Fairy tale spires, glittering palaces and cutting edge style – a Baltic ocean cruise will take you on an unforgettable adventure says Deborah Stone

Think Baltic cruise and most people don’t get much past St Petersburg, the classical Russian city with its ornate Winter Palace and extraordinary art collection in the Hermitage museum. St Petersburg is a must-see on any Baltic voyage, usually for a two or three-day stay, yet there are a wealth of other destinations to discover; some cruises take in a clutch of other East European nations (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland), there’s usually at least a touch of Scandi style and sometimes even a look at the fjords.


EAST MEETS EAST

While three full days in St Petersburg is the highlight
 of this voyage on Oceania Cruises’ elegant East Coast American-style ship Marina, there are other fascinating Eastern European ports to explore. Almost unvisited
by cruise ships is Klaipeda, Lithuania’s third largest city, where towers from the Middle Ages abound and Smiltyne Beach is a charming getaway. You also explore Gdansk in Poland, a place of intricate medieval beauty despite being known for its shipyards, and equally ornate Tallinn in Estonia. A Scandinavian section features the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
GETTING THERE: Oceania Cruises (0845 505 1920/oceaniacruises.com) has a 12-day Stockholm to Amsterdam cruise on Marina on 3 September 2016, from £3,349pp (two sharing) including flights.


HISTORY AND HERITAGE

One of the rarer ports of call on a Baltic itinerary is Gdansk; here you get a day to explore the 1,000-year- old Polish shipbuilding city. This includes Solidarity Square, paying homage to the dockworkers who formed the trade union in 1970 that heralded the fall of the Iron Curtain. This Princess Cruises’ trip on smart Emerald Princess heads all the way from Southampton to St Petersburg and back with a host of classic stops (Tallinn, Helsinki, Stockholm) as well as Zebrugge for the pretty medieval Belgian city of Bruges.
GETTING THERE: Princess Cruises (0843 374 2401/princess.com) has a 14-day Baltic Heritage cruise from Southampton on Emerald Princess on 4 June and 9 July 2016, from £1,599pp (two sharing).


MIDNIGHT FUN

Celebrity Cruises’ stylishly revamped Celebrity Eclipse does the full Baltic tour from Southampton. There
are two days in St Petersburg and some midnight departures (Copenhagen, Warnemünde) so you can have dinner on board and still hop off to sample the nightlife. And there’s nothing quite like sitting on Eclipse’s real lawn as you sail into picturesque ports such as Stockholm.
GETTING THERE: Celebrity (celebritycruises.co.uk/
0844 493 2043) has a 14-night Scandinavia and Russia cruise from Southampton on Celebrity Eclipse on
22 May 2016, from £1,299pp (two sharing).


FJORDS ESCAPE

This three-week dream trip with Seabourn has a 
Baltic finale with three days in St Petersburg, along with visits to Tallinn and Helsinki, but you get a
grand tour of the fjords first. Seabourn Quest, small and contemporary, follows the Norwegian coast all the way from its southern tip to the North Cape, Europe’s northernmost point, for a visit to the pretty town of Honningsvåg. In between you sail Sognefjord and Trollfjord, visit the Lofoten Islands, the city of Tromsø, and take little inflatable Zodiac boats to get close to the birdlife on craggy Storstappen Island.
GETTING THERE: Seabourn (0843 373 2000/seabourn.com) has a 21-day Scandinavia & St Petersburg cruise from Copenhagen to Stockholm on Seabourn Quest on 28 May and 25 June 2016, from £8,479pp (two sharing), cruise only.