Morning arrival into the harbor of Odessa – the vibrant, energetic city, full of history and culture that embodies the ever-evolving spirit of Ukraine. A historic trading center and gateway to the Black Sea, Odessa is a melting pot of cultures up to this day. This morning, your driver and guide will meet you at your cruise ship to start your exploration of the city with a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts. The Museum of Fine Arts is housed in a beautiful 19th century building, once the palace of a princess of the noble Potocki family. At one point, this family's influence extended beyond this region and they have a palace in Lviv and a gorgeous castle in Lancut, Poland.
This small museum features works by Russian and Ukrainian artists. Of particular note is the work of the outstanding seascape painter I. Aivazovskiy and others who followed in his footsteps. You also may enjoy the recently reopened collection of icons dating back to the 16th century. If interested, you may also enjoy a small exhibit of Soviet modern art on the second floor.
From here, if you are up to it, it is the perfect starting point for a stroll down the picturesque harbor front of Odessa. Your guide will point out some of the city's most notable architectural monuments, including Vorontsov Palace. Of course you will also see the famous Potemkin Steps, which descend grandiosely 455 feet down to the sea front. Odessa’s own unique architectural landmark and a symbol of the city ever since they were featured prominently in Eisenstein's famous film, Battleship Potemkin.
The end of Primorsky Boulevard brings you to the fabulously restored opera house. One of the finest in all of Ukraine, it's worth a visit if your ship is staying in port late until the night. The opera season runs September through June. Continue with a stroll down Deribasovskaya Street – one of Odessa’s main thoroughfares of the city. The many cafes that line the street make a perfect stopping point for a coffee and snack or even a light lunch before continuing your sightseeing outside the city.
This afternoon, your driver and guide will take you approximately 12 miles outside the city to see one of Odessa's most famous sites – the catacombs. This underground network of tunnels carved into the limestone served as a base for partisans during WWII and was actually their home for over two years. People of many nationalities and faiths worked together to defend the city from the Nazi army and this gives one a glimpse into their struggle and sacrifice. Please note, entry and exit of this site requires a flight of stairs. You will walk underground for approximately ½ mile. Please wear appropriate footwear. This excursion is not recommended for those that suffer from claustrophobia.
Return to your ship in time for its departure.