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Royal Caribbean extends Cruise with Confidence program to be able to cancel a cruise at the last minute

In:
13 Jan 2022

Once again, Royal Caribbean is giving its customers more time to take advantage of its flexible cancellation program.

Royal Caribbean cancels most cruises in June | Royal Caribbean Blog

Cruise with Confidence has been extended again for bookings made through March 31, 2022 on sailings departing on or before September 30, 2022.

What this means is you can cancel a booked Royal Caribbean cruise for any reason for a 100% future cruise credit.

In an email travel agents, Royal Caribbean explains the Omicron variant impact to its business, "With the rise of the Omicron variant, we have strengthened some of our health protocols to ensure that we mitigate the spread of COVID-19 onboard. We are confident in our approach as Royal Caribbean Group has carried 1.1 million guests since the restart of cruising from the US in June of 2021. We remain in constant communication with various government health authorities and will continue to work collaboratively with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)."

Do all Royal Caribbean cruises qualify for Cruise with Confidence? | Royal Caribbean Blog

"At the end of the day, we want to ensure that planning your clients' vacations is as worry-free as possible. Therefore, we've made the decision to extend our popular Cruise with Confidence program to reservations confirmed on or before March 31, 2022 on sailings departing through September 30, 2022."

Prior to this extension, the Cruise with Confidence program was set to expire on January 31, 2022.

When a guest cancels their cruise past the final payment date, they can get a future cruise credit worth 100% of the cruise fare paid as long as they cancel at least 48 hours before the sail date.

It was originally introduced right before cruises began shutting down due to Covid-19 as a mechanism to give guests piece of mind they could change their plans after the final payment date.

Without the Cruise with Confidence program, there would be a penalty if you cancelled a cruise after the final payment date.

Included with the ability to cancel a cruise under Cruise with Confidence is the Best Price Guarantee, which allows guests to reprice their sailing up to 48-hours prior to the sail date if the price drops.

If you have a cruise booked already, then you qualify automatically for Cruise with Confidence. Going forward, you have until at least March 31, 2022 to qualify for Cruise with Confidence.

Do all sailings qualify for Cruise with Confidence?

Cruise with Confidence is applicable to all sailings.

It is not available to guests booked on chartered sailings or residents of mainland China.

You simply need to book a cruise before March 31, 2022. Existing bookings automatically qualify for Cruise with Confidence.

Why are they extending Cruise with Confidence?

The reason Royal Caribbean has extended this flexible cancellation program again is to give consumers more time to change their mind if they are worried about going on a cruise during the pandemic.

Traditionally, the final payment date would be the point in time when you would have to cancel without incurring a penalty fee.

At the onset of Covid-19, people were uncertain what to expect and cancelled their bookings early out of concern they could not predict if they would want to sail or not.

As a result, Cruise with Confidence was introduced so that anyone who has a cruise booked could wait longer to make a decision if they want to sail or not.

Royal Caribbean pushes back final payment for April and May 2022 cruises

In:
21 Dec 2021

If you have a Royal Caribbean cruise booked in April or May 2022, you will have more time to decide to make final payment.

Royal Caribbean announced it has extended the final payment window to 30 days-to-sailing (DTS) for April and May 2022 departures (excluding China & Singapore departures).

Prior to this change, the final payment had only been pushed back for cruises through March 31, 2022.

According to Royal Caribbean, this change was made to, "allow greater flexibility during these uncertain times." In short, it gives guests more flexibility in deciding if they want to cruise without forcing a cancellation earlier.

The final payment date window of 75 days for cruises 1-4 nights and 90 days for cruises 5+ night remains for sailings beyond May 2022.

No action is required on the part of guests or travel agents, and no cancellations will occur until the new final payment date.

By cancelling a cruise before the final payment date, they can get a full cash refund, if they booked refundable cruise fare.

Royal Caribbean had already announced an extension of its Cruise with Confidence program for bookings made by January 31, 2022.

Do cruise prices drop? | Royal Caribbean Blog

The Cruise with Confidence program allows anyone with a cruise booked the ability to cancel up to 48 hours before the sail date and get the full value in a Future Cruise Credit that’s good to redeem until May 31, 2022. 

Between the Cruise with Confidence program and final payment extension, Royal Caribbean is looking to give consumers more time to decide if they want to move forward with their cruise.

Royal Caribbean will no longer let passengers get on or off the cruise ship at a different port of call

In:
15 Dec 2021

Royal Caribbean won't let you embark the ship at a different port of call or leave the ship earlier during your cruise.

The policy on the cruise line's downline embarkation has changed, according to an update sent to travel agents via email.

Up until now, passengers were able to request to embark or disembark at a port of call other than the scheduled embarkation/disembarkation port.

"Down lining" was on a request basis only, subject to consideration and approval by Royal Caribbean.  While they used to allow down lining, they also  discouraged it due to implications resulting from unscheduled itinerary changes and weather/sea conditions, which would have resulted in missing a guest's port of embarkation/debarkation. 

Baltimore | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean will no longer allow cruise passengers to pre-plan early debark or late embarkation for any of our ships.

Why the change? As many countries continue to enforce travel restrictions, Royal Caribbean says the decision was made "in an abundance of caution for the safety and security of our guests." 

Should guests who reserved flights through Royal Caribbean's Air2Sea program experience delays in air travel that result in missed cruise embarkation, downlining to a future port-of-call remains an option as long as the guest is fully vaccinated and able to show proof of required Covid-19 test results prior to boarding.

Will there be cruises to Europe in 2020? | Royal Caribbean Blog

Here is the full statement by Royal Caribbean:

“Royal Caribbean will no longer allow cruise passengers to pre-plan early debark or late embarkation for any of our ships. As many countries continue to enforce travel restrictions, this decision was made in an abundance of caution for the safety and security of our guests."

"Should guests who reserved flights through our Air2Sea program experience delays in air travel that result in missed cruise embarkation, downlining to a future port-of-call remains an option as long as the guest is fully vaccinated and able to show proof of required COVID-19 test results prior to boarding.”

Why would someone want to down line?

5 ways the CDC proves it doesn't understand cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

Joining a cruise ship after the cruise begins or leaving it before it ends sounds like an odd thing to want to do, but it happens more often than you might think.

A common reason to join the ship down line is if you miss the embarkation for some reason, or if at the end of the cruise you need or prefer to depart early for convenience.

Quite often it was used by someone who found a different port of call made it more convenient to join or depart the ship than where the cruise was scheduled to begin or end.

One of many Covid protocols

Over the past few weeks, Royal Caribbean has updated many policies as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some other recent actions include banning smoking in the casino, stricter mask rules, cutting off complimentary international Covid-19 tests and more.

Mariner of the Seas group cruise review - Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Based on these changes, it appears the cruise line is looking to limit risk, as well as reduce the demand on crew members for certain functions.

The elimination of down lining not only cuts down on paperwork for the ship, but helps maintain the "bubble" approach to cruising in terms of limiting outside Covid-19 exposures.

Planning a cruise? Here's some helpful articles:

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel cruises with additional flexibility through January 2022

In:
08 Dec 2021

Royal Caribbean has extended the ability for cruise passengers to cancel a cruise at the last minute with its Cruise with Confidence program.

The Cruise with Confidence program allows anyone booked on a Royal Caribbean cruise to cancel their sailing up to 48 hours before their sail date, and that credit can now be used for any sailing booked by January 31, 2022 up to 48 hours before your sail date and get the full value in a Future Cruise Credit that’s good to redeem until May 31, 2022. 

The credit can be used toward any cruise that sets sail through December 31, 2022, or one year from the original sailing date, whichever is later.

Essentially, anyone has more time to book a cruise to get this last-minute benefit policy, along with more sailings that it applies to than before.

When a guest cancels their cruise past the final payment date, they can get a future cruise credit worth 100% of the cruise fare paid as long as they cancel at least 48 hours before the sail date.

Previously, the Cruise with Confidence Program was set to expire on December 17, 2021 and only applied to cruises departing before the end of April 2022.

In an email to travel agents, Royal Caribbean said it extended the program again to give passengers more time to change their mind and feel confident about their decision to sail, "As we make strides towards our fleetwide return, we want to ensure that planning your clients' vacations is as worry-free as possible."

"Therefore, we've made the decision to extend our popular Cruise with Confidence program to reservations confirmed on or before January 31, 2022 and sailing through May 31, 2022. "

While there was word that it might not have been extended, Royal Caribbean told travel agents on Wednesday it would get extended again.

It was originally introduced right before cruises began shutting down due to Covid-19 as a mechanism to give guests piece of mind they could change their plans after the final payment date.

Without the Cruise with Confidence program, there would be a penalty if you cancelled a cruise after the final payment date.

Included with the ability to cancel a cruise under Cruise with Confidence is the Best Price Guarantee, which allows guests to reprice their sailing up to 48-hours prior to the sail date if the price drops.

If you have a cruise booked already, then you qualify automatically for Cruise with Confidence. Going forward, you have until at least January 31, 2022 to qualify for Cruise with Confidence.

Face masks on Royal Caribbean: What you need to know

In:
06 Dec 2021

Ever since Royal Caribbean restarted cruises in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic, face masks have been at the core of the new protocol requirements.

Many people going on a cruise want to know if and when they will have to wear a face mask, as well as what sort of rules there are for mask wearing.

It’s no secret that masks are polarizing Americans, but this article is meant to simply convey Royal Caribbean's policies so you can more easily plan your cruise. If you want to argue about the mask policy, join a local debate club. If you want your voice to be heard about Royal Caribbean's rule in a meaningful way, contact the cruise line.

If you have a Royal Caribbean cruise booked, you can expect to wear a mask onboard in some scenarios. Here is what you need to know about wearing a face mask on a cruise ship, as well as answers to some commonly asked questions on the topic of masks.

Where and when do I need to wear a mask on Royal Caribbean?

Royal Caribbean's mask policy is reviewed periodically, but has been pretty consistent since the line restarted operations in 2021.

On December 17, 2021, the cruise line announced masks are required for all guests, regardless of vaccination status, at all times indoors except while eating or drinking. This includes at venues reserved for vaccinated guests only.

Note that this policy is in place for all sailings departing before February 14, 2022, at which point it will be reevaluated.

Masks are NOT required to be worn:

  • In open-air areas of the ship, unless you are in a crowded setting.
  • In the pool or any activity where they may become wet.
  • In your stateroom when you are with your traveling party.
  • While visiting our private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay, unless you are in a crowded setting.
  • By any guest under the age of 2.

Masks ARE required to be worn:

  • While indoors in public areas of the ship, unless seated and actively eating or drinking.
  • While visiting public ports of call, where local regulations may require them.

What type of mask is allowed?

Royal Caribbean lists the following requirements for face masks:

  • Masks should be at least two layers of tight weave fabric with loops that fit over your ears in accordance with health guidelines. 
  • The mask should fit your face closely and cover your nose and mouth but allow you to breathe easily. 
  • Neck gaiters, open chin bandanas and scarves, and face masks with valves do not meet health authority guidelines and will not be permitted.

Are crew members enforcing wearing a mask?

The top questions people want to know about crew members on a cruise ship | Royal Caribbean Blog

Overall, the mask policy is being enforced by crew members onboard, although that is not to say every crew member is standing around looking to correct any guest with a mask below their nose.

Crew members work incredibly hard, and it's understandable that their regular duties require enough focus to not be able to police every guest walking around the ship.

However, if you think you can ignore the rule, soon enough a crew member or two will instruct you to put on your mask.  Certainly sometimes you may forget to put it on, and a friendly reminder will be given to wear one.  Likewise, if you need a mask, they can provide one to you.

The bottom line is the mask policy is more than just a suggestion, it is a requirement that passengers are held to.

Do I need to wear a mask on shore excursions?

Depending on the country you are visiting, and/or the tour operator, masks may be required.

Each country has its own rules regarding masks, and some require masks to be worn everywhere, including outdoors.

Ultimately, you will have to consult with the tour operator on if masks need to be worn during the tour entirely, but you should be aware there are national laws that require masks outside.

When will Royal Caribbean's indoor mask policy end?

There is no specific date or plan to rescind the mask policy.

As of November 2021, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley spoke on the topic of when masks might go away, but merely speculated as to some possibilities.  Keep in mind, his comments were made just before the Omicron variant of Covid-19 became big news.

"I think it's pretty it's pretty certain that the mask policy is going to change for the whole industry, for everybody as we move into the first quarter... as long as we don't see any more variants appearing on the scene."

"Sixty five percent of all of our customers feel comfortable with some kind of mask guidance. A lot of people do feel comfortable with it as being something optional."

"We're very thoughtful about it and have been because of our family market. So we're very sensitive to making sure we're not alienating a large group of customers."

"I think for the industry and for our business, week by week, month by month, these things are going to start slipping away and we're going to get back to quite a quite a normal environment.

What are the best masks to wear on a cruise?

There are lots of masks to purchase, but without a doubt one of the best options right now based on recommendations from health experts is a KN95 face mask. [Note, this contains an affiliate link]

Early on, these medical grade masks were hard to come by, but you should be able to purchase as many as you want these days.

KN95 masks offer very high performance in terms of filtration, and are comfortable to wear while providing a snug fit around your nose and chin.

KN95 masks are also fairly cheap, as production as ramped up so there are lots to consider.  

Cloth mask

If you prefer a reusable mask, you should look for a woven mask that offers multi-layer protection.

Since going on a cruise means it will be hot, the masks by Suay LA tend to get very good reviews for offering a breathable mask that is good in hot weather.

These are constructed from medical grade non-woven polypropylene surgical wrap and have a nosepiece. 

Backup masks

You should plan on bringing many more masks than you think you will need, because once masks become soiled and/or wet, they are not effective anymore.

In addition to purchasing more KN95 or cloth masks, another economical idea is to pick up disposable 3-ply face masks. [Note, this contains an affiliate link]

These disposable masks are a good back-up choice, as well as a good choice if you elect to double mask. 

How many masks should I bring on my cruise?

Depending on how active or if you sweat a lot, your mask needs may vary.

A good idea is to plan on 2-3 masks per person, per day to be safe.

Many reusable masks, can be hand-washed and dried overnight in your stateroom cabin.

Even if you prefer the cloth reusable masks, having some disposable masks is a good backup just in case. 

Royal Caribbean will begin offering consecutive cruisers at-home Covid tests

In:
17 Nov 2021

Royal Caribbean is going to change up the complimentary test it offers passengers doing a back-to-back or consecutive cruise.

Ever since Royal Caribbean restarted cruises this summer, the line has offered guests doing multiple cruises in a row a complimentary Covid-19 test onboard, but will transition from a test administered onboard to a test done via the home test.

Speaking to travel agents on a webinar on Wednesday,  Royal Caribbean International Assistant Vice President of Guest Experience, Aurora Yera-Rodriguez, said the line is working to change how these tests are conducted.

For anyone sailing with Royal Caribbean and moving to another ship within 3 days or less, they can request a complimentary antigen test be completed at the end of the first cruise.

Right now, guests are taking the test in the medical area onboard, but Royal Caribbean wants to change it.

According to Ms. Yera-Rodriguez, the plan is to give guests the same at-home tests many have ordered to use before a cruise begins.

"So far, back to backers and our consecutive cruisers, we do offer the testing. We're actually working through something right now that we're trying to deploy."

"If it's within that three day window and you're not staying on the same ship, we're actually handing our guests one of our eMed test at home kits, and then you just do it before you go on."

These at-home tests are the Abbott BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test. These are the same tests Royal Caribbean sells via Royal Caribbean's special link from the Optum website.

Here is my full review of trying out the BinaxNOW test, which was extremely easy and quick.

It sounded like offering the at-home tests already on some ships, but the program will be expanded to more vessels.

"We let them walk off with an eMed. And it's a perfect process and it's working swimmingly."

Regardless of which test you get, guests sailing on a ship and need a test to go on another ship in less than 3 days can stop by Guest Services to request the test be completed.

The Abbott tests are a FDA-authorized rapid antigen home test and conducted via video chat where the proctor can monitor how you take the test in the same way the test is conducted at a pharmacy or doctor's office.

Don't expect Royal Caribbean to extend flexible cancellation terms again

In:
03 Nov 2021

Royal Caribbean just extended the ability to cancel a cruise reservation at the last minute for a future cruise credit, but that may be the last time the cruise line extends this generous offer.

The Cruise with Confidence program is the name of the offer for guests who can cancel their cruise even after final payment date, up to 48 hours before a ship is scheduled to sail in exchange for a future cruise credit.

The program was introduced at the start of the global pandemic so passengers could feel assured they could change their mind closer to sail date.

Speaking to travel agents during a webinar, Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service, Vicki Freed said she does not think the Cruise with Confidence program will get extended again.

"This is a program that's been going on for some time. I do believe this is probably going to be the last extension of it," Ms. Freed told travel agents.

The reason for Cruise with Confidence likely not getting extended again? Ms. Freed said bookings are stronger now, "We are seeing such active bookings right now that I'm not sure we need to continue it much longer."

Royal Caribbean did extend Cruise with Confidence to include allow passengers to cancel up to 48 hours before you sail and get a future cruise credit valid to book by April 30, 2022 and sail by December 31, 2022, or one year from the original sailing date, whichever is later.

Royal Caribbean will extend future cruise credits that were going to expire at end of 2020 | Royal Caribbean Blog

Cruises must be booked on or before December 17, 2021 to qualify for Cruise with Confidence.

Without Cruise with Confidence, guests would incur a penalty for canceling a sailing after the final payment date, which is typically 90 days before a sailing begins. Cruise with Confidence provides a great deal more flexibility to change minds with no penalty.

Also part of the Cruise with Confidence program is the Best Price Guarantee, which allows guests to reprice their sailing up to 48-hours prior to the sail date if the price drops.

Royal Caribbean will refund your future cruise credits if you don't like announced health protocols | Royal Caribbean Blog

Anyone who has booked a cruise already, or will do so before December 17, will have the Cruise with Confidence program included with their reservation.

If having this flexibility is important to you, be sure to book a new sailing, or change a ship or sail date before December 17th to qualify for Cruise with Confidence.

Protocols

Ms. Freed also talked about onboard protocols as Royal Caribbean begins to get back to full capacity again.

Last week, Royal Caribbean Group executives told Wall Street by the end of the year, the company plans to get its ships back to normal capacity again.

"I just want to give you a little bit of the updates on protocols," Ms. Freed said during Wednesday's webinar. "We're going to start phasing all of this out because as we are getting back to service with our entire fleet.  We're always looking at what the CDC is saying and the public health standards."

Ms. Freed's comments echo what Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley told investors last week.

"Some of the protocols that we have in place will naturally fall away as the pandemic moves further and further in the rearview mirror."

"I think as we move into '22, hopefully what we'll see is is the protocols become easier and less cumbersome for our customers."

Royal Caribbean will accept cruise ship passengers with mixed vaccines

In:
20 Oct 2021

Following an update by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Royal Caribbean has updated its policy to allow passengers with any sort of mixed vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated.

The cruise line updated its policy on its website, which follows up on the United States altering its stance on the issue.

The United States confirmed last week it will accept mixed vaccines when new rules kick in on Nov. 8 requiring that foreign travelers entering the U.S. be fully vaccinated. 

Royal Caribbean announces health protocols for Harmony of the Seas from Spain | Royal Caribbean Blog

Royal Caribbean will now accept a mixed vaccination series consisting of doses from different manufacturers, as long as your vaccine series meets the following requirements:

  • Must consist of at least two doses of vaccines that are fully approved or authorized for emergency use by the U.S. FDA or the World Health Organization.
  • The 2 doses must be administered at least 28 days apart*
  • The final dose must be completed at least 14 days before sailing.

*For guests sailing from non-U.S. homeports, who have a combination of AstraZeneca plus an mRNA shot (Pfizer or Moderna), the shots must be at least 42 days apart.

Mixed vaccines may not be accepted at all ports of call. Guests who are vaccinated with a mixed series may not be allowed to go ashore at these ports, or may need to undergo additional testing if they wish to go ashore.

The full policy has been posted on Royal Caribbean's website.

The change comes almost exactly one month after Royal Caribbean began allowing cruise ship passengers with mixed series of mRNA vaccines to be considered fully vaccinated.

Sister brand Celebrity Cruises updated their policy on Tuesday to allow passengers with mixed vaccines as well.

Earlier this summer, Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines announced they would not consider someone with mixed vaccines fully vaccinated, following a CDC policy change.

Not allowing mixed vaccines has been a problem for Canadian cruisers because the practice is widespread in that country.

Vaccine trials

Royal Caribbean also added a section for someone who is part of a vaccine trial, either from AstraZeneca or Novavax.

U.S. based AstraZeneca and Novavax clinical trial participants will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after completing their vaccine series, and must provide required documents that show proof of vaccination.

 

Royal Caribbean pushes back final payment for cruises departing through January 2022

In:
30 Sep 2021

Royal Caribbean has pushed back its final payment date for more cruises.

Royal Caribbean cancels December 2020 cruises while preparing to restart | Royal Caribbean Blog

The cruise line informed guests that it has decided to push the final payment date for all sailings departing in January 2022.

Guests on sailings departing between January 1, 2022 through January 31, 2022, will now have until 30 days prior to their sail date to make their final payment. 

Royal Caribbean hopes this flexibility of having more time to make final payment date will keep guests from cancelling their cruises, "Our hope is that this gives you a little extra flexibility when making the best decision for you and those in your party."

"Rest assured, no action is needed on your part, and no cancellations will occur until the new final payment date."

This comes just a few weeks after Royal Caribbean pushed back final payment due date on sailings departing between October 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021 to 30 days prior to sailing.

No action is required on the part of guests or travel agents, and no cancellations will occur until the new final payment date.

Do all Royal Caribbean cruises qualify for Cruise with Confidence? | Royal Caribbean Blog

This change means guests have more time to cancel their cruise and get a 100% cash refund. 

Ordinarily, final payment date for a cruise is 90 days before sailing. 

Even with the pushed back final payment date, guests could still cancel their cruise without penalty, up to 48 hours before sailing and qualify for a 100% future cruise credit.

Royal Caribbean's Cruise with Confidence program offers future cruise credits for cancellations past final payment date.

Royal Caribbean pushes back final payment date and will allow kids to take antigen tests

In:
15 Sep 2021

Royal Caribbean announced two changes to policies that will likely make things easier for all guests going forward.

An email update was sent to travel agents on Wednesday advising them of these changes.

The time needed to make final payment for a cruise has been pushed back, a change the cruise line has not done throughout the global health crisis.

The final payment due date on sailings departing between October 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021, will now have until 30 days prior to sailing to submit full payment.

Do cruise prices drop? | Royal Caribbean Blog

The final payment date is typically 90 days before a sailing commences. 

No action is required on the part of guests or travel agents, and no cancellations will occur until the new final payment date.

Royal Caribbean says the change was made to "grant a little more time and flexibility."

This change comes just days after Royal Caribbean extended the time guests have to use their future cruise credits under the Cruise with Confidence program.

Royal Caribbean originally introduced the Cruise with Confidence program at the very beginning of the global health crisis, as a way for guests to cancel their cruise past the final payment date window.

By cancelling a cruise before the final payment date, they can get a full cash refund, if they booked refundable cruise fare.

Guests could still cancel a cruise past the final payment date even with this new final payment date window, up to 48 hours before their sailing without penalty and get a 100% future cruise credit.

Change for unvaccinated kids pre-cruise testing

Is Royal Caribbean's Kids Sail Free offer a good deal? | Royal Caribbean Blog

According to the cruise line, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) has revised its pre-cruise COVID-19 testing requirement for unvaccinated kids.

This means unvaccinated kids ages 2 to 11 may present either a negative PCR or antigen test result.

The test must be taken no more than 3 days prior to sailing, but not on boarding day. 

Then on embarkation day, unvaccinated kids ages 2 to 11 will undergo a complimentary PCR test for COVID-19 at the terminal. Pre-cruise test cost continues to be the guest's responsibility and telehealth home tests are still not accepted for unvaccinated guests.

Royal Caribbean announced yesterday that unvaccinated kids would be able to do back-to-back cruises as well.

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