Butlers, Champagne and waltzing – a cruise along the Danube on board Scenic Jasper is an enriching experience, discovers Jeannine Williamson

The Hofburg Palace, Vienna. Photo credit iStock
The Hofburg Palace, Vienna. Photo credit iStock

Left forward for the men, right back for the ladies,” instructs Harald as I stare down at my immobile feet. It sounds so simple, and Harald and his elegant partner Katharina made it look effortless as they spun around to the familiar strains of the Blue Danube. So much so, I raised my hand to volunteer for the waltz lesson, which is now proving to be pretty entertaining for the audience of passengers watching our first efforts shuffling around the dance floor.

But Harald’s patience pays off, and within 20 minutes we’ve more or less mastered the basic box step that forms the foundation of Vienna’s famous dance. We even get a polite, possibly sympathetic, round of applause. It’s among many memorable moments I experience on board one of Scenic’s newest river vessels.

The imposing Hungarian parliament overlooking the Danube. Photo credit iStock
The imposing Hungarian parliament overlooking the Danube. Photo credit iStock

The ‘Scenic Enrich’ experiences provide an enjoyable mix of entertainment and culture, a great way to soak up history, traditions and everyday life in the heart of Europe. Life afloat, and ashore, also has a very carefree vibe thanks to the all-inclusive pricing policy covering excursions, tips and drinks – including Champagne.

I’m even more spoilt as I have a butler. In fact, everyone on
 Scenic Jasper has one. Not being accustomed to the Downton Abbey lifestyle I’m unsure what to ask
him to do. So I’m delighted to find
a handy card in my stateroom setting out butler services, including early morning tea and coffee, shoe shine, booking tables in the vessel’s speciality restaurants and restocking the complimentary minibar (services differ depending on the different stateroom grades). Istvan goes above and beyond the call of duty by removing spirits that I don’t drink and reconfiguring the minibar with wall-to-wall gin and tonics and ordering me a G&T from the bar whenever he sees me. No wonder days drift by so pleasantly. He also gives me a ‘driving lesson’ in the stateroom, demonstrating how the grey cube on the bedside table lights up to become a clock at the clap of a hand and how the TV can be switched to a relaxing fireplace with ‘real’ flickering flames.