I have sold APT River Cruises to my customers for a number of years, and for six in a row my store, helloworld Rotorua, has been recognised as New Zealand's Top APT River Cruise Store. I had always believed in APT's wonderful cruise offerings and when I finally experienced one personally during my trip it only cemented my belief. There is truly no better way of exploring the gorgeous towns and villages of Europe than by cruising along its famous waterways on an APT River Cruise Ship.

Our six-night itinerary was specially designed for the christening event. As the first passengers to step on board the luxurious new vessel in Vienna, we were welcomed exactly as my clients have been welcomed in the past. The impeccable manners of the staff, the meticulous attention to detail and the style of the reception that was held to welcome us on board were all first-class – and this was only the beginning.

The décor and furnishings of our Twin Balcony Suite – our home for the next six nights – did not disappoint. The suites are cleverly designed to maximise space and the added bonus of the Twin Balcony meant we could enjoy the European waterways whatever the weather.

The gala dinner on the first night also offered an insight into what was in store in the following days. On an APT River Cruise, you want for nothing. The extremely high level of service – professional yet ever so friendly – makes your river cruise experience unique. The variety and quality of the food and the attention to detail are incredible – it's like dining in the top restaurant in your home town, every day!

On AmaReina, as with many other APT river ships, there are also several dining venues. Choose from the Verde Fine Dining Restaurant, the Bella Cucina Restaurant, private dining in The Wine Room, or for something straight out of MasterChef, the Erlebnis Chef’s Table Restaurant is the ultimate. Watch in awe as your private chef prepares your degustation menu in this intimate dining experience. The best thing of all is that not only are all of these incredible dining experiences inclusive in your cruise but you also get to enjoy them day after day after day.

All of this good food – available 24/7 should you wish – calls for a bit of exercise, and what better way to explore the European villages and towns along the gorgeous waterways than on foot? Europe was born on the waterways, and perhaps the most impressive aspect of our trip was being completely immersed in the local culture – experiencing for ourselves the present way of life but also learning about its history from extremely knowledgeable tour guides who tell the story of the towns and villages with passion.

With APT River Cruises, all of your shore excursions are inclusive, so there's no extra sightseeing to pay for. With tours for early risers, slow walkers, fast walkers and walkers who want to shop en route, there is a shore excursion to suit everyone. The more active can grab a bicycle off the ship and meander through the towns or cycle between villages – a fabulous way to totally immerse yourself in all things European.Cruising into beautiful towns like Dürnstein, Melk, Linz, Passau, Vilshofen and Regensburg during our six days was only a taste of what most my clients enjoy on APT’s full 15-day Magnificent Europe River Cruise, but the chance to experience the christening of AmaReina in the gorgeous Bavarian village of Vilshofen made up for our shortened itinerary. What an experience! We had a real-life princess on board – Princess Heide von Hohenzollern of Germany – who is the honorary "godmother"of AmaReina and bestowed her blessing on the ship at the christening ceremony.

How many times in your life can you say that you have met a real princess and witnessed the christening of a river ship? Even more wonderful is that many of my clients who take APT's Magnificent Europe cruises will get to meet Princess Heide as she has opened her home to APT guests from 2015 onwards. Burg Namedy, her castle on the Rhine, will be an experience included on all Magnificent Europe itineraries.

Another royal experience during the trip was an unforgettable day's journey from Linz to Passau via Salzburg on board the lovingly restored 19th century Austria-Hungarian Royal Train, the Majestic Imperator. Wow, what an experience! Each carriage was lavishly appointed in resplendent style of the bygone era, and from the free-flowing Champagne and chocolates on arrival (albeit it was 9am!) to the cocktails and hors d'oevres served in the afternoon, we certainly enjoyed our armchair ride through the countryside. My clients will also enjoy this inclusive experience next year when they travel with APT River Cruises.

Writing this and thinking fondly about my unforgettable journey, I am so pleased that I finally experienced what my clients have been enjoying for years.

Have you ever thought about doing a River Cruise before? Where would you like to cruise to? Let us know down in the comment section.