What’s it like to cruise the Rhine on Viking?
Maarten | On 15, Jun 2017
I contacted Viking last fall to suggest I would be interested in participating in a cruise in order to create a video review of the cruise, and of a camera while on the cruise. After some negotiation, in May we joined a group of other media creators/influencers for a Rhine Getaway on the Viking Hlin from Basel to Amsterdam.
Sponsorship for both Kim and I – which I explained in a video – did not have any conditions. Viking’s agency, Edelman, told me that they wanted me to be free to create the content I wanted for my readers and viewers.
Viking sponsored the cruise, we paid for our flights, the hotel nights at either end (it was our choice to arrive early and leave late). Although there were several excursions included and Viking gave us a credit for a few more, we also booked and paid for several more.
Viking did not ask for, and I have not provided them with the ability to review either this post, the YouTube videos, or the Instagram posts about the cruise.
A few more notes
We had the worst departure experience ever leaving Toronto – with multiple cancelled flights and a airport adventure that felt like an episode of The Amazing Race. Six airlines ended up participating in this story, and although we ended up on Air Canada – it was British Airways (who got us onto the Air Canada flight when Air France could not) that stood out as going above and beyond. Not sure what caused the initial KLM cancellation, but it really did not go well once that happened.
Here are notes that didn’t make it into the video. First, I found it odd that, although Viking make our flight reservations (the prices they quoted were very good), because we were not sailing on the day we arrived in Basel, nor flying out on the day we arrived in Amsterdam, they were not willing to accommodate us on the bus provided to passengers who were. There was space, we were not asking for a separate destination, but they would not let us board the bus.
Over lunch my friend Peter asked if there was any evidence of the refugee crisis in Germany. There was none – and we walked through the downtown area of several cities. Last summer in Paris, the armed soldiers, locked doors at major stores, highly evident security at churches and other landmarks. And we saw families living on the streets on makeshift cardboard. We did not observe that in our travels.
Last year on of my neighbours remarked that their Viking cruise made it seem as if they’d never left North America – and I agree, that is a valid observation. We were nearly always surrounded by our fellow passengers, nearly always able to speak English. That does confer a certain element of safety and security – not that we felt uncomfortable venturing out on our own.
Viking’s demographic – which may be of their own choosing – is predominantly over 65, North American and well-to-do. This was a respectful and responsible group – but with live music in lounge in the evenings, we did stay up late dancing and chatting. I will say that the captain, when we chatted, expressed a desire to have more younger travellers join the cruise.
There were twenty or more other media creators – from Big Old Media (National Geographic and the Toronto Sun), several independent writers/reporters and social media influencers with good followings on Instagram. It was great to meet them and chat about our experiences in the new media/influencer space. That made the average profile of travellers on our boat considerably younger than average – which was noticed by more than one tour guide.
A shout-out to: Paul Marshman, aka The Travelling Boomer – a colleague who also wrote freelance camera reviews for the Toronto Star – he suggested I contact Viking; Brendan van Son an incredibly busy traveller/vlogger who is definitely worth following; Ralph Grizzle aka The Avid Cruiser – who covers cruises large and small on his site; Melissa who posts great taste-tempting photos on Instagram. It was also a great pleasure comparing notes with Lynne Harty (Ralph’s videographer) – her video is worth watching. I shared some drone footage with her, she shared the shots of Ivan with me.
When the trip was confirmed, my first thought was to find an appropriate camera. I’ve had several viewers and readers ask about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 mkII – so I contacted Olympus. It seemed as if that wasn’t going to work out, so I also contacted Panasonic about the GH5 – of course, as my luck has it, they both arrived.
Viking said it was OK to shoot with a drone, so borrowed the DJI Mavic from B&H. I also wanted a camera for Kim so asked Fuji for the X-100F. That kept us both pretty busy – but we did have time to enjoy the cruise. And I will note that Brendan kept up the most hectic schedule of photography (including long exposures and time lapses), videography (with both a drone and a gimbel) and posts of us all – that guy works hard!
I mentioned that I had trouble flying the Mavic from the ship while it was moving. Both Brendan (who is really a Phantom guru) and I had minor mishaps trying to make this happen. In the end, we imagine that the issue was the combination of ground sensing and GPS getting conflicting information, or maybe interference from the ship’s radar. The captain was very generous in his support of our efforts, and would have loved to have had an aerial of his 180 turn arriving in Koblenz – but our first failures, neither of us were brave enough to try again.
Although the aerial footage is spectacular, the opportunities to use a drone are fairly limited. And both Brendan and I were mindful of German regulations – which are reasonable and a model for the kinds of rules that encourage both responsible flight and safety.
Behind the scenes
The final output is at Cinema 4K (17×9 4096×2180) just because both the E-M1 mkII and the GH5 support it. All four cameras were used for the stills and video in this review. There are reviews of them all (the GH5 is in progress) on my channel:
If you were to ask me to pick just one to take next time – the GH5 is my choice. Although I did miss the X-T2 and the Sony 10-18mm and macro lenses.
Questions/comments? I do reply to all relevant and civil comments, either below or via DM, both here and on YouTube.
For your guidance
The products reviewed are on loan, and returned after the review unless otherwise mentioned. I am not sponsored by any manufacturer.
Kim and I were guests of Viking on this cruise. I do not have an affiliate relationship with Viking. I am not compensated for my reviews except through Google Adwords. The B&H links are affiliate links, I do receive a small commission – but please do not allow this to influence your purchase decision.
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