In many ways, Venice defies description – but we’ll give it a try. It’s the capital of the northern Italian Veneto region, home of the masked ball and brimming with grand marble palaces. Even its topology is unique; built upon 100 islands within a lagoon, its complicated network of canals takes the place of roads. The largest is the Grand Canal. On Venice cruises, hop onto a gondola and glide past world-renowned gems such as the Basilica di San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale. When afternoon turns into evening, pop into Harry’s Bar for a pre-dinner drink. We’d recommend a Bellini, a sparkling cocktail of prosecco and peach puree invented here in the 1930s. Dinner could only be seafood freshly fished from the lagoon, with views of the sun setting on the canals. Art is close to Venice’s heart. Soak up some culture by visiting Tintoretto’s Heaven on Earth – a building dedicated to the patron saint of the plague-stricken, St Roch. Its many rooms are covered with Tintoretto’s dramatic 16th-century art. If you’re cruising with us between June and November in an odd year, you can’t miss the revered Venice Biennale – a city-wide festival of installations and exhibitions. Tick off the must-sees before leaving Venice – St Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge – but don’t forget to make time for getting lost in the labyrinthine back alleys whose mysterious atmosphere makes Venice so unique.