15th Mennonite Heritage Cruise in 2009
(also known as the Floating Mennonite University)
Odessa - Crimea - Kyiv
September 29 to October 15, 2009
Download site for passengers booking on the 2009 cruise
The Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page for the 2009 cruise may be useful to prospective passengers
What people have said about this cruise. Well over 2,000 pilgrim passengers have participated
New - July 2009 - there are some program changes
The 15th Cruise   September/October 2009
. .
27  September  Sunday 28  Sep  Monday 29 Sep  Tuesday 30 Sep  Wednesday 1 Oct     Thursday  2  Oct  Friday
3 Oct    Saturday
. Passengers fly from North America .Arrivals in Odessa Odessa city tour, Mennonite Archive exhibit on the ship, possible music event onshore
Morning free in Odessa, sail to Crimea at noon, Mennonite lectures begin after a cruise opening  event. Crimea Day 1
Arrival in Sevastopol with day trip to Yalta & Russian Riviera, evening Black Sea Fleet  Revue
4 Oct   Sunday
5 Oct   Monday
6 Oct   Tuesday
7 Oct  Wednesday
8 Oct  Thursday
9 Oct  Friday
10 Oct  Saturday
Crimea Day 2
Visits to Mennonite villages or
Crimean War Sites
World Communion Sunday is observed on the ship.

Crimea Day 3
Morning walking tours of Sevastopol naval sites plus visit to nearby ancient Greek Chersonesus
Ship sails after noon

On the River 
Mennonite lectures continue with a break to visit the old historic section of naval Kherson
Zaporizhia Day 1
Long day of bus and private trips to former Mennonite villages
Zaporizhia Day 2
Long day of bus and private trips to former Mennonite villages

Zaporizhia Day 3
A final long day of bus and private trips to former Mennonite
 villages. Evening music event on the ship
Zaporizhia Day 4 Visiting historic Khortitsa-Rosenthal and unveiling of Memorial;
& Evening memorial service
11 Oct  Sunday
12 Oct  Monday
13 Oct Tuesday
14  Oct Wednesday
15 Oct  Thursday
16   Friday
17   Saturday
Morning visit to urban Mennonite sites.  An evening of sharing
On the river -  Relaxing
We sail without stopping to Kyiv. Genealogy seminar
Half day city excursion
Evening Horlytsa folk Ensemble & Captain's Dinner
Half day city excursion. Evening  command performance by Boyan choir
Cruise ends in Kyiv
with morning and afternoon flights to Europe stopovers
 or home

Ship's route - 2008 cruise - starting in Odessa and ending in Kyiv - map courtesy Kenneth Ratzlaff

An old adage says: If you haven’t sailed the Dnieper, you haven’t seen Ukraine. The Dnieper is Europe’s third longest river, after the Volga and the Danube. It is the history of the nation immortalized in legend and song. It is the cradle of the eastern Slavic cultures. Today it is a cascade of five reservoirs and locks with asymmetrical banks, the right bank often high and steep, the left bank low and plain. We also sail the storied Black Sea to Crimea. For the fifth time, the cruise starts in Odessa and ends in Kyiv.

The cruise itinerary in narrative form

September 29, 2009
Flights from North America

September 30-Oct 2  Odessa
Passengers take buses from the airport to the ship. The 2009 voyage starts in Odessa, known as the Pearl of the Black Sea which has a decidedly international feel to it, having been founded in 1794 in large part by aristocratic emigres from the French Revolution. The wide boulevards, distinguished mansions and lovely interior courtyards, which we see in our city tour, give evidence of its former grandeur.
We have opportunity to climb the great Potemkin staircase, walk around the city to shop for souvenirs. As a Mennonite prologue we see a special exhibit from the Peter Braun archive, miraculously rediscovered and the Board of Guardians archive, displayed especially for us on the ship. As we depart Odessa, the Mennonite historical lectures begin.

October 3-5    Crimea
We are docked for three days in historic Sevastopol, traditional home of the Black Sea Fleet. We see a high energy musical revue by the Fleet musicians, singers and dancers.
We are docked within twenty minutes drive to one of the world's great panoramas - depicting a day in the Crimea War (1853-56).  We are also close to the site of the tragic Charge of the Light Brigade.

Crimea is a fascinating place with its varied geography. Most of the peninsula is flat, fertile, arable land, much coveted by 19th century land-starved Mennonites from the Molochna. We visit the former Mennonite villages. These will likely include Spat, Karassan, Annenfeld and Tschongrau.

Across the lower centre are ranges of foothills which culminate in a dramatic range of seaside mountains, creating the "Russian Riviera". Here are the fabled resort palaces of Greater Yalta, such as Count Vorontsov’s Alupka Palace and the Romanov’s Livadia Palace, site of the 1944 Yalta Conference..

We make a special bus and walking tour of Sevastopol, historic naval home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Not far from where we are docked in Sevastopol lie the grand ruins of Greek & Byzantine Chersonesus. From here Christianity came to eastern Slavic lands more than a millennium ago.

We continue the lectures as we leave Crimea, updating our knowledge of Russian Mennonite history with historian Paul Toews and architect Rudy Friesen.

October 6    On the river, Kherson
We continue from the Black Sea up to the Dnieper to make a short stop at Kherson to enjoy a rustic outdoor picnic lunch
and crafts sale on a Dnieper delta island.
The Mennonite lectures conclude.

October 7-10  Zaporizhia & Memorial Weekend
The heart of the Mennonite Heritage Cruise experience then finds us docked four days at Zaporizhia, formerly known as Alexandrovsk.
During our Zaporizhia stay, everyone sees famous Khortitsa-Rosenthal, now a suburb of Zaporizhia, including the oak tree, the Mädchenschule and other well known sites. From Zaporizhia we visit the parent Khortitsa and Molochna colonies via bus routes reflecting passenger requests. Individual trips can also be arranged to specific villages and outlying daughter colonies.

The Zaporizhia visit ends with a number of special activities dealing with the Memorial commemorating the disappearance during the Soviet terror of 30,000 Mennonite men, women and children. .

October 11    Dnipropetrovsk
The ship arrives overnight at Dnipropetrovsk, formerly Ekaterinoslav, an Imperial Russian centre well known to our ancestors. A walking tour of the old city centre reminds us of the influence of entrepreneur and mayor, Johann Esau, politician Hermann Bergman and other Mennonites in this region. We also see sites associated with the anarchist, Nestor Makhno. An emotionally charged room in the local museum is devoted to the millions of people who perished under Stalin.

As we sail from Dnipropetrovsk, we enjoy an evening of sharing and singing.

October 12  On the River
As we sail non-stop to Kyiv, Alan Peters conducts a computer assisted genealogy seminar, we visit the Captain’s bridge on the ship, see a preview of the cruise DVD.

October 13,14    Kyiv
The cruise ends in Kyiv with a population of over 3 million. We visit Old Kyiv Hill, strategically located above the Dnieper; St. Sofia Basilica, the Jewish holocaust site at Babi Yar and the complex of monastic buildings known as Pechersky Lavra. There is some free time for shopping.
Our Kyiv cruise epilogue includes an on ship performance by the renowned Horlytsa Ukrainian Folk Ensemble, the gala Captain’s Dinner, and a command performance in the city by Ukraine's outstanding Boyan Male Chamber Choir.

October 15  Cruise ends in Kyiv
Passengers take morning or afternoon flights to western Europe for stopovers or fly home

.Boyan choirBlac Sea Ensemble
                        Boyan Male Chamber Choir at the University of Kyiv                                             Black Sea Fleet Ensemble in Sevastopol                             

Notes on Individual Arangements

We can help you with your individual travel needs.
A. Private Excursions in Ukraine.
In due time we will publish a bus schedule, reflecting passenger requests for villages in the former Khortitsa, Molochna and Crimea colonies. These are included in the cruise price. We can also book private trips, at modest extra cost, to more distant destinations within Ukraine such as villages in the former Volhynia, Sagradowka, Fürstenland, Borozenko, Schlachtin-Baratov, Memrik & Ignatievo colonies or remote places in Crimea. Please have a look at how we organized bus and private trips for the 2008 cruise

B. North American connecting flights.
We use the best possible fares offered by scheduled airlines.

Note about post-cruise stopover options:
C. Transatlantic Flights & European Stopovers.
Our two major air carriers are Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines for Canadian departures and Austrian Airlines for U.S. departures.  Vienna is the cultural centre of central Europe. In mid October the concert and opera seasons are in full swing. There are wonderful museums and art galleries. Marina has long standing contacts with a family owned hotel in the historic Vienna city centre.  If you are flying with Austrian Airlines your  European  stopover would start in Vienna. It is also the gateway to may interesting eastern European cites such as Prague, Budapest, Venice etc. Walter has special hotel and cultural contacts in Germany, including Berlin, Dresden (city centre recently and magically rebuilt) and the Bach city of Leipzig. Flying with Lufthansa  your stopover would begin in Frankfurt or Munich.

Please visit this page from time to time to learn more about scheduled events in Europe in mid to late October, 2009
You can also find out directly from Germany and Vienna on the web. The recommended supplier of day tours from Vienna to Budapest, Prague, etc is Royal Tours. Deutsche Bahn (German Rail) has a very useful search engine for European trains.

For further information contact
Marina Unger, Cruise Organizer:   toll free 1-800-387-1488 ext 2827 or direct office line 416-915-2827    e-mail:  marinau@vision2000.ca
Jane Clemens, Cruise Administrative Assistant:  toll free 1-800-387-1488 ext 2243 or direct office line 416-915-2243    e-mail:  janec@vision2000.ca
for both  Fax (416) 221-5605
Conference World Tours/Vision 2000
1200 Sheppard Avenue East  Suite 201
Toronto, Ontario, Canada   M2K 2S5

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