Sagafjord 1993
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Niagara Falls (the Canadian side) & the "Maid o'the Mist"

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Sagafjord (24,474grt) and the St Lawrence River in Quebec City, seen from Dufferin Terrace
Itinerary Show 1993 Map = ports at anchor
Sunday
26th September
- Fly to Miami/Ft Lauderdale, USA
& embark Sagafjord
Monday-at sea
Tuesday-at sea
Wednesday-New York, USA
Thursday-at sea
Friday-Hamilton, Bermuda
Saturday-Hamilton, Bermuda
Sunday-at sea
Monday-Bar Harbor, Maine
Tuesday-Saint John, New Brunswick
Wednesday-Halifax, Nova Scotia
Thursday-at sea
Friday-(am) cruising Saguenay Fjord
-(pm) St Lawrence River to Quebec
Saturday-Quebec, Canada
Sunday-Montreal, Canada disembark Sagafjord & transfer to Toronto
Monday-Toronto, Canada
Tuesday-Toronto, Canada (visit Niagara)
Wednesday
13th October
-Toronto, Canada Fly to UK

This was only the second time aboard Sagafjord and yet Dad, John & I felt immediately at home. Andrew didn't come this time; he was not attracted by the likely weather! And temperatures did range from the high 80's to below zero in Canada but the stopover in Toronto, with the CN Tower and our trip to Niagara Falls, proved to be a fitting climax and a terrific show-stopper.

Sunday 26th September
Flight to Miami, USA

This was our first time on American Airlines and after British Airways, which had its faults, this was pretty poor, with limited entertainment and "deli-style" (ie wet & greasy) sandwiches!

Show Picture Full Size But unlike our last trip to Miami, when we were met by a stretched limo and put up in a 5-star resort overnight, this time we were transferred directly to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, to board Sagafjord, where we arrived to champagne & strawberries in our cabin and sailed after dinner, to sirens and cheering from the apartment blocks overlooking the port entrance!

Monday 27th - Tuesday 28th September
Sagafjord & 2 Days at Sea
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Dawn Promenade Deck Boat Drill
My Dad!
The Funnel
from Sports Deck
John

With a temperature of 86 degrees, it was humid and tempting to do very little but after compulsory Boat Drill, we did have a go at Shuffleboard and even tried our hand at Clay Pigeon Shooting. John did rather better at that than I did and the recoil gave me a bruised shoulder for the next 10 days!


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Open Daily Programme >> Shuffleboard Clay Pigeon Shooting
Not John but a Crack Shot!
Dad, John & Me at the
Captain's Cocktail Party


Show Picture Full Size The Saga Dining Room
With its grand entrance, 2-deck high ceiling and impeccable service, this was a restaurant in the best traditions of ocean-going style. And with caviar, lobster, duck and American prime rib on the menu, what more could you ask? Welcome Dinner Menu >>
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Wednesday 29th September
New York, USA
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Verrazano Bridge Statue of Liberty Sagafjord
at her berth
Rockefeller Center
Prometheus Statue & the GE (RCA) Building

This was Dad's first visit to New York and arriving in brilliant weather, we walked from the Terminal at the foot of 50th Street to Rockefeller Plaza and then to the Empire State Building, where we took the ride up to the 86th Floor Observation level!

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1,250 ft! The Lobby Fifth Avenue
& Lower Manhattan
View from the 86th Floor
The Hudson & Sagafjord at her berth

The Empire State Building
At Fifth Avenue & W 34th Street, this is the city's No.1 tourist attraction. Opened in 1931, it was the World's tallest building for more than 40 years, until the completion of the World Trade Centre in 1972. (Ironically, following the 9/11 disaster in 2001, it was once again the tallest building in the City at 1,250ft (381m) and 102 floors, although the new One World Trade Centre ("Freedom Tower") will be 104 floors and 1,776 ft high when completed in 2013.)

Trivia: The Mooring Mast (1931)
A dirigible mast, now the base of the TV tower, was part of the original construction of the Building. One attempt to moor a privately owned blimp was successful for three minutes. But during a second attempt, in September 1931, a Navy Blimp was almost upended and nearly swept away celebrities attending the historic affair, while the water ballast drenched pedestrians several blocks away. The mooring mast idea was ultimately abandoned.

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A Carriage for 3 The Lake
Central Park West
The Bethesda Fountain
& the Angel of the Waters (1865)
The Pond
Gapstow Bridge (1896)

After lunch in a classic America Diner at Macy's Department Store, we walked up to Central Park, where we took a carriage-ride through the Park before eventually returning to Sagafjord at the Hudson River Cruise Terminal, in time for our departure for Bermuda in 2 days' time.


Friday 1st - Saturday 2nd October
Hamilton, Bermuda
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After a leisurely day-and-a-half at sea and with a gastronomic French Dinner under our belts from last night (see French Dinner Menu >>), we arrived off Bermuda around 1.00pm and made our progress inside the reef towards Hamilton for 3.00pm. However, Dad's first visit to Bermuda was marked by black skies and a cloudburst lasting well into the evening!
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French Dinner Menu >> Song of America (1982)
& a cloudburst!
Meridian
ex-Galileo Galilei (1963)
Sagafjord by Night
Front Street & the "Birdcage"


We still ventured ashore though and after dinner, with the ship tied-up by night above Front Street, we saw the "Birdcage", from where a Bermuda Short-clad Policeman sometimes directs the traffic!


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Front Street by day
& the "Birdcage" (empty again!)
Sailing & Snorkelling Pink Flamingos
at the Bermuda Aquarium
Labrador
Seal-Pup

Next day, while Dad & Andrew explored Hamilton, I took an organised "Harbour Sail & Snorkel" trip. It shattered-down with rain first but then it cleared up and was lovely; the trip was just too short!

In the afternoon, John & I took Dad off on one of Bermuda's famous little pink & blue buses to see more of the island, getting off at the Aquarium and spending some time there, before returning on the bus to Hamilton, in time for the ship's departure at 4.30pm.
(right) The departure from Hamilton, via "Two Rock Passage"
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After dinner, we watched the film Sleepless in Seattle in the Cinema and went to bed all teary-eyed!

Sunday 3rd October
A Day at Sea
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Heading northward again in calm seas, it was a beautiful day for sitting on deck and for a visit to the open Bridge, while in the evening, we had invitations to another cocktail party!

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Views from the Bridge Cunard Club
Cocktail Party Invitation
Father & Son

Monday 4th October
Bar Harbor, Maine
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We dropped anchor around 11.00am in gusty winds and a choppy sea and having lowered the boats, they then had to lay-off, while the Captain tried to swing the ship around, to provide a sheltered lea-side. Meanwhile at the other anchorage was the brand new Cunard Crown Dynasty (19,089grt).

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Sagafjord at anchor
from the ship's tender
Tenders laying-off
in a choppy sea!
Cunard Crown Dynasty
(July 1993 - 19,089grt)

Show Picture Full Size Some passengers gave up waiting but eventually it was considered safe to get into the boats. However, that didn't stop us getting a bit wet!

Our afternoon tour was of the Acadia National Park, created by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 and covering a large part of Mount Desert Island.

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Main Street
Bar Harbor
Thunder Hole
Not very thunderous!
View from Cadillac Mountain
(1,532ft) with Sagafjord at anchor

Settled originally by English colonists in 1796, Mount Desert Island later became popular as a retreat for the rich & famous, who built mansions here in the 1880's, jokingly calling them "Cottages". But in 1947, most of them were destroyed in a huge fire which swept across the island and today, Acadia National Park is again popular with tourists for its natural landscape.

South of Bar Harbor, Thunder Hole is one of the popular tourist-stops on the island, where a cleft in the granite coastline creates "a deafening and frightening noise" (according to the guide-book!). Given the wind and sea conditions today, it was surprising that it didn't seem to do either but the view from Cadillac Mountain (1,532ft) across Bar Harbor to the coast of Maine was impressive.

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Tuesday 5th October
St John, New Brunswick, Canada
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In its 19th century hey-day, this was the "Liverpool of America" and while those days are past, it is still a busy port. But today its main claim to fame is that it is the home of Moosehead Lager, founded in 1867 and Canada's oldest independent brewery.
(left) View of St John from the Carlton Martello Tower (dating from the War of 1812)

Our "Hightlights" tour wasn't particularly exciting but the Martello Tower in Carlton had an interesting museum and a great view of the harbour.

St John's other claim to fame is its Reversing Falls. Tides in the Bay of Fundy are the highest in the World and twice a day, the river appears to flow backwards when the tide comes in! Ironic then, that the city's lunatic Asylum was built on the hill facing them!
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Colonial Mansion
near Rockwood Park
The "Reversing Falls"
Regal Empress (21,909grt)
originally the Classic Liner "Olympia" of 1953

Returning to the ship, we had been joined by Regal Empress, a classic old liner dating from 1953. Built as the Olympia for the Greek Line, in 1993 she boasted more of her original brass and wood panelling than any other cruise ship. (After 56 years, she was eventually scrapped in 2009)

Wednesday 6th October
Halifax, Nova Scotia
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A fortress has stood on Citadel Hill since the city was founded in 1749 and a tradition upheld to this day is the ceremonial firing of the Noon-day Gun, for which the tourists (ie. us!) daily gather.

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St Paul's Church (1749)
Oldest building in Halifax
The Old
Town Clock
Gun Sergeant
at the Citadel
Firing the Noon-day Gun
See YouTube Video >>

Beside what was a drill ground below Citadel Hill, St Paul's Anglican Church is the oldest building in the City, while on the slopes of the hill stands the symbol of Halifax, The Old Town Clock, donated in 1803 by Edward, Duke of Kent the father of Queen Victoria.

Peggy's Cove is another tourist stop, where a quaint fishing village sits in a fascinating rocky landscape facing the Atlantic and the Lighthouse acts as the village Post-Office.

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Suicide "Hot-Spot"
The Angus MacDonald Bridge (1955)
from Citadel Hill
Peggy's Cove
& its Lighthouse Post-Office
Mackay Bridge
(opened 1970)

The Angus MacDonald Bridge - a suicide "hot-spot"!
The first bridge connecting Halifax with Dartmouth on the other side of the harbour, the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge was opened in 1955 but has since become a notorious "hot-spot" for suicides, so there have been campaigns for years to have anti-suicide barriers added. (This was actually done 2007-2010). It is no coincidence therefore, that when the second bridge was designed in 1970, the A. Murray Mackay Bridge was built for 4-lanes of traffic only and pedestrians and bicycles are "not permitted"!

Show Picture Full Size This evening's entertainment after dinner was something rather special; a tribute show to "Liberace" given by Martin Preston, who has since 1990 been giving shows almost word-for-word and note-for note just like the "original"!
With a glittering piano and stunning costumes, duplicates of the those worn by Liberace, he's still going strong in 2012. See Video >> Show YouTube Video

Thursday 7th October
A Day at Sea - the Gulf of St Lawrence
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Show Picture Full Size Heading northward again, the weather deteriorated, becoming grey, wet & cold but with 2 days still to go, tonight was already the Captain's Farewell Dinner & Baked Alaska Parade, which was followed by the traditional show of Norwegian Folk Dancing given by members of the crew. Open the Gala Farewell Dinner Menu >> Show Picture Full Size


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Friday 8th October
The Saguenay Fjord
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With wooded cliffs up to 1,150ft high, the lower reaches of the Saguenay River are popular for whale-watching and we did catch one fleeting glimpse!
(left) Cap Trinite (1,142ft - 348m) on the Saguenay Fjord and the Statue of Our Lady of the Saguenay

Our detour from the St Lawrence took us about 30 miles or half-way up the fjord to Cap Trinite and the statue to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Saguenay, standing 35ft high and about 600ft up!

Our Lady of the Saguenay
In 1878, a trader called Charles-Napoleon Robitaille was crossing the frozen river when the ice broke and he was only saved from drowning by his plea to the Blessed Virgin Mary, so he had this statue erected in 1881 in gratitude for his life. Hoisted-up in pieces, it was quite an engineering feat. Since then, it has become a tradition that ships on the Saguenay pause at this point and sing (or play) "Ave Maria" in salute.
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Our salute to the Blessed Virgin Mary took the form of a crackling audio-tape played across the open decks but I suppose it's the thought that counts! And it was so unbelievably cold outside this morning that I could well imagine how Charles Robitaille felt when he thought he was about to die!

Show Picture Full Size Sagafjord arrived in Quebec at 7.00pm and tied-up overnight.

Saturday 9th October
Quebec City, Canada
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Next day, in the cold and drizzle, we began early with a walking tour of the lower town founded in 1608 as a river trading-post by Samuel de Champlain and today referred to as "Basse-ville".
(left) Hotel Chateau Frontenac, Dufferin Terrace and the old town or "Basse-ville"

At the centre of the old town is the church of Notre Dame des Victoires in Place Royale, named after the French King Louis XIV. Built in 1723, it was destroyed during the taking of Quebec by the British in 1759 but its subsequent restoration was completed in 1816.

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Chateau Frontenac
from Basse-ville
Place Royale
Notre Dame des Victoires
The Funicular
from Basse-ville
Cunard's Sagafjord (24,474grt)
from Dufferin Terrace

The old town nestles below what was an irresistible French fortress position against the ambitious British and marauding Iroquois Indians. Irresistible that is, until Gen. James Wolfe brought an army to surprise and defeat the French in the fierce and bloody Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759.

Today, the top of the cliff is dominated by the Hotel Chateau Frontenac, opened in 1893 and built by Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1943, during World War II, the Quebec Conference was held here between Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt and the Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King.

Show Picture Full Size Also on the waterfront was the ultra-deluxe cruise ship Seabourn Pride of 1988, at just 9,975 tons, a huge luxury yacht for just 212 passengers.

But we had our own luxury cruise-ship to return to - and we had to pack our bags tonight, as we were leaving the ship tomorrow!
(left) The ultra-deluxe Seabourn Pride (1988 - 9,975grt) The best in luxury for just 212 passengers!

Even though it had been cold, wet and miserable all day, I still fell for the charm of Quebec and I knew I would be back - though I didn't know then that it would be 19 years before I would do so!

Sunday 10th October
Montreal to Toronto, Canada
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The ship moved up river overnight and docked in Montreal and it was frustrating because the rain had gone and the sun was out but we would see nothing of this wonderful city. Having booked Cunard's post-cruise package of 3 nights in Toronto, here we disembarked Sagafjord to make the journey of over 4hrs by coach.
(left) Farewell to Sagafjord & our 6th Rosenthal Souvenir Ashtray - this time another Sagafjord one!
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Montreal
Our only view!
The Royal York Hotel, Toronto
Only the best hotel in town!
One of Toronto's lovely
old street-cars

But not to worry; our hotel for 3 nights in Toronto would be the best in town, the Royal York Hotel. Another of the grand hotels built for Canadian Pacific Railway, it was opened in 1929.

Monday 11th - Wednesday 13th October
Toronto, Canada
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A half-day tour of the City was included as part of our post-cruise "package" and the sights illustrated the breadth of styles of architecture here. City Hall was designed in 1965 by the Finnish architect Viljo Revell. It remains controversial to this day but it's still pretty impressive!

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City Hall (1965)
by Viljo Revell
The Eaton Center
Shopping Mall
Casa Loma (1914)
built by Henry Pellatt
Osgoode Hall
The Law Courts

The Eaton Center meanwhile, is a city-centre shopping mall designed along the lines of Milan's famous "Galleria". With more than 230 shops, bars and restaurants, 2 department stores and an 18-screen cinema, it was the second-largest in Canada when it was completed in 1979.

Casa Loma (Spanish for "Hill House")
We only did a "drive-by" of Casa Loma unfortunately. This "fairy-tale castle" was designed in the Gothic Revival style and built from 1911-1914 for Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, the millionaire philanthropist considered responsible for bringing hyro-electricity to Canada. Unfortunately, a large part of his business was appropriated during World War I and to support Casa Loma, he went into land speculation and lost most of his fortune. Sadly, he died in 1939, aged 80 and almost penniless, living with his chauffeur.

However, our next sightseeing stop was the City's most famous architectural statement and tourist attraction, completed in 1976 - The CN Tower.

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The CN Tower
Overall height: 1,815ft (553m)
(above) Viewing Decks
at 1,122-1,150ft (342-351m)
(above) Straight Down!
The open Observation Deck

Built as a telecomms tower by Canadian National Railway, it was (for 34 yrs until 2010) the World's tallest free-standing structure.

Show Picture Full Size With glass-fronted express lifts to a revolving restaurant at 1,150ft, the ride and the view are spectacular! There's an even higher "Space Deck" at 1,465ft.
(left) The View! and (right) Toronto from Lake Ontario
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Toronto is located beside Lake Ontario, the last of the 5 Great Lakes and coming back down to earth in the afternoon, we took a more gentle boat-trip out to the barrier islands protecting the harbour, from where another view of the City skyline could be better appreciated.

Tuesday 12th October
Niagara Falls, Canada
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Today our "post-cruise package" included an all-day tour to these, the most well-known, most visited and most photographed falls in the World, on the USA border about 75 miles from Toronto and situated on the Niagara River between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

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Postcard Aerial View
American & Bridal Veil Falls
176ft high but broken at the bottom
Horseshoe Falls
(167ft) & Scenic Tunnels

Niagara Falls
While not the largest falls in the World, they are the largest in North America and around 750,000 gallons per second passes over them, 90% of which goes over the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, which are 2,600ft (792m) wide, measured along their edge, and 167ft (51m) high, while the American Falls are slightly higher at 176ft (54m) but broken by rocks at the bottom and narrower at 1,060ft (323m) wide, including the Bridal Veil Falls beside Goat Island in the middle of the river.

Interestingly, according to a US Geological Survey, following continuous erosion, almost a third of the Horseshoe Falls are actually inside the US Border, while the tiny tip of Goat Island is actually Canadian! Have a look at the Map - Border Survey Map >>

Many ways have been exploited for viewing the falls, including the famous "Maid o' the Mist" (of which there are actually at least 5!) but Dad & I chose the Table Rock Scenic Tunnels, 125ft below the top of the falls and where you get "up close" - and very wet! Through 620ft of tunnels behind the falls, you can also stand at an open portal and hear the thundering noise of all that water!

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Table Rock Scenic Tunnels
& Dad in a Sou'wester!
Horseshoe Falls (2,600ft wide)
& the "Maid o' the Mist"
The Spanish Aero-Car
over the "Whirlpool"

Down-stream, the river makes a right-hand turn at the Whirlpool, where the Spanish Aero-Car is yet another experience! Designed by Leonardo Torres Quevedo, it was opened in 1916 and spans 1,770ft (539m) across the Whirlpool. Suspended 240ft high at each end, it sags 40ft in the middle!

Wednesday 13th October
Day 4 in Toronto, Canada
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On our final day in Toronto, John & I took a tour of the Skydome, right next to the CN Tower. Opened in 1989, this multi-purpose all-weather stadium was the first in the World to have a fully motorised retractable roof, rising 282ft (86m) high and which takes 20 minutes to open or close.

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City Hall
The CN Tower & Skdome
The Skydome
(roof closed) from CN Tower
The Skydome
with the roof fully retracted

Home to the Toronto Blue Jays Baseball Team, the Skydome seats 65,000 spectators and incorporates a 384-bedroom hotel with 70 rooms overlooking the field, covered in "AstroTurf" which is removed for conventions or other non-sporting events.

The Skydome - a "White-Elephant"?
However, impressive though it certainly was, so was its under-estimated and poorly financed construction cost, so by 1993, faced with falling ticket sales and competition from other arenas, it was revealed that after only 4 years, the Skydome was $400 million in debt and would need to be fully booked 600 days a year to make it pay!

After much controversy, the Provincial Government paid off the debts and sold the Skydome for $151m but in 1998, the new owners filed for bankruptcy and in 2005, it was sold again to Rogers Communications, owner of the Toronto Blue Jays, for $25m, just 4% of its original construction cost! Renaming it the Rogers Center, locals still know it as the Skydome!


So, having checked-out of our hotel by midday and after an amazing 4 days in near-freezing temperatures, our cruise aboard Sagafjord from Miami & Bermuda seemed but a distant memory. And by mid-afternoon it was time for our transfer to Toronto Airport, for our overnight flight home.

Wednesday 13th/Thursday 14th October
Overnight Flight, Toronto to London Heathrow

It's ironic that around this time, Air Canada had a TV-advert being aired, which showed passengers having a party on board and no-one wanting to leave the plane, because there was Happy Hour in the airport lounge that evening and I had a double G&T before boarding the plane. The next thing I remember is being woken by the stewardess for breakfast; I had missed my evening meal and we were landing soon! I suppose that means it was a good flight; it was certainly a good holiday!


See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 3,833 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 40,743 n miles

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