12 cruises for autumn - from balmy Rio to frozen Alaska

Sail away from it all on one of these dream holidays

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October has landed which means its Plan a Cruise Month - 31 days of the year dedicated to the best deals and offers - to tempt you into your next holiday.

To kick start the season, we've handpicked some of our favourite cruise deals and adventures, from warm climes in the Bahamas to balmy Rio and St Petersburg in Russia, to inspire you for the months ahead.

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Here are our 12 picks.

1. Aruba, Caribbean

Silversea's See & Sea Island Tour, from £52pp

Experience the island from above and below the sea. The trip starts on a semi-submersible which visits the wreck of the 440ft WWII German freighter Antilla, passing coral reefs and dancing shoals of fish.

Back on dry land, the tour continues to the spectacularly sited California Lighthouse and the distinctive Casibari Rock Formations.

Get on board: Eight-day trip on Silver Wind leaves from Bridgetown on January 17, calling at Bequia, St George's, Kralendijk, Oranjestad, Cartagena and Colon. From £3,200pp all-inclusive with butler service in every suite. Flights not included.

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2. St Petersburg, Russia

Credits: MSC Rights

MSC's Best of St Petersburg, £149pp

Cameras at the ready to capture one of the world's most photogenic cities. Guests will see the Empress Catherine I's lavish summer palace in Pushkin, then head back to St Petersburg to visit St Isaac's Cathedral, relax with a typical Russian lunch, explore the truly astounding art of the world-class Hermitage Museum and round off the day with time for souvenir shopping (a Russian doll, perhaps?).

Get on board: A 14-night round trip on MSC Preziosa leaving on May 26 from Kiel to Hellesylt, Geiranger, Bergen, Flam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn and St Petersburg. From £1,299pp. Flights not included.

3. Alaska, USA

Credits: Getty

Holland America Line's Five Glacier Seaplane Exploration, £163pp

Seeing the grandeur of glaciers from the air is a bucket-list ticker and this flightseeing trip from the capital, Juneau, takes in five of the mighty icefields. A seaplane trip into the wilderness is the quintessential Alaskan experience. It takes off from the waterfront for the deep crevasses and azure blue meltwater pools of the Norris, Hole-In-The-Wall, East and West Twin Glaciers plus the five-mile-wide Taku Glacier.

Get on board : A seven-night round-trip Inside Passage itinerary on Nieuw Amsterdam sails on May 5 from Vancouver, visiting Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan. Fly/cruise price £1,929pp from Heathrow.

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4. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Credits: Getty

Princess Cruises' Carnival Samba Parade one-day pass (Grandstand) from £148pp

Take your seat in the Marvellous City's Sambodromo – literally the stadium of samba – to join 90,000 cheering spectators watching the eye-poppingly colourful parades and special-effects lighting as samba schools compete for the opportunity to perform in the main Carnival Down Under.

You can take an educational guided walking tour to enjoy the serenity of the North Island's ancient and majestic Puketi Kauri Forest and explore caverns with unique stalactite and stalagmite formations which are lit by twinkling glow worms.

Get on board: An 11 night New Zealand round trip itinerary on Radiance of the Seas starts at £1,481pp based on two sharing. The ship departs from Sydney on March 18, 2018 and calls at Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound, Milford Sound, Dunedin, Akaroa, Auckland and Bay of Islands. Flights not included.

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5. Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden

Credits: AWL Images RM

Celebrity Cruises' Ben Fogle's Stockholm Archipelago RIB boat Adventure, from £143pp

Combine great beauty and high speed on a tour designed by the TV adventurer. The oh-so-pretty inner Stockholm archipelago consists of approximately 24,000 islands, islets, skerries and rocks and guests blast through at up to 40 knots for a thrilling view of open waters, narrow channels, charming cottages and the historic fortress of Vaxholm.

Get on board: Celebrity Silhouette sails a 14-night round trip Scandinavia and Russia cruise from £1,299pp based on two sharing and departing from Southampton on June 23, 2018. Calls are Zeebrugge (for Bruges), Copenhagen, Stockholm, Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Warnemunde (for Berlin).

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6. Lisbon, Portugal

Credits: Getty

Thomson Cruises' Lisbon by Eco Tuk Tuk, from £38pp

Hop on an environmentally friendly electric tuk-tuk for a tour around the City of Seven Hills.

The tuk-tuks are small enough to zip around the Portuguese capital's tree-lined avenues and narrow backstreets and sights along the way include the gothic-style Jerónimos Monastery, the riverside Belém Tower and the hilltop São Jorge Castle. The district of Alfama, one the oldest in Lisbon, is on the agenda too – and make sure you find time to try one of the fabled Portuguese custard tarts!

Get on board: A seven night round trip Spirit of Iberia cruise on Thomson Celebration costs from £792pp and departs from Malaga on April 8, 2018 for Lisbon, Portimao, Cadiz, Casablanca and Gibraltar. Price based on two adults sharing on all-inclusive basis and includes flights from Gatwick and transfers.

See also: The ten best beaches in Portugal

7. Rome, Italy

Credits: Getty

P&O Cruises' Vatican Behind The Scenes, from £110pp

Pop into the Pope's pad for a fascinating tour of the Vatican to visit areas otherwise not open to the public.

A guide will take you to see the pristine Vatican Garden and the magnificent Fountain dell'Acquilone plus the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica. Then you enjoy a panoramic drive to see the Eternal City's other landmarks such as the Colosseum.

Get on board: A 14 night round trip cruise from Southampton on Azura costs from £1,099pp and sails on April 13, 2018. Ports of call are Alicante, Barcelona, Toulon, La Spezia, Rome, Cartagena and Gibraltar.

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8. Castaway Cay, Bahamas

Credits: Matt Stroshane

Disney Cruise Line's Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure, £39pp

Guests at Disney's private island can get up close and personal with Southern Stingrays in a lagoon.

The fun starts with an info session about the fish, covering their evolution and biology, then once in the shallow waters a marine specialist leads the group to touch the rays and, using specially designed feeding trays, feel them take food right from the palm of their hand.

Get on board: the Walt Disney Travel Company has a four night Bahamas itinerary on Disney Dream from £1,171pp, departing from Port Canaveral, Florida, and calling at Nassau and Castaway Cay. Price based on two adults and two children sharing and departing on January 29, 2018. Includes flights from Gatwick, a one night pre-cruise hotel stay and transfers.

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9. Mossel Bay, South Africa

Credits: Westend61

Fred Olsen's Nkonzo Conservation from Mossel Bay, £112pp

Experience wildlife conservation at first hand at a highly regarded private organisation for ethical research and ecotourism.

Nkonzo Bush Academy specialises in the Fynbos of South Africa and its non-invasive research aims to decrease human-animal conflict.

Travellers on this trip learn about white rhinos and elusive mammals such as caracal, bushbuck, genets, small spotted cats and duikers, and primates such as the vervet monkey or chacma baboon.

Get on board: Boudicca's 14-night South Africa fly-cruises depart from Cape Town on January 11 and 25, 2018 with prices starting at £2,349pp and including flights from Gatwick or Manchester and transfers.

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10. Santorini, Greece

Royal Caribbean's Volcano Hiking and Hot Springs Swim, £59pp

You'll need your trainers for a brisk hike on ash and lava on the active volcanic island of Nea Kameni (it'll burn off a few of those calories you've acquired on the cruise!).

The views of the Santorini caldera are terrific and you can smell sulphur clouds in a crater and feel the heat from vents. Then enjoy a dip in Palea Kameni's thermal waters before heading to the cable car up to clifftop Fira's shops and restaurants and more panoramic vistas.

Get on board: a seven Greece & Croatia round trip cruise from Venice on Rhapsody of the Seas starts from £861pp, based on two sharing on June 23, 2018. Calls are Dubrovnik, Kotor, Santorini and Katakolon. Flights not included.

See also: Secret Greece: 15 islands you've never heard of

11. Tenerife, Canary Islands

Credits: Tetra images RF

Saga Cruises' Christmas In The Canaries, free Passengers will be in VIP seats among the audience of 30,000 at the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra's annual open air Classical Christmas Day Concert the capital Santa Cruz.

A magical musical evening – one of the island's highlights of the year - finishes with a fabulous fireworks display.

Get on board:An 18 night Christmas In The Canaries round trip cruise on Saga Pearl II departs on December 17, 2018 from Portsmouth and call at Cadiz, Las Palmas, Santa Cruz, La Palma, Funchal and Lisbon. Price from £3,333pp with wines at lunch and dinner and UK mainland travel service to and from the ports.

The world's best cruise destinations, as voted by cruisers

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