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Setting sail from Istanbul
This is one of those destinations that really does live up to the hype! Istanbul is the place where East meets West, where Asia Minor reaches out across the Bosphorus and almost touches Europe. In its earlier incarnation as Constantinople, the city was the eastern bastion of the Byzantine Empire, holding out for centuries before finally capitulating to the Ottomans in 1453, and it remains a bristling, bustling cultural melting pot, the skyline dotted with magnificent minarets and domes.
Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, the Grand Bazaar, the Golden Horn, the Suleiman Mosque, the spice market, the shopping, the museums and galleries and… so much more!
The main attraction in Nessebar is the pretty old town, connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus and full of Byzantine churches in varying states of decay. In summer the crowds can be a little overbearing, but the cobbled streets are sufficiently charming to make a visit worth your while.
Sleepy Sulina is the gateway to the Danube Delta, an incredibly rich ecosystem that has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Delta is a birdwatcher’s paradise, home to species including white and Dalmatian pelicans, glossy ibis, small egrets and pygmy cormorants.
Founded by Catherine the Great in 1794, the sunny port of Odessa has a rich and storied history as a cosmopolitan playground for Russian high society, reflected in the city’s gloriously faded neoclassical architecture. Famous sights include the Potemkin Steps, so called after featuring in the classic 1925 film ‘Battleship Potemkin’.
Samsun occupies an important place in modern Turkish history, since it was here that Kemal Ataturk stepped ashore in 1919 and launched the Turkish War of Independence. The city is a little short on sights, but nearby attractions include Amasya, birthplace of the Greek geographer Strabo.
The bustling Black Sea port of Trabzon has a few interesting sights of its own, such as the Aya Sofya mosque (originally a church, like its namesake in Istanbul), but if you’re here it’s probably to visit the remarkable Sumela Monastery, which clings to a sheer mountainside just south of the city.
The Black Sea port of Bartin is the jumping off point for Safranbolu, a key stop-off on the old caravan routes between East and West. Safranbolu’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a veritable open-air museum of Ottoman-era wooden architecture.
Arriving in Istanbul
Try and go for an authentic Turkish experience with a bath in a hamam. Discuss your options with the receptionist. Cagaloglu Hamami is the most spectacular.
Your home from home
Sleek and stylish, Ponant's wonderful Explorer yachts blend luxury and intimacy with a discreet elegance and tasteful décor.
What we love
Named after six of France's most famous explorers, Le Champlain, Le Lapérouse, Le Bougainville, Le Dumont d'Urville, Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier offer exciting and adventurous itineraries in the utmost comfort. Technologically advanced, with the latest in environmentally friendly hardware, the new ships embody Ponant's trademark élan and flair, with just 92 spacious rooms and suites, a stylish pool deck and an intimate, refined onboard ambience.
|Style||Refined with a wonderful mix of a modern super yacht and nautical tradition, all with a French flair.|
Tailor-make your trip
Our recommended hotel in Istanbul
We love the intimate Four Seasons at Sultanahmet, but – top Mundy tip! - it is so small that it’s often fully booked, so don’t hang about.
See more of Turkey
Take a few extra days and travel to Cappadocia for the extraordinary Star Wars scenery, rock caves and churches.