A sparkling gem among the world’s leading cruise destinations, St Petersburg is a treasure-trove of Baroque and Rococo palaces. The most stunning is the incomparable State Hermitage Museum, housing one of the largest art collections in the world. Its rich green and white façade is a focal point along the banks of the River Neva. The glistening cupola of St Isaac’s Cathedral, the colourful domes of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood (above) and the gilded spire of the Peter and Paul Cathedral are prominent symbols of this most enigmatic city, founded in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great and named in honour of St Peter. Beyond the suburbs, the Peterhof summer palace, with its elaborate fountains, is often referred to as Russia’s Versailles, and the ornate Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo houses a modern replica of the famed Amber Room whose original disappeared during the Second World War. Newest of St Petersburg’s museums is devoted to the jeweller Carl Faberge and particularly the eggs he created for the Russian royal family during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

WHO GOES THERE: Almost every cruise line has Baltic itineraries that include St Petersburg, many with overnight stays. All will be hoping against hope that the increased east-west tension after events in Ukraine does not lead to economic sanctions against Russia and an embargo on travel.