A short drive from the pier brings you to the exquisite Massandra Palace. Designed by French architect Bouchart in the style of a Loire Valley castle, it was originally built for Prince C.M. Vorontsov, but later acquired by Tsar Alexander III in 1889 and used as his summer palace. In later years, it became a summer residence for high-ranking Russian politicians, including Stalin, Khrushchev and Brezhnev. Today, it has been carefully restored to its former grandeur and is opened to the public as a truly noteworthy museum. A significant collection of fine art and period furniture can be found on display here as well as a wide array of memorabilia, including items from the Russian Imperial Family of Romanoff. The park-like setting that surrounds the palace is reminiscent of Versailles and beckons you to take a leisurely stroll before leaving.
From Massandra Palace you will next travel to the legendary Livadia Palace. Used as the summer home of the last of the Russian Tsars, Nicholas II, this graceful Italian Renaissance-styled palace made of white Inkerman stone has an unquestionably rich history, having also been the site of the Yalta Conference in 1945. It was here that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Russian Secretary-General Joseph Stalin met to establish the Yalta Declaration which ultimately decided the fate of post-war Europe. The private apartments of the Tsar's family are open to the public and many personal artifacts giving insight into the daily life of the Russian aristocracy during the early 20th century are on display, such as photographs taken by the Tsar himself. In the classroom, a touching reminder of this ill-fated royal family remains in sketches made by the Tsar's four daughters. On the palace grounds, courtyards encircled by columned archways and balconies are home to a vivid array of colorful flowers and stately palm trees, while splashing fountains further serve to enhance the tranquil ambiance found here. Following your tour of the palace, tea, pie and honey will be served in one of the courtyards and a local troupe will entertain you with a traditional folkloric concert. Before returning to the ship, brief time is allowed for you to purchase a memento of what is sure to be a highly memorable visit.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 3 hours of walking and/or standing and is not considered suitable for wheelchair guests or those with mobility concerns. Caps and comfortable walking shoes are recommended. The order of sites visited may vary.