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P&O Cruises Azura – My Review

It seems like many moons ago since I set foot onboard the brand new Azura but she has still left a big impression on me even three weeks later.

Many people were expecting ‘just another Ventura’ but I had always hoped she would be more, and she didn’t disappoint.

We arrived at Ocean Terminal and there she was all shiny and new. A blue carpet led us into the arrival lounge and we were handed numbered cards to check in. We were amongst the 3rd group and up until this point we had no idea of our cabin allocation for our evening onboard. As we checked in we were handed the new style, one card does all, cabin key and charge card. The check in lady advised us of our ‘cabin’ number R417. Immediately I knew that was not a ‘cabin’ I really do know P&O ships, like the back of my hand, including newly constructed ones, and I knew R417 was not to be referred to as a ‘cabin’. Im trying really hard not to screech with excitement at this point and Mr C is totally oblivious as to what is going on. as soon as we moved away from the check in desk I had to grab my brochure out of my laptop bag and prove it to myself. Yes!! Mr & Mrs Chadwick residence for the evening was to be the Formosa Suite!! How cool.

After the obligatory ‘Welcome onboard’ photo (before you are even onboard) we are through security, through the walkway and Im straight in the midship lifts – no need for directions. Out to the starboard side (how did they know I prefer starboard?) and there it is. R417 The Formosa Suite!!!

Im so excited, as I glance around to see whats what and where is where. But wait, the lights dont work – oh yes they do its just a new system, similar to hotels, where you have to insert the cabin key to activate the electric.

So what does this suite have to offer me then?

To the left of me is the bathroom, or should I say the toilet and wash basin area. There was a step up into the cloakroom, a lovely inset marble topped type sink and bo0x of full size White Company toiletries. There were two doors, one leading out into the lounge are and one leading through into the bathroom area. The bathroom had a full size, deep and wide Jacuzzi bath and a separate rooms glass shower cubicle. Huge luxury white fluffy bathsheets were folded and ready for use.

The bathroom door led out into the bedroom area where I was greeted by the kingsize bed, made up with crisp white Egyptian linen and a green and coffee coloured throw across the bed. The bedhead wall was decorated with a fresh but calming patterned wallpaper. Either side of the bed had a bedside cabinet with drawers and a lamp. On my side of the bed there was also a 3 draw chest and a small cupboard, which was under the corner dressing table. Mirrors ran across the corner above the dressing table and it was well lit for applying make up etc. I loved the bright pink dressing table chair – very me! A flat screen TV was housed in the corner unit and again storage space below.

To the other side of the bathroom door was a proper walk in wardrobe closet. Floor to ceiling shelves and 3 hanging rails of various heights. We also had our white fluffy bathrobes hanging ready for use, and an iron and ironing board ready for use. Just outside the walk in wardrobe was another floor to ceiling until housing more shelves with wide drawers below.

Balcony doors led from the bedroom to a long balcony housing a wooden patio table and reclining chairs and foot stools.

The lounge area was divided by luxurious coffee coloured drapes that were fastened back to open up the area. The longe are had shades of green sofa and two contrasting easy chairs. A coffee table and a beautiful display of orchids in a long stemmed vase. Balcony doors lead back out onto the balcony, and both sets of windows were shielded by shimmering privacy nets. There was also a full size flat screen TV in the corner unit facing the sofa and below that more storage and shelving. Next to this was the Butlers sink and prep area and below that the fridge/mini bars.

So now we are back in the entrance are and to the right is a long desk unit with drawers below. Teak and coffee making facilities with a wooden box containing a selection of teas and coffees. Very nice new and dudey design of china. There was also a coffee making machine.

Other benefits of the suite also included a Bose stereo system, atlas, binoculars and a selection of magazines.

Other benefits of booking a suite include – Butler service, mineral water on arrival, luxurious premier pamper pack, exclusive access to 17 for Breakfast, bathrobe and slippers, magazine and newspaper selection, atlas and binoculars, fruit basket, flowers on arrival, champagne on arrival, chocolates on arrival, Daily canapés.

One note about the having to use the key card to gain power to the cabin or suite. I did get caught out during the afternoon when I left my lap top on to charge up but of course took my key card out of the slot to take with me. I returned to a dead laptop, but a senior officer advised me later that any card will action the electric and I’ve since been advised that the ‘please make up our cabin, card works equally as well, which is no good if you need to go out, charge a camera up and have your cabin made up at the same time. But then Mr Senior officer advised that there is also one plug socket per cabin that is marked ‘on all the time’ that may have been more obvious in a standard cabin with only one or two plug sockets, but we had many plug sockets in the suite and why would I think to go looking at them all?

Formosa suite was one of the midship suites and some see them as a poor location with the main Lido deck pool are area above and the chance of disturbance from above. I wouldn’t doubt that you would hear any deck party that might be happening above, but as I’m not a particularly early to bed person I doubt this would bother me personally. I wont deny that I didn’t here footsteps above, but this was groups of people all being herded in the same direction at the same time on a ships tour and mostly ladies in heels as the dress code was smart business attire during the day. I doubt you would hear so much clomping from above during a normal cruise as passengers strolled around in deck shoes and flip flops etc. all in all the noise from above was infrequent and didn’t bother me at all and I doubt it would on a 14 night cruise.

So what’s beyond the Formosa Suite?

Well I love the carpets in the corridor, a warm goldie beige with a pattern running along one side. All of the stairwells and lift areas were light and airy with different art work at each.

Up on deck to the Lido deck. The Aqua Pool has the new sea screen above the open pool and bar area. Azura doesn’t have a covered pool and I dont see that as any major drawback, personally im not a lover of the covered pools, always cold and drafty in my opinion, smell of chlorine and too much of an echo for mildly hungover head each morning! I reserve judgement about the seas screen. Im not a TV watcher at home and I dont think I would want it blasting out across my deck space, but hubby on the other hand would love it, sitting in the sun, with a beer and watching tv at the same time. Yes his idea of heaven! I like all the new wooden coloured deck furniture, much better than the stark white furniture of the other ships. The usual poolside grill and pizza and ice cream places can be found around the Coral pool with a charge only applied to the icecreams and sundaes etc.

Venezia and Verona are similar self service dining areas to those of Ventura, and in the evening Verona turns into an Italian Bistro where you can cook your own steak on a sizzling slab and choose from a varied menu, with some at extra cover charge, but otherwise all included.

One deck up at the aft is all of the amazing kids facilities, they have a huge are split up into different age groups to meet their different needs. The Beach Hut for the younger children is every little kids dream with plenty to keep them occupied. Frontiers houses the next age group and has all the computer stations, craft areas and toys that would keep kids occupied all day and beyond. As you move up through the age groups the rooms become a little more sophisticated, with chill out areas, gaming machines video consoles etc. The Sea Bed is a dedicated night nursery with small beds and plenty of cots. Children need to be settled in here by parents and then they are given a bleeper should they be needed through dinner etc. the sleeping children are fully supervised by a fully qualified nanny until 2.00am when the little ones must be collected and returned to their cabins.

Seventeen is where you would expect to find in on Deck 17! This is an alternative dining option offering classic fine dining, which carries a £20 per head supplement. Small and intimate restaurant with a more personal service.

Above there is the Planet Bar. I love this bar on Ventura and can see no reason why I would not love this bar equally as much. The screen wall shows dramatic footage of manmade and natural wonders of the world, so you can never be tired of the view, especially when there is the ocean or a different port outside the back window!

Down on Promenade deck Manhattans is the nightclub venue at the aft of the ship. Very similar in many ways to Havana on Ventura but they have taken out some of the ‘cattle pens’ opening up the room a little. We were treated to an Annie Lenox tribute sho in her during the evening and I love the tribute acts. Most are very good and offer an alternative to the usual run of the mill shipboard entertainment.

The photo gallery remains much the same as Venturas with a lecture type are for camera seminars etc.

Sindhu is Atul Kochars signature, Asian fusion restaurant. The bar area has been opened up and made into more of pre dinner lounge area, which makes it more inviting to those wishing to just go in for drinks etc.

Malabar again is very similar to Venturas Tamarind Club. A lovely room in rich colours and exotic tree features. Dancing and cabaret artists perform in the evenings and the room is often used for lectures and film showings during the day.

Through to the Atrium and the lovely ever changing colours contribute to a different atmosphere every time you walk through it. I loved the changing lights of the crystal feature hanging from the ceiling and thought it both tasteful and stunning.

In the bottom of the Atrium is the new much talked about dance floor, and im not so sure that it is going to impress the keen dancers?! It seems too small and a long oval shape to me to cater for ballroom dancing and it is an odd location at the foot of some stairs. Still it could make for pleasant people watching and keep those dreaded ‘shop sales’ out of the area!

Java coffee house again is similar to Ventura’s and I always like the snacks on offer in here and light lunches that re served.

The Library is in the place of the cyber centre and it is very tastefully furnished with a circle of high backed leather chairs and a couple of internet terminals.

Back on deck 7, Eternity jewellers ran though into Essence Perfume shop and again were the same as Ventura’s and similar good to those found on any ship in the fleet.

The Blue Bar shocked me – it wasn’t Blue!! As the Red Bar on Ventura is scarlet red I was expecting an Azure Blue Bar but instead I was faced with drab greys and beiges and I cant really get my head around the thought behind that. Even the crystal pillars looked dull in there as they had nothing to bounce the light off.

Walking forward and you are met by the GlassHouse. All the literature I had seen this place looked very stark and uninviting, but the place fascinated me. It was like a maze. Lots of mirrors too so it was easy to get confused. The bar and seating area was spread over a vast area with lots of nooks and cranies and different seating areas. I really, really liked this bar and would have loved to have spent the evening in there but it was always in use during our stay for private functions. Food is served in here at a small supplement and I would think it would be my spot for a nice chilled out, alternative lunch. Wine experts are also on hand to offer advice and suggested tastings. A selection of 3 glasses of wine can be matched to your chosen meal and served accordingly. From what I have seen of the types of meals served during the Maiden voyage I would really be keen to try it for myself. Looks fab!

The Playhouse Theatre offers some new shows to P&O this season especially chosen for the more traditional entertainment value. Feedback of the new production on during the evening was first class so the three tiered theatre should have some good new shows to offer.

One deck down and into the brand new Brodies. This has been totally turned around from Ventura’s Exchange layout and is slightly smaller to house the new single cabins on the port side. Brodies is the co founder of P&O in 1837 along with Mr Anderson, and this bar did have the touch of an Andersons about it, but a little more pub like than Andersons. Lots of high backed, comfy leather chairs and sofas. A much talked about pool table, that is balanced to cope with a rocky sea, but a dare say a game of pool would be interesting! The P&O memorabilia that P&O had requested was housed in some low level display cabinets and they were easy to miss. Nothing really riveting and I wish I had offered to donate some of my memorabilia now as I’m sure I have more stuff than they have on display. Brodies is used for quizzes, karaoke, live music and has lots of TVs for broadcasting live sporting events. The casino on the other side of the room has all the usual slots and gaming tables.

I nip around to see the single cabins and ‘compact and bijou’ is the only word that can describe them. I would question whether I could stay in one myself but it depends what you want from a cabin I guess. The inside one was of a better layout and did seem larger.

The Pursers desk was midship overlooking the middle layer of the atrium.

The shops on this floor were stunning. Crystal lights, modern mannequins, some nice goods, although I’m sure there was nothing much different to any other ship.

Oooh The Retreat up on deck 18, I almost forgot that. Loved it!!! I knew roughly what to expect after having seen the Princess version of the area, but I really did love it, and I probably would pay the £6 for half a day use every now and then. Loads of luxury beds, both double and single with deep mattresses. A lovely aroma of calming lavender. Kabanas for treatments out on deck and loungers and sofas, both in the shade and in the sunshine. Specialist cocktail menus are available in here with personal waiter service. They bring round fruit platters and smoothies in the morning and light lunches and sbnacks throughout the day. Admission is exclusive to sap stateroom guests or you can purchase full day or half day tickets for admission.

I loved all the quirky artwork around the ship, figures leaning against the rails, legs dangling from the ceiling etc, you never knew what you were going to find.

I also checked out the new aft Riviera deck balcony cabins which have now be classed as overlooked from the deck above. I didn’t consider them to be that overlooked and in all honest I doubt many people would spot them there as I really had to lean over the rails to look into the balcony below.

The new JG grade balconys on E deck forward were also another thing that fascinated me as I could see quite how they had been built into the superstructure. It was easy to see from the dock side that they had been slotted in where the wrap around front deck had been on Ventura. Balcony’s looked very deep and really dark with a deep overhang from the deck above. I tried to gain access nut even I couldn’t sweet talk the accommodation officer into letting me in to one. I nipped out of what I presume to be a crew door to try and lean over the rail and crane my neck round the partition for a nosey, but the superstructure of the ship was too high for me.

After my marathon walk around the ship I headed back to the suite. Mr C still hasn’t got his bearings as I sent him via somewhere to take a photo and he had to phone me from his mobile to be guided it – I ask you!

I had a champagne reception and seminar to attend for an hour (yes I do work at these type of events honest) so it was back down to Brodies for a glass or two, good job the waiters recognised us as it kept the glasses flowing. Then I found myself right at the front of the theatre second row back. Not to be recommended for an hour of neck strain.

Back to the suite once more for a well earned Jacuzzi bath. Ooh I love it, its massive and could have stayed longer but hair and makeup needs attention!

Pre dinner drinks in and around the Atrium. Lovely atmosphere as everyone had a chart about the ship and the place was buzzing. We had a lovely time flitting from deck to deck chatting with different officer s and people that we knew. Canapes were being bought round on large glass trays and were in plentiful supply.

We were allocated a table in the Peninsular Restaurant and service and food was all first class, the waiters were as efficient as ever and the meal was rounded off with coffee and chocolates. All three restaurants are similar in layout and design to Ventura, with very similar coupr schemes. I did look in all 3 and I did prefer the Oriental, but for no other reason than I liked the colour scheme better.

We had breakfast the following morning in the Peninsular Restaurant (did I really only get 3 hours in that huge luxurious bed?!) we asked for a table of two and it wasn’t a problem to be allocated one. To my delight, Mohit who was our waiter on Arcadia last summer was pouring my tea. He soon had Mr C weighed up as he ordered the full English plus an omelette!! I didn’t know where he puts it. I opted for a slice of bacon and a few baked beans, even the toast was too noisy for me.

Before we left we chatted to our Butler who was charming, but I could tell he was shocked to discover I am a Gold Portunus member and have cruised on every ship in the fleet. He obviously thought I was ‘just another travel agent’ ha, just another travel agent indeed!!

All in all I fell in love with Azura. She is different to Ventura. For me she possibly has that little thing which is lacking on Ventura, which I cant quite put my finger on. I prefer a more traditional form of cruising with formal dress codes etc so for me personally Azura should suit me better. I liked the little tweaks and changes that had been made to her from Ventura. And I very much look forward to making myself much more acquainted with her, hopefully in the near future!

A full set of photos is available for viewing in my ‘photo’ section at the top of the page.

Fancy trying Azura for yourself – there are some fantastic deals around for 2010 departures! she is doing a Caribbean Season over the winter months. During 2011 for the summer season she will be based back in Southampton – book now to get great OBC and free parking deals. Contact me for more information


  • louise
    Posted May 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    what a lovely review. i just love reading your reviews and now im all excited about my cruise on her next week. will let you know how i get on

    • Post Author
      Posted May 3, 2010 at 7:12 pm

      Louise – I just know you are going to love Azura, Have a fab time & Bon Voyage!

  • Jean&Brian
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Lovely ship great eating places,good entertainment except R Corbett.B Conley very rude. Theatre not big enough queue every night few teething problems. cabin very good and staff great

  • Steve & Audrey Brown
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    The Azura looks and sounds great Jane,Cannot wait intill August to try her out ourselfs,

    Steve & Audrey

  • Jayne Curtis
    Posted May 9, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Great review, interesting site

  • Angela Evans
    Posted May 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I really enjoyed your review as we will be on A007 Fjords for our first ever cruise. We booked direct with P&O, but have since been advised that we should have booked through you. If we like it (and I’ve been assured we’ll get hooked)I’ll contact you next time!

    • Post Author
      Posted May 10, 2010 at 3:03 pm

      I dont doubt that you will have a fabulous time as she is a lovely ship

  • Philomena Smith
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Hi. Sailed on Ventura last july for our 1st cruise. Were treated as V I Ps as we renewed our vows onboard and thought she was smashing, especially as I have restricted mobility. Just back from maiden trip to Canaries on Azura and Yes, I do think she is better than ventura, but can’t really work out how.

    I think they have just tweaked bits but whatever it is, works. Only downside is still no means of getting right round the ship. Didn’t bother us, but the fit and able did moan a bit. Would be great too if you could get through from aft to midships without going up/down to promenade deck when rushing from planet bar to peninsular reataurant for dinner. In a wheelchair it got quite hairy with everything rushing past and peoples ankles in front just waiting to be crushed when they stop!

    Sindhu was terrific for both dinner and Nashta.Cover charge for both but really well worth it. The Glass house was really lovely and the three dishes for £4.95 charge were fab. But, on A003 they weren’t up and running for dinner. Do hope they sort it out soon, would be great place to eat.
    Lunch in Peninsular was very civilised and food great. But although menu at dinner was good the food wasn’t quite there could be we were on a table for 10 and the meals were not ready at the same time. Waiting staff really wonderful at all times and Head waiter very attentive. Had breakfast in the Oriental and did prefer the decor in there. Word of advice for the mobility restricted, breakfast is less busy in this restaurant so worth the trek. We didn’t find the self service restaurants that easy. Other half had to do at least two trips for each meal and food got cold quickly. So we enjoyed being waited on.

    Used an ordinary cabin, no disabled ones available. But did manage. 6 inch step up then down 3 inches into shower room. Compact but manageable. Shower had 4 inch step up and over/down 3 inches. Has a grab rail just inside. Shower controls easy to use, even for someone like myself who has wonky hands from years of arthritis. Ordered a raised toilet seat, confirmed it with P&O, but took lots of chasing up before it arrived 4 hours after getting on board. Was panicking, but got sorted eventually. Got dried and dressed in the cabin itself-much easier that way.

    Going ashore was difficult in Maderia, because of tide. But crew there and at each port of call were truly amazing. Would have been easier once ashore at each port to know if/where and when any accesible vehicles would be available.Most ports were a good walk into town. But we managed although it was hard work for my hubby. Check each day before due in port at explorers desk and they may! be able to help you. Be persistent. Talk to P&O before you go too.

    All in all we had a wonderful time, even though we had gone to find the sun and apart from tenerife had to wait til we got back to Southampton and the Uk before we found it! Poor weather meant decks were closed from time to time and sitting wrapped in a towel sheltering from the rain on deck 19 watching your hubby perfecting his Golf swing is probably not the way I envisaged our trip. There were plenty of sunbeds available this trip, but that could be because the sun wasn’t out!

    Would we do Azura again. YES. Don’t take any notice of some negative reviews you may see. Yes she is a big ship. If you don’t want big, do another ship. The facilities, crew etc were terrific and exceptional value for money. Some people just love to moan. Don’t listen. Go. Enjoy. Make your own mind up.

    • Post Author
      Posted May 12, 2010 at 4:51 pm

      Great review, thanks for taking the time to note your thoughts.

  • billand delva heath
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    great review cant wait to go on pur first ever cruise .sounds and looks really good .well done for inlighting us on your cruise .

  • alayne
    Posted June 13, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Great review very excited now for our trip in Feb2011!

  • Elizabeth Dall
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    We are booked for the Caribbean Feb 2011 found your narrative interesting and most enjoyable, in your opinion does the Azura have its own character yet or do you think perhaps its a bit early for , I ask for the reason the Oceana has a reputaion as having the x factor

    • Post Author
      Posted July 2, 2010 at 9:46 am

      Azura is getting very good feedback re the atmosphere onboard, and it has been likened to that of the Aurora. Enjoy the caribbean!

  • sue
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 11:27 am

    This was a really great review for me a first time cruiser ,lots of good information .cruising on Azura to caribbean in nov 2010 .

  • Sue Gardner
    Posted August 6, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    I am also going to Caribbean In November on Azura. From what you say it should be a great trip.

  • Simon Weston
    Posted August 10, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Hi Jane, My family and I have just returned from 16 nights on Azura. Hmmmmm, nice but very very busy. The fight for sun beds was slightly competitive to say the least. Entertainment was ok but again the battle to get in and seated was far from fun. The designers have utilised every square inch of this ship but I feel at the cost of passenger comfort. For those sailing without balconies you’ll learn to love thy neighbour as the sunbeds are so closely put together that getting on and off the bed does require the skill of a Russian gym instructor. Overall we enjoyed the ship but feel others in the P&O line offered a little more style and with a pinch more class. Cruises are great holidays but I don’t want to be a battery hen which is why I choose P&O.

    • Post Author
      Posted August 10, 2010 at 9:27 pm

      To be fair I dont know of any main stream cruiseline that doesnt have the same comments regarding the sunbeds. Go onto the main sundeck on any modern cruise ship and you will be greeted by row upon row of tightly packed in sun loungers. The only exceptions being the premium 5* cruise lines which offer the luxury of space. Cruiseing during the main peak season months will also compact the sunbed issue as it is the peak time for familys to cruise and they all want their share of the pool area or deck to soak up the sunshine. Cruising during the shoulder seasons usually means more couples and less familys cruising which can make the outside space a little more tranquil. Moving away from the main pool areas can usually find some quieter areas with loungers a little more readily available and spread out.
      this si where I think The Retreat would come into its own, and I for one would be booking my spot there.
      Glad you enjoyed your cruise – it was a fab itinerary.

  • Glen Goodall
    Posted August 18, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Hi Jane, It has taken nearly 7years to get my wife to come on a cruise and at last we sailed on the Venture to the Fjords in July this year,thanks to your review of the ship.Jackie loved every moment of the voyage especially the food and the on-board shopping, not forgetting the cocktails in the evenings in the Metropolis Bar. She loved the cruise so much that on our return we booked to go on the Azura in April next year.
    My advice to any one who has not cruised before please give it a try you will love it.
    Glen & Jackie Goodall

  • Angela Mutlow
    Posted August 25, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    We are going on the Azura at the end of September this will be our 3rd cruise with P&O. We have been on the Oceana (my favourite so far) and the Oriana. Can’t wait for our holiday to come round will let you know what we think of the Azura when we come back.

  • Jan
    Posted September 20, 2010 at 11:48 am


    I love reading your reviews, they really bring the ship to life. I just hope I can convince Nige to give Azura a try next year.


  • susan hirst
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Also going to Caribbean – November, have cruised on Arcadia twice, beautiful ship, hope Azura is as wonderful.

  • Ian McCready
    Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    We were brave, as two couples of first time cruisers we booked up for the Azura as soon as availabilty came to the market back in early 2009. Now things are finally getting closer as we are due to head out to the Caribean at the end of November 2010. Your review backs up all our hopes and expectations. We can’t wait. First timers perhaps but we are hoping that once we have been we won’t want to consider anything else in future.

    • Post Author
      Posted October 19, 2010 at 5:17 am

      Enjoy the build up to your first cruise. Im sure it wont be the last ; )
      J x

  • Allan Johnson
    Posted November 8, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    hello Jane, my wife and I are going to the carribean in Feb 2011,this will be our first cruise and having read your review we just can’t wait to go,it sounds amazing.Thanks

    • Post Author
      Posted November 8, 2010 at 9:17 pm

      Allan – Im sure you will have a fantastic cruise. Your first cruise is always special and the combination of Azura and Caribbean just spells out an amazing time!
      P.S. dont forget to let me know when you are looking to book again!

  • Vicki
    Posted February 25, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Having started my cruising experience with my parents on the Canberra as a 16yr old girl and then graduting to the Aurora following the poor Canberra’s demise ( I am still in mourning) I have been getting nervous about our upcoming cruise on the Azura. I still go every two years with my parents (they do the worldie inbetween) but now there is also my husband and two children added into the equation. We have loved every cruise, it is always the ‘best one yet’ but for some reason I am feeling quite anxious about this next one at easter on the Azura. Having read your review I am feeling more hopeful. Thank you x


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