Black Sea Cruising

blcksCruising is becoming ever more popular as ships get bigger, more sophisticated and endowed with a great many facilities. For many people, cruising is all about the ship, and the fun times they can have aboard. Whilst I appreciate good facilities, decent food and excellent service, for me cruising is all about the destinations. I enjoy the thrill of visiting a new port, and of getting to know places that I may not otherwise have visited if the ship didn’t pull in there. With cruise ships visiting just about everywhere these days, to my mind one of the great places to see by ship is the Black Sea which divides Eastern Europe from Western Asia.

The Black Sea is a 436,400 square kilometre inland sea that is situated between Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine. It gets its name from unusual micro-organisms that inhabit its waters and ink them with black sediment.

Some historians will argue that the Black Sea countries were the cradle of civilisation. Certainly any town or port is rife with historical buildings and tales of many empires which conquered, thrived then fell to create an amazing patchwork of cultures which are truly worth experiencing.

Of course, the Black Sea has been a popular place for voyagers for many millennia, even harking back to when Jason and his Argonauts sailed these waters looking for the fabled Golden Fleece.

There are dozens of cruise lines now plying the waters of the Black Sea with vessels ranging in size from small yachts which accommodate small groups of people to some of the world’s largest and most modern cruise lines using ships which can carry thousands.

Most of the ports that you visit were once members of the Soviet Bloc and closed to westerners. Today, when you visit some of these ports you realise that many of these cities are full of charm and totally unlike the totalitarian citadels we once thought them to be.

Some, such as Sevastopol in the Ukraine, were former Soviet naval bases which have far more in common with the French Riviera today that they do with communistic warfare. It is precisely because it was a naval port that it makes a great destination for cruise liners today. The deep water berths and facilities were already in place, so that little adjustment was required to cater for massive civilian craft.

Sailing the Black Sea is similar to cruising the Mediterranean as the most visited ports are relatively close to each other, meaning that ships sail at night so that passengers can get full day touring each day should they require it.

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