POST - ICONIC ISTANBUL - DLX
Experience the joys of Istanbul through its most memorable landmarks: the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, and the legendary Bosphorus, which you'll enjoy on a leisurely cruise.
After disembarking the ship, you will visit the true icons of Istanbul, the must-sees that define the city, beginning with the phenomenal Blue Mosque. One of the few mosques with six minarets, the Blue Mosque was constructed in the early 17th century under the direction of Sultan Ahmet I, who was only 19 years old at the time. The exterior of the mosque is notable for its cascade of domes that seem to spill down from the central dome. Inside, the ceiling is lined with the 20,000 blue tiles for which the mosque is named.
The Hippodrome is also here, partially excavated to reveal some of the seats, columns, statues and obelisks that were once part of this arena. Chariot races, coronations and parades all took place at the Hippodrome, which first appeared in 203 A.D. About 130 years later, Constantine the Great expanded and reshaped the arena so it could hold approximately 100,000 spectators.
Then, it's on to the 15th-century Topkapi Palace, which was expanded under the reign of almost every sultan over the next 400 years. Today, it's a maze of lavishly decorated buildings and courtyards that reflect its most glorious years as the political center of the Ottoman Empire.
Following lunch at a local restaurant, you will see the Hagia Sophia, a former Byzantine church and Ottoman mosque that is now a museum. Although the earliest two versions were destroyed, this Hagia Sophia dates from 537 A.D., and is considered a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. It served as Istanbul's principal mosque for nearly 500 years and became a model for the Blue Mosque.
You will also have the opportunity to browse through the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar, the world's largest and the oldest covered market place. It contains more than 5,000 shops selling an absolutely amazing range of merchandise. Jewelry, carpets, antiques, old coins, furniture, prayer beads and copperware are only a few of the items in the bazaar, which has been operating since the 15th century.
After returning to hotel to freshen up, it's off to a dinner show at the Kervansaray Night Club. You can expect to see belly dancers, musicians and singers in folkloric performances while dining on traditional Turkish cuisine. Afterwards, you will spend the evening at your hotel.
After departing from the hotel, you will enjoy a brief but enlightening tour of Istanbul on the way to the Chora Museum. Like the Hagia Sophia, it was first a church, then a mosque and is now a museum. However, Byzantine mosaics are its most significant feature. Most of them describe the life of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, and the colors are still vivid despite being centuries old.
Following the Chora Museum, you will visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque, which was built in 1561 and has since survived fires and earthquakes. Thousands of brightly colored Iznik tiles are the allure here. They are all original 16th-century pieces of art and cover the walls, columns and niches, lending the interior a spectacularly serene ambiance.
In contrast, you will then tour the Spice Market, a locale so energetic and bustling that it's difficult to know where to look first. Aromas waft through the air, the cacophonous sounds are constant, and it's always crowded with shoppers haggling for the best possible prices. In a word, it's wonderful.
Finally, you will embark on a boat for a leisurely cruise on the Bosphorus, the famed strait that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and perhaps even more important serves as a boundary between Europe to the west and Asia to the east. Passing palaces, wooden mansions and even modern villas along the way, you will experience Istanbul from an entirely different perspective, one you'll never forget.
Afterwards, you will return to the hotel for the evening.
Following breakfast at the hotel, you will have until 12:00/noon to check out. Your transfer to the Istanbul Ataturk airport will be arranged according to your flight time.
Land Program Step by Step:
Please note: The order of the sites visited may vary to avoid congestion. The indicated times are approximate, given here for general reference purposes, and are subject to change.
9:00am Depart from the ship
9:30am Visit the Blue Mosque and Hippodrome
10:30am Visit the Topkapi Palace
1:45pm Visit the Hagia Sophia
2:45pm Visit the Grand Bazaar
4:45pm Return to the hotel
5:30pm Departure for the Kervansaray Night Club
8:00pm Enjoy dinner and show at the Kervansaray
11:00pm Return to the hotel
AM Breakfast at hotel
9:15am Departure from the hotel
9:15am Orientation tour of Istanbul
9:45am Visit the Chora Museum
10:45am Visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque
11:30am Visit the Spice Market
2:15pm Cruise the Bosphorus Strait
4:00pm Return to the hotel
AM Breakfast at hotel
12:00pm Check out from the hotel (or earlier according to your flight time)
Transfer to Istanbul Ataturk airport based on your flight
EXTRA NIGHTS: Should you book any extra nights through the cruise line, you will be transferred to the airport per your departure flight details. Please note that check out time is 12:00nn. Any meals other than breakfast as well as any activities are on your own after the program officially ends on the morning of Day 3.
The museums are closed on certain days and substitutions will apply as follows:
1. Topkapi Palace: closed on Tuesdays; Beylerbeyi Palace visit substituted.
2. Hagia Sophia Museum: closed on Mondays; Chora Museum visit substituted.
3. Chora Museum: closed on Wednesdays; Hagia Sophia Museum or Archaeological Museum visit substituted.
4. Grand Bazaar: closed on Sundays (no substitution)
Order of the sites visited may change to avoid overcrowding at the sites.
Deluxe Program Includes:
" Two overnights at a 5-star hotel on a Bed and Breakfast basis - Divan Istanbul Hotel or similar (standard room)
" All group transfers
" Two full-day tours as described above
" Two local lunches with soft drinks
" One dinner with limited local drinks
Please Note: Guests booking their own flights (independent of the cruise line) are responsible for ensuring that the cruise line has the most current and updated departure information so your transfer can be arranged. Should you book any additional nights independently of the cruise line, a departure transfer is not provided
" Gratuities for guides and drivers, hotel incidentals, and meals not listed above.
Expected Weather: Summers are hot and humid with temperatures averaging 25-30C (78-88F) from June to August, occasionally rising beyond 35C (104F). In spring and autumn, the days are temperate and the evenings mild.
What to Bring: In the summer, comfortable walking shoes, hat, sunscreen and sunglasses are recommended. Light coats are recommended for the autumn, as it may be chilly, especially in the early morning and after 5:00 p.m.
Clothing: Proper attire is required when visiting mosques. Female visitors are required to cover their heads, shoulders and arms. Shorts above knee length are not allowed in the mosques.
Currency: Turkish Lira (TL). One U.S. dollar is worth approximately 1.8 TL.
Electricity: 220 Volts AC/50 Hz. throughout Turkey. (Industrial 380 V) Plug: European round / 2-prong plug.
Luggage: Luggage will travel with the guests during transfers between the hotel and the airport. A luggage truck will be used during transfers between the hotel and the ship.
Accommodations: We will only source different hotels in unforeseen circumstances. If similar hotels are required, they will be of equal ratings and standards.
DIVAN ISTANBUL HOTEL
Address: Asker Ocagi Caddesi No: 1 34367 - Sisli / Istanbul
Please note: Land programs that encompass multiple days ashore customarily include extensive and prolonged activity, while those of shorter durations typically have more moderate activity levels. However, each program varies and participants should be prepared to negotiate a mixture of surfaces, which may include inclines, cobblestones, sand, and gravel or natural paths. There may also be a need to climb steps or stairs on occasion. Wheelchair guests and those with mobility concerns are advised to check with the cruise line in advance to see if any portion of the tour program may not be considered suitable for their individual situation. Weather-appropriate clothing such as caps, sunglasses and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended.
$999 Per Guest