Optional Turkey Prelude
July 3 - 7, 2025
Istanbul & Cappadocia

Wednesday, July 2

Depart United States

Depart the United States for overnight transatlantic flights to the city of Istanbul, Turkey (airport code IST).

Thursday, July 3

Arrive in Istanbul

From the Istanbul airport on July 3, hop in a waiting taxi for transfer to the Çırağan Palace Kempinski. This magnificently redesigned Ottoman imperial palace is just steps away from the azure Bosphorus Strait.

Friday, July 4


Following breakfast at our hotel, our guides will meet us to begin our exploration of
Istanbul where the historic treasures of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires
await. Along our tour we will explore the striking Suleymaniye Mosque, one of the
largest mosques ever constructed during Ottoman rule, followed by a perusal of the gilded iconostasis (screen of icons) at the Patriarchal Church of St. George.

We venture along the Golden Horn waterfront to explore the richly ornate Bulgarian St. Stephen Church, famous for its unique cast-iron construction in the Neo-Byzantine style. Lunch will be enjoyed at a local restaurant in Old City. Several other impressive sites will be on our sightseeing itinerary, including the Little Hagia Sophia, the formidable stone walls enclosing the ancient city of Byzantium, and the fearsome Yedikule Fortress, which enclosed the grandest official treasury fort in the Ottoman Empire. This evening, our palatial hotel offers you a variety of fine dining and comfortable options to enjoy with whomever you choose.


Yedikule Fortress

Saturday, July 5

Istanbul & Cappadocia

Goreme Open Air Museum

Our day begins with a morning flight to Cappadocia, encompassing the former district of Galatia, which was home to early Christians who were charged to make sense of their new citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. Paul wrote here to “God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia…Grace and peace be yours in abundance” (I Peter 1:1-2), and “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in
reverent fear.” (I Peter 1:17)

Among the breathtaking sites of this ancient biblical region, deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Goreme Open Air Museum resembles a vast monastic complex composed of scores of refectory monasteries placed side-by-side, each with its own fantastic church. Here you will examine frescos from the 10th century that still retain their colors. Situated in this dream-like landscape we will encounter these sacred spaces of early Christians: Church of the Buckle, the Apple Church, and the Churches of St. Barbara and St Basil. Enjoy dinner and overnight at the pristine Hotel Barceló Cappadocia.

Sunday, July 6


Today before dawn, you may choose to float over Cappadocia’s iconic “fairy chimneys”, valleys and rock-cut churches and experience the sunrise from a unique aerial viewpoint from an optional hot air balloon ride. Savor the peaceful, early morning silence while watching the skillful team prepare the balloon for your flight. Enjoy memorable panoramic views from up to 1,000 feet above ground, then celebrate your safe landing with a champagne toast and a personalized flight certificate before the transfer back to your hotel in time for the day’s adventure on land.

Together we will visit one of the dozens of underground cities which housed communities replete with living quarters, chapels, storage areas, a communal kitchen, and burial chambers. Marvel as we visit the beautiful, huddled village of Uchisar, uniquely centered around a rock cone which proved as a natural defense for centuries. You will also see the whimsical fairy chimneys at Pasabag, and the small town of Avanos, known for its local pottery made with clay from the Kizilirmak River. Enjoy a traditional lunch in a cozy village home. Return to our hotel for a lively dinner and our final evening in Cappadocia.

Hot Air Balloon Ride over Cappadocia's Fairy Chimneys

Monday, July 7

Cappadocia & Istanbul

Topkapi Palace

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

This morning we return to Istanbul for continued exploration, beginning at the world-famous Topkapi Palace. Home to Ottoman rulers for over four hundred years, the Palace's buildings, courtyards, and jewel collection reflect the astounding wealth and power that were the sole privilege of the Sultans. Our leisurely visit will include a rare peek inside the Palace's harem, only open by special arrangement for select touring parties. We'll visit the 17th century Spice Bazaar, one of Istanbul’s most colorful, bustling attractions.

Next, we travel the Golden Horn on our way to an unforgettable cruise along the Bosphorus, the majestic strait that runs through Istanbul, linking Europe and Asia. From our ship, we view the dramatic sights lining the Bosphorus’ wooded shores: mosques, a bridge that for a time was the world’s longest, and Rumeli Hisarı, a massive fortress built by Mehmet the Conqueror in just three months as he prepared to take Istanbul. Also noteworthy on this tour are the 19th century mansions of the Ottoman elite and the Sultans’ fanciful gingerbread palaces and hunting lodges.

Istanbul & Cappadocia Prelude

Owner's Suite:  $4,995/person
Cabin Categories B & C:  $3,545/person
Cabin Categories D, E, F:  $3,245/person
Single supplement $495
(prices based on 25 travelers)

Tuesday, July 8

Core Itinerary Begins

Join the rest of our group for a full-day tour of Istanbul and embarkation on the majestic SEA CLOUD II, our luxurious yacht.