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Trying Cunard


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20 hours ago, KirkNC said:

Doesn’t sound like it would work for us (I am not the OP).  Class system and formal attire are just not in our world.  Too bad as I have thought about using them in lieu of a plane flight.  

They may pretend to be formal but nobody wearing anything from a clean t-shirt and shoes to white tie tux and ladies in floor-length gowns was thrown overboard or even looked at askance on our cruise.  Many men were in sports jackets and quite a few without ties.  Ladies were equally dressed.

The world is becoming a lot more casual despite the wishes and best efforts of those who prefer otherwise.  Go as fancy as you like and enjoy a great cruise.  Cunard ships are spectacular, even if they are understaffed and in my opinion don't live up to the hype.

 

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Regarding the dress code:

 

In most cases (see below), a gentleman will not be allowed in the evening into any dining room including specialty restaurants without a jacket and tie on formal nights. On informal evenings, a jacket (tie optional) is required.  For those not wanting to wear a jacket, the Kings Court buffet and the pub (on ships where there is pub dinner) are options.

 

I wrote " in most cases" because, on a 2019 Alaskan cruise , the first and last nights were jacket optional.   Yes, even on Cunard, things have gotten more casual.  But, the overwhelming majority of passengers do dress for dinner according to the evening's dress code.

 

Another thing to mention about dinner on Cunard.  There is only fixed seatings in the main dining room - usually 6:00pm and 8:30pm.  The times were adjusted in Alaska to 5:30pm and 7:45pm.  

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We have done world cruises on HAL and Cunard, along with shorter voyages on each. I echo the comments above about the so called 'class differences' on Cunard.  I've never felt them on Cunard and we never went Grills.  On HAL however we did feel like 2nd (or 3rd) bananas as new world cruisers.  We felt invisible to the crew until well into the voyage.

 

One of the biggest differences between HAL and Cunard in our experience at least, is that Cunard tends to have more international passengers.  We like that a lot.  It's so interesting to talk to people from around the world.

 

 

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On 12/8/2020 at 10:52 AM, kelmac said:

 we thought the food was comparable to HAL

 

 

This has been my major memory of my cruise aboard QM2:  the difference between the menus offered in the Britannia Restaurant and the MDR menus on a HAL ship.  Fewer selections on QM2; preparations of whatever ordered were good.  Probably equal to what I have had aboard a HAL ship when the Executive Chef aboard was a good one.  (And, I have sailed on some HAL cruise when the Executive Chef must have barely passed his culinary school classes, if, indeed, he ever attended a school.)

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On 12/8/2020 at 2:55 PM, prescottbob said:

We did a QE2 crossing May 2019 to avoid flying and, well, to try it out (it's always  been on our "bucket list"). Then we flew over to Amsterdam for a few days and embarked on the  Prinsendam's last month in the HAL fleet doing a circle the UK and Norwegian B2B cruises.

 

We actually like the 'change of pace' although the formal every other night and then a sport coat otherwise in the main dining room wasn't as bad as I expected. For folks that don't care for formal dress they do have a Lido of sorts (I can't recall the name) that only informal wear (no shorts, after 6 I think).

 

The planetarium was a blast, lots of informative lecture and the best library I've ever seen on a cruise ship. It just so happened that the particular cruise was filled with WW2 veterans doing the crossing for D-Day ceremonies and they had 2-3 hours worth of lectures daily with WW2 military experiences,  D-Day presentations, etc. They were great. Shows were okay and if you like to dance, well, the QE2 is just for you. 

 

Would I do again? Perhaps. I thought the ship was beautiful, the staff friendly and the food similar to HAL IMHO. BTW, the Pub & specialty dinners were great.

 

Be well & Happy Holidays!

Bob

I always felt that Hal and Cunard would fit well together

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On 12/8/2020 at 1:12 PM, bennybear said:

But the class system,  where decks and dining rooms are separate is not like the egalitarian approach on HAL.  I much prefer that no matter if you are in a Neptune or inside, the food is the same in the dining room.  I also found we were asked frequently if we were in the grills,  never been asked on HAL where my cabin is.

 

This is something that seems to have always been a feature of the traditional ocean liners, carried over by Cunard. By far I appreciate more the "pleasure cruise" as it developed in the 1970s and 1980s, minus the vestiges of class and privilege -- and I am sorry to see those features being added back on some lines where they have until recently been absent. 

 

It's one reason I am increasingly reluctant to book on Celebrity, and why I appreciate HAL's product.

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1 hour ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

This is something that seems to have always been a feature of the traditional ocean liners, carried over by Cunard. By far I appreciate more the "pleasure cruise" as it developed in the 1970s and 1980s, minus the vestiges of class and privilege -- and I am sorry to see those features being added back on some lines where they have until recently been absent. 

 

It's one reason I am increasingly reluctant to book on Celebrity, and why I appreciate HAL's product.

 

I've loved our Celebrity cruises, but share your reluctance, for the reasons you stated.  Only our most recent cruise on X (a year ago) was on a ship that had been "revolutionized" to restrict to suite-only guests what had previously been public spaces, including the only forward-facing exterior deck on the ship, and I really disliked that class system.  I have no problem with suite guests having their own dining room and other perks, but I find it problematic when parts of the ship (like that exterior deck) are now being closed off to everyone else, with no equivalent space for the non-suite guests.  A large part of why I cruise is to be on the water and able to see the water, from all vantage points.   I really don't like where Celebrity has gone. 

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7 minutes ago, Turtles06 said:

 

I've loved our Celebrity cruises, but share your reluctance, for the reasons you stated.  Only our most recent cruise on X (a year ago) was on a ship that had been "revolutionized" to restrict to suite-only guests what had previously been public spaces, including the only forward-facing exterior deck on the ship, and I really disliked that class system.  I have no problem with suite guests having their own dining room and other perks, but I find it problematic when parts of the ship (like that exterior deck) are now being closed off to everyone else, with no equivalent space for the non-suite guests.  A large part of why I cruise is to be on the water and able to see the water, from all vantage points.   I really don't like where Celebrity has gone. 

Very similar to the Haven on NCL and the Yacht Club on MSC.  Now that Celebrity is going to "all-inclusive", It's becoming a little more upscale.  I just booked an 11 day cruise on the Silhouette (2022) and I paid the most I've ever paid for a CAT 9 inside cabin.  It does include all drinks, all tips, and $300 OBC -- we will see if it's worth it?  Celebrity is our go-to line, but we have really been mixing it up as of late.  We've cruised more on HAL and Cunard in the past three years, compared to Celebrity.  We've also tried MSC Yacht Club (good, but not great), Crystal (wonderful, but expensive), and we did a World Cruise on the Queen Victoria (Super great deal).  My wife and I have been married for 25 years and have spent 7% of our time together onboard cruise ships, and close to 11% if you include all forms of travel.

This year has really taken a toll on our lifestyle!😉

 

Kel

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I've enjoyed this topic......a Cunard crossing is on our bucket list......I've got a few questions and understand I'm coming at this from a HAL 3* Mariner perspective:

 

1). Is the MDR (not Grill, just the steerage class) all fixed seatings and you dine with the same folks nightly (like olden days)?  What about the availability/chances  for tables for 2?

 

2). is the food in the Lido (Kings Court) the same as what would be served in the MDR that evening? (I might need a break from a coat and tie but don't want to miss out on the best dinner)

 

3). is the "hydro suite" & gym similar to HAL's pinnacle class? 

 

For those HAL folks who have experienced Cunard, I hope you keep telling us your experiences........

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1 hour ago, FlaMariner said:

I've enjoyed this topic......a Cunard crossing is on our bucket list......I've got a few questions and understand I'm coming at this from a HAL 3* Mariner perspective:

 

1). Is the MDR (not Grill, just the steerage class) all fixed seatings and you dine with the same folks nightly (like olden days)?  What about the availability/chances  for tables for 2?

 

2). is the food in the Lido (Kings Court) the same as what would be served in the MDR that evening? (I might need a break from a coat and tie but don't want to miss out on the best dinner)

 

3). is the "hydro suite" & gym similar to HAL's pinnacle class? 

 

For those HAL folks who have experienced Cunard, I hope you keep telling us your experiences........

Hi FM,

Here is some info:

1) -- Traditional early and late seating, with plenty of tables for two. 

 

2) -- Here is the rub on this -- the King's Court (Lido) on the QM2 is one of the worst buffet's at sea; limited selection and the service areas are all chopped up along a long area of the ship.  They re-did it a couple of years ago, but it's still bad.  Poor seating areas.  On the Victoria, the Lido is very similar to HAL's Vista ships, and they did a pretty good job, with a nice selection of food items.  

 

3) -- Not sure about the hydro suite and the gym is pretty small with good equipment.

 

We have cruise HAL 12 times for 103 days total and we've cruised Cunard four times for 109 days total.

They are very similar cruise lines and both offer some of the best deals at sea. 

 

Enjoy!

Kel

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3 hours ago, FlaMariner said:

I've enjoyed this topic......a Cunard crossing is on our bucket list......I've got a few questions and understand I'm coming at this from a HAL 3* Mariner perspective:

 

1). Is the MDR (not Grill, just the steerage class) all fixed seatings and you dine with the same folks nightly (like olden days)?  What about the availability/chances  for tables for 2?

 

2). is the food in the Lido (Kings Court) the same as what would be served in the MDR that evening? (I might need a break from a coat and tie but don't want to miss out on the best dinner)

 

3). is the "hydro suite" & gym similar to HAL's pinnacle class? 

 

For those HAL folks who have experienced Cunard, I hope you keep telling us your experiences........

1. Only fixed seatings in the MDR.  Times are usually 6:00pm and 8:30pm.  Never requested a 2-top so not sure how easy it is to reserve.

2. King's Court is a little hard to figure out.  Mixed bag in terms of food.  Offerings tend to be geared to Brits and, on some cruises, Germans. Not a problem for us. Have never eaten dinner there - only breakfast and lunch.  My impression is that it offers a limited menu and not necessarily similar to what is being served in the MDR.  On the QM2, there is a "pop-up" Italian restaurant offering made-to-order pastas and pizzas. No charge. 

In addition to the MDR, there is the Verandah restaurant (extra charge) serving steaks, fish, etc. Also, there are "pop-up" specialty bistros - Indian, Pacific Fusion, etc. - on selected evenings.  Each night there is a different "pop-up".  There is a charge for these options. On the Queen Elizabeth, there is a wonderful pub dinner in the main pub. No charge - at least there wasn't one in 2019.

3. Have no experience of the hydro-suite.  Gym is nice with adequate number of machines.  Wonderful to have promenade deck  that goes around the entire ship.  The deck  on the QM2 is the best.

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11 hours ago, Desert Cruisers said:

1. Only fixed seatings in the MDR.  Times are usually 6:00pm and 8:30pm.  Never requested a 2-top so not sure how easy it is to reserve.

2. King's Court is a little hard to figure out.  Mixed bag in terms of food.  Offerings tend to be geared to Brits and, on some cruises, Germans. Not a problem for us. Have never eaten dinner there - only breakfast and lunch.  My impression is that it offers a limited menu and not necessarily similar to what is being served in the MDR.  On the QM2, there is a "pop-up" Italian restaurant offering made-to-order pastas and pizzas. No charge. 

In addition to the MDR, there is the Verandah restaurant (extra charge) serving steaks, fish, etc. Also, there are "pop-up" specialty bistros - Indian, Pacific Fusion, etc. - on selected evenings.  Each night there is a different "pop-up".  There is a charge for these options. On the Queen Elizabeth, there is a wonderful pub dinner in the main pub. No charge - at least there wasn't one in 2019.

3. Have no experience of the hydro-suite.  Gym is nice with adequate number of machines.  Wonderful to have promenade deck  that goes around the entire ship.  The deck  on the QM2 is the best.

We are on the August 13  14 day on the Queen Victoria. We were able to request a table for two. It was confirmed. In my welcome email it states. "Please be aware that we will be reducing the number of guests on our first voyages following the pause in order to provide a smooth return to  sailing. "  Queen Victoria is on pause until May 2021. This is in August. Interesting. 

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I would be very tempted to take the QE or the QV on a world tour, but does Cunard ever often free laundry?  And, for those of you who have sailed the QM and the other two Queens, is the food any better on the other two?  The only dish on the QM that we like was the rack of lamb - and it was delicious!  The Kings Court was awful and we never tried it a second time.

 

And, finally, what are your comparisons of the QE and the QV?

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There are free laundry rooms on every floor of cabins,  washers & dryers, complete with soap, etc.  There was also an iron & ironing board.  People were very polite.  I had no idea so many men were in charge of laundry!

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19 hours ago, FlaMariner said:

I've enjoyed this topic......a Cunard crossing is on our bucket list......I've got a few questions and understand I'm coming at this from a HAL 3* Mariner perspective:

 

1). Is the MDR (not Grill, just the steerage class) all fixed seatings and you dine with the same folks nightly (like olden days)?  What about the availability/chances  for tables for 2?

The Britannia main dining room has two fixed seatings. There are many tables for two, but they tend to be in comfortable conversation range of adjacent tables.

There are two fixed seatings, we tend to favor the later [8PM] seating. We usually opt for mid size [6 top] tables, and will tend to rotate seats. [The Britannia 'Club' has fixed seating with a single dinner service, with the same table available for breakfast, lunch and dinner]

Curiously, we had the same wait staff for three cruises [in 2008, 2010 and 2017] and they 'dropped by' our table last year.

 

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2). is the food in the Lido (Kings Court) the same as what would be served in the MDR that evening? (I might need a break from a coat and tie but don't want to miss out on the best dinner)

Note, that we have yet to have dinner in the Kings Court. Some of the same featured dishes will be available, but not always the same choices [can ask the KC maitre d after lunch what is planned so you can decide]

The Kings Court pop up specialty dining have four or five themes, depending on the length of the cruise. There is additional charge [$15 as I recall] and the section is dressed for waiter service [evening dress code applies]. If you are looking at deck plans, this is the section of KC aft on the port side.

The 'Chefs Gallery' is a small section offering table service, with cooked to order pasta, pizza and other light Italian fare. This is one of the casual venues [like the rest of Kings Court, Carthenia Lounge and the Golden Lion pub].

We like to have breakfast and lunch in KC, preferentially in one of the 'bay window' sections projecting onto the promenade deck.

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3). is the "hydro suite" & gym similar to HAL's pinnacle class? 

I haven't sailed HAL yet [perhaps Alaska 2022] but we have used the spa on QM2.

The gym or 'Fitness Center' is free [included in fare] and has the expected set of equipment [weight machines, treadmills, bikes]. There is no locker room, but is convenient to the 'A' staircase and lifts.

The spa's hydro suite is available both by itself or the same day as another spa service [e.g. massage]. The per day price of spa access drops dramatically with a multi day pass.

The facility is quite overdue for a refresh, and pre-covid one was planned for this past November.

In 2017 the facility was closed twice on our round trip crossing. Once to repair the overhead by the spa's extremely hot tub, and again due to sloshing from a force 11 storm [not drained, just netted].

The spa operator is the Canyon Ranch Club, and part of the refresh was to include rebranding the spa as 'Mareel'. [Apparently CR wants to use that name for spas on several cruise lines]

 

Quote

 

For those HAL folks who have experienced Cunard, I hope you keep telling us your experiences........

 

Edited by TheOldBear
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16 hours ago, Desert Cruisers said:

Wonderful to have promenade deck  that goes around the entire ship.  The deck  on the QM2 is the best.

Excellent point DC!

There is no better wrap-around promenade deck than the one on the QM2.  Teakwood, wide and long -- loved it.😄

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For those interested in seeing a good bit of the QM2, in case you aren't aware, HBO Max just began streaming a new Steven Soderbergh film called "Let Them All Talk," starring Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, and Dianne Wiest.  Most of it takes place on board a transatlantic crossing from NY to Southampton, and it was filmed in Aug. 2019 on an actual crossing of the QM2, with paying guests aboard.  (No second take sailing under the Verrazzano!)  We watched it last night, and it was a good cruise "fix" for now (and worth seeing for Candice Bergen's performance alone).  

 

There's of course an entire thread about the filming and the film over on the Cunard board.

 

 

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As I said in a previous post, I've only done one Cunard cruise, so do not consider myself an expert.

 

I did not find the Dress Code unmanageable.  The cruise I was on had several Theme nights and I really enjoyed seeing the various outfits that the folks wore.  As for myself, I did not do the Themes, but had no problem with a single "dress outfit". 

 

I did go to the King's Court (buffet) for dinner several times.  The food choices were decent, but did not match what was served in the MDR like you would find on HAL.  My biggest problem was finding a clean table.  The staff could not keep up with cleaning the tables at dinner time. 

 

If you like HAL, you will probably enjoy Cunard.  I did not notice the class system as mentioned by others.  I enjoyed the various activities on Sea Day (it brought back memories of what HAL had been before the reduction in staff).

 

What disappointed me was the poor Shore Excursion, Front Desk and Bar staff.  (HAL has Cunard beat in each of these areas, in my opinion.)

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I'm going to link to a few files from my most recent QM2 crossing starting with sample menus:

 

https://getawaysfrom21044.wordpress.com/menus/cunardoctober19/

 

Daily Programmes:

 

https://getawaysfrom21044.wordpress.com/programs/qm2dailyoct19/

 

A couple of highlights for things to consider on Cunard:

 

The Promenade Deck on QM2

A Superb Library, especially QM2 but also QE and QV

Afternoon tea

 

I have about 100 nights on QM2 and about 50 between QV and QE.  QE and QV are essentially Signature hulls but with some differences inside.  (Former CC resource DBA indicated that the baby Queens are closer to the Signature Ships than the Vistas).  One thing to keep in mind about the baby queens is that the Lido pools are not covered, unlike their HAL counterparts.  I think I prefer QE and QV as cruise ships (QM2 tends too big for me) but it really shines as an ocean liner taking on the worst of seas like nothing is happening.  Sadly, my one attempt at a long cruise on QM2 was a disaster.  My 50 night voyage from Sydney to New York left me unceremoniously dumped in Perth after only 11 days.  That's 2020 for us.

 

Roy

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Thanks for posting the menus and daily programs....

 

In the Brittanica Restaurant (I'm thinking that would be our MDR in "steerage" class) there was a reference to "no tables for two."  

 

That would be a deal breaker for us......any intel?

 

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When we sailed on QM2 several years ago, we requested a table for two.  We were shown to a two-top which was lined up with two other two-tops, perhaps 2" between them.  Two people were seated at the window table, and we were seated at the aisle one.  That was okay, except that a minute later, two more people were shown to the middle table.  So we literally did have a table of our own, except that the 2" was so insignificant that it might as well not have existed.  Much conversation ensued, which turned out to be a bonus, but would have been a disappointment for those truly wanting to be alone.

Perhaps when ships begin sailing with limited capacity, private tables will be available, at least for a time.  Just a guess.

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Very much enjoy Cunard ships and the tradition and the semi-formality and the promenade deck.

 

The ocean liner history area at the bow area of the QM2 is a priceless asset for all ship lovers.

 

I have been on QM2 4x but none of the other Cunard vessels, so I can only speak of the QM2 experience.

 

The best passenger ship there is bar none. The open viewing area at the front under the bridge is my favorite spot, totally unique where one can be with the sea, which is a valuable asset given that many cruise lines (Celebrity in particular) is removing public access to viewing the ocean.

 

However, the food in non grill level is poor. The Kings Court food is 4/10, poor quality, poorly presented, poor taste. The food in the Britannia (most wonderful looking dining room on the ocean) is just average. Generally so so quality ingredients, limited to no garnishes, just no taste, small portions.  We were very disappointed in the generally available food.

 

We did however, discover the best food on the QM2 and to be frank - the best food we ever had on a ship period and that includes premium and luxury lines. 

It is the Alternative dining pop up already referred to earlier; mexican, bbq, other themes etc.  Simply outstanding food of taste, quality ingredients, presentation, sides, volume etc. $15 pp and with a separate eating area in Kings Court with separate staff just waiting to serve you. It was the taste, the taste of the food. I wrote to the Hotel Manager about the great food and staff and the letter got posted in their work area!

If I voyage again on QM2, we will simply eat in this configuration most of the time.

 

The issue of class segmentation is there, but very low key and not in your face at all. 

I agree totally with other posters about Celebrity's total in your face class segmentation. Also the removal of public viewing spaces like the Sky Lounge is frankly disgusting. 

These are 2 of the reasons we have not patronized Celebrity in over 5 years despite being Elite plus. Will not patronize Celebrity in the future based on their attitude towards most passengers.

 

Have not been on HAL for a while, but many friends enjoy it. The downgrading of the product and loss of entertainment are two items my friends indicate that are putting them off HAL.

 

In the end, to each their own.

 

Given the debt levels of the cruise lines, once cruising starts, we do not intend upon cruising until we are certain there is a consistency in the product that we can measure and determine is there value in cruising versus other vacation options. I and my friends did not take FCC's, only cash. We are highly suspicious there will be serious downgrading provided to all the captive customers using their FCC's.

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On 12/11/2020 at 9:02 AM, bz said:

There are free laundry rooms on every floor of cabins,  washers & dryers, complete with soap, etc.  There was also an iron & ironing board.  People were very polite.  I had no idea so many men were in charge of laundry!

Hi bz,

I think on the shorter cruises and the crossing, it's not a big deal to find open machines, but on a World Cruise, it get's a bit more competitive.  We spent 80 days on the Queen Victoria and was the go to guy to do the laundry (my wife would pitch in sometimes);   we would try a couple of different decks, and if it was full, we would just wait for a different time.  I tried to make it fun, if that is possible, and not go head to head with the laundry hard liners.  

My wife got to do her laundry with Margaret Atwood one day; I spent a great time with one of the onboard comedians, showing him how the hard liners would put an out of order sign on a washer to insure it would be available to them later in the day.  He thought that was so funny that he added it to his evening set and it went over really well with the audience.  British passengers really love to iron their clothes and I, on the other hand, would pull them out of the dryer one at a time and do the "hand press" before hanging them up.  The laundry rooms were very interesting, as rumors/gossip would lead the way.  In 80 days, we did 12 --15 loads of clothes, so yes, you will get to know the routine.  If you talk to anyone who's been on a world cruise, I'm sure they have some interesting laundry room stories. 

PS -- we did send some things into the laundry service, like formal shirts and a few other items.

 

Enjoy!

Kel😄

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