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February 2011

Uniworld's S.S. ANTOINETTE ups the ante for river cruisers


ABOVE: An artist's rendering of the S.S. Antoinette, which will cruise the Rhine in 2011.

As river cruising becomes more popular with mainstream cruise travelers, river-cruise companies are responding by making their vessels more like oceangoing cruise ships.

Uniworld's luxurious new S.S. Antoinette, which enters service this spring, is a case in point: The 164-passenger ship is 443 feet or 135 meters in length, with such features as a heated swimming pool with underwater music, a fitness center, a massage room, a movie theatre that serves snacks, and balconies for top-deck cabins and suites.

Not only that, but the Antoinette also trumps oceangoing cruise ships with a unique feature in its balconied cabins: At the touch of a switch, a glass panel rises to convert the balcony into a conservatory that can be enjoyed in inclement weather.

The Antoinette will offer 7-day cruises on the Rhine during its inaugural season. For more information, see the S.S. Antoinette page at

Photo: Uniworld.

Dolomite Mountains announces photo and video safaris

Hiking in the Dolomites

ABOVE: A summer hike in Italy's photogenic Dolomites.

Dolomite Mountains srl, a tour company based in Livinallongo del Col di Lana, Italy, is offering photo and video safari tours in the summer of 2011.

Photography and Creativity in the Italian Alps: An Artistic Journey into the Heart of the Dolomites is an 8-day/7-night itinerary that runs from June 27 to July 4.

After arriving at Venice Airport, the dozen participants will spend a week walking and working with fine-art photographer Randy Jay Braun and local legend Karin Pizzinini, a multilingual photographer, trail guide, and alpinist. A third instructor will be Julieanne Kost, Adobe's senior digital imaging expert for Lightroom and Photoshop.

Val Gardena, a working farm in the Ladino, high mountain villages, and chairlift rides to displays of alpine flowers are a few of many photo opportunities on the tour.

Dolomite Mountains srl informs us that "The active sunrise-to-sunset itinerary includes regional cuisine, comfortable accommodations, and roundtrip transfers from Venice’s Marco Polo International Airport. The nearly all-inclusive cost per person is €3,480, and guests can book an optional July 4-7 trip extension to Venice."

If you prefer moving pictures to stills, you may want to investigate Videography and Creativity in the Italian Alps: A Visual and Spiritual Journey in the Dolomite Mountains, June 13-23. The cost is €4,650 per person, double (single supplement €540).

About Dolomite Mountains srl

Dolomite Mountains is a 15-year-old company that offers both escorted and self-guided active trips, luxury tours, and gourmet adventures in the Dolomites of Northeastern Italy. The company has a Web site at

Photo: Dolomite Mountains srl.

ExperiencePlus! has led bike tours in Europe since 1972

ExperiencePlus! bike tour in Italy

We normally don't promote tours, since our Europe for Visitors site focuses mostly on independent travel and cruising. However, there are times when escorted tours make sense. Bicycle tours are a good example: With an escorted bike tour, you enjoy the companionship of fellow cyclists, the expertise of a knowledgeable tour leader, and the convenience of having a support vehicle to haul your luggage (and you, if you're tired or saddle-sore).

There are many companies that offer tours on two wheels, but we recently learned of one that claims to be the oldest North American purveyor of cycling tours:

ExperiencePlus! launched its business in Italy nearly 40 years ago, and the company now offers tours in 11 European countries (and on several other continents as well). ExperiencePlus! is a family-owned business, and it's run by the daughters of the couple who founded the company in 1972.

For more information about the ExperiencePlus! roster of bicycle tours in 2011, visit

If you prefer independent bicycle travel, ExperiencePlus! can help you with that, too: Its BikeRentalsPlus! division can arrange bicycle rentals and self-guided tours at more than 100 locations in Italy and France.

ExperiencePlus! bicycle traveler in Spain

Photos: ExperiencePlus!