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  #1  
Old February 29th, 2012, 06:15 PM
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Default Disappointed in Ports of Call Site

Please...Please.. Read... before any of you put me down for stating me feelings on the Ports of Call Site!!
We recently booked a Panama Canal cruise for April. Never visiting any of the ports other than Aruba, I have been trying to research the ports using the port of call site. There is very little up to date information. so other than asking a question on here can any one tell me where to go to get the information. Yes I know that Princess has Excursions, but we like to get feedback from people who have visited the ports we will be visiting. Cartagena, Columbia.....Fuerte Amador, Panama......Puntarenas, Costa Rica....Puerto Quetzel, Guatemala

Thanks for listening
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  #2  
Old February 29th, 2012, 06:18 PM
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Cartagena...enjoyed the walking tour of the old town

Fuerte Amador....fantastic trip inland to visit the Embrera Tribe

Puntarenus...had a great time doing the white water rafting.

  #3  
Old February 29th, 2012, 06:21 PM
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Actually the Panama Canal and Columbia boards have very recent good information.. Costa Rica can be a little iffy because of the two ports.

Here's my Panama Canal excursion review:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1508966


Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma Mojito View Post
Please...Please.. Read... before any of you put me down for stating me feelings on the Ports of Call Site!!
We recently booked a Panama Canal cruise for April. Never visiting any of the ports other than Aruba, I have been trying to research the ports using the port of call site. There is very little up to date information. so other than asking a question on here can any one tell me where to go to get the information. Yes I know that Princess has Excursions, but we like to get feedback from people who have visited the ports we will be visiting. Cartagena, Columbia.....Fuerte Amador, Panama......Puntarenas, Costa Rica....Puerto Quetzel, Guatemala

Thanks for listening
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  #4  
Old February 29th, 2012, 07:49 PM
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I am going on the Coral in September. I know what you mean. I have seen a lot of reviews for partial transits.

In the Panama board they do have some discussions about some tours, but not a lot of new references. I have no idea why they do not.

I have gone through the excursions on the Princess website for the cruise and they do provide some information.

From what I know, Costa Rica is not bad. Cartagena, Columbia and Fuerte Amador, Panama are not all that exciting, although they do have some interesting historic sites and some shopping. There is not a lot of adventure in either place from what I have read.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by AKman2495 View Post
I am going on the Coral in September. I

From what I know, Costa Rica is not bad. Cartagena, Columbia and Fuerte Amador, Panama are not all that exciting, although they do have some interesting historic sites and some shopping. There is not a lot of adventure in either place from what I have read.
I guess I am not really sure how to respond not knowing what you are really looking for. Perhaps exciting may not be the best description of what you are looking for or what is available. This area has been at forefront of European (mostly Spanish) influence in the New World. There has been a tremendous amount of history since Panama's discovery in 1501 and this doesn't even include the Canal, another whole story in itself. Cartagena was the seat of the Inquisition in the New World, so much history there as well. Costa Rica with volcanoes and nature areas is great for the eco end of things. While there is not the thrill a minute para sailing or some deep sea adventure while getting baked in the sun is probably not what you are going to find at these stops, it is an area that truly is steeped in history. This area of the world is one of my favorites, I hope you can find something that will interest you. It certainly is true that this area of Cruise Critic does not get the play other portions of the this board get, but hopefully you can get your questions answered.
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  #6  
Old February 29th, 2012, 09:39 PM
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Personally, I found out a lot here about the various tours and things to see/do in the ports of call when I researched our partial transit cruise in April 2010. If you don't find what you are looking for here on Cruise Critic, you might take a look at the forums on Trip Advisor. I found an excellent tour guide for Cartegena there.

Of the ports you listed, the only one we toured was Cartegena, which was our favorite port on our cruise. I highly recommend that you find a private tour guide for this port. This city is so full of history and architecture and you'll learn a lot more from a guided tour than from just walking around the Old Town on your own.

  #7  
Old February 29th, 2012, 11:54 PM
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I always reseach on tripadvisor for information about the places I would like to see in any port. Each tripadvisor forum has destination experts that are a wealth of informaiton.
I agree that the ports of call forums for a panama canal cruise are slow compared to European port forum.

I have found a tour guide and day trip recommendations for Colon Panama.
Also go to the country's own travel web sites. They also have excellent information if you really dig into their sites and follow their links.
Also read cruise reviews on CC. Many times they are very detailed in what they did at each port of call.

Have a wonderful cruise.

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Old March 1st, 2012, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillB48 View Post
I guess I am not really sure how to respond not knowing what you are really looking for. Perhaps exciting may not be the best description of what you are looking for or what is available. This area has been at forefront of European (mostly Spanish) influence in the New World. There has been a tremendous amount of history since Panama's discovery in 1501 and this doesn't even include the Canal, another whole story in itself. Cartagena was the seat of the Inquisition in the New World, so much history there as well. Costa Rica with volcanoes and nature areas is great for the eco end of things. While there is not the thrill a minute para sailing or some deep sea adventure while getting baked in the sun is probably not what you are going to find at these stops, it is an area that truly is steeped in history. This area of the world is one of my favorites, I hope you can find something that will interest you. It certainly is true that this area of Cruise Critic does not get the play other portions of the this board get, but hopefully you can get your questions answered.
I was responding more to the OP. Personally, I am a history buff and am looking forward to visiting the old cities. THat said, for those who prefer zip lining I think they would find Cartagena a little lacking.....
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Old March 1st, 2012, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma Mojito View Post
Please...Please.. Read... before any of you put me down for stating me feelings on the Ports of Call Site!!
We recently booked a Panama Canal cruise for April. Never visiting any of the ports other than Aruba, I have been trying to research the ports using the port of call site. There is very little up to date information. so other than asking a question on here can any one tell me where to go to get the information. Yes I know that Princess has Excursions, but we like to get feedback from people who have visited the ports we will be visiting. Cartagena, Columbia.....Fuerte Amador, Panama......Puntarenas, Costa Rica....Puerto Quetzel, Guatemala

Thanks for listening
Of those, I did this from Puerto Quetzal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVg5rzJ1dFI which is a standard tour which I enjoyed a lot, and for Puntarenas I went on tropical river tour. We never did see crocodiles and it rained like crazy but it was still good http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ptpj51fLwFM

For Panama I just stayed on board and enjoyed the canal transit.

All the best, Tony
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Old March 1st, 2012, 09:45 PM
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You might scan some of the roll call threads, especially at the end of the thread. Sometimes you pick up some feedback once folks have returned home from the cruise.
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  #11  
Old March 1st, 2012, 10:07 PM
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Thanks everyone for giving me your suggestions. I will be looking into all of them, as this is our first Panama Canal Cruise ( Full Transit) we want to see and do as much as possible
We aren't much for the large cookie cutter tours but if that's the best and safest way than that's what it will be
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  #12  
Old March 6th, 2012, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma Mojito View Post
Thanks everyone for giving me your suggestions. I will be looking into all of them, as this is our first Panama Canal Cruise ( Full Transit) we want to see and do as much as possible
We aren't much for the large cookie cutter tours but if that's the best and safest way than that's what it will be
I would suggest reading Port of Calls AND roll calls. Just returned from a Coral Princess transit.

Puntarenas: Princess canceled our skywalk tour because the venues did not meet their sanitation requirements. Glad they did this, but most of the other good tours were sold out by then. Some folks went on the zip line tours. It required more than just sitting and gliding from post to pst.

Will continue later

Renee
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Old March 6th, 2012, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by cr8tiv1 View Post
I would suggest reading Port of Calls AND roll calls. Just returned from a Northbound Coral Princess transit.

Puntarenas: Princess canceled our skywalk tour because the venues did not meet their sanitation requirements. Glad they did this, but most of the other good tours were sold out by then. Some folks went on the zip line tours. It required more than just sitting and gliding from post to post.

Will continue later - I had to pack up the iPad until later...
Puntarenas is a docked pier with small local stands at the end. I did walk around the town looking for an internet cafe a few blocks away. I did not feel threatened as I walked the streets. Someone said that there was WiFi at the visitor's center and/or a nearby coffee shop. It is well worth stopping in for some maps. There are many offers for tours once you leave the ship. I did hear from one of my CC posted that they had a nice tour with a taxi driver. Just be sure the driver speaks English. There is absolutely nothing near by. If you want to experience Costa Rica, you have to travel at least a hour into the country. Antonio Manuel Reserve is closed on Mondays. I heard that was the best rainforest.

Fuerta Amador: I hired My Friend Mario for a delightful tour. We did the rainforest, fort, and Gatun Locks Observation deck. Our driver found us 2 sloths but no monkeys. It was a great experience to be in a small mini-van taking in the sites at our leisure. I was very concerned about not making it back to the ship, but we arrived about 30 minutes before the deadline. They were packing up and getting ready to close up shop. This is a tendered port.

Cartegena: No one bothered to tell us that there were great animal experiences at the little shopping area inside the port. I saw all of the animals I missed on each tour: Macaws, Toucans, Monkeys...It is not a long port and if you want to see anything, you should take a tour. I did hear CC members say that they caught taxi's and got around just fine. I did tour here on my first cruise and didn't see a reason for doing it again. Vendors are very aggressive.

Aruba: (has changed a lot)...lots and lots and lots of jewelry stores. Be sure to take advantage of the ship talks and VIP cards if you are at all interested in shopping. Aruba has beautiful waters. This is the place to go to the beach if you are interested. I just walked around the strip. Lots of Starbucks to pick up email. I heard good things about the different tours here. I didn't take one so can't offer you my recommendations. I am not a beach person.

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Old March 7th, 2012, 12:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma Mojito View Post
Please...Please.. Read... before any of you put me down for stating me feelings on the Ports of Call Site!!
We recently booked a Panama Canal cruise for April. Never visiting any of the ports other than Aruba, I have been trying to research the ports using the port of call site. There is very little up to date information. so other than asking a question on here can any one tell me where to go to get the information. Yes I know that Princess has Excursions, but we like to get feedback from people who have visited the ports we will be visiting. Cartagena, Columbia.....Fuerte Amador, Panama......Puntarenas, Costa Rica....Puerto Quetzel, Guatemala

Thanks for listening

You may want to check the Columbia forum, the Costa Rica forum and the Guatemala forum. I've checked your posting history and don't see you posting any questions on those forums in the past.

Last edited by Host Kewlguy; March 7th, 2012 at 12:32 AM.

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Old March 13th, 2012, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Host Kewlguy View Post

You may want to check the Columbia forum, the Costa Rica forum and the Guatemala forum. I've checked your posting history and don't see you posting any questions on those forums in the past.
Yes.... You are right I haven't posted any questions pertaining to the ports that we will be visiting. It's because i still say that these sites are not viewed often by those who can answer my questions... I just happend to read a quote about bus tours being excorted by armed guards in Guatemala After doing my own search it was posted in Januarary 2010 so to me this may not be adequate information.
thanks for listening to my concerns and if you noticed I am not the only one that feels this way!
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Old March 27th, 2012, 01:24 PM
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I found an excellent tour guide for Cartegena there.
GradUT - can you share who this was?
Thanks!

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Old March 27th, 2012, 01:49 PM
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GradUT - can you share who this was?
Thanks!
Found it on the Columbia forums, thanks!

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Old April 17th, 2012, 04:08 PM
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I took excursions from the ship on 3 of the ports that you mentioned. Here are some excepts from my electronic journal:

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

We got up early for our excursion to Casa Santo Dominigo and the city of Antigua as I had been in the area about 9 or 10 years ago to pick coffee. We took a motor coach through the countryside for just over a hour with our guide Roberto. He pointed out the sugar cane plantations as well as some lower level coffee farms. It was funny as I recognized that the Casa Santo Dominigo was the hotel that I stayed at. It was a former convent monastery turned hotel with ruins on the grounds. before going to Casa Dominigo we walked to the local market, the town square, and the Jade museum. We received a presentation at the "Jade Museum" but I got the feeling that it was just a sales opportunity. The Casa Santo Dominigo had changed a lot since my last visit. They built 3 museums on the site. While the grounds have been upgraded, the upgrades did not take away from the natural historic state. We were provided a first class Guatemalan buffet lunch at the hotel balcony with the tour. The 7 hours flew by quickly and it was time to board the bus at 3:00 but 1 passenger was missing. After 5 minutes the guide and bus driver took off to find him but he returned at 3:10 but now we were waiting for the other 2. Everyone got it together by 3:20 but now there was the threat of being late and the ship is apparantly charged a a penalty for extra time on the dock. The driver was flooring it all the way back to the ship and we ended up only 5 minutes late. As we were on deck waiting for the sail away a bus pulled in 1 hour late. I'm glad I booked through the cruise line on this one!

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

We had a leisurely start to the morning and plenty of time to get ready for our "Rain Forest Skywalk" tour. We were taken to the rainforest area about 40 minutes southwest of Puntarenas. We were taken to a hotel site which owned the property to sign our waivers. The tour was a 1 mile walk down through the rain forest crossing 3 suspension bridges. On the tour we saw a lot of butterflies and tropical fauna. We spotted a poisonous frog as well as leaf ants for the group. The guide showed us a Tarantula nest as well as wild cashew and mango trees. The views form the openings in the forest were spectacular. I saw a huge beetle sitting on a leaf as well as some cup shaped fungus growing on some dead wood. When we stopped for our fruit and juice break the waiter showed us a tree frog sitting on a leaf. after the break we noticed 2 Iguanas sitting on a river bank. There was a black one and a huge one walking along the shore. On the way back to the ship we crossed a river and saw 2 crocodiles basking in the sun along the shore. Once we got back on board the ship we had a quick snack, dropped off our gear and scurried onto the shore to spend the last couple of hours in port. I went to the coffee shop at the end of the pier to use the free Wi-Fi while she went shopping in the marketplace. She came back to get me as she was excited about her 4 bracelet purchase and wanted my opinion on a cheese/cutting board. The quality of workmanship was very good so we began the bargaining. As she was a repeat customer we left with a total of 6 bracelets, a magnet, and the cutting board at a very fair price. As we were on the pier returning to the ship, we noticed the beauty of the beach and the scenery in the area. There was group of people peering over the railing so we also stopped to see what they were looking at. We saw a school of stingray swimming near the water surface. The site of them was stunning and so cool! Once on ship we went on deck to watch the sail away. It was delayed for about 45 minutes as a tour was late getting back. The wharf area looked great in the dimming light of sunset.

Cartagena, Colombia

We got up at 8:00 for an early breakfast to start our tour of "Magnificent Cartagena". Sitting at the buffet at the rear of the ship we noticed the monastery we planned to tour on the top of the hill. I noticed about 30 busses and a Spanish galleon readying for the many tour groups. Cartagena is a lot more modern than I had envisioned. The tour of the monastery was interesting and had a magnificent 360 degree view of the city below. Our next stop was the old Spanish fort which guarded the city from pirates. We didn't get to go in but stopped for a photo opportunity and some street vendor bargaining. We then ended up inside the walled city of "Old Cartagena". The barracks of the fort have been turned into souvenir vendor shops. the streets had an old colonial feel to them with old buildings in painted in rather bright colors. the guide took us for a walking tour from the bay area to visit a cathedral and Simon Bolivar Plaza. At the plaza we were entertained by a group of young Colombia break dancers. After the tour then took us to a bunch of shops that sold emerald's as the very best emeralds come from Colombia. I was going to buy a bunch for souvenirs, NOT! Seems like all of the Cartagena tours include shopping somewhere in which the guides must get kickbacks. We got back to the ship at 4:00 and had a quick lunch before heading back on shore to use the Wi-Fi at the cruise ship terminal plaza. we rushed back on board at 6:15 to get ready for dinner and the show.
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  #19  
Old April 17th, 2012, 07:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lamchops View Post
I took excursions from the ship on 3 of the ports that you mentioned. Here are some excepts from my electronic journal:

Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala

We got up early for our excursion to Casa Santo Dominigo and the city of Antigua as I had been in the area about 9 or 10 years ago to pick coffee. We took a motor coach through the countryside for just over a hour with our guide Roberto. He pointed out the sugar cane plantations as well as some lower level coffee farms. It was funny as I recognized that the Casa Santo Dominigo was the hotel that I stayed at. It was a former convent monastery turned hotel with ruins on the grounds. before going to Casa Dominigo we walked to the local market, the town square, and the Jade museum. We received a presentation at the "Jade Museum" but I got the feeling that it was just a sales opportunity. The Casa Santo Dominigo had changed a lot since my last visit. They built 3 museums on the site. While the grounds have been upgraded, the upgrades did not take away from the natural historic state. We were provided a first class Guatemalan buffet lunch at the hotel balcony with the tour. The 7 hours flew by quickly and it was time to board the bus at 3:00 but 1 passenger was missing. After 5 minutes the guide and bus driver took off to find him but he returned at 3:10 but now we were waiting for the other 2. Everyone got it together by 3:20 but now there was the threat of being late and the ship is apparantly charged a a penalty for extra time on the dock. The driver was flooring it all the way back to the ship and we ended up only 5 minutes late. As we were on deck waiting for the sail away a bus pulled in 1 hour late. I'm glad I booked through the cruise line on this one!

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

We had a leisurely start to the morning and plenty of time to get ready for our "Rain Forest Skywalk" tour. We were taken to the rainforest area about 40 minutes southwest of Puntarenas. We were taken to a hotel site which owned the property to sign our waivers. The tour was a 1 mile walk down through the rain forest crossing 3 suspension bridges. On the tour we saw a lot of butterflies and tropical fauna. We spotted a poisonous frog as well as leaf ants for the group. The guide showed us a Tarantula nest as well as wild cashew and mango trees. The views form the openings in the forest were spectacular. I saw a huge beetle sitting on a leaf as well as some cup shaped fungus growing on some dead wood. When we stopped for our fruit and juice break the waiter showed us a tree frog sitting on a leaf. after the break we noticed 2 Iguanas sitting on a river bank. There was a black one and a huge one walking along the shore. On the way back to the ship we crossed a river and saw 2 crocodiles basking in the sun along the shore. Once we got back on board the ship we had a quick snack, dropped off our gear and scurried onto the shore to spend the last couple of hours in port. I went to the coffee shop at the end of the pier to use the free Wi-Fi while she went shopping in the marketplace. She came back to get me as she was excited about her 4 bracelet purchase and wanted my opinion on a cheese/cutting board. The quality of workmanship was very good so we began the bargaining. As she was a repeat customer we left with a total of 6 bracelets, a magnet, and the cutting board at a very fair price. As we were on the pier returning to the ship, we noticed the beauty of the beach and the scenery in the area. There was group of people peering over the railing so we also stopped to see what they were looking at. We saw a school of stingray swimming near the water surface. The site of them was stunning and so cool! Once on ship we went on deck to watch the sail away. It was delayed for about 45 minutes as a tour was late getting back. The wharf area looked great in the dimming light of sunset.

Cartagena, Colombia

We got up at 8:00 for an early breakfast to start our tour of "Magnificent Cartagena". Sitting at the buffet at the rear of the ship we noticed the monastery we planned to tour on the top of the hill. I noticed about 30 busses and a Spanish galleon readying for the many tour groups. Cartagena is a lot more modern than I had envisioned. The tour of the monastery was interesting and had a magnificent 360 degree view of the city below. Our next stop was the old Spanish fort which guarded the city from pirates. We didn't get to go in but stopped for a photo opportunity and some street vendor bargaining. We then ended up inside the walled city of "Old Cartagena". The barracks of the fort have been turned into souvenir vendor shops. the streets had an old colonial feel to them with old buildings in painted in rather bright colors. the guide took us for a walking tour from the bay area to visit a cathedral and Simon Bolivar Plaza. At the plaza we were entertained by a group of young Colombia break dancers. After the tour then took us to a bunch of shops that sold emerald's as the very best emeralds come from Colombia. I was going to buy a bunch for souvenirs, NOT! Seems like all of the Cartagena tours include shopping somewhere in which the guides must get kickbacks. We got back to the ship at 4:00 and had a quick lunch before heading back on shore to use the Wi-Fi at the cruise ship terminal plaza. we rushed back on board at 6:15 to get ready for dinner and the show.
Thanks so much for giving us a great description of your tours. It has given me some really good ideas.

Leaving in less than a week and still only have two planned excursions.
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  #20  
Old April 20th, 2012, 08:14 PM
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5326jan 5326jan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azevedan View Post
GradUT - can you share who this was?
Thanks!
I'm obviously not UTGrad, but we are booking this tour guide in Cartagena based on reviews on CC and Trip Advisor. She has been very easy to reach by email and is willing to take our small group of 8. http://toursclaudiavidal.com/en/services.htm
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