I’m trying to plan out next year’s travel and have become obsessed with the Black Sea. I blame this on indecisiveness. I was thinking about visiting Istanbul, curling along the western Turkish coast and then up through Cappadocia. Then I got thinking about Russia and a grand tour from regal St. Petersburg through the countryside to Moscow. I’ve also been enjoying Curious Cat on the Run‘s travels through Romania, so Eastern Europe seemed like a beautiful and decidedly untouristy destination. So there you have it. A dramatic mix of numerous cultures that can only be achieved, in any practical way, by visiting the Black Sea.
I realized pretty quickly that an organized cruise may be the only way to see it all in a reasonable amount of time. On my own, I would have to cobble together a trip through numerous ferry lines without very efficient routing, like Odessa to Yalta to Odessa to Batumi. (For help, see this Lonely Planet thread). With limited vacation time, I am always looking for the best way to maximize my travel days and back-tracking, not knowing ferry schedules ahead of time, and negotiating travel in three languages over 12 days doesn’t make much sense.
Sadly though, I am not a “cruise” person. Don’t get me wrong, I love the ocean, as long as I am on a passenger ferry. The idea of ginormous buffets, cheesy entertainment, being stuck with 2000 other people on a ship, 4 hour visits to ports and lame pre-packaged shore excursions do not appeal to me.
So now I am looking for “acceptable” companies, meaning smaller ships whose mission and style cater to the discerning nerd traveler, schedules with long port visits and it would be nice if they didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I’m weighing a few that I’ve found so far (and am always looking for experienced advice….). So either I pick one and go to the Black Sea next year, or I scrap it all together and go to Peru!