Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: April 22, 2018

In:
22Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Spring is here and it is also Sunday, which means we are celebrating warm(er) temperatures and Royal Caribbean news from this week!

Royal Caribbean announced this week it will once again offer cruises to Turkey.

It has been two years since Royal Caribbean has offered cruises to Turkey.  The cruise line cancelled planned sailings to Turkey following instability following the attempted coup of 2016.

A few sailings will be offered in 2019, with a full compliment of sailings to Turkey in 2020.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 246th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, which shares a review of Symphony of the Seas.

Cruise Like Rick is back from one of the very first Symphony of the Seas sailings, and shares with us his thoughts on what this new ship is all about and offers.  Rick reviews his stateroom, new venues, and talks about what stands out to him on Royal Caribbean's newest ship.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

Royal Caribbean Around the Internet

Cruise1st has a quiz to test your knowledge of Symphony of the Seas.

Schiffe und Kreuzfahrten has a great video that looks back at the construction of Symphony of the Seas.

Cruise Habit compared the different cruise line credit cards and the benefits of each.

Cruise Hive shares the best ways to enjoy Labadee.

5 Royal Caribbean cruise mistakes that are not really a mistake

In:
20Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

If you are new to Royal Caribbean, there may be some aspects of the cruise experience that seem like they would be a mistake to do, but the reality is, it may be quite the opposite.

Here are five examples of ideas that may seem like a mistake, but are actually a good idea.

Cruising during hurricane season

The phrase, "hurricane season" seems to inflict the kind of fear into cruisers that makes it seem as though if you book a Royal Caribbean cruise between June 1 and November 30, you are asking for ocean conditions that rival that of a bathtub filled with an angry toddler.

The reality is, cruising during hurricane season is not nearly as dangerous or bad an experience as you may think.

Yes, there is a chance a hurricane may form and be directly in the path of where your cruise ship is scheduled to be, but if that were to occur, Royal Caribbean will re-schedule the ship to steer well-clear of the path of the storm.  Royal Caribbean actually has their own dedicated meteorologist who plans around storms and works to ensure guests, crew and ship are out of harms way.

Moreover, cruising during hurricane season can save you a lot of money.  If you book a cruise in September or October, you can often find some great deals on a Royal Caribbean cruise because this is a time of year many others cannot cruise.  

Using a porter

"I can carry my own luggage!"

Of course you can handle your own luggage, but why should you?  You are on vacation and lugging around luggage is the last thing you need to be bothered with doing.

The port you start and end your cruise with will have porters standing by to assist with your luggage.  Their services are free to use, but a tip is expected.  For a few dollars, you can avoid the hassle of grabbing your luggage. Carrying your own luggage should be a feat of strength, so spending a few dollars to let someone else do it makes it so much easier.

The best time to take advantage of the porters is on disembarkation day.  Not only are you tired from waking up early and depressed you have to leave the ship, but there is another good reason to use porters.  In many ports, there is a special line at Customs for porters, which means you may get through the Customs line quicker.

Arriving to the cruise terminal before your boarding time

You checked in for your Royal Caribbean cruise and see on your Set Sail pass a boarding time.  Believe it or not, that is a suggestion and not a requirement.

Royal Caribbean does not enforce boarding times.  They are just something they provide to give guests a ballpark idea of when to arrive.

While there is nothing wrong with adhering to the boarding time you are given, you should absolutely feel free to arrive earlier than the posted time so that you can get onboard sooner.  In fact, we think getting to the ship as early as possible is to your advantage to beat the crowds and start your vacation sooner.

Quite often, the cruise terminal opens many hours before your boarding time states, and boarding of the ship will commence shortly thereafter. In fact, the boarding process is largely predicated on a first-come, first boarded process.  So the earlier you check-in, the earlier you will board.

Ordering more than one entrée

When you dine at a Royal Caribbean restaurant (such as the main dining room), you can order multiple entrées.  In fact, it is encouraged!

When you dine at a restaurant on land, ordering multiple entrées is not only expensive, but seems glutenous and unnecessary.  On Royal Caribbean, ordering multiple entrées is actually a great idea.  The portion sizes of entrées in the main dining room are often smaller than you may think, and all the food in the main dining room is included in your cruise fare.  You can also order as many appetizers or desserts as well.

Another advantage of ordering multiple entrées is it is the perfect opportunity to try new foods.  Since there is no financial risk, give that escargot a try!

In Royal Caribbean's specialty restaurants, all will allow you order multiple appetizers and desserts, and with the exception of Chops Grille, you can order as many entrées there too.

Booking a shore excursion only (or never) with Royal Caribbean

No matter where your Royal Caribbean cruise takes you, it is a mistake to completely disregard or only consider a shore excursion bought through Royal Caribbean.

In our experience, it is best to consider all excursion options and not limit yourself to just Royal Caribbean excursions, or just third-party excursions.

When researching each port that you will be visiting, never assume going it on your own or through Royal Caribbean is an absolute must or mistake.  

Did we miss any?

Is there a commonly held thought when it comes to planning a Royal Caribbean cruise that you think is not a mistake?  Have you encountered one of these situations yourself? Share your experiences and thoughts in our comments!

Royal Caribbean offering bonus savings on balconies or suites booked this weekend

In:
20Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean's Dive & Discover sale is offering bonus instant savings on select staterooms booked this weekend.

Here are the details of this offer:

Valid on Royal Caribbean cruises booked between April 20 and April 23, 2018 on sailings departing on or after May 20, 2018.

  • 50% off cruise fare of second guest booked in the same stateroom as first full-fare paying guest.
  • 25% off cruise fare for third guests and higher booked in the same stateroom as the first two qualified guests.
  • Instant savings of up to $100 per stateroom determined by category booked and sailing length
    • Sailings 5 nights or less
      • $25 savings for Interior and Ocean View
      • $50 for Balconies and $75 for Suites
    • Sailing 6 nights or longer
      • $50 savings for Interior and Ocean View
      • $75 for Balconies and $100 for Suites
  • Balcony & Suites Offer: Offer includes a $100 instant savings per balcony or suite booked. Offer excludes China departures.

BOGO and Balcony & Suites Bonus are combinable with each other as well as with Dive & Discover Sale, NRBD OBC, promotional OBCs, NextCruise offers, Instant Savings, restricted discounts (for example, Seniors, Residents, Military), Crown and Anchor discounts and Shareholder Benefits. Dive & Discover Sale is combinable with NRDB OBC, OBC, instant savings, NextCruise offers, restricted discounts (for example, Senior, Resident, Military) but not combinable with Shareholder benefits and Crown and Anchor discounts. All offers are not combinable with any other offer or promotion, including, but not limited to, Standard Group, Interline, Travel Agent, Travel Agent Friends and Family, Weekly Sales Events, Net Rates.

Offer available to residents of United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and select countries in the Caribbean.

Friday Photos

In:
20Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

We love any opportunity to take a virtual escape on a Royal Caribbean cruise, and that is why every Friday we share our readers' favorite Royal Caribbean cruise photos. It is a showcase of cruising fun, and you are invited!

Without further ado, we present this week's edition of Friday Photos. Enjoy!

We begin with this photo of Oasis of the Seas behind rocks in Labadee, taken by Ken.

Check out the water color in this photo that Ross and Pam took at the Isle of Pines, with Explorer of the Seas in the background!

Tony Oleszczuk sent in this photo of Vision of the Seas docked at Akureyri, Iceland.

It looks like it was a beautiful day in Central Park on Allure of the Seas when Kinny Lee took this photo.

Traveler shared this photo of Voyager of the Seas docked in Vietnam.

Twangster shared this photo of Allure of the Seas in Port Everglades, taken while flying home after his cruise.

Our final photo this week is by Salvatore Ruggiero, and it is of Oasis of Dreams being performed in the AquaTheater on Oasis of the Seas.

Thank you to everyone who shared their photos this week, and we invite everyone to send in their favorite Royal Caribbean photos by using this form.

 

Review: Izumi on Rhapsody of the Seas

In:
19Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Izumi, how do I love thee? Shall we count the ways?

Over the years, I have managed to eat at seven different Izumi locations across Royal Caribbean and review them, here on the blog.  You might think the experiences tend to run into each other, but on Rhapsody of the Seas I found fairly unique Izumi experience. 

Of course, the sushi at Izumi remains very consistent (and excellent) across the fleet, thanks to the hard work of the specialty restaurant's ongoing efforts. The sushi alone is worth my many visits to Izumi, and why I continue to make reservations for Izumi.  It is pretty much one of those spots I visit whenever I have an excuse to do so.

Speaking of excuses, on our Rhapsody of the Seas cruise, there was an advertisement in the Cruise Compass towards the end of the cruise where you could pay $25 and get a $50 credit to use at Izumi. You may not run across such a promotion, but always keep an eye out for specials!

Atmosphere

Izumi on Rhapsody of the Seas is not easily stumbled upon, as it is located at the very top of the ship on Deck 12.  In fact, it's kind of on a half hidden deck, behind the Viking Crown Lounge.

Suffice to say, there is not a lot of foot traffic in this part of the ship.

For those that do venture to deck 12 to see Izumi, it is arguably the most beautiful Izumi location I have ever been to across Royal Caribbean's fleet. 

The restaurant sits in a kind of half circle, with an "upper deck" that overlooks the Viking Crown Lounge below.

Out the back of Izumi, you have a perfect view of the aft of the ship, with the Solarium roof providing the perfect viewing angle to the ocean and sky behind it. During our lunch, we spent most of the time just gazing out to the back of the restaurant (when we were not gorging on the terrific food).

Eats

If you are new to Izumi specialty restaurant, it is a specialty restaurant that is priced a la carte.  That means, there is no cover charge and you simply pay for the food you order.

All meals at Izumi begin with a complimentary bowl of edamame, which is a boiled soy beans sprinkled with salt.  A perfect starter to nosh on while you look over the menu.

I always start my meal with a bowl of miso soup.  To me, it is a quintessential Japanese meal starter.

Izumi has a fairly large menu, and their appetizer selection includes some really tasty options.  The gyoza dumplings and chicken kara-age are great shareables (although one person can easily finish them off).  

Having tried the Mixed Poke Taco on Brilliance of the Seas last year, I gravitated right back towards them again on this go around.  Tuna, avocado, albacore and octopus in a crispy wonton shell is a really good combination.

Also somewhat new and already a favorite choice is the Boxed Yellowtail.  When it comes to sushi, yellowtail is never a bad choice.

I also opted for another sushi staple, the Crispy Spicy Tuna.

Overall

I never shy away from an opportunity to dine at Izumi, and when I found that $25 for $50 deal in the Cruise Compass, I found my perfect excuse.

In a nutshell, the food at Izumi is excellent all around.  Their sushi is of outstanding quality, and their non-sushi items are also quite good (if not underrated).  Even if you are not much of a "sushi person" I think you will find something to enjoy on the menu.

By far, if you happen to be sailing on Rhapsody of the Seas (or another Vision Class ship with Izumi on Deck 12), do yourself a favor and go up there for lunch.  The views on worth the price of the food you get.

When it comes to dining at Izumi on Rhapsody of the Seas, come for the sushi, but stay for the views.

Royal Caribbean planning to offer cruises to Turkey after two year hiatus

In:
19Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

After canceling all stops in Turkey for the last two years, Royal Caribbean appears to be ready to once again offer sailings to Turkey in 2019.

Travel Market Report is reporting Royal Caribbean has made the decision to begin offering cruises that visit Turkey in late 2019.

After consulting with its safety and security program director, Royal Caribbean has deemed it safe to offer two sailings to Turkey.  Neither sailing is on sale yet.

The sailings will be two 12-day itineraries leaving on October 30 and November 12 out of Rome. Both will be on Royal’s Jewel of the Seas and both will feature stops in Ephesus and in Israel.

Royal Caribbean canceled all cruise stops in Turkey in 2017 and 2018 due to instability and "unpredictability" in the country that followed the attempted coup of 2016.

Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales, trade services, and support, says Royal Caribbean is aiming to make Turkey a regular port of call in 2020.

Royal Caribbean updates bringing a drone policy

In:
18Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean has updated its policy on guests bringing drones onto a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Royal Caribbean states guests may bring drones on their cruise to be used on land only, and outside the port area.  Drones may not be operated onboard the ship at any time, nor on Royal Caribbean’s private destinations: CocoCay, Bahamas or Labadee, Haiti.

Previously, Royal Caribbean's policy was to store the drone for guests and then allow guests to take the drones off the ship while in port.

Royal Caribbean does warn guests that if they use a drone in port, they assume full responsibility for its safe operation.

"Guests assume full responsibility for understanding all local authority rules related to drone usage and for obtaining any required permissions for drone operations. Different countries may have different rules. Any liability, including environmental damage from drone usage is the guest's responsibility. Royal Caribbean assumes no liability for guest drones that may be confiscated by local authorities for violating local laws or for any accident or injury resulting from a guest drone flight."

Thanks to Fred Block for the heads up on this change!

Symphony of the Seas listener cruise review on Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

In:
18Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Our newest podcast episode is out to help give you a quick "audio escape" to a Royal Caribbean cruise!

Episode 246 is available for downloading, where Cruise Life Rick joins us to talk about his experience on an inaugural Symphony of the Seas sailing.

Symphony of the Seas is Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, and Rick got a chance to cruise on one of her first sailings. Rick shares with us his thoughts on this new ship and what he liked the best.

Here’s the podcast page for Episode 246. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast via RSSStitcher or on iTunes!

Take a listen and as always, let us know what you think! Please rate and review the podcast on iTunes and leave your comments below!

All about Royal Caribbean's ship classes

In:
17Apr2018
By: Matt Hochberg

Are you wondering what the differences are between Royal Caribbean's ship classes?  Here is an easy-to-understand breakdown of each class of ship, and what they offer.

Oasis Class

The largest cruise ships in the world, Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class ships offer the latest and greatest features found on any ship in the fleet, as well as in the industry.  

The Oasis Class ships can handle just about 5,500 passengers and have a gross tonnage of over 225,000 tons.  

If you are concerned about crowds and navigating a ship of this size, Royal Caribbean has you covered.  Royal Caribbean designed the ship to be easy to get around, and break up crowds.  Seven neighborhoods help distinguish parts of the ship apart to guests, and there are so many activities on Oasis Class ships that everyone will be on their own schedule.

Why choose Oasis Class: You want it all on one ship! The latest features, tons of activities, and great dining.

Oasis Class ships

Oasis Class highlights

  • Neighborhoods
  • AquaTheater
  • 3D Movies
  • Broadway Musicals
  • Waterslides (Harmony and Symphony only)
  • Zip Line
  • Central Park
  • 2 FlowRider Surf Simulators
  • Boardwalk 
  • Carousel
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Loft Suites
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • DreamWorks Experience (Oasis, Allure and Harmony)

Quantum Class

The innovative Quantum Class ships were designed to user in the 21st century with a blend of high-tech, and tried-and-true family vacation experiences. These stylish new ships offer incredible views and activities onboard. 

Quantum Class ships have signature features found just on these ships, and are a big hit with families of varied ages.  Quantum Class ships are the sort of cruise ship that has something for everyone to enjoy, whether you are new to cruising or an established veteran.

In 2019, Spectrum of the Seas will launch, becoming the first Quantum Ultra Class ship. The revolutionary Quantum Ultra ship will specifically be designed for guests in China and the Asia-Pacific region, and will feature cutting-edge and unprecedented experiences and amenities.

Why choose Quantum Class: Families looking for lots to do onboard, along with some incredible features.

Quantum Class ships

Quantum Class highlights

  • North Star
  • RipCord by iFLY 
  • Seaplex
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator
  • Two70 Virtual Balcony Staterooms
  • 3D Movies
  • Loft Suites
  • Music Hall
  • Broadway Musicals
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • DreamWorks Experience (Anthem & Ovation)
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area

Freedom Class

Royal Caribbean's Freedom Class ships offer a big ship experience, with plenty to see and do onboard.  In fact, Royal Caribbean has added new features over the years, and plans another round of updates beginning in 2020 (although Independence of the Seas will get her update in 2018).

Freedom Class ships represent an excellent value for families that want to cruise on a large ship, have lots of activities, but not break their budget.  From a pure value standpoint, the Freedom Class ships are a great choice for a fabulous cruise experience.

Freedom Class ships are essentially a slightly larger version of their Voyager Class sisters.

Why choose Freedom Class: Big ship experience, minus the premium price tag that the newer ships in the fleet currently command.

Freedom Class ships

Freedom Class highlights

  • Aqua park
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Royal Promenade
  • British-Style Pub
  • Designer Shopping
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Panoramic staterooms
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator
  • Water slides (Liberty of the Seas and Independence of the Seas)

Voyager Class

When Royal Caribbean introduced the Voyager Class, it revolutionized the industry with features and activities that we cannot dream of not having on a cruise ship these days.  Mini-golf, the Royal Promenade, ice skating and more all had their start on the Voyager Class.

Just like the larger Freedom Class ships, Voyager Class vessels are a terrific value, and offer some incredible itineraries.  Royal Caribbean is not done investing in these ships, having added new restaurants, surf simulators, aqua parks, entertainment and more over the last few years, with another round of updates beginning in 2018 and going through 2019.

Why choose Voyager Class: Plenty to do onboard, newly added features and terrific pricing.  It is a great choice for families looking to save.

Voyager Class ships

Voyager Class highlights

  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Ice-Skating Rink
  • Royal Promenade
  • British-Style Pub
  • Virtual Balcony Staterooms
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • FlowRider Surf Simulator

Radiance Class

Radiance of the Seas combine lots of glass and open areas to provide guests with a classic cruise experience.  

Royal Caribbean's Radiance Class ships are stylish, and get into many of the smaller cruise ports around the world that Royal Caribbean's larger ships cannot.  

Radiance Class ships do not skimp on things to do, offering varied dining experiences, as well as terrific live entertainment. Veteran cruisers enjoy the Radiance Class for the ship's refined offering and easy going atmosphere.

Why choose Radiance Class: Beautiful ships that offer a time-honored cruise experience, with a connection to the ocean itself.

Radiance Class ships

Radiance Class highlights

  • Sunlit Glass-Covered Spaces
  • Glass Elevators
  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Self-Leveling Pool Tables
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Indoor movie theater
  • Mini-golf

Vision Class

Royal Caribbean designed their Vision Class ships to fit into almost any port, which means guests can travel to exotic ports of call around the world.

Like the Radiance Class, Vision Class ships combine a small size with many activities that have been added over the years. Whether you are looking to "do it all" or just relax, Vision Class ships are a good choice.

Why choose Vision Class: Impressive itineraries that other ships in the fleet cannot offer. 

Vision Class ships

  • Grandeur of the Seas
  • Rhapsody of the Seas
  • Enchantment of the Seas
  • Vision of the Seas

Vision Class highlights

  • Adults-only Solarium pool area
  • Bungee Trampoline (Enchantment of the Seas)
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Specialty Dining Options
  • Outdoor Movie Screen
  • Broadway-Style Shows

Sovereign Class

Do not judge the last Sovereign Class ship by her age or size, because Royal Caribbean has been updating her regularly to keep her in-line with the rest of the fleet's offerings.

Those looking for a quick getaway will find a splendid choice that is perfect for relaxing by the pool, visiting nearby ports of call, and enjoying taking this easy.  

Majesty of the Seas received a large update in 2016, along with regular maintenance work that offer a fun ship experience.

Why choose Sovereign Class: Getaway cruises for folks that want to relax by the pool, have a beach day, and get away from it all.

Sovereign Class ships

  • Majesty of the Seas

Sovereign Class highlights

  • Poolside movie screen
  • Family Jacuzzis
  • Live entertainment and shows

Empress of the Seas

When Cuba opened up as a port Royal Caribbean could bring their guests to, Empress of the Seas returned to the fleet to do just that.

Empress of the Seas is the smallest Royal Caribbean ship, but it is designed for short cruises that bring you to Cuba and other destinations in the Western Caribbean. 

Cuban culture is reflected throughout Empress of the Seas with cortaditos and café con leche in Café Royal, salsa music and dancing in Boleros Latin lounge, and a range of onboard activities developed to bring the spirit of the island to life while at sea.

Why choose Empress of the Seas: Cuba, Cuba, and Cuba.  Plus, a relaxed cruise atmosphere (did we mention she sails to Cuba).

Empress of the Seas highlights

  • Poolside Movie Screen
  • Rock Climbing Wall
  • Sunday Brunch every day
  • Poolside party
  • Latin experience infused lounges

The future: Icon Class

Something to keep an eye on will be Royal Caribbean's Icon class ships, which promise to bring us a new evolution in cruising.

Royal Caribbean has been quiet on exactly what the Icon Class will offer, but these new ships will handle about 5,000 passengers and will be built using new fuel technology including liquid nitrogen gas and fuel cells. This technology has been used on space shuttles and satellites for years, and is a much greener way of powering ships.

The first two Icon Class ships will debut in 2022 and 2024.

Excursion Focus: Fury Catamaran in Cozumel, Mexico

In:
17Apr2018
By: Michael Poole

Over the years I’ve visited Cozumel at least a dozen times and always find myself doing the same thing. On my most recent cruise to Cozumel, Mexico I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and try something new. So off to the cruise planner I went and I came across an excursion called, Fury Catamaran snorkel and beach break.

The price in the Royal Caribbean cruise planner is listed at $78 for adults and $59 for children. I happen to book during a weekend cruise planner sale and it was listed as 25% off.


 

I should mention you can book directly through their website and it’s the exactly the same excursion. In fact, I think half my boat booked through Royal and others through Fury directly. So I would check both options and see what’s the better price.

The meeting time for our excursion was 8:30AM, so we were up early to meet on the dock. In Cozumel, you have that pier you walk down to enter the shopping area, our catamaran was docked right before that. I would say no more than 100 yards from walking off the ship, so that was really convenient.

We didn’t end up leaving until 9:15AM because we were still waiting on some guest. They do handout soft drinks and water while you are waiting.

Our day was split into three different activities, which I really enjoyed. The first part was snorkeling for an hour, a beach break for an hour and a half, and ending with an hour ride back to the ship.

Stop one was snorkeling; we were only 5 minutes from the pier so it was a quick ride over. During the short ride they explain our day, what to expect, and all the safety tips. They provide you with snorkeling equipment when you board. We were here for an hour and it was actually a perfect amount of time. Beautiful coral and fish all over, I really enjoyed this snorkeling.




 

Our second stop was the beach break; they have a private beach, which is about 20 minutes away. During our cruise over they started serving rum punch, beers, or soft drinks, which are all included.

The beach was nice and everything on the beach was also included. They had beach chairs, aqua park, kayak’s, paddle boards, beach beds, and of course an open bar.



 

The bar served the same thing as the catamaran so rum punch or beer. If you are hungry they also serve hamburgers for $10 and that was the only upcharge option for the day.

The final part to our excursion was the one-hour ride back. During the ride back they keep bringing you drinks and asking if you need anything. I laughed that they don’t let you go 5 minutes without checking in on you, really outstanding service the whole day.


 

They also have some fun line-dancing going on during the ride back, but you can also just sit and enjoy the views.

The excursion lasted 4 hours and I found that to be a perfect amount of time. And since we started early in the morning we had the whole afternoon open in Cozumel. This excursion would be perfect for someone who doesn’t like to sit and do the same thing all day or just looking for something totally different.


 

I was so happy I tried the Fury Catamaran and I plan to return again soon! Feel free to leave any questions below or if you have tried Fury and what you thought.

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