For avid cruisers who love to spend their holidays at sea but have had their fill of the crowded Mediterranean and Caribbean ports, there may be an answer.

Black Sea cruises offer the culture, history, interesting cities, and beautiful beaches that these other areas provide. These cruises are not as well known at this point and offer a respite for those who want a more relaxed and peaceful cruise experience.

The Black Sea in Eastern Europe is an inland sea encircled by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Romania. A cruise here has some unique ports of call that are more known for their culture, history and distinctive lands than their glitz and glamour.

Explore Less Crowded Ports

While the throngs from cruise ships in the Mediterranean are flocking into crowded ports like Nice, Athens, Florence, and Santorini you can be exploring less crowded ports of call like the ancient city of Nesebur, Bulgaria; experiencing the history in Sevastapol, Ukraine; seeing the architectural wonders in Odessa; or basking on the beaches of Varna, Bulgaria.

Some itineraries run between Athens and Istanbul with a trip north into Black Sea ports or between Rome and Athens. More examples of Black Sea ports include:

· Sinop, Turkey, which is thought of as one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the Black Sea. Sinop offers sites of historical interest like the Alaeddin Mosque and several interesting churches. The harbour features a number of picturesque little villages and restaurants serving fine examples of local dishes.

· Sochi, Russia that has been a popular resort area in the country for over two hundred years.

The season for these cruises runs from spring in April to mid-October. In order to book the Black Sea cruise that you want, it is wise to plan well in advance since at this point there are not a lot of them.

Something else to consider when planning your Black Sea holidays is that some of the ports are not as developed as those of the more traditional cruise destinations.

Smaller Ships

This means that the ports may be limited regarding the size of ship they can accommodate. Because of this, cruises in the Black Sea draw ship operators that sail smaller, more upscale vessels. Some of the cruise lines that operate in the Black Sea include Peter Deilmann, Holland America, and Oceania. Lines such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, and Seabourn offer exclusive luxury cruises.

There are four main departure ports for Black Sea cruises, one of which is Southampton, a very convenient port for U.K. travelers. The others are Athens, Istanbul, and Rome. Most people will be traveling a long distance to get to their departure points, so it is recommended to arrive a day ahead.

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