at the Acropolis Museum, which we also visit. Exhibits include a series of carved pediments from the Temple of Athena.
After lunch at your leisure, we board the superb Azamara Journey.
Overnight we have crossed the Aegean Sea to Kuşadası. This morning we’re joined by a local guide on a fascinating tour, first at the House of the Virgin Mary where she is said to have spent her last years. Then we continue to Ephesus, the capital of Roman Asia Minor, where the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, once stood. As you walk along the Arcadian Way in the footsteps of rulers like Cleopatra, you get a real feel for what life was like back then. Marvel at the remains of the Great Theatre, the Corinthian-style Hadrian’s Temple and the renowned Library of Celsus.
A visit to this part of the world wouldn’t be complete without getting to know one of the essential parts of the regional culture – carpet-weaving. You may wish to witness a short demonstration to learn about this ancient craft.
After dinner on board, we return to Ephesus for a once-in-a-lifetime private concert at the Odeon theatre, where we are serenaded by a 12-piece orchestra performing a timeless rhapsody of some of the best-loved classical pieces.
Late tonight, we continue our journey around the Turkish coast.
Spend the day cruising in comfort aboard the superb Azamara Journey. Start your morning with a hearty breakfast, then lounge on the sun deck with your latest summer read. This afternoon, we will enjoy an exclusive wine-pairing experience with your expert on-board sommelier. Sample a selection wines and find out how best to pair them with a variety of food.
This morning we find ourselves in Istanbul, where East meets West in a diverse tapestry of historic legacies, artistic treasures and vibrant cultures. During our included tour, we see the immense city walls and the remains of the Hippodrome, where the emperors entertained a staggering 50,000 people. Then there’s the 17th-century Blue Mosque, designed as an imperial show of strength to complement the imposing Hagia Sophia. More than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles with floral motifs decorate the interior, beautifully illuminated by 260 windows.
Our local guide will bring to life the breathtaking Hagia Sophia. Dazzling Byzantine mosaics seem to cover every wall, complemented by the stunning ceramics so typical of the East after the cathedral was converted to a mosque. Each piece of marble lining the walls was specially quarried so the grain blends harmoniously.
There’s free time after to explore and join the locals in the city’s many inviting tea gardens and taverns. Early this evening, we begin our circumnavigation of the Black Sea.
We arrive this morning in cosmopolitan Varna, Bulgaria’s maritime capital. A major port under the Byzantines, the city was used by British troops during the Crimean War some 800 years later.
There’s a delightful seafront park home to Varna’s zoo, aquarium and planetarium. Why not stroll through this beautiful green space alongside the promenading locals? Or visit the Archaeological Museum in the city centre to see its outstanding collection, which includes some of the world’s oldest gold jewellery and Hellenistic tombstones.
Varna was first a Thracian city named Odessos until it was taken over by the Romans. You can easily visit the well-preserved ruins of their 2nd-century baths, as they’re just a short walk from the port.
After dinner on board the ship, we depart for our next destination.
Today we are in Constanţa, where Jason is said to have fled after finding the Golden Fleece according to the Greek myth. After breakfast, we drive through the fertile fields and vineyards of Muntenia, passing traditional villages. We arrive in Bucharest, where we visit the Village Museum, an open-air collection of traditional homes from all over Romania. These painstakingly preserved buildings, which date from the 17th to the 20th centuries, offer fascinating insights into traditional Romanian life.
Next, we stop at one of Bucharest’s most famous restaurants for lunch with a complimentary glass of Romanian wine. We then resume our city tour, passing the Royal Palace that today houses the National Art Museum, as well as the former headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
Last but not least, our local guide takes us through the elegant old town to see its historic highlights, such as the Stavropoleos Monastery and the remains of the Old Princely Court, watched over by a bust of Vlad the Impaler – local hero and the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
After a wonderful day, we return to the ship for our early-evening departure.
During breakfast we cruise into the port of Odessa, founded in 1794 by Catherine the Great. Sweeping down to the Black Sea to greet you are the famous Potemkin Steps, which you might recognise from the critically acclaimed film Battleship Potemkin – one of the most influential scenes in the history of cinema. Behind them is the elegant city centre, organised in a geometric grid of leafy streets lined by pastel Neoclassical buildings.
Head to the city’s Museum of Odessa Modern Art to see the works of Ukrainian artists or browse the many shops along Derybasivska, the main commercial street. Don’t miss the Odessa Opera & Ballet Theatre, the jewel in the city’s architectural crown, featuring a magnificent Baroque façade and a horseshoe-shaped hall built with superb acoustics.
The ship departs tonight for our voyage across the Black Sea.
Make the most of the Azamara Journey’s superb facilities during our full day at sea. Indulge in a relaxing treatment at the Sanctum Spa or unwind on the pool deck. As you gaze out over the Black Sea, you might wonder how it got its name. For a long time it was an inhospitable body of water whose shores were inhabited by hostile tribes. To add to the intrigue, the absence of oxygen in the lower levels means that nothing can inhabit the anoxic zone – it’s only in the oxygen-rich surface that we find marine life. To find out more, you can participate in the ship’s enrichment programme, which includes a range of insightful classes, demonstrations and lectures.
Spend the day in Sochi, renowned for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. The resort features a bustling boardwalk while further away from the embankment are lush parks filled with magnolia and cypress trees. Look out for the Lenin Mosaic, a 26-foot art piece unveiled in 1980 to celebrate his 110th birthday. Delve into Sochi’s archaeological history, maritime roots and role in the Second World War at the Museum of Sochi History. A real highlight is the space display, featuring the 1970 Soyuz 9 capsule that returned to earth after 18 days in orbit.
Azamara offers a range of bookable excursions, such as visits to Russian tea houses, the Olympic Park and even Stalin’s summer residence.
Our ship departs tonight as you enjoy dinner on board.
We arrive this morning in Batumi, the capital of the autonomous republic of Adjara set against a backdrop of mist-veiled hills. Founded on the site of an ancient Greek colony, it was conquered by the Ottomans and then the Russians. After a brief occupation by the British in 1919, Batumi was ceded to Georgia.
A local guide joins us on a city tour and brings to life its most interesting highlights. Batumi Boulevard’s lovely strip of coastal park features a towering monument to Georgian script and the mesmerising Ali & Nino sculpture of a couple moving periodically to kiss each other. At Europe Square, we see belle-époque buildings, an astronomical clock tower and the striking Medea monument – a reminder that Batumi was part of ancient Colchis, home of the enchantress who helped Jason, leader of the Argonauts, to obtain the Golden Fleece.
We also visit Batumi Botanical Garden, which boasts a staggering array of subtropical and foreign plants, spread across 266 acres of hillside rising out of the Black Sea.
We then return to the ship for our late-afternoon departure from Georgia.
Spend another day at sea discovering all the Azamara Journey has to offer. Enjoy the sea views from the convivial Discoveries Lounge or brush up on your knowledge of the next destination at the well-appointed library. You may wish to mingle with the other guests over a friendly game of shuffleboard or one of the many activities available. After dinner, head up to the sun deck for a spectacular sundowner or chat with newfound friends over drinks at the bar.
We pay a second visit to fabulous Istanbul. Seize the opportunity to uncover more of its gems or perhaps choose somewhere that caught your eye during our first visit.
Our final port of call is Kepez, but we go further beyond the shore to explore the real treasures. We travel to Troy, where Queen Helen of Sparta eloped with Prince Paris and her enraged husband followed seeking her return. Today, Troy is an archaeological site that spans nine cities and remains an alluring place to anyone who has read Homer’s Iliad.
After a riveting excursion, we depart for Piraeus.
It’s our final full day at sea, so what is it to be? Catch up with newly made friends in the lounge or pick up some souvenirs at the on-board shop. Evenings aboard are just as enjoyable, with thrilling shows at the Cabaret Lounge and intimate performances in the Living Room.
After breakfast, we disembark in the port of Piraeus and transfer to Athens for the flight home.
The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
Your boutique hotel at sea, the Azamara Journey has an intimate deck plan, but it never feels crowded. It boasts everything that modern voyagers seek, with some unexpected extras.
The staterooms have modern amenities and furnishings and a luxurious atmosphere is created by the plush cotton robes and slippers, French bath products, fresh flowers, and 24-hour room service. A large number of staterooms and suites have balconies... what better way to start the day that with the fresh sea air and stunning views?
Add to all of that the world-class dining options, spa experiences to refresh and relax, and all new entertainment services, the experience on-board is matched only by the immersive cultural encounters that await you on shore.
Take your pick from a range of beauty and restorative health treatments in the new Sanctum Spa; anything from an ocean-front massage to a quick manicure, a new hairstyle, or even acupuncture. Beyond the spa, there’s an on-board gym for you to work out at your own pace and complimentary fitness classes.
The main dining options include everything from elegant a la carte to nightly themed buffets, with the possibility to visit the ship’s speciality restaurants. We’ve included a visit to one of these speciality restaurants in the cost of your holiday. On-board entertainment takes in signature shows and guest performers, as well as live music every night.
Across the Azamara fleet, authentic service goes beyond the expectations of even the most well-travelled cruisers. Friendly and approachable, staff are attentive and happy to offer everything from poolside service to on-shore exploration recommendations.
Your cabin number will be allocated by Azamara and will be confirmed on your travel documents. If you have a specific request please call and speak to one of our experts.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
Russian visas are included while you’re enjoying our exclusive excursions or excursions operated by the ship, but customers who wish to explore Sochi independently will need to apply for a visa.
In order to apply for a visa, applicants will require an invitation letter (also known as the ‘tourist voucher’) from the shipping company which will be sent to you, from Riviera Travel, approximately ten weeks prior to departure. Please do not apply for your visa before receiving this voucher from us.
Please ensure you have at least two empty pages in your passport, and that it is valid for a minimum of six months after the visa’s expiration.
Complete the application forms electronically at http://ru.vfsglobal.co.uk and print and sign accordingly. All applications must then be made in person at the Application Centres in London, Manchester or Edinburgh, where biometric data (fingerprints) will be collected. This is a simple five to ten-minute process. You will need one recent passport photo and the tourist vouchers from the shipping company. You will be required to leave your passport at the centre while your visa is processed.
Visa costs are from £63 plus a service charge of £38.40. with the option to return by post at a cost of £13.80. All payments made towards visa fees and service charges are non-refundable and do not guarantee the issuance of a visa should your application be declined.
Should you require additional help through an agency please contact us for a recommendation.
Visas are not required for British citizens travelling to Bulgaria, Romania, Bucharest, Ukraine and Georgia. Please ensure you have at least 6 months validity on your passport from the return date of your holiday. Other nationality should check with the relevant embassy.
Whilst care has been taken to ensure that the information provided relating to visa requirements is true and correct at time of publication, changes in requirements after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information. Therefore, whilst we strive to provide the most up-to-date information, we strongly suggest that you re-confirm requirements with the relevant embassy prior to application.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival airport||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final ship location||Departure airport||Transfer time|
|Athens International Airport||Athens||45 mins||Athens||Athens International Airport||1 hr|