Scenic Tours, French Country Waterways, and Ten Good Reasons to River Cruise

When I embarked on my first river cruise in December, a lot of my friends thought I was crazy. The thought of traveling to the wintry chill of Europe one week before Christmas didn’t leave most of them with much enthusiasm, and many said to me, “but river cruises are boring!”

As it turned out, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

It's not difficult to see the appeal of river cruises. Photo © Aaron Saunders

My voyage aboard AmaWaterways AmaLyra this past December was one of the most memorable trips I’ve taken anywhere. Not only did I get to experience Europe’s celebrated Christmas Markets, but I was also able to discover river cruising for the first time – and it was an event that would change my life.

The brand-new Scenic Crystal, docked in Strasbourg. Photo © Ralph Grizzle

My colleague Ralph Grizzle just spent a few glorious days onboard Scenic Tours brand-new Scenic Crystal, and he has now embarked on what could arguably be called the river cruise: a barging experience with French Country Waterways.

Ralph Grizzle's journey aboard French Country Waterways gets off to a picturesque start! Photo © Ralph Grizzle

Far more intimate in nature and with a good measure of nostalgia thrown in, Ralph’s barging journey through France promises to be an exceptionally memorable experience, and we’ll be sharing his thoughts with you here on River Cruise Advisor in the coming days.

In the meantime, here are 10 Good Reasons to Take A River Cruise – In Pictures.

10. It's tough to compete with waking up to scenes like this. Just another beautiful day along the Danube. Photo © Aaron Saunders

9. River Cruise Ships are now as lavish as luxury ocean liners. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

8. Staterooms, like this French Balcony room aboard the new Viking Odin, are as good as if not better than many European hotels. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

7. Local food! Photo © Aaron Saunders

6. River Cruises offer a chance to experience inland sights, like this cathedral in Vienna, but from the comfort of a ship. Photo © Aaron Saunders

5. History. See that casket? It was used by monks in Melk, Austria to transport corpses for burial. Edgar Allan Poe, eat your heart out! Photo © Aaron Saunders

4. Serenity - you can only get this view of Passau, Germany from the comfort of a river cruise ship. Photo © Aaron Saunders

3. Diversity - river cruises are offered throughout Europe, including places like Spain and Portugal. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

2. Beautiful Dusk hours. Viking Idun docked at the Port of Amsterdam on March 21, 2012. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

1. The amazing food; the stellar company. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

You can read our day-by-day Live Trip Report from onboard AmaWaterways AmaLyra by clicking here.