Which do you choose: Vacation Club or Cruise?

It’s that time of year when holidays are especially on our minds. As COVID seems to be fading in some parts of the world, many people are wondering about taking a cruise, but could there be a better way to spend your time and money? A staycation option perhaps? Let’s look at some deciding factors.

 

Health and safety

It’s certain that the cruise companies will be doing everything possible to follow COVID protocols, but that might not fill you with confidence if you’re in a closed space with a few thousand other people for a week or more. Even assuming high levels of cleanliness, how many people have touched that same door handle or rail before you? Let’s also remember that 284 people have fallen off cruise ships and another 41 from large ferries since 2000 – an average of about 1.5 people per month. There’s actually a website that keeps track of specific cases of overboard deaths (not including separate cases of suicide or murder).

 

Environmental concerns

The average cruise ship produces between 140,000 and 210,000 gallons of sewage per week, with a 3,000-person cruise ship pumping 150,000 gallons of that waste into the ocean. The ships do treat their wastewater, but satellite pictures clearly show the trails of contaminated water in their wakes. And let’s not forget their massive engines, which can produce sulfur dioxide fumes equivalent to 13.1 million cars a day!

 

A real experience?

Cruise ships tend to stop at the most touristy sites for a relatively short time so that you rarely get the chance to see the real island. You don’t know the best places to eat or the shops that sell the best quality gifts. You’ll probably miss the curious corners and secret nooks. Indeed, large cruise ships have been criticised for promoting the kind of mass tourism that has caused some places such as Venice to dramatically limit the number of visiting vessels.

 

An ethical choice?

The smiling personnel you see on a cruise ship seem happy enough in their jobs, but what about the people you don’t see belowdecks? The cleaners, the kitchen workers and the janitors are often employed from poorer nations and paid much less, spending months away from their homes and families. Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

 

Pets unwelcome

The majority of cruise lines don’t allow pets onboard, so you’ll have to leave Rover or Mrs Pickles at a kennel or roaming wild until you return. They’ll be sad. You’ll be sad.

 

Choice of activities

Modern cruises do have many onboard activities. There are pools and gyms and places to play tennis or basketball. You can even do “rock climbing” or practice your golf swing. But at the end of the day, a ship is not an island – no matter how big. There’s no golf course. There are no actual hills to go walking or climbing in, nor is there a beach onboard, though you can probably see one through your porthole.

 

Food and drink

Let’s be honest: you’re not going to starve or be short of a cocktail on a cruise. But what about variety? Genuine BBQ ribs need to be cooked on a BBQ grill, not in a submarine kitchen. Your freshly made salad onboard may be made of ingredients that have been refrigerated for a week or more. And when cooks are making food for 3,000 people at a time, there’s just not as much love in the food as when a local is cooking just for you.

 

The coastal experience

There’s a big difference between looking at the beach from offshore and being on the beach looking out to sea. Even the most exclusive cabin onboard can’t replicate an oceanfront property with palms, the smell of flowers, the whisper of surf and the tranquil night (as opposed to the ceaseless rumble of diesel engines). Onshore, you can walk out of your property along the beach to eat with your feet in the sand and return home without fear of toppling over a rail into the sea ten metres below.

 

The Vacation Club difference

Don’t walk up the gangplank. Choose a fabulous property onshore and enjoy the genuine island experience. At Morritt’s, you’ll be close to dozens of fantastic places to eat and drink and a stone’s throw from many more fascinating things to do and see. Bring your pets. Be kinder to the environment. Have greater peace of mind about COVID measures. And best of all: return as often as you like to the experience that doesn’t need an anchor or a port.

May 18

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Pirates in the Cayman Islands (And Blackbeard’s Treasure)

The Caribbean in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century was thick with pirates. They took advantage of the fact that the Spanish treasure ships laden with gold and silver from the New World would pass by the Cayman Islands on the way back home. With an abundance of fresh water, willing sailors, wood and excellent turtle meat, our islands were also a great base for the pirates to rest, repair, roister and possibly bury their treasure. Let’s have a look at some of the most famous to tread these shores.

 

Edward Teach (Blackbeard)

Englishman Teach was the archetypal pirate: captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, master of 300 sailors and inclined towards theatrics. His long beard was said to be tied in pigtails and contain ribbons, while slow-burning fuses woven into his hair gave him a literally smoking appearance. With his coloured silks, velvet clothes and his multiple guns, he passed by Grand Cayman in the early 1700s and seized a small turtling vessel.

Legend has it that he may also have buried a part of his treasure on Cayman Brac at a place known today as the Treasure Pit. At the east end of Southside Road East, you can follow a rough trail through sea grape and over limestone rocks to an outcrop featuring a small hole. Someone once carved a skull here – as a marker? A few minutes further along the path brings you to a basin of rainwater and a rock overhang where, around 50 years ago, a local man dug and found a stone slab. He dutifully reported this to the governor, who very shortly afterwards left the island. With his pockets full? We couldn’t say.

 

George Lowther

Another Englishman, Lowther worked as second mate on a slave ship before graduating into piracy as captain of the Happy Delivery. His tactic was to ram ships and then board them for looting and general violence. Afterwards, his crew would burn the ship if they felt like it. Near Grand Cayman, he got into a battle with a ship called the Greyhound and apparently killed the whole crew. His fate is unknown. Some say he shot himself rather than be captured by the British navy, but others claimed he escaped.

 

Edward Low

Low (or Lowe) learned his craft from Lowther, whom he served for a while as first mate before going into business as a pirate. He plied the waters around Grand Cayman and captured more than a hundred ships in his career, burning most of them. Low was particularly bloodthirsty, with a reputation for torturing and killing his victims in imaginative ways. A French cook he burned alive. More traditionally, he hacked 57 Spaniards to death with his cutlass. One historian described him as “a psychopath with a history filled with mutilations, disembowelings, decapitations, and slaughter.” Did he die in a storm, or retire to Brazil? Nobody is quite sure.

 

Big Black Dick

Believed to have been an African royal, Dick was enslaved by the French who gave him the name Richard le Noir. He did not take kindly to his slavery and was thrown overboard near Grand Cayman, where he became adept at making rum and cigars. Discarding his French name, he restyled himself Big Black Dick and set sail on the three-masted, 20-cannon Caymanus with a crew of 200. In his tight purple-velvet coat and four pistols, he was a striking figure whose nickname was evidently based on prodigious personal dimensions. Unlike other pirates, he retired into relative tranquillity making his rum and cigars. You can enjoy his legacy today in the rum that bears his name.

 

Pirates Week

In celebration of our maritime history, the Cayman Islands hosts an annual Pirates Week Festival every November. It has become the country’s largest celebration, attracting around 35,000 people and featuring the mock Pirate Invasion from the sea. At the last count, there were 32 different events including street dances, heritage days, a float parade and landing pageant, firework shows, a song contest, swim meets, a darts tournament, a steel band competition, a kids fun day, two teen music nights, an underwater treasure hunt and two running races. If Blackbeard were around today, he’d probably say “Aaaaarrrrgggggh.”

May 18

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Treat Yourself to Some Spa Luxury at Morritt’s

The La Mer Spa at Morritt’s is a haven of peace, calm and relaxation where you can luxuriate as your body is pampered and beautified. Our professional therapists are available daily to recommend the perfect treatment according to your needs or mood.

With so many treatments to choose from – aromatherapy, phytotherapy, fruit therapy, marine therapy, Yon-Ka – we thought it might be useful to outline some of what’s on offer. Follow the links for more information or call us on +1 345 947 8802.

 

For Your Face

Purify and cleanse with a range of treatments for all complexions. You can rehydrate and rebalance your skin if you’ve suffered sun damage or focus on brightening your appearance with light exfoliation and antioxidant nutrients. Our purifying treatments, meanwhile, use essential oils and plant extracts to balance the skin.

Need a little uplift and anti-aging effect? We can help with a combination of botanical steam compresses, active brushing hydro-peel, essential oil stimulation, micro-peel exfoliation, tonifying massage and firming eye, lip, face and neck masks. You’ll look and feel renewed!

Men are welcome, too. Even the most rugged guy can suffer from razor burn or excess sun. Once you’ve experienced a citrus hydro-peel and essential oil spritzing, there’s really no going back!

 

For Your Body

Slimming, smoothing, exfoliating, nourishing and contouring – we have a range of treatments to take your body to another level. Try the algae and seaweed or marine mud body wrap to relax, tone, slim and even reduce swelling or pain. The organic sea salt body scrub combines energizing citrus aromatherapy oils with organic sea salt and coconut oil to uncover the true silkiness of your skin.

Need something deeper? Check out our range of massage options, such as the classic Swedish massage that increases circulation, reduces muscle tension and aids detoxification while relaxing you totally. A luxurious aromatherapy massage is customisable according to your needs and mood – talk to your therapist about the best essential oils for your body.

If you’re a sportsperson, you might need something more therapeutic, such as the deep tissue massage that addresses your acute or chronic pain by focusing on pressure points and circulation.

Also ask your therapist about hot stone massage, private couples massage, pre-natal massage or the combined neck-face-scalp massage that’s perfect for relieving sinus pressure, headaches, jet lag, tired eyes, sleeplessness and fatigue.

 

Your Hands and Feet

Don’t forget the extremities! A reflexology session will not only help reduce stress, increase circulation and relieve tension, but will also leave you utterly relaxed and rejuvenated. You can also enjoy an aromatherapy foot soak to soften calluses and aid dead skin removal. Then have your nails cleaned and shaped, a mini foot massage with oils and lotions, and choose the perfect polish.

For your hands, the classic spa manicure involves an aromatherapy hand soak, nail cleaning, cuticle trimming, nail shaping, a mini hand massage, essential oils and lotion, followed by a polish of your choice. Men are welcome, too (nail polish optional!). Or try the 3-in-1 revitalizing treatment, which includes an aromatherapy soak, gentle exfoliation, thorough botanical massage, restorative mud hand mask and nail clean-up (also available for feet).

 

Mix and Match

Feel free to combine different treatments to make a day of it. You might combine a hand or foot treatment with a whole body treatment or even some waxing – whatever you like. Speak to a therapist to discuss the options.

The La Mer Spa is open daily from 9:00am to 6:00pm. Reservations are recommended to avoid disappointment.

May 4

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Scuba Diving at Morritt’s

The sea around the Cayman Islands is a paradise for divers and watersports enthusiasts, with crystal waters, fascinating wrecks and an amazing abundance of sea life. If you’re already a keen diver, or if you’d like to dip your toe in the water (literally), there are many options for you.

Red Sail Sports has a full-service dive and watersports centre at Morritt’s Tortuga Club operating under the name of Tortuga Divers. As well as a whole range of watersports and sailing activities, Tortuga Divers can also help you to train and get Scuba certified at various levels. Feel free to contact them for more information (1-877-506-6368 / info@tortugadivers.com), but in the meantime here’s a guide to what they offer.

 

Discover Scuba Course

This two-hour East End course teaches you how to dive in one day and discover the undersea world with an experienced instructor. You’ll start easily in a swimming pool and get confident with the theory – how to breathe! – before taking a dive off a shallow reef with all the necessary equipment. The dive will last around 30-40 minutes and goes to a maximum depth of 40 feet. If you fall in love with Scuba immediately, you can take a Repeat Resort Dive.

 

PADI eLearning Open Water Course

The advantage of the eLearning course is that you can save four days of your vacation time by studying before you arrive. Complete the theory and tests online and then use your time on Grand Cayman to learn master dive skills with one of our expert instructors over three days.

DAY ONE – Get to grips with the equipment and put theory into practice in a swimming pool (confined water).

DAY TWO – Take two shallow-water dives in the sea (open water) to reinforce your skills.

DAY THREE – Enjoy two more open-water dives to be certified by your instructor and given your temporary PADI open water certification card. You’ll then receive a personal certification card with photo and ID number by mail. This can then be used anywhere in the world!

 

Open Water Referral Course

The referral course is perfect for people who have already started Scuba certification back home and who want to complete their four open-water training dives in Grand Cayman with all equipment included. After a quick pool session to test underwater skills, you’ll complete the four ‘check-out’ dives over a two-day period. Then a Tortuga Divers instructor will sign your referral forms to verify completion. Courses are available for all the largest recognized diving agencies: PADI, NAUI, SSI, IDEA, PDIC, YMCA, and HSA.

 

PADI Advanced Open Water Course

Build on the open water course with new capabilities and new activities while increasing your confidence. No need to wait if you’ve discovered a new passion – you can go straight into this course after completing the PADI Open Water course (above). If thinking about this course prior to arriving on the island, you can save time by doing the PADI theory online.

When you arrive, you’ll do five dives over one full day and a half day: a deep dive, a navigation dive and three others to be decided with your instructor. These could include a night dive, a search-and-recovery dive or boat diving. This course includes equipment, boat dives and certification materials. Your PADI Open Water certification card must be presented upon enrollment.

 

Refresher Scuba Course

If you haven’t dived for two to six years, you may want to refresh your skills, knowledge or confidence before putting on the tanks again. This two-hour course starts in the pool to go over the basic dive theory and then moves to the sea for a shallow afternoon dive. Only previously certified divers may take this course.

If you’re already an experienced diver, Tortuga Divers operates boats to various dive sites such as
Anchor Point, High Rock Drop Off, Turtle Pass, Northern Lights, Snapper Hole, Chub Hole, Grouper Grotto and Black Rock Reef to name a few. Contact them for more details.

Please also note that all certification courses need to be pre-booked. All the PADI courses are eLearning, which means you complete the theory online prior to arriving.

April 20

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Grand Cayman Hidden Gems

Whether you’re a long-time Cayman visitor or someone thinking about spending more time here, there are so many things to do beyond the great places to eat, swim, sunbathe and relax. Here, we’ve gathered a few of our favourites that you may or may not know.

Starfish Point

You’ll find this curious and isolated beach on the north side of Grand Cayman at the western extremity of Rum Point. The sea here is wonderfully clear and great for snorkeling, but the real attractions are the many red cushion sea stars that feed in the shallows. With ample parking, it’s an ideal place for a picnic and to watch the sunset but there’s little else there. Don’t expect bars or cafes. (If sea-life is your thing, you might also consider the more popular Stingray City, a series of shallow sandbars near George Town where you can swim with and pet stingrays.)

Bioluminescent Bay

See the swirling otherworldly colours as you move your hands through the water and imagine yourself in a science-fiction alternate reality. The magical bioluminescence at Rum Point is best seen when snorkeling at night as part of a boat or kayak tour that can also involve an astronomy element and an introduction to the starfish. We have several companies that depart from Kaibo, Starfish point or Rum point – and our local team can help you plan your bioluminescent adventure!

Cayman Farmer’s Market

The Hamlin Stephenson farmers’ market at the Cricket Square in George Town (Mon-Sat) is known for its fresh fruit and vegetables, arts and crafts, pastries, juices, sauces, preserves and other goods from Cayman’s farmers and craftspeople. Visit to discover freshly made lemonade, cassava cakes, coconut bread, scented candles, peppermint foot scrub, towels, hand-made jewellery, smoothies and houseplants among many other treats. Perfect for sourcing local ingredients or buying presents and souvenirs. See a list of vendors here.

The Mission House

Built in the 1700s, this historic structure is one of Cayman’s oldest buildings and once housed Presbyterian missionaries. You can take a tour to walk in the footsteps of early settlers, see a collection of interesting artifacts and learn how the building’s residents lived in the 1800s. The gift shop on-site offers the opportunity to buy souvenirs (all proceeds to the National Trust) and you should also look out for the traditional cooking and craft classes held here twice monthly. HOURS: Monday-Friday: 9am-5pm; Saturday: 11am-4pm. ADDRESS: Gun Square Road, Bodden Town. TEL: +1 345-945-3769

The 1981 Brewery and Tap Room

1981 may have been a year known for the emergence of electronic pop music, but that has nothing to do with the brewery named for the nautical co-ordinates of the Cayman Islands and famous for its craft beers: Cayman Blonde, Island Session and Tropical IPA. You can take a tour of the brewery and visit the tap room to sample some of the brews straight from the source. HOURS: Tuesday-Thursday: 3pm-7pm; Friday: 3pm-8pm; Saturday: 12pm-5pm; Sunday: Closed. ADDRESS: 273 Dorcy Drive, George Town, Grand Cayman. TEL: +1 345-945-0440

Cayman Cigar Company

Created to revive the art of handcrafting premium cigars, the company uses only the finest hand-selected boutique tobaccos sourced from passionate growers using organic, sustainable farming practices. Master Roller Barbara Garcia oversees the creation of premium smokes. Unusually, this is a non-profit organisation, with 100% of net profits going back into the island through charitable donations. To book a private cigar rolling event, schedule a tour of Beacon Farms or ask questions about how to roll or store fine cigars, contact the company directly: info@caymancigars.com. TEL: +1 345-946-2447

The Mastic Trail

Fancy a walk? The Mastic Trail is a 7.4km (4.6-mile) round-trip trail near Bodden Town and should take 2-3 hours. Expect to see beautiful wildflowers, small lizards, butterflies, crabs, snakes (non-venomous), parrots and woodpeckers, as well as a variety of trees, including a fine mastic tree after which the track is named. The route may not be suitable for the elderly or very young, and you’ll need solid shoes to negotiate the odd root or craggy volcanic rock. Guided tours are scheduled Tuesday and Thursday mornings by reservation via the National Trust website.

Pure Art Gallery

A centre of local art and island-style gifts for almost thirty years, this Cayman cottage just south of George Town offers Caymanian paintings, prints, jewellery, handmade crafts, gifts and more. Great for presents or just to treat yourself because, well, you deserve it! You’ll also find housewares and tempting treats such as pepper jelly, jams, hot sauces, spices, Cayman sea salt, Tortuga rum cake and Cayman coffee. HOURS: Monday and Tuesday 9am-4pm; Wednesday: closed; Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9am-5pm; Sunday: closed. ADDRESS: South Church Street, South Sound, Grand Cayman. TEL: 345-949-9133

Pony Park

What do kids love more than ingesting vast quantities of sugar? Petting cute animals! In the Pony Park, children can meet Lulu the donkey, Pebbles the miniature horse, bunny rabbits and goats – all of which love to be petted. You can also book the park for birthday parties. Entry fee: $5 per child (including pony ride). HOURS: Saturday mornings 9:00am to 10:30am. ADDRESS: Halfway Pond, just off the Linford Pierson Highway. TEL: 345-516-1751

 

Was there anything there that that you’ve not experienced? If so, let us know your recommendations to get the best of Cayman. We’re always looking for insider tips!

April 1

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Where to eat and drink near Morritt’s

Here at Morritt’s, we are all about offering you the best experiences. When it comes to food and drink, we’ve got it covered. There’s David’s restaurant with its fresh, modern menu and spectacular sea views. There’s Mimi’s unique dock bar amid the lapping waves and balmy breeze. For hearty pub fare, you have Ivan’s Sports Bar, while the Grand and Premier Pool bars offer handy snacks.

However, we know it’s also fun to explore and enjoy the local districts of East End, North Side, Bodden Town and Kaibo or Rum Point in search of delicious options. With that in mind, here are some suggestions of great places to eat within easy reach of the resort.

 

Italian Kitchen 

Right across the street in the Morritt’s Shopping Centrethe Italian Kitchen sources its ingredients from local farmers and fishermen for the freshest tastes. Don’t be put off by the exterior architecture – the elegant dining room is friendly and smells great 

TRY: Excellent wines, antipasti with a Cayman twist, tempting brick-oven pizzas and a selection of pasta mains that will have you ordering con gusto!  

 

Kaibo Beach Restaurant  

Around 20 minutes by car from Morritt’s, you’ll find both luxury and casual beach dining at Kaibo. The a la carte beach menu (12.00-7.00pm) draws heavily on the surrounding sea and local produce, but for special occasions you need to try Kaibo Upstairs which also has an extensive rum selection (reservations recommended for Upstairs). Breakfast and/or coffee? Drop in at Kaibo Beach Espresso.  

TRYAlmond and white bean hummus with garlic flatbread, crispy coconut fried fish with a curry sauce, and a triple-chocolate brownie for dessert. Why not? 

 

Blue Rock Restaurant Bar & Lounge 

If you also like to play pool or carrom, this place is just a 12 minute drive from Morritt’s at Health City Cayman. The cuisine is international drawing on influences from Colombia, Jamaica, India, Mexico, Italy and even the UK (fish and chips!). Drinkers will enjoy the huge array of spirits, cocktails and wines. Beers are both bottled and on tap. Don’t miss discounted drinks during the daily happy hour. 

TRY: The blackened shrimp quesadilla, a slow cooked biryani curry, a classic burger or a sinful sticky toffee pudding accompanied by a Shellshock IPA on tap or a mango mojito. 

 

Rum Point Club 

Rum Point on the tranquil North Side is the perfect place to chill out 20 minutes away from Morritt’s. The shallow water is great for families, while couples can simply get a hammock and relax. The Wreck Bar and Grill is perfect for a hearty lunch, while the Rum Point Club Restaurant offers an elegant dinner choice with magnificent views. 

TRY: The mudslides (invented here!), the renowned Caybrew-battered fish and chips, the traditional jerk chicken, seafood hotpot, or the notorious Rum Point Challenge: 16oz of flame-grilled beef stuffed with pickled jalapenos and topped with Swiss cheddar.  

 

Tukka  

Australian cuisine with a Cayman twist is just a three minute-drive south if you’d like to try yellow-fin tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo, snapper, lionfish and (seasonally) the Caribbean spiny lobster pulled fresh from the ocean. Watch the frigate birds and tarpon from the shady terrace as you enjoy food from an award-winning chef and menus that change from week to weekend. 

TRYCoconut panko prawns, lobster bisque with cognac or a steakandmushroom pie followed by dateandwalnut pudding Mon-ThursFri-Sun, try the black Angus filet mignon or Thai bouillabaisse. 

 

South Coast Bar & Grill 

Enjoy Caribbean cuisine on the sand, on the seaside patio or inside the air-conditioned dining room just 16 minutes away from Morritt’s. 

TRY: Caribbean classics such as ackee and codfish, jerk chicken, curried goat or stewed conch.  

 

Over the Edge Café 

On the North Side 10 minutes’ drive from Morritt’s, Over the Edge offers truly authentic Caymanian dining and a real island experience. They grow all the vegetables on their own farm and their seafood is locally sourced from daily catches.  

TRY: Caymanian classics such as turtle steak, lobster with garlic, conch steak and grilled tuna. 

 

Vivine’s Kitchen  

Four minutes south brings you to the sea-grape shade and rustic charm of Miss Vivine’s, where the menu and ambience is authentically Caymanian. How authentic? The restaurant is literally Miss Vivines house and she cooks in her own kitchen. The jerk chicken on your plate was probably running round the yard the previous day 

TRY: The salt beef and seafood come recommended, as do the turtle, conch and whelk stews. Reports of the fresh mango juice are stellar. 

 

Big Tree BBQ 

If you like grilled stuff, you’ll love Big Tree BBQ close to Miss Vivine’s. Let father and son team Arvid and Henry feed you some of the best home-cooked Caymanian food hot off the BBQ and aromatic with smoke and spices. Fans of ribs have said it puts Texas to shame. NOTE: cash-only payment. 

TRY: Ribs! You also can’t go wrong with Cayman-style lobster, turtle stew and the amazing sides such as the coleslaw, corn on the cob, fried plantains and momma’s corn bread.  

  

Captain Herman’s Fish Fry 

Eight minutes down the coast takes you to the Captain’s green-and-blue shack surrounded by palms and with the sound of the surf close by. Known for its fresh local fish (he’s a real captain!) and local flavour, this is a great place to relax with an island vibe. 

TRY: The famous oxtail soupcurried goat, sweetandsour shrimp and the classic Cayman  cassava cake. 

 

Czech Inn Grill  

If laid-back and informal is the atmosphere you seek and no-fuss, excellent food your goal (and if eating off a surfboard is not a significant etiquette problem for you), welcome to the Czech Inn! Reasonable prices, local food and a friendly welcome is what you can expect a 20minute drive along the south coast from Morritt’s. 

TRY: The lauded chicken schnitzel, burgers, tacos and quesadillas 

 

Wherever you go, bon appetit! We’ll be waiting for you back at Morritt’s with a cocktail by the pool or a night cap for sweet dreams. 

March 29

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