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READY-TO-GO - LIVE  REPORTS FROM CRYSTAL SERENITY FOLLOWING A “MAGICAL FAMILY” GETAWAY


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19 hours ago, Keith1010 said:
WELCOME TO NAPIER
 
Well before Napier we are doing some rocking and rolling.   For those who don't care for movement of the ship hopefully they are still sleeping.  😀
 
In my case I did hear some rumbling over two hours ago and just decided it was time to begin the day.   The force was strong enough that for the first time we heard some noise from either our verandah or one nearby but that has subsided.   When I did my workout on the Elliptical Machine I didn't hydrate as I wanted to keep both hands gripped on the equipment.  Other than that, no big deal.  LOL   😀
For me I have been in far worse than this and it is all about the experience of being at sea.
 
Lovely visit yesterday to Napier.  Timing is everything and I think the guests and those members of the crew who had time to go into town had a great time since they held the Art Deco Festival..  Lots of people dressed in clothing from back in the day (back before our time) and many Vintage Cars in town.  1335969739_IMG_16134.thumb.jpeg.80424b949992447c803cf20000a35e8b.jpeg
 
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Town is charming.   Our fourth time here.  Last time we walked to other areas of town and we were also on a mission.  I had gotten hit in the eye with a tennis ball and wanted to be sure I had not issues such as a detached retina and thankfully all was fine after I was checked out other than floaters.  Also were were very fortunate that day as I had a large Nikon Camera in hand and while walking with Anne Marie she made the mistake (something I do remind her about) of walking and not looking straight ahead as she was looking for something in particular towards the left and tripped on a curb and flew into the air.  I couldn't catch her with the large camera in hand and we are very (and I mean very) fortunate that she had just a scrap and nothing (like a hip) broken.  Lesson look straight ahead and if you want to look another way stop walking.  
 
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In the early afternoon we had quite a show which could be seen downtown but also we had a beautiful viewing from Serenity with five vintage aircraft flying nearby and doing amazing maneuvers.  It was exciting to watch and the consensus of viewing this together  was thee same.  Exiciting to watch but...........  "You are not getting me into that aircraft".   
 
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Cheers,
 
Keith
 
 

 

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Hi Keith

Our balcony is rattling too en route to Tauranga on Regent Mariner. We’ve changed our itinerary to go south from Sydney along the bottom of Australia and most people are relieved to be avoiding Singapore and Asia. But some who are disembarking have to find new flights home from Perth instead. You seem to be just ahead of us and I hope we have a Magical day like you had in Napier. Cheers 

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22 hours ago, indigosea said:

Hi Keith

Our balcony is rattling too en route to Tauranga on Regent Mariner. We’ve changed our itinerary to go south from Sydney along the bottom of Australia and most people are relieved to be avoiding Singapore and Asia. But some who are disembarking have to find new flights home from Perth instead. You seem to be just ahead of us and I hope we have a Magical day like you had in Napier. Cheers 

indogesea....Glad you posted.  I was wondering what they were going to do in terms of your itinerary.  I hope you also have good weather in Napier and a great there day.   Enjoy the revised itinerary  and best wishes to you.

 

Keith

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WELCOME TO WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

 

When I posted yesterday morning we were definitely doing rocking and rolling with strong winds and sea swells.  The storm didn't appear to be forecasted.  We had the tugs to be with us as we docked at the port.

 

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It was raining when we first arrived.   The good news is rain stopped by around 9:00 AM or so and while we were downtown it was cool with some wind and cloudy but no rain.   As thee day went on by afternoon it became warmer with a full sun.  Just spent part of the day downtown as this was our fourth visit here and on two prior visits we toured around.  We do have tours planned for today and tomorrow.

 

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As we find in some cities around the world there were several local people providing tourist information in the city including three or four at the shuttle bus stop.   

 

I wanted to take a moment to commend New Zealand on how they do their security at the ports.  They do it better than most places we have traveled and I feel lots better than my own country.  You need to show identification when entering the ports either when the gate is opened or shortly entering the port.  Regardless of whether you are in an automobile or bus they will check ship id plus government id photo for each person.  On a bus they look around closely to make sure someone is not hiding on the bus.  

 

They do remind us about not taking food of the ship.  They require the ship to make regular announcements about not taking food of the ship and each night when we get back to the room the television is set to the info-commercial reminding us of the same thing.  

 

A $400.00 fine will be levied on the spot if you do not abide by the law.  We were told someone was fined for taking a banana off the ship the other day.  However, not sure whether or not this is true.  If it was that was one expensive banana.  

 

I wanted to give a shout-out to the entertainment last evening.   Two shows of Vioinist Ian Cooper.  We have so many great memories of past performances and many times we saw him perform on St. Patrick's Day.   Last year and this year the performances were not on this holiday.   A terrific performer.  Also last evening Curtis and Beverly performed in a separate show two different times.   All this with the ship in port until we left around 10:00 PM last evening.

 

Food continues to be superb in the venues we have dined at.  We will hit all of the dining venues before we leave in Sydney including Churrascaria in a few days.

 

I mentioned this the other day but this is the first cruise where the first of the two Black Tie Optional nights is the sixth night of the sailing and this is the case tonight.  There will also bee a Captain's Party.  The itinerary including the times in port is the reason for this.    We'll have the second and final BTO night a few days from now.

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We had a super day of doing a private tour of three vineyards in Marlborough with another couple.   It was a lovely day with stunning views to and from the wine region and while tasting wine.  We went to three places including a boutique family producer of wines which you will not find in other areas of New Zealand.  We enjoyed some super wine.   

 

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We didn't need a large lunch.   Had delicious rolls/bread with cheese at one of the Vineyards.  

 

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Took a scenic way back to the area in town where we picked up the shuttle.

 

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We finished a super day on-board Serenity between listening to Irina perform before dinner, dinner at Silk while taking in spectacular views, Captain's Reception and a show following it.  

Life is good.


While dining at Silk I was thinking of the various opinions of the experience.  I was even thinking of our own.   It did take us a few tries before we figured out what to order, what we liked and how to change it up and incorporate new dishes along with those we enjoy the most.   We really enjoy it.   I know some say it's not as good as back home or it's not authentic enough or a multitude of things.   All I know is we enjoy it very much and I have eaten in Mainland China on pleasure trips and on business and I am very happy with the food at Silk.  Of course food is subjective and this applies to any restaurant one eats at on land or at sea.   Choice is good and very glad they have this dining venue as one of the choices.   

 

My advice is simple.  If you haven't eaten there I would try it.  If you have eaten there and you thought the experience was just OK, think about trying it again.   If we didn't try it a second or even third time and had stopped eating there I think we would be missing out on some really great food IMHO and the overall experience which we had last night.

 

A few food photos and a few views we enjoyed from Silk.

 

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Cheers,

 

Keith

 

 

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Keith --  I really appreciate your positive attitude.  Life -- like travel -- doesn't always work out as we expect.  All we can do is make the best of any situation, learn from the past and make adjustments.  Enjoying the small pleasures makes everyday enjoyable. Speaking of which....

 

Your picture of the wines at Brancott is getting me super excited for my trip.  We'll be visiting that winery -- with lunch.  Only 9 months to go 😉

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Thank you rmz89 for your kind comments.

 

mchell810, thank you as well for your post.  So glad you will be visiting the winery.  It was lots of fun to visit Brancott.  The tasting room was up on a hill overlooking their vineyard.  It provide amazing views.  Visiting places around the world known for producing wine is always enjoyable so you have lots to look forward to.

 

Keith

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WELCOME TO AKAROA, New Zealand
 
AKAROA IS A TOWN LOCATED NINETY MINUTES FROM CHRISTCHURCH.
 
This is our second time to this town having two prior visits to Christchurch.  We were on Serenity  in 2011 when we were in Christchurch only  a few days  before their devastating earthquake.   I can't imagine what it would have been like if we were there that day as many of us from the ship would have been downtown when it struck.
 
We took a Crystal Private's tour yesterday involving visits to a Farm in Little River and lots of time with the couple who has owned the ranch for 46 years, lunch at a unique restaurant in terms of its views and property and a visit to The Giant House located in Akaroa which is one of the most unique places we have visited.   We were taken around inside the home by the owner Josie (a truly remarkable and amazing person) and she toured us around portions outside while we toured the rest on our own.  Some guests were there from Crystal either on a group tour or on their own along with others who were visiting.

From the Ranch.
 
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From the Restaurant.
 
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From the Giant House.
 
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The tour too us on some pretty drives as we drove to the Farm House.   
 
While we have several take-aways from today one stands out the most. All of the owners have something in common. They each took risk and pursued their respective passions each doing something that they love.
 
On the way back to the tender we saw something we don't often see. The tender was several feet from the tender pier and at first we didn't know what it was doing. There were a few staff outside on top of the tender with some type of pole(s) in the water. First we thought the tender was stuck. It was windy and finally we realized the tent had blown overboard from the tender pier into the water and they were working diligently to get it out. They could never have done this individually. In the end, it was determination and teamwork, and perseverance which allowed them to get the tent out of the water and back to land. We all gave them a round of applause.
 
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For lots more photos and writeup from yesterday they are on our blog at:
 
 
Yesterday was a lovely day and we have made memories of the day which we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.
 
Food from Waterside was terrific on Serenity  last night. 
 
Grouper Entree which was hard to photo and a Seafood Appetizer.
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Cheers,
 
Keith
 
 
 

 

 

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On 2/23/2020 at 12:14 PM, Keith1010 said:

WELCOME TO WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND

 

When I posted yesterday morning we were definitely doing rocking and rolling with strong winds and sea swells.  The storm didn't appear to be forecasted.  We had the tugs to be with us as we docked at the port.

 

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It was raining when we first arrived.   The good news is rain stopped by around 9:00 AM or so and while we were downtown it was cool with some wind and cloudy but no rain.   As thee day went on by afternoon it became warmer with a full sun.  Just spent part of the day downtown as this was our fourth visit here and on two prior visits we toured around.  We do have tours planned for today and tomorrow.

 

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As we find in some cities around the world there were several local people providing tourist information in the city including three or four at the shuttle bus stop.   

 

I wanted to take a moment to commend New Zealand on how they do their security at the ports.  They do it better than most places we have traveled and I feel lots better than my own country.  You need to show identification when entering the ports either when the gate is opened or shortly entering the port.  Regardless of whether you are in an automobile or bus they will check ship id plus government id photo for each person.  On a bus they look around closely to make sure someone is not hiding on the bus.  

 

They do remind us about not taking food of the ship.  They require the ship to make regular announcements about not taking food of the ship and each night when we get back to the room the television is set to the info-commercial reminding us of the same thing.  

 

A $400.00 fine will be levied on the spot if you do not abide by the law.  We were told someone was fined for taking a banana off the ship the other day.  However, not sure whether or not this is true.  If it was that was one expensive banana.  

 

I wanted to give a shout-out to the entertainment last evening.   Two shows of Vioinist Ian Cooper.  We have so many great memories of past performances and many times we saw him perform on St. Patrick's Day.   Last year and this year the performances were not on this holiday.   A terrific performer.  Also last evening Curtis and Beverly performed in a separate show two different times.   All this with the ship in port until we left around 10:00 PM last evening.

 

Food continues to be superb in the venues we have dined at.  We will hit all of the dining venues before we leave in Sydney including Churrascaria in a few days.

 

I mentioned this the other day but this is the first cruise where the first of the two Black Tie Optional nights is the sixth night of the sailing and this is the case tonight.  There will also bee a Captain's Party.  The itinerary including the times in port is the reason for this.    We'll have the second and final BTO night a few days from now.

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember last year in New Zealand, the dog who was controlling that passengers do not take food out of the ship. He was very interested in my small purse. It turns out to be that they can smell banknotes also. I had about US 100 in small denominations to buy souvenirs instead of using a credit card. He was a nice and clever dog.

Ivi

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We just heard a ship-wide announcement from Captain Birger for everyone on board right now that due to severe weather we will not cross the Tasman Sea and we will get into the Fjords later than planned.  Hobart has been cancelled.  The Captain noted we will still get into Sydney as planned so no worries there.  Captain said they are working to finalize details and will have another update at 5:00 PM this evening and a letter will also go to everyone's stateroom tonight. Obviously this means the World Cruise Shoreside Event at Hobart won't happen.

 

In the end the most important thing is the safety of guests, crew and ship.   We have crossed the Tasman sea many times and as recently as last year and know how rough it can be so with a major storm we are fortunate that we can take an alternative route and be out of harms way.

 

Keith

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19 hours ago, travelberlin said:

I remember last year in New Zealand, the dog who was controlling that passengers do not take food out of the ship. He was very interested in my small purse. It turns out to be that they can smell banknotes also. I had about US 100 in small denominations to buy souvenirs instead of using a credit card. He was a nice and clever dog.

Ivi

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Ivi, that is a good story.

 

Good that it was legal to have the money and it was not food.  LOL.

 

Keith

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45 minutes ago, Keith1010 said:

We just heard a ship-wide announcement from Captain Birger for everyone on board right now that due to severe weather we will not cross the Tasman Sea and we will get into the Fjords later than planned.  Hobart has been cancelled.  The Captain noted we will still get into Sydney as planned so no worries there.  Captain said they are working to finalize details and will have another update at 5:00 PM this evening and a letter will also go to everyone's stateroom tonight. Obviously this means the World Cruise Shoreside Event at Hobart won't happen.

 

In the end the most important thing is the safety of guests, crew and ship.   We have crossed the Tasman sea many times and as recently as last year and know how rough it can be so with a major storm we are fortunate that we can take an alternative route and be out of harms way.

 

Keith

 

We completely missed the sounds on Symphony last spring but did make Hobart.  Same thing, nasty weather in Tasman.

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1 hour ago, Keith1010 said:

We just heard a ship-wide announcement from Captain Birger for everyone on board right now that due to severe weather we will not cross the Tasman Sea and we will get into the Fjords later than planned.

 

Sorry to hear that news

 

I assume he means you won't cross the Tasman at the time originally scheduled as you'll have to cross it sometime if you're  going to get to Australia

 

That is a shame that Hobart has been cancelled - I'm sure they had a great event planned for the full World Cruisers

 

Gee this voyage is turning into a real adventure - with missed ports and variations to the itinerary

 

We'll stay tuned for further updates 

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Keith,

The Giant House looks like an absolute treasure!  The pictures that you have shown on your blog make it clear that this is one of those iconic places that are just jaw dropping.

Did Josie create all of those art pieces?  Do you know what they are made of?

Thanks for sharing  your observations and photos of this very special place!

Bob

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19 hours ago, Stickman1990 said:

 

Sorry to hear that news

 

I assume he means you won't cross the Tasman at the time originally scheduled as you'll have to cross it sometime if you're  going to get to Australia

 

That is a shame that Hobart has been cancelled - I'm sure they had a great event planned for the full World Cruisers

 

Gee this voyage is turning into a real adventure - with missed ports and variations to the itinerary

 

We'll stay tuned for further updates 

Oops.  Now you tell me.  LOL.  


Yes, we'll know better at 5:00 PM as to itinerary and where we will cross.  

 

We have had more missed ports on this World Cruise than we have ever had on a World Cruise we have taken and for more reasons (medical emergencies, weather, and coronavirus related).  I think most we missed on prior World Cruises was two each time.  And as they say the night is still young.  I suspect when all is said and done there might be more due to the virus.

 

Keith

 

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22 hours ago, boblerm said:

Keith,

The Giant House looks like an absolute treasure!  The pictures that you have shown on your blog make it clear that this is one of those iconic places that are just jaw dropping.

Did Josie create all of those art pieces?  Do you know what they are made of?

Thanks for sharing  your observations and photos of this very special place!

Bob

Bob, I am glad you liked the Giant House.  Josie is not only a talented artist but just a hoot.  I want to return again.   It was very special.  She did create all of the pieces.   They are made out of different materials.  I didn't want to take photos inside the house but that is amazing as well.   She had a few things made by others.  She has a room that is nautical and a bed that looks like a ship which someone made for her.

 

On a related note she does like to cruise and the owners of the farm do.  The ones on the farm cruise Oceania but I put in a good word to everyone about cruising Crystal.    

Keith

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We learned during lunch what the plan is and it is a good one.  It keeps everyone safe and that is the most important thing but also give us a nice port to visit.  Although I am sure some know on the ship I prefer not posting the details until the announcement is made ship wide at 5:00 PM although some already know.   A letter will be sent out as well.   I think everyone will be pleased.  

Keith

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Captain Birger spoke to everyone from the Bridge and explained that due to the storm we would not be going to Hobart and will  cross over to Australia further north.  We will arrive to Sydney one day earlier on March 2nd and will be anchored.  Tender service will be available to take everyone over to Sydney.  Late evening we will dock.

 

So the good news is we will have an extra day in Sydney and most importantly we will avoid what would have been very choppy seas should the course not have been arrive.  Safety first.  Thank you Captain Birger.

 

The captain noted we will have five hours of rough seas early in the morning and the Captain let us know we should secure items in our room such as bottles.

 

From the Captain's Letter which we received shortly before his talk from the bridge.

 

We  hope you are enjoying your time onboard Crystal Serenity.

 

In my job as Master, my highest priority is always the safety of our vessel and those on board.  As part of that, I am always looking ahed to spot any potential challenges our way.

 

Over the last week or so, we have painstakingly been following the weather forecast for the Tasman Sea.   This is an area which is always a concern to any mariner as weather can be notoriously bad.  Unfortunately, over the last few days the forecast has gone from bad to worse.  Four major storm are lining up one after the other and starting tonight they are supposed to start hitting the Tasman Sea.

 

For the two day passage from Milford Sound to Hobart, the forecast is strong winds and heavy seas from a East South West direction.  Significant wave height varies from 5 - 6 six meters to as much as 8 - 9 meters (15 - 18 feet to 25 - 30 feet) given a choice no responsible mariner would knowingly head into such weather.  Hence, we have made the decision to cancer our call to Hobart.

 

Upon departure from Dunedin tonight we will proceed for cruising the New Zealand Fjorlands National Park on a somewhat amended and delayed schedule culminating with departing Milford Sound tomorrow night no later than 7:00 pm bound for Sydney NSW.

 

We will move our arrival to Sydney one day and are planning to arrive at anchor in Sydney on the morning of March 2nd.  We will remain at anchor for most of the day and will shift to our assigned Bert at Sydney Cove in thee evening when the Overseas Passenger Terminal is vacated by another ship.  We will then remain docked there until our scheduled departure on March 4th.

 

Sincerely,

 

Captain Birger J. Vorland, 
Ship's Master

 

Keith 

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Posting early since we  might have issues with Internet tomorrow because of where we are sailing.

 

Early morning sunrise.

 

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We have prepared our room for the potential of early morning rough seas by placing breakables on the couch and on the floor in the closet.  The attendants brought in the cushions and the Butler and Attendants would have put items on the couch if we hadn't.

 

We attended the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle Party.  Including the two of us three people attended.  😀  Some people might have been unable to attend due to returning from tours or just returning or returning late afternoon and it was also Ash Wednesday and there were Protestant and Catholic masses.  Four officers attended.  

 

Dinner at Umi Uma for the first and only time of this segment.  Food was delicious.

 

IMG_9597.thumb.jpeg.ceba8abd7ba63c28c2cede795c8531cb.jpeg

 

IMG_9598.thumb.jpeg.a2efda0df381134be221972aaa1e3519.jpeg

 

IMG_9599.thumb.jpeg.0ac23f1f2cdd459f3df636fdf4e13f19.jpeg

 

 

Well that's all for now.

 

Cheers,

 

Keith

 

 

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2 hours ago, rafinmd said:

I hope that's true.  I think the ship was only supposed to be docked on March 3 and then go to the anchorage March 4.  If so, those boarding or remaining on board get a nice bonus.

 

Last time I looked she was due to be berthed at the OPT for all of her original stay - a pleasant change from what we've seen in recent years

 

Sydney ports site currently show as below - not sure if/when they will update it

 

504844767_SerenityOPT.png.516a2a189f409c91745465635dec416a.png

 

https://www.portauthoritynsw.com.au/cruise/cruise-schedule/

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2 hours ago, Stickman1990 said:

 

Last time I looked she was due to be berthed at the OPT for all of her original stay - a pleasant change from what we've seen in recent years

 

Sydney ports site currently show as below - not sure if/when they will update it

 

504844767_SerenityOPT.png.516a2a189f409c91745465635dec416a.png

 

https://www.portauthoritynsw.com.au/cruise/cruise-schedule/

 

That is what Captain Vorland said as well. We will move to the OPT the evening of March 2 about 7:00 PM, after the ship in place leaves, and we will remain there for the duration of our stay. Hopefully they have been able to charter the Captain Cook tenders on short notice for the day on March 2 which will make tendering a lot more comfortable than the ships's tenders. An extra day in Sydney is never a bad thing!!

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