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johneeo

Explorer June 23, 2011 Review

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We did the same cruise in July 2009, and it would take a lot to beat the great experience everyone had on that cruise. From perfect weather, outstanding service, and great food, everyone was unanimous that it would be impossible to equal that cruise.

 

19 in our group boarded our bus in Philly area about 10:30 AM. We all had our matching T-Shirts, EOS on the front, ports of call on the back.

We arrived at Bayonne about 12:30.

 

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Upon our arrival, they opened up a new line for us, and we were on board in less than 15 minutes! Gotta give credit to those T-Shirts. More on that later.

 

Headed to the pool bar, Coors Light $4.89. For sail away, our Meet and Mingle decided to do an informal meet up at the Sky Bar at 4:30.

 

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At about 5:00 we noticed that we were on our way.

 

Passing under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge

 

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Our cruise had begun!

 

Weather was cloudy, a little drizzle, but it would only improve.

 

This is an ongoing work, and I will be updating this review through day 9.

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Friday morning, up at dawn, good time to take some pictures. I love the cruise ship early in the morning, it is mine, all mine. First order of business, Promenade (deck 5) and coffee.

Promenade1_DSC0071.jpg?t=1309788867

Then up to the Viking Lounge 19th hole on deck 14, where the TVs are on ESPN to check the baseball scores, specifically the Phillies. Reception was iffy, sometimes good, sometimes bad, hit and miss.

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The Solarium, adult pool.

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My favorite men's room in the entire world.

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Time to eat, the WindJammer.

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To be continued ......

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The WJ had just about everything you could imagine for breakfast, with the exception of scrapple, which is a Philly thing.

 

Most days I only ate breakfast and skipped lunch, as I would have scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, beef hash, hash browns covered in gravy, and a piece of pineapple and melon.

 

After breakfast, time for some more pictures.

 

Casino.

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Pools.

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This is deck 4 starboard. Great place to watch a docking. Also notice the ashtrays, as this is one of the smoking sections, all of which are on many of the decks starboard side.

1_deck4.jpg?t=1309789962

 

To be continued ......

Edited by johneeo

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Some more pictures.

 

View from our balcony Jr. Suite 9248 starboard.

 

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Promenade

 

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Where are all the chair hogs?

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Deck 12, jogging path, Sky Bar is to the right.

VNBridge_DSC0050.jpg?t=1309790507

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Day 3, Bermuda.

 

We did Horseshoe Bay. Took the cab, $6 each plus tip.

 

Below is a picture of the beach about where you are dropped off. Concessions are right there, but, as the day goes on, this part of the beach gets pretty crowded. Looking at the far end, there are some great coves and beaches, but, it is a long walk to the beer stand. Coors Light $5.00

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Here are some pix at the very north end of HS Bay

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Aslo note, that behind the volleyball courts at the center of the beach you can get tubes of free sunblock, compliments of Coppertone.

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How was it to get back to ship? Did you have to wait for a cab? We have 5 people in our party is there a private van to get us there and then back? Or do we take 2 cabs.

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Ok, while other photos upload to Photobucket, let's talk food.

 

First the bad. As said before, we had done this same cruise in JULY 2009. I noticed that staff was somewhat less, as in 2009 we had a waiter with two assistants. This gave them a lot of time to spend with us, and they were incredible, offering trivia, games, puzzles for the entertainment of the kids.

 

This cruise we had one waiter with one assistant. We had 9 of us at a 10 top, and 4 or 5 of us were on the 3/2/1 or 3/2/2 plan.

 

Three appetizers, two dinners and one or two desserts. We kept them pretty busy, but really no complaints about the service. ..... er ...... the food service.

 

On the other hand, the drink service is absurd.

 

Me: "I would like a Coors Light please".

RCI Person: "I am sorry, I am the wine server, I will have to get you the beer server".

Son: "May I have a soda".

RCI Person: "I am sorry, I am the beer and mixed drinks person, I will have to get the soda person".

 

I solved my part of the problem as the beer person, Big Daddy, would have a wine bucket waiting for me each night with 3 to 4 Coors Lights on ice.

 

We kept the wait staff pretty busy. At the end of the meal, the assistant waiter would come to each person at the table (9 of us) and whisper to each of us "would you like coffee?". All right, gotta fix that. Next night, Yovanni, stop right there, show of hands, who wants coffee? 8? OK, eight of us, thanx!

 

The food - Ok, it was not Emeril Lagasse cooking for our table of 10 only. Let's face it, they are cooking for 3,500 people. With all things considered, I found the food as good as anyone could possibly expect. I would rate it consistently very good to excellent. The 3/2/1 plan worked incredibly well. If you cannot be happy with the MDR dining experience, you are pretty hard to please.

 

The following picture is of our two tables, which were located in the back corner by the window, very nice location.

 

Formal2.jpg?t=1309707060

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How was it to get back to ship? Did you have to wait for a cab? We have 5 people in our party is there a private van to get us there and then back? Or do we take 2 cabs.

 

5 is perfect, as most are small vans.

 

Our van was two seats in the back to accomodate four of us, and one person shotgun.

 

We had enough of the beach by about 2:00 PM, and got a cab right away. In 2009, we stayed til after 3:00 and we had about 15 minute wait for the cabs. Just give yourself a good hour, you should be fine.

 

However, each time there, we were the only cruise ship in port, so check out if there are other cruise ships, as that could make a big difference.

Edited by johneeo

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Where are how did you get a cab????? As I can remember from last time we walked up the hill from the beach and just had to flag one down.

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In St. Martin 7 of booked with Joyce Prince for a personal tour. Van was comfortable and good AC, supplied water, beer, punch, soda.

 

Group decided on first stop souvenir shopping:eek: UGH, almost gouged my eyeballs out just thinking about it. But, I found some good buys on shirts, like $6 to $8 each.

 

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Looks like some others on the ship found the same deal.

 

Next stop Maho to watch the planes come in. Got there, went to the bar, but no Coors Light, had to settle for a Bud:eek: YUK!

 

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Here are some You Tube videos of the jets coming in:

 

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St. Martin continued ... we did get to see a lot of the French side, a lot of nice gated houses and communities. Seemed like the French side had the bucks. Here is our touring van which gave us the option to do whatever we wished.

 

STMartin_JoyceVan_DSC0031.jpg?t=1309801740

 

Our last stop on St. Martin was Orient Beach. Did not get there until about 4. We went to Orange Fever for lunch. Luc was our waiter and was very accomodating. I had a fish / grouper sandwich, which came with fries, and happened to be very good.

 

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They had Coors Light, a bucket of 6 was $10!:D

The weather was overcast, not very good, and the beach was pretty much shutting down. Gadzooks, we did not see one naked breast.:eek:

 

What to do what to do.

 

Well, we were within walking distance of Club Orient, so what the hey, we took a stroll down there.

000Group19_.jpg?t=1309800805

 

Uneventful.

 

If I had to do it over on St. Martin, I would do the same thing I did in 2009 - The America's Cup Yacht Race, one of the best excursions I have ever done.

 

We docked at St. Martin at noon, and we were scheduled to leave at 9:00, so we had plenty of time to get back to the ship. We were not planning to make dinner at 6.

 

Next stop St. Thomas. I was really looking forward to this stop, as we had booked a sailing snorkeling excursion to some turtle cove on the Fury, I think it was going to Buck Island. This tour was scheduled for 12:30 PM, and since we were scheduled to arrive at 8:00, my son and I were going to take the ski lift up to the top of the mountain at Havensite in the morning and take some pix.

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Where are how did you get a cab????? As I can remember from last time we walked up the hill from the beach and just had to flag one down.

 

Cabs will be waiting for you right outside of the concession stands at the bottom of the hill.

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Captain Ofaf was great. Personable guy. Always around. We went to the Q & A

 

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Interesting, and when it was over, who was walking up our aisle ......

 

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I had the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions.

 

Back to the T-Shirts. Mike in our group made the T-Shirts, and he happened to bump into the Captain, had an extra shirt, and gave it to the Captain. He loved it. Well, on the second formal night, Mike and his fiancee got the invite to the Captain's table for dinner. After dinner, Mike arranged for a group photo of out group. Mike is at the top.

 

000Group19_-1.jpg?t=1309811086

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I guess my memory is off a little, so to get a cab we walk down the hill and not up! That's easy. Thank you.

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Two in our group did not make the formal dinner, so they missed the picture.

 

Well, here comes the Captain to our table. They got in a picture with the Captain.

 

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Also, a couple of our group participated in the Make a Wish run, jog, walk, and who was with them in shorts and a T-Shirt participating, the Captain.

 

Just a really great guy. Having been on 6 previous cruises, I cannot remember ever seeing the Captain, but on this cruise, he was everywhere, talking to everyone, taking pictures, just having a good time. Very impessive guy. 50 years with RCI. Tremendous asset to the cruise line.

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I guess my memory is off a little, so to get a cab we walk down the hill and not up! That's easy. Thank you.

 

Well, not really. If you are on the beach, you are at sea level. Just walk past the concessions to the parking lot, and lots of cabs will be there.:)

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Thank you, I must be thinking of another beach where we walked up a hill and had quite a time trying to catch a cab.

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BTW, the Captain announced that the EOS will be going out of Bayonne until April 2013.

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Thank you, I must be thinking of another beach where we walked up a hill and had quite a time trying to catch a cab.

I remember walking up that hill and catching the bus

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We were docked at St. Thomas, and behind us comes a Carnival ship.

 

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Off the ship and went to the ski lift to the top of the mountain.

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It was OK, got some pix, but I was more interested in the sailing expedition and snorkeling with the Fury at 12:30 PM.

Edited by johneeo

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Time to meet the Fury. We were told to go to the Green Turtle. Cores Lights, $3.00.

 

5_STThomas1.jpg?t=1309815976

 

A real sailing vessel. With Coors Light.

 

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EOS in the background. Great trip. We booked it directly with Captain Mike. Dig this, total cost was $55 per person versus what RCI was getting for their excursions, about $100.

 

We sailed out to the turtle cove, really nice. We got there, and got to see the turtles, then reefs, fish, and Donny the mate brought up some weird sea life, a sea urchin, a starfish, got to hold them.

 

The turtles were amazing, feeding on the bottom, would need to come up for air, right back down.

 

5_STThomas4.jpg?t=1309816485

 

Our group.

 

5_STThomas118.jpg?t=1309816550

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What was really nice with the Fury is that we did not have to cab it to Red Hook. Looking at this picture, the EOS is behind the Carnival Libery.

 

Our excursion with the Fury left to the right from the pier by the Fat Turtle Bar.

 

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We decided to do the Segway tour.

 

6_PR1.jpg?t=1309817652

 

Segways are incredible:eek: No throttle, no brake, you just lean forward, and it goes. Lean back, and it stops. This tour was an absolute blast, considering we covered a coupld of mile, when others were doing the same thing walking. Temperature had to be about 90 degree.

 

Jose was our guide and gave us the history of Old San Juan and the walled city. Very interesting.

 

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Take a look at the walk just to the fort.

 

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Inside the fort.

 

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One of the lookouts along the way.

 

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We had over 80 registered for the Meet and Mingle.

 

About 40 showed up. They gave out a lot of good gifts. My son got a $50 internet credit, as did a couple of others. Wine packages, shore excursions, and other gifts were given out. Really nice.

 

We decided to do a cabin crawl. However, only about 10 showed up for it, but for those of that did, it was pretty good.

 

We started at the Sky Bar, and walked our way down, starting with Eric's Owner Suite on deck 10.

 

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6_PR9991_suite2.jpg?t=1309819443

 

From there, down to deck 9, Jr. Suite.

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This cruise we had one waiter with one assistant. We had 9 of us at a 10 top, and 4 or 5 of us were on the 3/2/1 or 3/2/2 plan.

 

I would rate it consistently very good to excellent. The 3/2/1 plan worked incredibly well. If you cannot be happy with the MDR dining experience, you are pretty hard to please.

 

I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean by a 10 top and the 3/2/1 or 3/2/2?

 

Another question - The segway tour in PR, did you book it with the ship or on your own? How long was the tour and how much?

 

Great review. I will be on the same cruise in April and I can't wait. :D

 

Thanks,

 

Loralie

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I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean by a 10 top and the 3/2/1 or 3/2/2?

 

Another question - The segway tour in PR, did you book it with the ship or on your own? How long was the tour and how much?

 

Great review. I will be on the same cruise in April and I can't wait. :D

 

Thanks,

 

Loralie

 

Table was for 10. We had nine bodies. One empty seat.

 

The 3/2/1 was that 4 or 5 of us always ordered 3 appetizers, 2 full dinners, and one dessert.

 

On some evenings, we changed it up a bit and ordered 4 appetizers each, two dinners, and two desserts. That would be the 4/2/2 plan.

 

I booked the Segway tour direct for $75. Got an email back that for the date I booked, they were only accepting EOS customers, so I had to rebook thru the cruise line for $99.

 

The tour was a good two hours. I highly recommend it, we had a great time, and it was incredibly easy to do.

Edited by johneeo

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I know that somethings can be confusing, so if anyone has questions, please ask.

 

I will be happy to share my experience and opinions with anyone that asks.

 

As for the 3/2/1 MDR plan, just to be clear, you can order anything that you want, and as much as you want. Just do so at the beginning of the order, and they are happy to bring it on.

 

If you decide later in the meal that you would like another main course or appetizer, it is kind of disruptive, so order it all at the same time.

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Table was for 10. We had nine bodies. One empty seat.

 

The 3/2/1 was that 4 or 5 of us always ordered 3 appetizers, 2 full dinners, and one dessert.

 

On some evenings, we changed it up a bit and ordered 4 appetizers each, two dinners, and two desserts. That would be the 4/2/2 plan.

 

I booked the Segway tour direct for $75. Got an email back that for the date I booked, they were only accepting EOS customers, so I had to rebook thru the cruise line for $99.

 

The tour was a good two hours. I highly recommend it, we had a great time, and it was incredibly easy to do.

 

 

Thanks for the info, can't wait to read the rest!

 

Loralie

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Thanks for the info, can't wait to read the rest!

 

Loralie

 

Not a lot more to write.

 

But, how about this. Last port was Puerto Rico. Left at noon for the long sail home. Six O'clock PM, we are at dinner, talking about pictures of the sunset. At about 6:10 PM. I look out the window, and the sun is there on the horizon.

 

We are heading North, we are on the starboard side, and the sun is setting in the East??????:eek:

 

I mention this to everyone, and tell them, HEY, WE ARE SAILING DUE SOUTH! BACK TO PUERTO RICO!

 

Nah, no way.

 

At about 6:30 the Captain comes on the intersom

 

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have encountered a medical emergency, and we are heading back towards Puerto Rico. We estimate that we will be heading due south for 2 to 3 hours until we can have a Coast Guard Helicopter meet us to medivac the patient off and take them to Puerto Rico."

 

At about 9 PM the Coast Guard helicopter arrived. First dropped off a crew member. He then scouted out the situation, then he sent a nurse up, then the patient, then the Coast Guardsman, and off they went.

 

I bumped into the Captain the next day, and I was able to ask him about the operation. First, if you can imagine, everyone at the dinner seating was ready to stampede to deck 11 and 12 to get good sight lines for this operation, me included. But, no one was allowed on any of the top decks, all were closed down. I asked the Captain about this, and he said safety issues would not permit anyone in the vicinity of the helicopter operation.

 

We were able to see some of it from the pool deck, but not the helipad in the front. Copter never landed, hovered, and dropped the line to pick everyone up. Captain said they would never land a copter at sea, and that the ship was always moving, as moving kept the ship in control.

 

Interesting evening.

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I remember walking up that hill and catching the bus

 

Yes, there is quite the hill to walk up to get to the main road to catch the bus.

 

But, in the parking lot, you can grab a cab. Also, if you want to get the bus, there is a guy that will drive you to the top of the hill for $2.

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Back to the cabin crawl, wound up finishing with two interior connecting rooms. You really cannot see the connecting part, but there is a door to the right with the same room on the other side. Makes a lot of sense, two rooms, two bathrooms, two TVs:

 

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And last, but not least, deck 8 promenade view. Notice the Phillies shirt hanging (can barely see it, but from the promenade, you can) in the window:

 

_DSC0405.jpg?t=1309826930

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me and my family were on this cruise as well......total of 14 of us!! my cabin was me, my wife and 15 month old baby in the crib...tight fit in the room.

i thought the menu in the main dining room for dinner was just ok compared to past cruises......our waiter and ass't waiter were not the best....took forever to just get a glass of water... every night my baby drank whole milk with her dinner.....yet it took at least 20 minutes to get the milk when we arrived....the waiters were tipped as per their service for the week..enough said..

 

we did the babysitter one night for 2 hours....well worth the $ 19.....

 

glad to hear the waiter who was airlifted off the ship is recovering in san juan.

 

saw lots of philles fans on the ship....that stunk being a mets fan ...

NJTOM

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Tom, I think you got the short straw as far as wait staff. We had a wonderful waiter and ass't waiter. My husband had 2 sodas waiting for him every evening and one of the kids at our table always got his chocolate milk right away. On the first night we asked for savory bites and for the rest of the cruise we had a small basket of savory bites waiting for us every night.

 

Lori

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I was on the Explorer in October, but never had lunch in the MDR. I'm going again in September, and want to try the MDR for lunch. I know about the salad bar, but what else do they serve? Is it hamburgers and sandwiches, or hot meals like dinner?

 

Thanks

Gail

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Cab it is!!!! This way we can go when we want and stay as long as we want. Thank you.

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We had a biker group on the cruise, about 20 of them, and they brought their Harleys on the ship, and took them out on each port of call.

 

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Here is a shot of Bayonne port taken from our balcony on deck 9. Right above the parked cars is the facility where you check in.

 

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Here is our wait staff.

 

waitstaff_DSC0037.jpg?t=1309866888

 

Michael, Cheryl our main waiter, Emrah Head Waiter, and Yovanni our assistant waiter.

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000_DSC0173.jpg?t=1309867056

 

The Royal Caribbean dancers and band were excellent. We went to all the shows at the Palace, our time was after dinner at 9.

 

In addition, they also had 3 comeddiens that were good. They had some other performers, an acapella band that the women loved, but I hated.

 

Overall, entertainment was pretty good.

 

Following is a picture of the Palace.

 

Palace_DSC0010.jpg?t=1309867386

Edited by johneeo

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