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Cruises to Yalta

Yalta (Photo:Andrei Kholmov/Shutterstock)
Yalta (Photo:Andrei Kholmov/Shutterstock)

About Yalta

Editor's Note: Due to ongoing issues in the Crimean peninsula, stops in Yalta have been halted by most cruise lines.

Jutting out into the Black Sea, lined with beaches and at the same latitude as southern France, the Crimean coastline has been dubbed the Ukrainian Riviera. Yalta ranks as the largest and most popular resort town on this stretch of coast. Set in a deep bay and surrounded by green mountains and vineyards, it's certainly easy on the eye as you sail toward the shore.

Yalta has been shaped by many influences over the centuries. According to legend, it was founded in the 1st century by Greek sailors who lost their way in a storm. When they landed in the bay with its warm climate and beautiful surroundings, they decided to stay put and form a settlement. The old part of town contains wooden houses built under Turkish rule in the 18th century; Russia took control in the late 18th century. Yalta quickly became the Black Sea's most fashionable resort and a playground of the czars and aristocracy when Alexander II made nearby Livadia his summer home.

Its balmy climate and seaside location led to Yalta becoming a health resort for Soviet workers in the 20th century, with grand homes turned into sanatoria.

For cruise passengers making their way on land under their own steam, it's easy to see why many don't get any farther than the long stretch of promenade named after Lenin (and where his statue gazes out to sea). Situated next to the cruise terminal, the waterfront is well over a mile long and lined with interesting shops and places to eat and drink. The rest of the town is not as accessible as main districts in other Black Sea ports, such as Odessa. The roads are quite steep and often busy with tour buses and taxis leaving the port. However, Yalta is the gateway to a fascinating region. Beyond the town, winding roads offer spectacular views of the coast and lead to evocative Crimean War sites and palaces that played a pivotal role in modern history.

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Why go to Yalta?

Pros:

Yalta boasts an expansive and scenic waterfront with lots of shops and restaurants

Cons:

Political unrest can affect travel plans in the Crimean peninsula, and many cruise lines forgo it

Bottom Line:

While Yalta is a beautiful and interesting destination, ongoing issues might keep you from visiting

Yalta Cruise Port Facilities?

The passenger terminal features a tourist information office and facilities, including toilets and refreshment vendors. There are ATM's on the pedestrian-only waterfront area and plenty of shops, restaurants, open-air cafes, fairground rides, street entertainers and pebble beaches, making it easy to enjoy a day close to the port. Historic sights include the statue of Lenin standing in front of a modern fast food chain. A case of the old East meeting the new West?

Good to Know?

Plenty of taxis can be hailed around the port, but make sure you agree on a price before you get in. Don't be afraid to haggle. If you think the price is too high, just walk away and find another taxi down the street and try to negotiate a cheaper rate.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Away from the bustling Naberezhnaya Lenina, or Lenin Promenade, the main city center is a 15-minute walk away -- where a top attraction is Alexander Nevsky cathedral. Independent travelers armed with a map can enjoy a stroll from the port to soak up some of the sights, but for the main attractions, you need to take a tour bus out of town.

Public Transport: Inexpensive trolley buses travel in town, and a good bus network runs to outlying areas that are home to attractions such as Alupka Palace and the Crow's Nest. Tell the driver where you want to get off because the stops are a short walk away. Bear in mind that language can also be an issue.

By Taxi: Taxis are plentiful, and drivers waiting outside the port terminal invariably speak English, and they know all the top sights and how to dodge the peak-season traffic jams.

By Ferry: During the cruise season, up to 20 ferries a day run from the pier on the promenade to the Swallow's Nest and Livadia Palace. Tickets are cheap, but be prepared for the climb up to the castle and palace from the landing points. Cruise ships typically arrive at breakfast time and sail late afternoon, so there is plenty of time for travelers to go sightseeing on their own.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

The currency is the Ukrainian hryvnia. For current currency conversion figures, check www.xe.com. Some souvenir vendors in Yalta accept U.S. dollars, but it's best to get some local currency; U.S. dollars and Russian rubles represent the two main currencies accepted at banks and money exchanges. Some exchange services accept euros, and the British pound is hard to exchange. Ensure notes are in good condition or they could be refused. A currency exchange is located in the port's passenger terminal, and you'll find plenty of ATM's nearby. Major credit cards are accepted in restaurants and shops.

Language?

Ukrainian is the official state language. English is widely spoken in shops, restaurants and at tourist attractions.

Where You're Docked?

Cruise ships dock at Yalta Sea Trade Port, which contains a passenger terminal. The port is situated on the main promenade but, unlike other Black Sea destinations, most of the main sights, such as Livadia, Alupka Palace and the Crow's Nest, are not accessible on foot from the port. Visitors need to sign up for shore excursions or travel independently by taxi. In 2012, plans were announced to modernize the port and extend the berthing facilities to accommodate up to four ships simultaneously.


Yalta Cruise Reviews

Rob Folley
Sail Date: Aug 2015
Again not on this cruise.... Read More
summerton
Sail Date: Sep 2015
Went by tender, not much to see... Read More
Pacific Princess
GradUT
Sail Date: Jul 2013
We actually did not see Yalta, but did the ship's excursion to Sevastopol. Due to the distance from Yalta and the short amount of time in port, I would not do a private tour to Sevastopol. Due to problems with the... Read More
Seven Seas Mariner
vcr_traveler515
Sail Date: Jul 2013
I took the tour to visit two palaces, one a summer place for the Czars and one where they signed the treaty before the end of World War II. The historical significance of the Lividia Palace was overwhelming. Half... Read More
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