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Hello everyone.  I am searching for a European cruise in 2020.  I've booked a British Isles cruise on NCL for May 2020; however, upon reviewing the ports of call it appears some of the ports of call are 2-3 hours from the central areas for travel.  Also the cost of the shore excursions, whether through NCL or private, are pricey for what was being offered.  So I'm looking at a river cruise and I see Avalon has waived the single supplement on some 2020 cruises.  I've never done a river cruise before so I have some questions that I hope you will be able to answer.

1. What is the age demographic on a river cruise?  I'm in my late 50's.  Will I be too young  or too old? LOL

2. Re stateroom locations. I see some of the staterooms (Artistry II) are on the same deck as either the propulsion room or engine room.  Wouldn't that be noisy at night and interrupt one's sleep?

3.  I see there are optional excursions available at some ports.  Are these included in the price or would there be an extra charge for them?

4. Is the price all-inclusive?  By that I mean, cruise, meals, alcohol, soft drinks, tea, coffee, and shore excursions?

 

Thank you

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Hi.  

 

Our Rhine cruise last year had passengers who ranged in age from 70's to 50' for the majority,  with one young couple possibly in their mid 20's and two sisters travelling with their parents who probably would be in their 40's.   Everyone mingled very well, and I would think if you chose one of the active cruises,  the passengers would be closer to the 50's or be young at heart.

 

The optional excursions are just that, not included in the cost of your trip, but we took a lot and they were all great.  Wine, beer and sift drinks are included with meals only, but Avalon gas a half price happy hour during the nightly meetings,  and you are welcome to take a wine or beer with you when you leave you meal.   Otherwise alcohol is an extra expense, but since you are off the boat for most of the say, you may not end up with much of a bill.  We bought 2 beers the say we cruised the valley, and I think it cost $8.00 total.

 

As for the staterooms, we were on Imagery  ll, on the 2nd level and really didn't hear any noise.  I am awake usually around 3:00ish and can't say I really heard much, actually slept better on the boat than I do at home.  Mind you, different noises are more noticeable for some people than others.

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1. What is the age demographic on a river cruise?  I'm in my late 50's.  Will I be too young  or too old? LOL

2. Re stateroom locations. I see some of the staterooms (Artistry II) are on the same deck as either the propulsion room or engine room.  Wouldn't that be noisy at night and interrupt one's sleep?

3.  I see there are optional excursions available at some ports.  Are these included in the price or would there be an extra charge for them?

4. Is the price all-inclusive?  By that I mean, cruise, meals, alcohol, soft drinks, tea, coffee, and shore excursions?

===============================================

My wife and I did the Rhine in late April aboard the expression.  I am 65 and active tennis player and hiker my wife is 59 and plays golf three times a week so my point is we are close to your age.  Our cruise had mostly our age on board, there were older and there were younger, 35-75 I would say covers most everyone.  Two things are important here, first you must be physically independent, there are no elevators and walking in Europe is difficult for some people.  The next thing is and what we enjoyed was meeting all the different people, we even became friends with some  and are staying touch.  There are “groups” of people 4-8 of various sorts, family, group of friends,  they missed out on this because all they did was hang with their family/group, eat together etc.  So as a single, look for others and sit down with others, don’t be shy!  Pick a seat any seat and enjoy the conversation.  There’s always one Debby downer, we had ours loud boisterous knows everything type, we stayed away so no issues.

2.  We were on the top floor about midship, I could hear the engines, but it was a very dull sound and I actually slept better than at home.  But walking all day, never ending wine glass might have contributed.  

3. That depends on the cruise line, Tauck everything is included, from my research all the other lines have extra excursions.  However, there are excursions every day for everybody.  We would usually go with a group and after getting the lay of the land go off on our own but being back at the ship at the designated time.

4.  Yes and no, again depends on the cruise line.  Avalon, everything included, except alcohol served in the bar, but there is a happy hour before dinner and it’s cheap.  At meals, free.  We paid extra for a few things like a special excursion to the Maginot line in France.   But that’s the exception not the rule.

 

 

advice-  before choosing a cruise figure out what you want to see, then search for cruises that match that.  And if your wanting 2020, better reserve soon they fill up fast.  We have a new reservation for 2021 and it’s half full already.

 

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Suntan,

 

i can't answer some questions since i don't cruise until May but I can address the single supplement.  I am booked as a single.  I was told there are usually 5 cabins per cruise that have the supplement waived.  So if the price is $4000 per person in the room then you pay $4,000.00.  If they get more than 5 singles on the cruise then you pay $8,000.00.  (or close to it).  If you want to do this then book early to get the lower price.  I have a family group going and we are age 59 to 75.  The family wanted to see castles so we are going on the Rhine cruise.  

i was told by the agents i have talked to that the busiest months on the rivers are May and September.  We booked May not knowing that.  Also something to think about is weather.  Pick a month you like the weather.  I don't think you can pick a bad itinerary they all visit so many interesting places.  Good luck in your search.  I think river cruising will be a nice change from ocean cruising.  

 

Michelle

PS thanks everyone for the continuing information.  I have picked up so much from all of you.

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21 minutes ago, seashell said:

Suntan,

 

i can't answer some questions since i don't cruise until May but I can address the single supplement.  I am booked as a single.  I was told there are usually 5 cabins per cruise that have the supplement waived.  So if the price is $4000 per person in the room then you pay $4,000.00.  If they get more than 5 singles on the cruise then you pay $8,000.00.  (or close to it).  If you want to do this then book early to get the lower price.  I have a family group going and we are age 59 to 75.  The family wanted to see castles so we are going on the Rhine cruise.  

i was told by the agents i have talked to that the busiest months on the rivers are May and September.  We booked May not knowing that.  Also something to think about is weather.  Pick a month you like the weather.  I don't think you can pick a bad itinerary they all visit so many interesting places.  Good luck in your search.  I think river cruising will be a nice change from ocean cruising.  

 

Michelle

PS thanks everyone for the continuing information.  I have picked up so much from all of you.

 

Suntan,  we did the Rhine Amsterdam to Basel departed 4/12 returned 4/21 or there about.  We saw a few boats and saw tour groups from other lines, two or three times I wouldn’t consider it crowded at all, but that was April and the cruise director told us it was the first trip of the season for this ship and crew ( I think that’s good because they worked their tails off to make everyone happy).  Regarding weather, think layers.  One day it’s sunny and warm, next day damp and cloudy.  I had a windbreaker and sweatshirt which sufficed, but walking around Amsterdam could have used a slightly heavier coat in the evening.  Enjoy.

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1 hour ago, s35flyer said:

1. What is the age demographic on a river cruise?  I'm in my late 50's.  Will I be too young  or too old? LOL

2. Re stateroom locations. I see some of the staterooms (Artistry II) are on the same deck as either the propulsion room or engine room.  Wouldn't that be noisy at night and interrupt one's sleep?

3.  I see there are optional excursions available at some ports.  Are these included in the price or would there be an extra charge for them?

4. Is the price all-inclusive?  By that I mean, cruise, meals, alcohol, soft drinks, tea, coffee, and shore excursions?

===============================================

My wife and I did the Rhine in late April aboard the expression.  I am 65 and active tennis player and hiker my wife is 59 and plays golf three times a week so my point is we are close to your age.  Our cruise had mostly our age on board, there were older and there were younger, 35-75 I would say covers most everyone.  Two things are important here, first you must be physically independent, there are no elevators and walking in Europe is difficult for some people.  The next thing is and what we enjoyed was meeting all the different people, we even became friends with some  and are staying touch.  There are “groups” of people 4-8 of various sorts, family, group of friends,  they missed out on this because all they did was hang with their family/group, eat together etc.  So as a single, look for others and sit down with others, don’t be shy!  Pick a seat any seat and enjoy the conversation.  There’s always one Debby downer, we had ours loud boisterous knows everything type, we stayed away so no issues.

2.  We were on the top floor about midship, I could hear the engines, but it was a very dull sound and I actually slept better than at home.  But walking all day, never ending wine glass might have contributed.  

3. That depends on the cruise line, Tauck everything is included, from my research all the other lines have extra excursions.  However, there are excursions every day for everybody.  We would usually go with a group and after getting the lay of the land go off on our own but being back at the ship at the designated time.

4.  Yes and no, again depends on the cruise line.  Avalon, everything included, except alcohol served in the bar, but there is a happy hour before dinner and it’s cheap.  At meals, free.  We paid extra for a few things like a special excursion to the Maginot line in France.   But that’s the exception not the rule.

 

 

advice-  before choosing a cruise figure out what you want to see, then search for cruises that match that.  And if your wanting 2020, better reserve soon they fill up fast.  We have a new reservation for 2021 and it’s half full already.

 

Thank you for your response.  I've travelled on my own several times and I have no problem meeting people.  I've pulled off today the cruises in 2020 I am interested in which I will review later today and contact my travel agent to see which cruises have the single supplement available.  Wish me luck.

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35 minutes ago, seashell said:

Suntan,

 

i can't answer some questions since i don't cruise until May but I can address the single supplement.  I am booked as a single.  I was told there are usually 5 cabins per cruise that have the supplement waived.  So if the price is $4000 per person in the room then you pay $4,000.00.  If they get more than 5 singles on the cruise then you pay $8,000.00.  (or close to it).  If you want to do this then book early to get the lower price.  I have a family group going and we are age 59 to 75.  The family wanted to see castles so we are going on the Rhine cruise.  

i was told by the agents i have talked to that the busiest months on the rivers are May and September.  We booked May not knowing that.  Also something to think about is weather.  Pick a month you like the weather.  I don't think you can pick a bad itinerary they all visit so many interesting places.  Good luck in your search.  I think river cruising will be a nice change from ocean cruising.  

 

Michelle

PS thanks everyone for the continuing information.  I have picked up so much from all of you.

Seashell, thank you for your response.  I'm hoping to decide where I want to go later today and then contact my travel agent.  Viking wanted almost $10,000 for flight and 8 day cruise (that's with the single supplement).  That's not in the cards. LOL

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We have sailed with Avalon 4 times in Europe, always on the bottom floor. The room is compact with only a desk chair.  We really don’t mind as we are usually up in the lounge or on deck.  The bathroom is very nice.  We were not bothered by any engine noises.  Enjoy your cruise!

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Suntan,

 

Viking price is outrageous.  I am Enchanting Rhine i think going Southbound in May.  I am on the second level in a B class i think.  I have the single price of $4,500.00 i think.  since i am going as part of a group i got a discount and I got another one for booking in the may promotion.  My air I am paying for and looks to be $1,600 for premium select on Delta.  Main economy was running somewhere around $1000 depending on which flight i picked.  I'm going early 2 days and staying one extra so i'll have hotel costs too.  But still significantly less than Viking's quote.  Plus the rooms are bigger.  I've sailed solo many times and I've been gouged many times.  At least now i get some credit for the solo sails.  I finally hit Elite level on Celebrity.

Michelle  

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We have done 3 river cruises with Avalon and 3 with Viking. We just go with whoever is doing the itinerary we want at the best price. Love both lines. No complaints with either of them. I have never gone solo but on our last Avalon cruise (Tulips of Northern Holland in early May) there were quite a few solo travelers. I have traveled on the Danube Dreams itinerary with my sister and 20 something daughters and we had a ball. On the Holland cruise there were probably more 50 something guests than any other age group. The river cruising crowd always seems quite friendly and such an interesting group. Can’t imagine an easier way to travel solo. 

We always stay in the least expensive cabins on Avalon and have never had any issues with engine noise or vibration. 

 

And btw, if you are interested in the Netherlands I highly recommend that Tulips of Northern Holland trip. So very interesting with stops in lots of places very untouristy and certainly off the beaten path for river cruisers. We LOVED it!  

 

 

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Thank you everyone for your responses to my questions re Avalon Waterways.  Your insight and past experience helped me decide to book which I did today.   I'll be sailing on the May 6, 2020 Tulip Time Cruise, Amsterdam to Amsterdam.   I am very excited to experience a different style of cruising and to seeing the beautiful ports of call.

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Excellent choice.  Friends took that exact cruise same date this year, loooved it.  But I can’t recomme enough that you must visit keukenhof gardens, I’m sure it will be an offered excursion and even if it cost extra, do it..

 

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We were on the Avalon Vista in April/19 for its first tulip time cruise of the year.  On our cruise, Keukenhof was offerred as a full day excursion OR a 1/2 day excursion in the afternoon with visiting Gouda in the morning.  I don't consider myself a flower person, but wow, Keukenhof was impressive.

 

Enjoy.

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I will definitely be visiting the Keukenhof gardens.  I've also heard that the flower market is also a must see.

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Suntan,

 

Would love to hear about your cruise when you get back.  I want to do that one.  You will have a fabulous time.  I will be there just ahead of you.  i am going to Keukenhof for sure.  I am a gardener and love tulips although i may be past the peak for them.  Alsmeer is the flower auction house.  I plan to go there too.  Like you I am also looking at hotels now.  Family will be coming in different days so I want to find one that everyone will be happy with.  So many options but many showed fully booked already.  I hope you got the single price.  It makes a big difference.  

 

Michelle

 

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We are doing the April 4, 2020 Tulip Time on the Panorama (I think). It’s really one of the special cruises as the focus is on .....beer. Hubs is a beer blogger.  I drink Chardonnay or Pino Grigio. But oh well. I’ll live.  My main focus is seeing the Jan Van Eyke altarpiece in Ghent .   Nope.not religious, but over the years since I received my masters in art history, I’ve seen every painting or drawing or sculpture etc that I ever studied or wrote a paper on....EXCEPT that one. We’ve traveled a lot in the Low Countries and I never got there. 

 

The keukenhof gardens will be just icing on the cake.  First river cruise. Maybe not the last. 😻

 

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45 minutes ago, Spideysmum said:

We are doing the April 4, 2020 Tulip Time on the Panorama (I think). It’s really one of the special cruises as the focus is on .....beer. Hubs is a beer blogger.  I drink Chardonnay or Pino Grigio. But oh well. I’ll live.  My main focus is seeing the Jan Van Eyke altarpiece in Ghent .   Nope.not religious, but over the years since I received my masters in art history, I’ve seen every painting or drawing or sculpture etc that I ever studied or wrote a paper on....EXCEPT that one. We’ve traveled a lot in the Low Countries and I never got there. 

 

The keukenhof gardens will be just icing on the cake.  First river cruise. Maybe not the last. 😻

 

 

I saw it a couple years ago. Like you, I have a degree in Art History and early Flemish painting is one of my favorite periods . The Ghent Altarpiece was on top on my list and It did not disappoint as long as you get there when the church opens and before the crowds of tourists. I was able to spend 30 minutes alone in the chapel with the triptych but I took a taxi, not a tour. I think you can get in at 9 am and perhaps earlier. When I left there was a group waiting to get inside and I would not have wanted to be rushed with all those people!

 

Ghent is a charming place and not as touristy as Bruges. Good luck.

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On 8/21/2019 at 8:36 PM, suntan said:

Hello everyone.  I am searching for a European cruise in 2020.  I've booked a British Isles cruise on NCL for May 2020; however, upon reviewing the ports of call it appears some of the ports of call are 2-3 hours from the central areas for travel.  Also the cost of the shore excursions, whether through NCL or private, are pricey for what was being offered.  So I'm looking at a river cruise and I see Avalon has waived the single supplement on some 2020 cruises.  I've never done a river cruise before so I have some questions that I hope you will be able to answer.

1. What is the age demographic on a river cruise?  I'm in my late 50's.  Will I be too young  or too old? LOL

2. Re stateroom locations. I see some of the staterooms (Artistry II) are on the same deck as either the propulsion room or engine room.  Wouldn't that be noisy at night and interrupt one's sleep?

3.  I see there are optional excursions available at some ports.  Are these included in the price or would there be an extra charge for them?

4. Is the price all-inclusive?  By that I mean, cruise, meals, alcohol, soft drinks, tea, coffee, and shore excursions?

 

Thank you

Suntan, We leave in two days for our fourth Avalon in five years.  Linz to Budapest 0827.   I can't recommend them highly enough. I'll try to answer your questions.

 

1.  Probably most travelers are retired or nearly so.  But we've always met some couples who were probably in their 40s. Two cruises ago there was a large family with four adults and half a dozen older teen/college age kids.  They were wonderful!  So much fun.  They had us all up doing Greek dancing one night.  (Greek family.)

  Even the very senior travelers are pretty active.  However, unlike what someone posted above, there IS an elevator on each ship.  It's right next to the staircase just off the reception area.

If there's some day that the excursions don't interest you, or you just want to take a day off, you can either go out on your own, or stay onboard the ship, even if the ship is cruising down river and will meet the buses from the excursions later in the day.  You may have the whole ship to yourself!

 

2.  All ships are going to have cabins near the engines.  However, the engines are, of course, on the lower level at the back of the ship.  That's where the crew cabins are.  There are public cabins in the rear on Deck 2 above the engines but I've never heard anyone complain about them.  If you're a light sleeper, try to book a cabin mid ship or forward.  We've never noticed the engines. The only noises we ever hear are when we're going through a lock at night, or when rude travelers are loud in the hallway after leaving the lounge late at night. 

 

3.  Excursions.  At every port you might have a choice of an INCLUDED excursion. Maybe a walking tour of town OR a bus trip to a castle, for example.  But on each  cruise there will also be a few OPTIONAL (think $$$) excursions that offer something really special.   You can see both the included choices AND the Optional cost excursions in the website.  Once you book your tour, you can book the excursions you want  (included and optional) on line so that you will not be disappointed if they fill up before you can book on the ship.

 

4.  All meals are included.  Beer and free flowing wine are included with lunch and dinner.  I find the regional wines they serve very nice, and I'm a bit of a wine snob.  Champagne/proseco is also available at breakfast if you'd like to have a mimosa.  There are also afternoon snacks in the lounge, as well as a free coffee/tea/hot chocolate bar and cookies/muffins available at all times in the rear lounge.  As mentioned in #3, there are free shore excursions every day, along with a few optional ones for an extra fee.

 

I think you're going to love it!  I'm already considering where we'll go for our fifth cruise and we haven't even departed for our fourth one yet.

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I said there was t an elevator.  I just asked my wife and she didn’t see an elevator either, but I looked up the ship, expression, and it says there is one. So my fault and I’m sorry.  But I will say if someone requires an elevator, then a river cruise may not be a great idea.  We saw several people that were very unhappy that they couldn’t participate in the walking tours.   One couple we saw was complaining to the CD, as he said and I must agree can’t help it, Europe, specifically the places we went, are not set up for issues such as that.

 

Mea culpa, I’m sorry.  But truthfully neither my wife nor I ever saw an elevator.

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1 hour ago, ptrpanpens said:

 

I saw it a couple years ago. Like you, I have a degree in Art History and early Flemish painting is one of my favorite periods . The Ghent Altarpiece was on top on my list and It did not disappoint as long as you get there when the church opens and before the crowds of tourists. I was able to spend 30 minutes alone in the chapel with the triptych but I took a taxi, not a tour. I think you can get in at 9 am and perhaps earlier. When I left there was a group waiting to get inside and I would not have wanted to be rushed with all those people!

 

Ghent is a charming place and not as touristy as Bruges. Good luck.

Thank you so much. I will probably be there before 9 am. Very excited and also happy to finally see Ghent. Maybe I’ll spend the time looking around and drinking coffee all morning and “unfortunately “ miss the afternoon boat trip to a brewery.   😁

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1 hour ago, Kenster said:

2.  All ships are going to have cabins near the engines.  However, the engines are, of course, on the lower level at the back of the ship.  That's where the crew cabins are.  There are public cabins in the rear on Deck 2 above the engines but I've never heard anyone complain about them.  If you're a light sleeper, try to book a cabin mid ship or forward.  We've never noticed the engines. The only noises we ever hear are when we're going through a lock at night, or when rude travelers are loud in the hallway after leaving the lounge late at night. 

 

On ocean ships, the smoothest ride is about 2/3 of the way back and low – that doesn't apply to river ships because you are never plowing through waves, so if you want quiet aim for midships to forward [as Kenster said] and on the middle deck.

1 hour ago, Kenster said:

 

3.  Excursions.  At every port you might have a choice of an INCLUDED excursion. Maybe a walking tour of town OR a bus trip to a castle, for example.  But on each  cruise there will also be a few OPTIONAL (think $$$) excursions that offer something really special.   You can see both the included choices AND the Optional cost excursions in the website.  Once you book your tour, you can book the excursions you want  (included and optional) on line so that you will not be disappointed if they fill up before you can book on the ship.

 

This is an area where the higher end cruise lines give back some of the cost difference – on AMA, all excursions are included (even those that offer something special).

 

1 hour ago, Kenster said:

 

4.  All meals are included.  Beer and free flowing wine are included with lunch and dinner.  I find the regional wines they serve very nice, and I'm a bit of a wine snob.  Champagne/proseco is also available at breakfast if you'd like to have a mimosa.  There are also afternoon snacks in the lounge, as well as a free coffee/tea/hot chocolate bar and cookies/muffins available at all times in the rear lounge.  As mentioned in #3, there are free shore excursions every day, along with a few optional ones for an extra fee.

 

I think you're going to love it!  I'm already considering where we'll go for our fifth cruise and we haven't even departed for our fourth one yet.

 

I have ended up on the email lists of many river cruise lines, and I've been getting lots of offers that waive the single supplement lately.  So you can shop around to see which line offers the exact itinerary, amenities, and price you want.  The good news is that almost everyone loves their first river cruise, no matter which line they are on.

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On 8/24/2019 at 5:35 PM, s35flyer said:

I said there was t an elevator.  I just asked my wife and she didn’t see an elevator either, but I looked up the ship, expression, and it says there is one. So my fault and I’m sorry.  But I will say if someone requires an elevator, then a river cruise may not be a great idea.  We saw several people that were very unhappy that they couldn’t participate in the walking tours.   One couple we saw was complaining to the CD, as he said and I must agree can’t help it, Europe, specifically the places we went, are not set up for issues such as that.

 

Mea culpa, I’m sorry.  But truthfully neither my wife nor I ever saw an elevator.

It's tucked into a corner under the "grand staircase." Easy to overlook. I just wanted to clarify that there is one- not chastise you! 🙂  Best as I recall, it does not go up to the 3rd deck or sun deck so there will still be some steps to  climb.

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You are correct the elevator does not go to the Sun Deck. It’s intended to get someone from the main deck to the lower deck where meals are served and to the third deck of cabins to avoid needing to use the stairs. 

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I used the elevator often on our cruise on the Tapestry II.  No one uses it who doesn't need to, it is small and a little scary to operate.  Still, it saved me steps which I desperately needed for our tours so I could conserve my energy. Also in the evening when I was very tired. 

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