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Sail Date: June 2018
This was our first "all inclusive" and I loved it. The fact it included the pre-cruise in Quito, including tours was a bonus and sealed the sale for us. Celebrity did not disappoint. If you like to hang on the ship and skip long ... Read More
This was our first "all inclusive" and I loved it. The fact it included the pre-cruise in Quito, including tours was a bonus and sealed the sale for us. Celebrity did not disappoint. If you like to hang on the ship and skip long walk excursions, this is not a trip for you. This trip is all about the Galapagos Archipelago and its wonder. To get there. Information for booking flights was very good and we even had our travel agent double check for us. NO problems what so ever being greeted at the airport and being brought to the hotel. The hotel and staff in Quito were great. The tour company, the transfers, everything. It all felt welcoming, and everyone seemed truly concerned with delivering the product. Very organized at all times. Travel from Quito to the ship was never stressful, which left a lot of time to build on the excitement I already had. Again, super organized and I can't remember having to even touch my luggage from the time I handed it off in the hotel in Quito until it was in my cabin on board. Now, I hate reading spoilers in reviews of trips I'm looking at, so I will be leaving some highlights out. I don't ruin another persons anticipation. I'll start with embarkation, the beginning of a long term dream come true, and yes there were tears of joy. It's not like any embarkation you are used to, except for the Celebrity standard of sparking wine. More joyful tears as we are escorted further into the ship. The CREW! Every last person was amazing, kind, and seemed to love their job. (How could you not?) There had to be a ratio of 2 crew for every passenger, but I don't actually know the stats. If any crew person had a bad day, we didnt' know it. With only 100 people it does not take naturalists, food and bev, or any crew that directly interact with passengers long to get to know everyone on the trip. Dining crew remembered by breakfast to steer me away from anything on the menu that was not gluten free. Which brings me to the food. I have seen some reviews of this trip and the food. I'll say from my opinion it was great. Keep in mind here, they have to use everything sourced from the region. That will limit what they can work with. So, you have to come to a point of acceptance that you can not have everything you think you should. When you get over that, they do a fantastic job with the food. No, I did not like everything, but I never went hungry. I was happy with my meals way more often than I was not. Some other reviews give better tips on ordering specifics that I found useful. Since those applied at the time I was on the ship, I will let you find those suggestions rather than repeat them here. Also regarding food. This is not 24 hr food ship. Don't get mad. I'm sure if you absolutely needed something one of the stellar crew will accommodate you, as long as you are not rude about it. This is a crew that wants to give everyone top level of service. I had to get out of my own comfort zone when it comes to cruising. There are not many places to hide away from the group, which I usually do. We ended up making friends that we have since stayed in touch with still long after and even visited with away from home. The way the dining room is set up, and the small excursion groups, you have to fight hard to be anti-social. I'm glad I gave up the fight. I quickly realized I was sharing this magical journey with only 99 other people in the same moment in time, and it was meant to be celebrated together. With that, moving onto the excursions. It works exactly the way Celebrity says it works. Again, I wont give any spoilers. Just keep your mind open. Remember where you are on the planet in the moment, and you will not be disappointed. Listen to the naturalists for directions and a ton of Galapagos knowledge. Make sure you always follow the safety rules, and watch your step. This is not a place with building codes. Watch your every step. Safety is always the priority. This truly was by far an experience that I have zero regret and feel I got every two years of saving pennies worth. We have already talked about saving up to go back in five years on a different loop. Rather than write my diary or repeat things covered in other very good reviews and helpful advice already on here (like sunscreen tips that were crucial) I will wrap it up. My last piece of advice. Try to write down some of the little things every day. It makes for great souvenir to look back on that beats any trinket you buy on Santa Cruz Island. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Quasar Grace Galapagos 1 week tour (originating in San Cristobal, ending in Baltra) exceeded my expectations in every way. The boat was elegant, well-appointed and very comfortable. I didn’t see a single boat in the Galapagos that ... Read More
Quasar Grace Galapagos 1 week tour (originating in San Cristobal, ending in Baltra) exceeded my expectations in every way. The boat was elegant, well-appointed and very comfortable. I didn’t see a single boat in the Galapagos that was as beautiful as Grace. Her age (built in 1928, later gifted to Princess Grace and Prince Rainier by Ari Onassis) was not an issue at all - she is fast, nimble and beautifully maintained. The itinerary and activities were perfectly planned, with several excursions a day on land and sea. Land visits were timed to capture the animals in their most dramatic moments (e.g., the mating dance of the blue-footed boobies), while also avoiding other tourists. We snorkeled almost every day, and it was the best I've experienced, swimming with sea lions, turtles, reef sharks, and many schools of beautiful fish. I am physically fit and a long-distance swimmer, but the activities were structured in a way that even older and less able guests could fully enjoy them. Late January was a perfect time to visit because the water was warm enough to swim without a wetsuit. The food was wonderful, served al fresco. I can’t imagine preparing 3 meals/day for 16 guests plus crew in a yacht kitchen, but the kitchen staff continued to surprise us with new delicacies. The fruits and vegetables were incredibly fresh and flavorful. I looked forward to the fresh breads in the basket every morning, prepared by Walter. There were 2 ceviches (shrimp and crab) that were so good that we asked the chef for the recipe. The fresh tuna was a crowd pleaser, and the preparations and sauces always had a unique and harmonious mixture of ingredients. The crew was exceptional. I was impressed with their expertise across multiple roles, commitment to pleasing their guests, professionalism and work ethic. Melissa (hospitality) was delightful, very responsive and energetic. Freddy and Miguel, our zodiac pilots, were very capable, confident and fun. Saul, our bartender, learned our names and preferred cocktails and wines very quickly, and always appeared just as my glass was getting low. Nelly crept into our rooms several times a day to tidy up, and quickly replaced any linens as they began to get grimy. Our guide, Rafael Pesante, was extremely knowledgeable, which of course, is critical. But on top of that, he was a skilled teacher and story teller. He was full of energy and good cheer. He treated every single guest as if they were his top priority. He took beautiful photographs of every excursion and supplied downloads to departing guests. He treated the other crew members as equals and fostered a sense of family. I can’t imagine that there is a better guide in the Galapagos. Most impressive of all was the way they all work together to give their guests a memorable experience. One morning around 6am, one of the crew members spotted orcas near the boat. Immediately after that, Rafael came on the intercom encouraging everyone to come to the zodiacs in their pajamas ASAP to chase the orcas. Within minutes, all 16 guests were loaded into the boats and on the chase. We had a thrilling ride and captured dramatic footage of the orcas. A less-organized crew would never have been able to pull that off, and a bigger boat never would have even bothered. I could not have been happier with the Grace experience. My only hesitation in giving this glowing review is that it might create more competition to get a reservation when I inevitably return to the Grace one day! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Pluses: - Well organized and executed excursions which fortunately led to lifetime memories such as snorkeling in the midst of a penguin feeding frenzy, watching a dozen wild dolphins leap in unison several times ahead of the ship, ... Read More
Pluses: - Well organized and executed excursions which fortunately led to lifetime memories such as snorkeling in the midst of a penguin feeding frenzy, watching a dozen wild dolphins leap in unison several times ahead of the ship, swimming with sea lions and manta rays, standing inches from three foot long iguanas, and other priceless interactions with unafraid animals. - quality of meals was quite good, especially dinners which were five course meals with innovative and subtle takes on South American fusion and more conventional dishes. Lunch at the Grill, a beautiful outside terrace, featured grilled lobster and fresh fish and excellent salad bar, Ecuadorian soups and stews, and top quality desserts - naturalist guides and service generally, from the butlers to waiters to massage therapist and piano bar musician, were uniformly friendly and highly competent. Likeable and knowledgeable. Israel was an excellent expedition leader and a couple of the naturalists, Ernesto and Juan Carlos, each had decades of guide experience. Minuses: - our veranda suite was too cold, and it wasn’t until repeated tries and five days into the seven day cruise that the engineer was able to fix the air conditioning - the lunch ended at 130 but the dinner didn’t start until 730 pm. Very sparse food other than a bare bones room service menu was available until dinner, which meant many were tired and hungry at the end of long days. And the late dinner meant going to bed too soon (excursions began as early as 7 am) - given that water temperature was in the mid to high 60s F, the cruise should have provided full wetsuits, not shorty wetsuits, to all customers. We brought our own full wetsuits (3 mm and 5 mm thickness) and were so glad we did as the four snorkeling trips would have been miserable without that. Overall, my wife and I rated the cruise a solid A, with A plus for the animal sightings, A for the personnel, A for the food, and B plus for the accommodations and dinner time problems noted. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
My wife and I took the one week Galapogos excursion on the Linblad National Geographic on the ship Islander in mid-February. It was a fantastic experience, exceeded our admittedly high expectations and a trip we can recommend highly. ... Read More
My wife and I took the one week Galapogos excursion on the Linblad National Geographic on the ship Islander in mid-February. It was a fantastic experience, exceeded our admittedly high expectations and a trip we can recommend highly. Here are some further thoughts on the subject. NATURALISTS MATTER. A critical feature of the experience were the three naturalists that guided every hike, boat ride and snorkel. The ability to make a 1 mile hike into an interesting and engaging two hour nature experience is dependent wholly on the naturalists. The three on our trip were extraordinary and well versed in the smallest detail of the geology, history, flora, fauna and culture of every stop. We had been told by others who did the Galapagos (with other providers) that most naturalists who work in the islands aspire to get hired by Linblad/Nat Geo, and therefore, they get the best. While we have nothing to compare it to, our experience was excellent. I would pick Linblad/Nat Geo for that reason alone. ACTIVITY LEVEL. The pace was significantly more active than we imagined, and to our liking. The ship accommodations matter, but we didn’t have as much lounging time as I had thought. We kayaked twice (regulations limit the number of kayaks they can send out), and we took every boat ride, snorkel and hike offered. While that pace was by no means exhausting, some guests opted-out on occasion. The pace of the hikes was leisurely and the terrain well handled by all except a few of the more frail passengers. Even on the more rocky trails, a pair of sturdy hiking sticks for less active folk (supplied by the boat) were all that were needed. Typically, we started before or just after breakfast, got in one or two events before returning to the ship by noon for lunch, lounged or napped, and then resumed excursions at 3:00 to avoid the mid-day heat. SHIP CONDITION. Despite being a slightly older ship and not having been renovated recently, the ship was in excellent condition with beautiful teak accents, shiny brass hardware, nice carpets, and always impeccably clean with three room services per day! There was nothing worn or old about it. CLOTHING. The dress was quite casual, and what I would call “resort casual.” Shorts, t-shirts, polo shirts, bathing suits and casual sun dresses predominated. During mid-February it was quite hot mid-day so wicking active gear, loose shirts and sun protection clothing was key. Air conditioning kept the interior of the ship pleasantly cool. Next day laundry services (at hotel prices) are available. FOOD. The food was really good. It was not fine dining in the metropolitan sense, but it was tasty, varied and plentiful. Alcohol was reasonably priced from $4 for a local (and good) beer to $8 for a glass of decent wine. Tellingly, most passengers felt like they were gaining lots of weight on the trip! GYM. For fitness buffs, there was a small gym with two high quality treadmills, an elliptical and a good spinning class-styled exercise bike. It had some dumbbells up to 25 pounds. The gym has large windows with great views. It was rarely used with most succumbing to a nap or a book in the shade during the siesta break, and therefore getting a machine was never an issue. WATER. Water temps for swimming and snorkeling were in the 70’s on our itinerary (which can vary) in mid-February. The shortie wet suits provided were buoyant and kept us warm enough to be the last out of the water on most snorkel outings. Some guests also wore rash guards or SPF clothing, either in place of, or underneath wetsuits. Some guests and the guides did fine without the wetsuits. The snorkeling gear was good. I have my own gear but left it at home, and was glad I did. Some put an underwater camera or GoPro to good use, but Linblad provided us with a great DVD filmed by a photographer that accompanied us on all our excursions so we all got some great footage to take home! SERVICE. The service was excellent. I think there are 42 crew or so for 46 guests. The entire staff was professional, efficient, accommodating and helpful. It was our first Linblad experience but likely not our last. STATEROOMS. As to which stateroom to pick (level 2-4) there are some considerations. All have excellent cabin level air conditioning, so you could make your stateroom as cold as you pleased. The level 2 and 3 rooms do not have a window or portal directly to the outside, but rather have a small window that looks through an exterior hallway (either the library on side 302-304-306 with less traffic) or the computer lab (301-303-305 with slightly more traffic) which also serves as the entry to the lounge. Those walkways are floor to ceiling glass so lots of light shines through, but we mostly kept the curtain pulled on our porthole for privacy. As to the level 2 staterooms, we were told by guests in 210 and 208 that they were closest to the engines and may have had a bit more engine noise at night. The area between 205 and 208 is where the guests gather to disembark, which is not a problem if you are disembarking with them, but if you are looking to sleep through it, it might have been loud. We thought the best value were staterooms 306 and 305, as those are sized to accommodate three passengers, and if they will give you one of those as a double, the extra room in the form of a day bed/couch is nice. The remaining level 3 staterooms, and the level 4 staterooms (but for 401 and 402, see below) are all about the same size. The difference is that the 4 level rooms have a small enclosed “porch” that some guests used as a place to hang wet clothing, but does have enough room for two people to sit with a book or a drink (it is slightly bigger than it looks in pictures.) The level 4 rooms are more private than the level 3 rooms (no exterior traffic), and had more light due to the window on the door to the deck. Staterooms 401 and 402 (on an older brochure I think those were labeled 501 and 502) were really spectacular with large dramatic windows overlooking the bow and sides of the boat, with the same small but functional enclosed decks like the other level 4 rooms. By comparison to any other staterooms, the light in those rooms was extraordinary. The bathrooms too were larger in those suites. The exterior walkways (rather than internal) offer the great benefit of providing many air conditioned places to lounge on either side of the ship with fantastic exterior views. Of course the lounge to the stern and two upper decks (open but shaded) also provide lots of space. The public spaces are sufficiently varied for socializing, or napping, reading or sunning in relative privacy. Therefore, we used our stateroom mostly to sleep, nap, shower and change, and lounged elsewhere on the boat. So overall, as you consider the class of accommodations, we thought 1) a level 2 stateroom offered a great overall experience because the you spend so little time in your room and this trip is about the outdoors; 2) if you are on level 2, rooms 201-204 might be quieter, but noise was never really an issue; 3) the premium for the extra space of 303-306 was worth it to us; 4) if you want to splurge and the stateroom matters to you the most, splurge on 401 or 402; you won’t be disappointed with the premium space. But regardless of which accommodations you pick, make sure you pick one and go. It is a unique travel experience like none other on the planet. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was our first expedition cruise after many years of cruising(Regent and Crystal). Our travel agent recommended Silversea and we thoroughly enjoyed the ship,crew,fellow passengers,guides,and the wonders of the Galápagos. This is not ... Read More
This was our first expedition cruise after many years of cruising(Regent and Crystal). Our travel agent recommended Silversea and we thoroughly enjoyed the ship,crew,fellow passengers,guides,and the wonders of the Galápagos. This is not the typical luxury cruise,but is the most pampered and comfortable way to experience the islands. Our suite was on the small side ,but well-appointed and comfortable. Our butler Jimmy was every bit as good as our Crystal butlers (and that,s saying a lot!). The crew is a bit rough around the edges but very eager to please and hardworking. The food was for the most part very good. It was obvious that great efforts were being made and we were often asked if we wanted or needed anything else. This is such an interesting destination and the guides enthusiasm for their subjects was infectious. Juan Carlos and Gilda were our favorites but all were good. When I fell out of the zodiac trying to get back in after a wet landing excursion our guide Jan kept apologizing for not being there to help me (believe me it was my own fault!). Every excursion was well briefed and well guided. This is an adventure everyone needs on their "bucket" list and Silverseas should be their choice. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
This is a two-part review. First the good part. Well, not so good for me but favorable to the Celebrity Xpedition. On the second day of the cruise, I went to the ship's doctor (Dr. Marsha) and found that I had appendicitis. ... Read More
This is a two-part review. First the good part. Well, not so good for me but favorable to the Celebrity Xpedition. On the second day of the cruise, I went to the ship's doctor (Dr. Marsha) and found that I had appendicitis. Although this wiped out the rest of the cruise for my wife and me, I have to praise the staff of the Xpedition. This ship is perhaps the only one in the Galapagos that is large enough to have a ship's doctor, so I would recommend it for that reason if nothing else. Dr. Marsha made the correct diagnosis, and Floriana, the Hotel Manager and other staff members arranged to have me quickly on a speedboat to Santa Cruz, the nearest island with a hospital. I chose to have my surgery there, in the public hospital, rather than risk the wait to get to Quito for a larger hospital. The hospital was quite basic, but Celebrity provided a staff person (wonderful Tatiana) to be with me all day and another, poor Hugo, who got the job of sleeping on the couch to be available to help me to the toilet at night. By luck, the Xpedition stopped at Santa Cruz at the end of the voyage, and I was able to get back on the ship and return home. So I give the highest praise to the staff of the Xpeditiion for the care they provided for me. The second part of my comment is perhaps small but quite annoying. My wife and I booked this trip after two previous cruises on Celebrity. We traveled with another couple and booked connecting rooms on the Xpedition. The rooms we booked were shown on their Web page and the brochure we received as connecting. Our confirmation material clearly stated that the rooms we booked were connecting. They were not. We discussed this with Floriana, the Hotel Manager, and he was quite professional in hearing our concern. He referred us to the company office for follow-up. A couple of weeks later, Ricky from Celebrity called me (on my wife's phone) and left a message. I called him back, but he was off that day. He never called me back. The other couple, however, did get a letter from Ricky saying how much Celebrity values its return customers and wishes to please them; however, there would be no compensation for their error. This seems to be very bad business practice. Instead of losing four loyal customers, they could have offered at least a gesture -- 10% off on a future cruise maybe. Any gesture would have been nice. So the Xpedition is a wonderful ship (without connecting rooms) with a wonderful staff. The company obviously doesn't coordinate between marketing and the reality of the layout of the ship. And they don't mind losing customers. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
This was a fortieth wedding anniversary and we wanted the best cruise to celebrate our event. The Galapagos Islands did not disappoint and we felt privileged to have access to the islands and the wildlife. Any assessment of the ... Read More
This was a fortieth wedding anniversary and we wanted the best cruise to celebrate our event. The Galapagos Islands did not disappoint and we felt privileged to have access to the islands and the wildlife. Any assessment of the standards offered on this cruise depend on expectations and price paid. We paid £5,500 per person for seven days. And were expecting very high standards of service and cuisine equivalent to 5* hotels, limited maybe by the availability of some supplies. However, we felt short changed by the provision of relatively poor service and food: certainly not 5*. Our cabin was good and very clean. Although the layout was strange: the seating area would have been better overlooking the sea. Our butler was very willing. We were very disappointed in the quality of food provided as we had been recommended Silverseas by relatives who had enjoyed a cruise to Easter Island and praised the food extremely highly. Our food was not up to the standard we had been led to expect. The food was often overcooked which was a great shame and was often quite dull. Breakfasts were overcooked and nondescript. We thought the staff were friendly and helpful but were in great need of further training; they simply did not appreciate the standard of service expected by clients of a cruise of this calibre. I think Silversea should import a Swiss hotel manager and a few wait staff from the Savoy, London to train the current staff. They are simply out of their depth and it is not fair. It's worth mentioning that the safety standards on the activities we saw didn't conform to best practice in the UK, possibly due to Ecuador only staffing, so take care. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We booked the Galapagos cruise to fulfil a long term dream for our fortieth wedding anniversary. Our assessment of the standards offered on this cruise are affected by our expectations and the price we paid, over £5,500 per person for ... Read More
We booked the Galapagos cruise to fulfil a long term dream for our fortieth wedding anniversary. Our assessment of the standards offered on this cruise are affected by our expectations and the price we paid, over £5,500 per person for seven days. We were expecting high standards of service and cuisine equivalent to 5* hotels, limited maybe by the availability of some supplies. However, the success of the cruise depended almost entirely on the unique natural quality of the wildlife, and the amazing access to beautiful locations. But we felt short changed by the provision of relatively poor service and food. We had been recommended Silversea by relatives who had enjoyed a cruise to Easter Island and praised the food extremely highly. The food we had was often overcooked which was a great shame and often quite dull, certainly not five star. Breakfasts were overcooked and nondescript, and the wait staff were well meaning but poorly trained. Shame they are restricted to Ecuadorian only staff. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We had a full day in Quito prior to our flight to Baltra, and we wished we had added another day or two to explore the city. The Silversea agents were all very friendly, organized, and thorough, and we enjoyed the city tour that was ... Read More
We had a full day in Quito prior to our flight to Baltra, and we wished we had added another day or two to explore the city. The Silversea agents were all very friendly, organized, and thorough, and we enjoyed the city tour that was included in our itinerary. The cruise itself was excellent. The food was delicious and it was fun to try the daily specials of Ecuadorian specialties. And the all-inclusive nature of this cruise made it simple -- no bar tabs, no tips, no shore excursions to pay for. We loved that! Most of the naturalists onboard, who led the shore excursions, were very knowledgeable and seemed to enjoy explaining what we were seeing. There were just a couple who didn't seem quite as experienced. The reason I didn't give this cruise an excellent rating: Our only complaint about this cruise was the Silversea air travel department, which was abominable. They provided us an acceptable air itinerary several months prior to the cruise, and then changed it a month later (to a much worse schedule) without even notifying us -- I only found out when I logged into my airline account to look at seat assignments. When our travel agent tried to discuss it with them, they simply refused to do anything and insisted that we would have to PAY to change it back. I tried emailing their customer service, as well as the president of the company, and never received a response. If you take a Silversea cruise, don't let them book your travel! Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
After carefully considering all options for visiting the Galapagos, including reading some of the not-so-stellar reviews of this cruise, I decided to give Silversea a try. I took my mom in July 2016 as a retirement gift. I must say that ... Read More
After carefully considering all options for visiting the Galapagos, including reading some of the not-so-stellar reviews of this cruise, I decided to give Silversea a try. I took my mom in July 2016 as a retirement gift. I must say that overall, we absolutely loved it! To reiterate, as many reviewers have commented, this is an expedition cruise. We’ve never sailed with Silversea before, so can’t compare to the level of service on their non-expedition cruises. That being said, the staff goes above and beyond to make you feel special, address any and all concerns and ensure you have a great time. For us, the service far exceeded our expectations. Most people don’t bother to even try and understand the logistics and planning that goes on behind the scenes to make these cruises a possibility. There are human beings working around the clock to make sure that all guests are properly taken care off. The expedition team carefully coordinates all excursions (hikes, zodiac tours, snorkeling, kayaking, etc.). From the moment we arrived in Quito, the transfers, hotel, optional tours and baggage handling were all seamless. The flight to Galapagos, after a brief stop in Guayaquil was smooth. After landing and clearing immigrations, we were quickly taken to a nearby pier to be transferred to the Silversea Galapagos via zodiac. After boarding, everyone we encountered was gracious, smiling and welcoming, despite spending the last few hours running around to get the ship ready for us. And so an amazing week began. Keep in mind, again, that is an expedition tour. If you want to see as much as possible, plan on waking at 6-6:30 each morning for a departure by zodiac around 7:30-8. Return to the ship for lunch (The Grill was amazing, but get there just before noon to secure a table). After lunch, a video or nap, and then another stop in the afternoon. Dinner is available at The Grill (reservation required, and often windy, but worth it) or downstairs in the main dining room (also no complaints). Our Butler, Danny, was especially wonderful. He went above and beyond to make us feel special. He brought us cake and sparking wine to celebrate my mom’s retirement, and set up a laser light show in our cabin! He asked us our preferences for the complimentary mini-bar and made sure it was always stocked. Waiters were all fantastic (although one in particular had some difficulty in understand English, especially compared to the others). Fernando especially comes to mind as being terrific. Keep in mind the butlers and wait staff rotate several weeks on and off, as do the naturalist guides. I could write a short novel about our travels, but overall I would definitely recommend this cruise. If you are realistic in your expectations of visiting a protected national park (with all the rules and regulations), you will be pleasantly surprised by the warm, knowledgeable and always enthusiastic service you will experience during your week in one of the most incredible places in the world! Read Less

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