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A common assumption is that it goes back to the days when the ancient Greeks called it the "Inhospitable Sea", because back then it was difficult to navigate and fierce tribes lived along its shores.Other suggestions relate to the deep waters and winter fogs making the waters look dark, or the rich concentration of microalgae that give the sea a blackish color.

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Black Sea with Eastern Mediterranean: Some itineraries operate between Athens and Istanbul, making a foray north to Black Sea ports.In 2014, amidst growing security concerns and fighting in eastern Ukraine, cruise lines changed their 2015 Black Sea itineraries to bypass the ports of Odessa, Sevastopol and Yalta.They have been replaced with ports of call in Turkey, Romania, Georgia and Bulgaria, with some sailings are spending more time in Greece. citizens to defer all travel to eastern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, which is being occupied by Russia.A magnet is Batumis Bulvari, or Seaside Park, a boulevard with shady tree-lined spots, dancing fountains, statues, bars and cafes that run along the waterfront.The Nobel Technological Museum Batumi's takes you back a century to the time when the city was at the forefront of the international oil business, with investment from the Nobels and Rothschilds spawning technological innovations.The Black Sea cruise season runs from mid-April through October.

The summer months of June, July and August are the warmest, but also the busiest.

One minute you can be haggling at bazaars, piled high with pungent spices, the next be sipping coffee at a trendy cafe.

The last European stop for the Orient Express, nearby is the Pera Palace hotel where Agatha Christie wrote part of her famous on-board murder story.

With impressive architecture, ancient ruins and castles, the region's history offers plenty of sights and experiences.

River: Although the vessels aren't running in 2015, Viking River Cruises has offered Ukraine-specific itineraries that travel from Kiev to Odessa on the Dnieper River, ending in the Black Sea.

Whatever the origin, one thing's for certain -- it's not a dismal or gloomy place.