Thousands of years of history provide great opportunities for shore excursions around the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea. Here’s a sample… Words: David McGonigal.

Mykonos, Greece

With your own tailored iPod and map, Mykonos is yours to discover at your own pace. The convoluted street layout requires that you come armed with navigational tools so you can find the many highlights of this beautiful town. Cruise Line: Celebrity Cruises, Duration: 5 hours.

Athens, Greece

From Piraeus, a coach tour is the most effective way to take in the main sights of Athens: the Acropolis and the Parthenon, the treasures of the National Archaeological Museum and shopping in the Plaka. Cruise Line: MSC Cruises, Duration: 6 hours.

Olympia, Greece

A visit to the sanctuary of Olympia, original home of the Olympic Games, is a very special experience, especially when you include a tour of the archaeological museum, full of exceptional artworks including Praxiteles’ Hermes. Cruise Line: Cunard, Duration: 7 hours.

Istanbul, Turkey

Cover all the highlights of Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, the Sultan Ahmed (Blue) Mosque, Topkapi Palace – now an expansive museum – and the Grand Bazaar, with its 5,000-odd shops. Cruise Line: Princess Cruises, Duration: 8.5 hours.

Odessa, Ukraine

Visit the architectural heritage of the city, with its Italian, French, German and Russian influences, then see a ballet performance at the Opera House. Cruise Line: Costa Cruises, Duration: 6 hours.

Sevastopol, Ukraine

From a ridge overlooking Balaclava, you can see where the Charge of the Light Brigade went wrong. Then head in to what was once a top-secret underground nuclear submarine repair facility. Cruise Line: The Yachts of Seabourn, Duration: 3.5 hours.