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P&O Cruises: Oceana

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Oceana Review

The family-friendly mid-sized Oceana is much like her cousins in the P&O fleet. The design and layout of bars, lounges, shops and dining areas promote a flowing, social atmosphere perfect for mingling and making new friends with or without children. Informal and casually fun, the ship’s broad decks welcome passengers to splash in four pools and six whirlpools or burn energy on the sports court ingeniously housed in the funnel. While a champagne bar caters to the older set, the ice cream parlor will please little ones. Light and bright, colorful cabins are spacious enough to accommodate families comfortably. Refurbishments in 2013 will include new bedding, carpets, and furnishings, as well as enhanced technology in lighting and sound for entertainment venues. The Oasis Spa will also have renovated changing rooms and sauna.

Oceana was originally Princess Cruises’ Ocean Princess, but was transferred to P&O in 2003 and has sailed since then as one of their family-friendly ships. Although she retains her original layout and fixtures, the decor has been refined to suit the tastes of British passengers. The delicate circular staircase in the four-deck-high atrium seems to float above the palm trees below. Indoor decor is pleasant, with intimate spaces creating the illusion of a much smaller ship. Main public rooms are on a vertical arrangement on four lower decks, with cabins located forward and aft. The casino is positioned out of the way of lounges and dining rooms, so there’s little need for most passengers, especially children, to pass through unless they intend to gamble. A sports court is in the funnel, offering tennis, soccer, and basketball, as well as table tennis, a golf net, and a simulator with limited operating hours.

Since 1937, P&O Cruises (originally the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company) has been a force in passenger shipping. Although the company's suggestion that they invented leisure cruising cannot be proven, P&O is assuredly a pioneer of modern cruising. The company acquired Princess Cruises in 1974. P&O then purchased Sitmar Cruises and merged it with Princess in 1988, and the passenger-cruise business—known as P&O Princess—was spun off in 2000.

P&O Cruises is the oldest cruise in the world and remains Britain's leading cruise line, sailing the U.K.'s largest and most modern fleet. The ships are equipped with every traditional big-ship amenity, including swimming pools, stylish restaurants, spas, bars, casinos, theaters, and show rooms.

Seven ships in the P&O fleet offer a diverse range of venues for relaxation and entertainment, including cocktail bars, nightclubs, cinemas, games rooms, and cabaret lounges. Enjoy live bands, dramatic musicals, and deck parties, cabaret singers, comedians, specialty acts, classical recitals, and concerts. Theme evenings include tropical, 1960s and '70s, or Black and White Ball. Other activities include quizzes and panel games, with prizes awarded to winning teams. A select number of itineraries offer the opportunity to spend the evening, or even overnight, in port.

An abundance of balcony and outside cabins on P&O ships ensures that a view to the sea is never far away. Accommodations, from inside cabins to lavish suites, cater to a wide cross section of budgets and tastes. In the interest of passenger health and safety, smoking has been prohibited indoors, including in all cabins and suites and on private balconies. Outdoor smoking venues are published on board.

To offer passengers a variety of choices, P&O has adapted their fleet to match the preferences of their primary markets. Although most of the ships cater to families as well as couples and singles of all ages, Arcadia, Adonia, andOriana are adults-only ships. The Aurora, Azura, Oceana, and Ventura complete the P&O armada and welcome both adults and children. Following customer feedback, P&O announced major refurbishments for the Ventura, Oceana, and Arcadia in 2013.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Ship offers big-ship amenities but is still small enough to access smaller ports
  • Nearly half of cabins have balconies
  • There are self-service laundry facilities

Cons

  • All pools exposed to the outside, so cruising in cooler months can make swimming problematic
  • Restaurants can get overcrowded and fill up fast—advance booking is a must
  • Free ice cream is only available for 30 minutes a day
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 870
  • Entered Service 2000
  • Gross Tons 77,000
  • Length 857 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,008
  • Passenger Capacity 2,272
  • Width 106 feet
  • New

Sep 16, 2016

Med

We will never return to P&O, not even to catch the ferry. The fact that there isn't even a customer service email address, nor has any P&O rep attempted to contact us about the issues we raised speaks volumes about how they regard their customers. We had booked this through Thomas Cook and was assured that it was every bit as good as any of the other leading cruise companies. We will never use Thomas Cook again as they washed their hands of our concerns

over the CDC failures and just referred us to the non-existent P&O customer services. We have been on other cruises and this is the worst we have experienced. We made management aware several times during our stay of the issues on board, but these were never resolved. All the points in this review were told to management with little or no action being taken. We kept being told our comments would be sent to HQ, but to date we have heard nothing back. The Customer Service Manager onboard who we only met on the last day of the trip, told us she doesn't read online reviews as 'people only ever leave negative comments'; we'll be copying this review to as many sites as possible to ensure that those who do bother to look at feedback are fully aware of how unsatisfactory P&O's customer service really is. Hygiene: Oceana has included a leaflet in the cabin explaining adherence to CDC standards. Yet in the most recent, 2016, assessment the ship failed hygiene compliance (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-35968912) . Oceana was in the bottom 5 of over 200 ships from across the world that were assessed. Months later is it clear why. There is dirt everywhere that has clearly been there for weeks, including at restaurant areas. We observed staff mopping the floor with a pool towel at the end of a stick during breakfast. During 14 nights on board, we observed one member of staff using alcohol gel once. They do not appear to wash hands between handling different foods or dirty plates. We watched the waiter at Explorers Bar idly handling all the red Costa Coffee Straws and running them through his hands. The plates and glasses in the Plaza Buffet are still dirty and wet from the dishwasher. It was a daily occurrence that some piece of cutlery / crockery that day would be dirty and need to be replaced. During sea days rubbish and empty glasses / mugs etc. Are not cleared away from seating areas on deck. When you do eventually find a sun lounger, you need to spend time cleaning the area up yourself before sitting down. Food: There are small, lukewarm portions in the 'fine dining' restaurant. For example, the chicken (rubbery and dry) came with 4 potato wedges, 1 potato cube (presumably from another dish), 5 slices of roasted carrot and parsnip. This isn't for fancy presentation...but is more reminiscent of a micro-waved school dinner. When we booked the cruise, we had paid extra for club dining at a table alone. However we were seated at a table with another couple who had also requested dining alone at a table for two. As part of the complaints we made, the Senior Restaurant Manager provided us with a table for two in the Freedom dining restaurant instead. There is limited choice due to the themed menus every day, i.e. if you don't like Italian / Indian / Asian etc. You'll back nothing to eat that day on board. Menus appear to be tailored more towards feeding the staff rather than the appetite of passengers from the UK. The standard response is, you can eat steak, chicken or salmon in the fine dining restaurant; all of which are overcooked the same way every day. At breakfast, the cool station with the yoghurts and smoothies doesn't work resulting in warm dairy items. In the evening, the buffet hot plate doesn't work. For example, we sent back the cold lasagne, pasta and pizza. The senior waitress did not offer an apology, she just thanked us for the feedback and offered more food from the cold buffet. On several nights we had to resort to protein bars for dinner. F&B outlets aren't open when they are meant to be according to the daily Horizon magazine. The Plaza was closed during brunch on Thursday, the Horizon grill was 40 mins late in having food ready to serve. There are random charges for food which be in high demand on the room service menu such as a ham & cheese toastie or a burger whereas Bruschetta or salmon is free? We both lost approx half a stone in weight from this cruise as the food was so bad. Maintenance Whilst you would expect some maintenance, there is constant banging / scraping of rust. The smell of paint was overwhelming at times. There are life boats secured by duct tape where the rope has frayed (visible when you look up from Deck 7). Lifts, toilets and sinks were constantly out of order throughout the ship. The ladies toilets on Deck 5 next to the loyalty desk has a fan drying out the sodden, sewage soaked carpet for over a week. Customer Service The staff are clearly disengaged and have no interest in providing a professional service. They use guest areas for smoking, eating and travelling throughout the ship rather than using back of house areas. They rarely said hello, smiled or even made eye contact. The fact that a comment card was placed for us to complete rather than speaking to us directly about the issues we had faced showed a lack of professionalism. At approx 10:30pm we had to sit by while the Plaza Manager sat and ate his dinner, whilst he sat he was clearly disciplining a member of staff. It was very uncomfortable to watch a junior team member practically begging to get his side of the story across whilst this manager sat and ate his dinner as if scolding a child. It was simply disgusting treatment of another human being. We had an early morning excursion, as the Plaza Buffet had ran out of bread type items and was overcrowded we decided to just grab a Costa Coffee. We arrived at Explorer's Bar at approx 07:40 and were told they would not serve us until 8am as they were setting out the liquors for the bar. We waited on a sofa next to the bar until we saw the F&B Manager, Paul Rowe approach the bar and ask for a Cappucino. He didn't acknowledge we were there waiting. Whilst the waiting staff served their manager (before the passengers) they agreed to take our order while waiting making his coffee. I approached Paul and said I was so glad he arrived as we had just been told we couldn't be served, but now clearly service was possible! All he said in response was quite, indeed. If this is the leader of all of F&B, is it any wonder the staff have no idea what service is?! Despite having booked excursions months in advance online, we were informed by email the day before we arrived in Venice that the evening gondola ride had been cancelled and we would be refunded. When we went to the excursions desk they said they were planning to put notes in the cabins later that night to inform guests of the cancellation and that they were within their rights as it was in the terms and conditions. We were offered no apology or alternatives; simply told to go on our own gondola ride. What was the point of booking an excursion?

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  • New

Oct 9, 2011

W Med

Car Park was a nightmare. Everyone assumes that you know where to go and what to do and when. We were told ALL our baggage would be taken aboard. What they didn't tell us was that we would have to carry ALL clothes on hangars ourselves. My wife and I are not in the best of health but still had to carry four large hanging bags without assisstance. Reception Staff were very unhelpful and on the occassion of my wifes sea sickness two attendants and the

Manager actually made sport of her condition.You don't need that when you are feeling ill. The Front of House Manager asked her ...if she had "lost her sense of humour". When we complained the next day. The Manager denied it. I will not travel with P&O again. Restaurants vary. We dined in CLUB Adriatic Restaurant - food good but not special. Waitors were very rude. They would constantly interrupt our conversation to ask if we wanted wine/liquers etc. Very annoying! Waitors are on a deadline to feed the 1st sitting so that they can prepare for 2nd. So you get Menu & Wine List along with your requests for menu selections without time to consider or order an apperitif. This would be OK in British Home Stores restaurant but not on a cruise that one has paid more than £4000 for. The Restaurant on the top deck self-service restaurant was a bun fight to get a seat. Then you get trampled by people who act like a starving mob. Tables are quickly cleaned by staff but the overall experience is not a good one. Food in Adriatic was good but not special. Waitors spoiled the enjoyment factor. Breakfast was more relaxed. Food in the self-service restaurant (we called it BHS) mediocre for the price we paid. Breakfasts were hearty rather than sophisticated. Horizon Grill we ate here only one night. Although the waitors did not interrupt as much as in the Adriatic they still had the curious idea that you should be given a Wine List and Menu and have ordered your selections before your bottom touched the seat. The idea of an apperitif before a meal is an alien concept to them. For those who expect a more sophisticated mealtime approach I would advise against Oceana. Our stateroom was functional (apart from the hairdryer) rather than luxurious. We had a balcony which gave us the option of a little more privacy and was good to sit and read in peace or watch dolphins, flying fish etc. I need air con as I am asthmatic. I found the air con was virtually ineffective even after several tries for the service people to get the room cool. Our Cabin Steward was fantastic and for her nothing was too much effort. Music in most places on the ship was too loud. If you could get a seat in the Atrium you could find different music coming at you from as many as three different sources. There seemed to be nowhere quiet that you could go and just sit and talk with friends. The entertainers mostly seemed to be singers who hadn't quite made it in the UK. There was a very good comedian/conjurer that seemed to know how to play to an audience but most of the other performers were conspicuously second rate wanabees. Music on deck was loud and intrusive. The only option for escape was the stern decks. Pianist in the Atrium before dinner in the evening was relaxing but the effect was lost when we enterred the Adriatic Restaurant. Most of the competitions in the bars related more to that of "dumbed down" television shows but were very badly done and often patronized the guests and insulted their intelligence. We went to Rome and a short tour, by bus, that did not involve a lot of walking. For us this was the right choice. We saw enough of Rome to want to go back in an off-peak period and see more. We chose the "Little Train in Nice" during our stop at Monte Carlo. Again this was the right choice for us. We also chose the mini coach tour of Gibralter. The tour was good and not too much walking for us but the tapas was poor quality and value for money. We went ashore at two other places but I feel it would have been beneficial if we could have stayed overnight at, for example, Barcelona to experience Las Ramblas by night. Livorno was a pleasant little town for some low key shopping. We did not attempt Pisa or Flornce from there as we felt that after Rome the day before if might prove to be too much for us. My lasting impression of Oceana is NOISE, selfish people, rude waitors and unhelpful and, as it turns out, dishonest reception staff (Dishonest in terms of not telling the truth). I enjoyed the voyage but I would look for a higher quality if I wanted to cruise again and I would not choose P&O. I enjoyed watching the dolphins and fish from my balcony. The food was of a reasonable quality but not special.

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  • New

Mar 31, 2009

Caribbean

Oceana is an amazing ship. The atrium is spectacular. It is all lit up at night. The itinerary was great. The photograhers were fantastic and with the onboard photo packages, I didn't think the photos were that expensive either. The breakfasts were great. We had an English breakfast everyday followed by a smoothie. The choice of breakfast is very varied. On sea days we had lunch at the Plaza which was a buffet restaurant. There was salads,

mussels, makerel, ham, chicken, beef etc. For dinner we went Freedom dining which i would recommend. We only waited once for a table and that was for 5 minutes. The swimming pools and spas were fantastic although it was very hard on sea days to get a sunbed. You either had to get up at the crack of dawn and put your towel out (which we refused to do) or wait until 30 minutes was up and pull someones towel off their sunbed if they still had not returned. The sunbeds are a problem. Well, its not so much the sunbeds, but the people. Some people had 1 sunbed in the sun and 1 sunbed in the shade. Or they would put their towel on a sunbed and wouldn't be seen all day. This I find unacceptable. What my husband and I did was although the ship tells you to wait 20 minutes and then take a towel off a sunbed we waited for 1 hour which would give someone enough time to have lunch. We then put their towel on the floor and used the sunbeds. There are 2 lounges that the shows are performed in - Footlights and Starlights. Both are at opposite ends of the ship. There are plenty of bars onboard also. Smoking is also a problem. Smokers can only smoke on SOME left hand sides of open decks. On deck 12 there were 4-5 tables i think that catered for smokers. We went Freedom dining, as we did not want to get stuck at club dining with people we may not get on with. The food was exceptional. It was 5-6 courses. You had a choice of 3 of these starters - smoked salmon, prawns, mussels, pate, etc. then you had a choice of 2 soups. Then came the main course which varied. Sirloin steak and salmon was always a choice. I ate things that I would probably not have tried if I wasn't on a cruise - duck, pheasant, ostrich, wood pigeon, etc. The presentation of the food was first class. Then there was desert which could be anything from flambe pancakes to jack daniels brulee. Cheese and biscuits was always an option and the stilton was gorgeous. We had an inside cabin as, we spend hardly any time in there at all - only used for sleeping! It was on Brittania deck B203. It was well laid out and bathroom was great. There was lots of shower gel, shampoo, body cream etc that you could use. The shower was fantastic. Sailaways were fantastic but didn't happen every time you left a port. This I felt was a shame. I thought that at every port there should have been at least music playing in the background for the people that were on deck. Leaving Aruba they handed out Union Jack flags and they had "cocktail of the day" which was Pimms and it was fantastic. Everyone was waving their flags and very joyful. They had a BBQ at midday onboard but it was a day that we couldn't leave the ship until 12:30 (tender so we left about 2:00) This I felt should have been done on a sea day so everybody could enjoy it. There was also an ice carving but we missed it as we went ashore. The crew took part in games with some passengers in the pool. These were fun. Ok here is where we went ashore. P&O excursions were expensive, so we arranged all our excursions ourselves. I had been to all of the countries before, so it helped that I knew where I was going. In Curacao we went to Kontiki Beach which was fantastic. Drinks are expensive though. We just got off the ship and got a Taxi by the dock. In Aruba we went to Palm Beach where we went jet skiing which was fantastic. This is by the Radisson Hotel which has wonderful gardens. We then explored the town centre which is in walking distance from the dock. Costa Maya was fantastic. We spent the whole day in a bar called The Lighthouse. There was swings instead of stools around the bar. They put out hammocks for us on the beach and we went snorkelling. We also had luch there which was lovely. It was very native. In Cozumel we went to a national park which was good for snorkelling. It began with a K. This was good fun and $16 each to get in. In Grand Cayman, we went to Turtle Farm and held the turtles. It was very interesting as they look after the turtles and let some back. Others they carry out research on. We also went to a place called "HELL." This was dissapointing so my advice is not to go. Ocho Rios in Jamaica was fantastic. We went to Dunn River Falls. Be careful here as you have the opportunity to climb the falls. A guy from our ship was disembarked as he broke his leg. Unless he had adventure sports on his insurance policy, he would not have been covered. We did climb the falls it was great. The ship docked at where they filmed Bond, Dr No. A lot of people I spoke with were worried about going to Jamaica as they had heard bad reports about it. My husband got offered drugs 3 times. But they were very good about doing it. They didn't ask him in front of everyone they asked him to go over to where they were. They also don't ask anyone who has young children with them. Just say no and they are fine. The Jamaicans are very pushy by nature, but they are lovely people. The place has amazing scenery. Just say NO and it will be a lovely cruise stop. Tortola was my husband's favourite place. This was where the snorkelling was the best. We went to Cane Garden Bay. It was spectacular and just how you imagine paradise to be. St Maarten we went to Dawn Beach in Oyster Bay. Snorkelling was good here too (we done snorkelling on every island) We then looked round the markets which were in walking distance to the port. We found cigerettes cheapest here. St. Lucia we went to Spinnakers. This was beautiful but cost the most to hirsunbeds at $20 for both of us. Snorkelling was impossible here as there was no visability. Barbados we went to The Boatyard which I recommend everyone to do. It is a fun bar set on a lovely beach with floating trampolines. It cost us $30 for both of us to get in. For this you get return transport back to the ship, a choice of drink and hire of sunbed and using of their facilities. What more can I say it was absolutley fantastic to the point where I have been back a week and I am going to book Ventura for next year. P&O is luxury. The little touches like leaving you a chocolate every night on your pillow adds to the magic that is the Oceana. Tip - dont take towels as you can use the ships and you can take them ashore. The only minor problems were the sunbeds, which is easily resolved, and the lack of smoking places. The Karaoke book was like an obituary and needed modernization. In conclusion, this was the best cruise I have ever done and I can't wait to return onboard the Oceana.

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  • New

Jul 22, 2007

Western Europe

  First of all some background. We were cruising as a family myself and my wife 3 children 17,15 and 5 and my mother in her late 70’s.we have cruised many times over the years with lots of different lines. We enjoyed the experience overall very much but no holiday is without hiccups and this was no different. Overall impressions were that the Oceana is a nice clean ship but is looking tired in places

and I understand is due a refit. It’s also noticeable that despite only being 7 years old designs have moved on to make it seem a bit behind. For example, the showers are pretty pathetic compared to most newer ships. Most now have a door not the dreaded curtain which seeks to flood your cabin and I lost count of the number of times the water almost completely lost pressure and changed temperature from hot to cold without me touching anything! I cruised on the sister ship Sea Princess 2 years ago and whilst the shower wasn’t powerful it didn’t go on or off and change temperature so I suspect it was addressed at her refit. First impressions do count for a lot and when we got on board we had a nice meal in the Plaza as our cabin wasn’t ready. However, when we made our way to the cabin our second impression was negative. The cabin absolutely reeked of smoke and I don’t just mean a vague stale smell it reeked it was almost impossible to stay in there and upset my daughter. I contacted the cabin steward who confirmed it had been used by “very heavy” smokers the previous cruise(her words not mine).She said she would come along and use a spray later on. This she did but it just masked the smell for a while it didn’t neutralize it. She also arranged to have the carpet shampooed 2 days later but the smell lingered all cruise it faded but was still noticeable. Why can’t P&O have designated smoking and non-smoking cabins? Easy enough to do. Overall I found the food at formal dining to be superior to our most recent cruises on NCL, Princess and Fred Olsen but not as good as Cunard. However, I was less impressed with the buffet food quality and the “flow” of passengers and seating, it was like a pitched battle most times. My son was also unimpressed (as was I) that the buffet finished at 9.30 pm.That meant the only late night dining option was Café Jardin which had very limited choice .To my mind, this was simply to accommodate the pay restaurant. However, Sea Princess is exactly the same ship and manages to open a pay restaurant and keep the buffet open. Cost cutting, methinks. I found the entertainment though inferior to other lines the singers and dancers (Stadium theatre company) were not a patch on the Jean Ann Ryan Company on NCL or the Princess offerings .I thought unlike some of the other reviewers that Mike Doyle the comedian was just ok nothing special, I was expecting a “name” in peak season. Doubling up one of the theatres as a cinema was good though perhaps more could have been made of that. One of the biggest issues perhaps is the overall design of the ship. It was designed for the Caribbean market with lots of open deck space but internally many of the bars are small. When we spent a whole day in a force 7 through the Bay of Biscay the ship appeared very overcrowded almost impossible to get a seat in any of the main public areas. The ship also rolled a good deal. This will seem like heresy to many P&O regulars but whilst the Oriana and Aurora seem suited to sail out- sail back I think the Oceana would be better suited to fly cruising all year round and might actually give customers wanting to cruise with P& O more choice. Ports: Dublin-overnight stay so first evening we just sampled some Dublin bars just for atmosphere Dublin is beautiful but very packed with tourists. Next day went on open top bus tour this is brilliant for seeing lots of sights without too much walking and the inevitable crowds! Our ticket got us on the Red and Green buses the Red has recorded commentary but the green which we got later on (as it is hop on hop off) was live commentary and hilarious. Some of the Americans just didn’t understand the Irish humor though. The guy at the start said “we are just waiting to sober up the driver by walking him up and down for a bit!” some looked genuinely worried. Got on and off at few places spent most time at Jameson's Distillery nice pub/restaurant round the corner. Bilbao - Had arranged a private tour through totally Spain very reasonable private minibus all day for 450 Euros. Only problem was that the driver spoke 2 words of English “Good Morning” so we had to struggle with my rudimentary Spanish and getting others to translate. We went to the Guggenheim just to have a look which is stunning the flower Dog statue impressed us all young and old. Then went to Bakio via fantastic scenery rolling green hills with lots of Swiss style cottages, lovely unspoiled beach resort with fantastic surf .The on to a church that is on an outcrop of rock San Juan de Gaztelugatxe however you have to walk to it and its very hilly and takes about an hour on the way back, we didn’t have the time or stamina really but the views were absolutely fantastic. Went back to Bilbao via the Transporter bridge quite near the terminal in Santurce which basically has a hanging compartment that carries cars and passengers very impressive feat of engineering and very old 1880’s. La Rochelle- Had been to la Rochelle before which is a lovely harbor town but as we had been we went to a water park in the next resort along at Chatellaion-Plage.It was very cheap to get into (4 Euros) and had indoor and outdoor pools and slides the kids loved it. Guernsey- Tendering took AGES I got a ticket and was told it would be about a 40 minute wait it took an hour and 40 minutes for us to be called. Loud cheers every time a number was called. A couple of hors was all we had so just pottered around St peter port quite small and quaint like an old British town. As far as the staff go there were also positive and negatives. The kids club staff were excellent and my youngest was actually asking could she go whereas last year she didn’t want to go as they were a bit too much “in your face” so we didn’t make her go. However, whilst a lot of cruise lines have the syrupy have a nice day type of attitude we found some of the staff quite surly and unlike a lot of cruise lines didn’t make a fuss of the children they largely ignored them. One waiter actually pointed to my 5 year old daughter one night at the meal and said “What does she want?” in a way that indicated he didn’t think she should be there at all! In fact she was very well behaved. Overall it sounds like more negatives than positives but we did enjoy the cruise but perhaps not quite as much as we expected to. Highs-food in the main restaurant. Lows-some of the staff attitude and mediocre entertainment.  

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