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Nassau

What you need to know about visiting Nassau on a cruise ship

In:
Category: 
30Mar2021

Nassau is the capital of The Bahamas and home to Adventure of the Seas in summer 2021.

With a lot of people about to visit Nassau to enjoy one of these new sailings, getting to know what Nassau is known for and offers is even more important.

Whether you are doing a pre- or post-cruise stay in The Bahamas, or coming for a few hours, there is a lot to consider when visiting.

While Nassau has the usual cruise port fare most people skip over, there are some really intriguing places to visit and lovely accommodations that might interest you.

If you have a cruise booked from Nassau, here is what you need to know about visiting the island and what to expect.

Getting to Nassau

It is a safe bet you will need to fly to get to your cruise ship sailing from Nassau.

You have the choice of booking airfare on your own, or taking advantage of extra seats on flights that Royal Caribbean offers through its Air2Sea program.

When Royal Caribbean announced cruises from Nassau, they knew demand for flights would be strong and possibly even outpace supply.  So they worked with select airlines to not only secure seats but actually subsidize prices.

To book a flight to Nassau through Air2Sea, you can can contact the Royal Caribbean call center at 844-278-9745 or book through your travel agent.

Interestingly, Royal Caribbean pushed back the departure time for sailings from Nassau until 9pm, so that there is more time for people to fly in for their cruise.

Read moreWhy you shouldn't fly to your cruise the same day it begins

You should be aware of the health travel visa requirement for international travelers coming to The Bahamas and take care of those requirements as well.

Arriving in Nassau

Lynden Pindling International Airport is the major airport of Nassau and largest in the country.

It is about 10-12 miles from the airport to the cruise terminal, but with traffic the trip may take around a half hour.

Taxis are plentiful at the airport.

Where to stay in Nassau

There are many great hotels and resorts you can book all around New Providence island and Paradise Island.

Royal Caribbean says guests are able to do a pre- or post-cruise stay,  but are responsible for ensuring full compliance with required health measures to enter or exit The Bahamas, as well as the necessary boarding requirements when embarking the cruise.

There is a good mix of value, luxury, and prices to match most needs. Depending on your needs, there are a lot of good choices.  Like any destination, book early to secure a room and check back often for price drops or new deals.

Based on other traveler recommendations, here are some good places to consider researching:

What to do in Nassau

Nassau is known for its beaches, tourist attractions, and rich history, and you will find plenty of things to do besides hanging at your resort pool.

Like so much of The Bahamas, Nassau blends European influences with Bahamian lifestyle.

Going in the summer means you will find very warm temperatures and high humidity, along with a passing thunderstorm more than likely. The weather may change throughout the day, but do not let rain in the forecast stop you from getting out and trying something new.

White sand beaches

What is the best beach in Nassau? That is debatable, but Cable Beach is almost always among the top contenders.

A 10-minute taxi ride from the airport, you will find powder-fine white sand, see-through blue-green water, and plenty of space to put down a beach blanket.

Cable Beach is hardly a secret, but it remains one of the most scenic spots you can go to to enjoy beach time.

Honorable mention to Cabbage Beach if you prefer something a bit further away from the crowds (and everyone at the Baha Mar).

John Watling’s Distillery

How about a little history combined with a refreshing cocktail?

John Watling’s is where you want to go to get a Bahama Mama or exquisite rum to sample.

You can even take a complimentary tour of the historic Buena Vista Estate, which includes antiques and exhibits dating back more than 300 years. You will also be able to see where the rum is stored among the white oak barrels.

Fish fry

If you want to sample local cuisine, a traditional fish fry is just what you need.

Locals call it The Fish Fry (or, da Fish Fry) where you will find outdoor seating and your choice of fritters, snapper, shrimp and cole slaw. 

At Arawak Cay you will find plenty of local dining choices, including the King Restaurant and Bar.  There's also Goldie's and Twin Brothers, which are good choices as well.

Queen's Staircase

Nassau has plenty of history you can visit, and the best attraction to take in is the Queen's staircase

A walkway of 65 steps, it was carved out of solid limestone rock by 600 slaves between 1793 and 1794.  The purpose was to create an escape route from nearby Fort Fincastle (which you can also tour).

It is an equally impressive engineering feat, as well as a testament to the slaves who built it.

Ardastra Gardens

Nature is hard to miss in Nassau, but the best place to understand its connection to The Bahamas is Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre.

The main appeal of these gardens are the freely walking birds, including flamingos, peacocks and parrots (cages hold trumpeter hornbills and other more exotic creatures). 

Atlantis Water park

I would be remiss if I did not mention there is a very popular water park you can go to at the Atlantis Resort.

Aquaventure is a 141-acre water park that features over twenty million gallons of water, magnificent Atlantean-themed towers housing high-speed water slides, a mile-long river ride with rolling rapids and wave surges, 20 swimming areas, a spectacular kids water-play fort and 11 refreshing swimming pools.

If you happen to be staying at Atlantis, you can access the park. Day passes used to be offered, but it appears are not sold during the global health crisis.

Royal Caribbean will sail Adventure of the Seas from Nassau in June 2021

In:
19Mar2021

Royal Caribbean announced it will begin offering cruises on Adventure of the Seas from Nassau, Bahamas in June 2021.

Beginning in June, Adventure of the Seas will be relocated to her new homeport of Nassau, Bahamas to offer 7-night cruises to destinations such as Cozumel, Grand Bahama Island, and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

The new cruises will sail June through August 2021.

The new sailings are open to guests of all nationalities and residencies are able to book these sailings.

All crew members will be vaccinated for Covid-19 onboard, and fully vaccinated guests 18 years of age and older are able to sail. Children under the age of 18 with proof of negative COVID-19 test results are able to sail as well.

Read moreFirst look at Royal Caribbean's newly refurbished Adventure of the Seas

Details on additional health and safety measures will be announced at a later date.

The new cruises on Adventure of the Seas will go on sale beginning March 24, 2021.

Consequently, the Adventure of the Seas 2021 Europe season has been canceled. Guests booked on sailings departing June 5 — October 14, 2021 can elect to: 1) choose a refund of all funds paid or 2) accept a 125% Future Cruise Credit to be redeemed at a later date. All impacted guests and associated travel agencies will soon receive an email.

In order to sail on Adventure of the Seas, here is what passengers will need to provide the following:

  • For guests 18 years of age and older, proof of being fully vaccinated for COVID -19
  • Proof of a negative SARS- CoV-2 RT-PCR test result for entry into the country where you are sailing from (age requirements vary by jurisdiction)
  • Completed Royal Caribbean Health Questionnaire, available in the app 24 hours before sailing
  • Typical travel documents, including passport or any visas as required by the departure countr

"We are excited to get back to delivering memorable vacations in the Caribbean, gradually and safely. The vaccines are clearly a game changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice. As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International.

"The opportunity to homeport in The Bahamas is a testament to the tremendous partners the government and the people of the island nation have been to us for more than 50 years. We are grateful for the confidence that they have in us and our commitment to a healthy and happy return to sailing."

The announcement comes days after Royal Caribbean teased a big announcement, but delayed it a few hours later.

This is the second ship to restart sailings outside of the United States, with Grandeur of the Seas sailing from Barbados in December.

Similarly, Celebrity Cruises announced it will restart cruises outside the United States with Celebrity Millennium from St. Maarten.

Moving away from the United States

It is difficult to look past the fact Royal Caribbean deploying a ship to sail from Nassau is a move to get ships sailing again faster.

When the CDC lifted the No Sail Order at the end of October and replaced it with the Framework for Conditional Sail Order, the CDC outlined a series of steps required for cruises to be able to progress towards restarting.

Cruise lines are still waiting for those instructions.

While cruise lines wait for approval to sail again from the United States, today's announcement that Adventure of the Seas will sail from the Bahamas appears to be a strategy to move around those restrictions.

Royal Caribbean had already scheduled Grandeur of the Seas to sail from Barbados in December, but many cruise lines are now looking to return to service sooner with sailings this summer.

In terms of getting a sense of what the CDC or cruise lines are looking for in these statistics, there are still unknowns, but Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain pointed to factors such as how quickly the vaccine continues to roll out, or how the Covid variants will affect numbers going forward.

"I think it's premature for them, or for us, to try and speculate on what threshold the number has to be, because it's so many variables."

"I think we're more encouraged to see the really dramatic drop that we've been experiencing and the really nice roll out, particularly in the United States, in the U.K., in the in the vaccine."

Royal Caribbean purchases land on western side of Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas

In:
Category: 
27Feb2020

Bahamian media are reporting Royal Caribbean has purchased land on the western end of Paradise Island in The Bahamas.

The Tribune confirmed with Royal Caribbean’s Bahamian attorney that earlier this week the cruise line, "acquired multiple real estate parcels on Paradise Island’s western end."

Campbell Cleare, partner at McKinney, Bancroft and Hughes, confirmed Royal Caribbean has steadily been working towards purchasing land on Paradise Island’s western end.

“I do represent Royal Caribbean,” he said. “Royal Caribbean has bought a number of parcels of land on the western side of Paradise Island. I can tell you, because we’ve concluded the matter and it’s of public record, that we did buy a number of parcels on western Paradise Island.”

There is no indication yet by Royal Caribbean what the intended use for this land. According to Tribune Business, the land could be used for, "a beach-centred entertainment destination for the passengers it brings to Nassau."

According to Tribune Business, they estimate Royal Caribbean may have spent as much as $54 million on some of the land deals in total.

Royal Caribbean has publically confirmed it is working towards aquiring the Grand Lucayan resort in Freeport, Bahamas.  That deal is part of a greater Freeport Harbour redevelopment plan through the cruise line's Holistica joint venture.

In addition to both acquisitions, Royal Caribbean recently spent an additional $250 million transforming its private island into Perfect Day at CocoCay.

VIP Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day shore excursion in Nassau, Bahamas review

In:
Category: 
05Feb2020

One of the most popular shore excursions in Nassau, Bahamas is the Blue Lagoon Beach Day tour. I decided to check it out for myself and see what it offers.

Blue Lagoon is a private island that is about a 30 minute boat ride away from where the cruise ships tender in Nassau.  It is located just off the coast of Paradise Island, which is home to Atlantis Resort and many extremely extravagant mansions.

Blue Lagoon offers a variety of options for booking a visit to their island. There is a basic beach day pass, dolphin swim combo, stingray encounter, Segway and more. I counted nine different tours that take you to Blue Lagoon.

Ultimately, I settled on the VIP Blue Lagoon Island Beach Day since I did not want to do any of the animal encounters or other tours.

The VIP tour came out to $120.99 per person. I believe the non-VIP tour would have cost around $88.

Check-in for the tour was on the pier in Nassau where the ship docks.  Since I had the VIP tour, I was taken out of the regular line and escorted ahead of everyone else to a ferry that was waiting to take us to the island.

On the ferry, VIP members were given a bottle of water and a granola bar snack.

As we arrived to the island, the crew instructed VIP guests to debark first, ahead of everyone else.

Blue Lagoon is made up of a variety of beaches that you can visit at your leisure.  The dolphin, stingray, shark and sea lion encounters are all on the east side of the island.  Even if you do not have an encounter scheduled, you can walk around the area and see the animals.

 

Our VIP guide escorted us to a private beach area that was a short walk away on the northwest side of the island.  

There, we found a pristine beach with plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas to enjoy. 

 

The VIP tour provides unlimited bottled water, mimosas and fruit punch to enjoy.

The beach was beautiful and very private, although the rockiness of it made swimming and wading beyond your waist impossible.

VIP guests are free to wander the island and enjoy any of the other beaches.  Snorkeling equipment rental is included with the VIP pass.

A BBQ island buffet is included with the VIP pass, and served just outside the beach in a shaded area with picnic table seating.

The buffet lunch consisted of salad, fried fish, steak, BBQ chicken, plantains and corn on the cob.

The other beaches offer different ocean depths and views. Some are better for swimming, others better for wading and others suitable for snorkeling.

You have the option to add onto your beach pass to add an animal encounter, aqua park or other tour. 

Comments

As advertised, Blue Lagoon is indeed a beautiful and serene island to spend the day and delivers a relaxing beach day option.

There was plenty of seating, and the service provided to VIP guests was excellent. 

I was disappointed to find the VIP beach to be too rocky to swim. In fact, it was too rocky to even walk very deep in and I noticed only a few brave guests venturing across the rocks to get waist deep.

Of course, I could leave the VIP beach and enjoy a rock-free beach elsewhere, but it seems to be a waste of paying for the VIP perks.  

I think Blue Lagoon is a good choice for someone who wants to do an animal encounter, or some other type of tour, and combine it with a great beach day.

Excursion review: Fly A Jet Experience Jetline Simulation Bahamas

In:
Category: 
27Mar2019

If you are one of those people looking to do something different in Nassau, Bahamas, then perhaps flying a Boeing 737 may fit into that category?

You are not flying a real plane, but rather hopping into a simulator cockpit to take the controls of a 737 airliner to see if you have "the right stuff" to take off, fly, and land the jet in the same way real-world pilots do.  I had to find out for myself if I could match up.

Description

Royal Caribbean recently added the Fly A Jet Experience Jetline Simulation Bahamas shore excursion to select Nassau cruises, where guests can book time in a 737 flight simulator and pick fly a Boeing 737-800NG from one of thousands of airports around the world.

Just like all Royal Caribbean shore excursions, you pick a time at booking and then meet your excursion staff.  Each session is one hour long. 

I met my tour on the pier as soon as I debarked my Royal Caribbean ship and to my surprise, it was just me.  The shore excursion is run by Jetline Simulation Bahamas, and they have one simulator that they can rent out at at time. 

My guide walked me to the office, which was about a 10 minute walk from the ship (it is located just past Senor Frogs and the British Colonial Hilton). Royal Caribbean says the walk is 0.2 miles over flat surfaces.

Upon arrival, I was given a choice of airports to fly to or from. I opted to pick my home airport of Orlando, Florida and fly to nearby Tampa, Florida. I did this because the flight is so short I would be able to take off and land twice.

A brief introduction tells you what to expect, as you will hop into a simulator that features the same cockpit and screens around you to mimic the real thing.  The simulator runs a popular brand of flight simulation software, Prepar3D v4 by Lockheed Martin.

You are seated in the pilot's seat, with the flight instructor as your copilot.  The flight instructors have real-world flight experience, and in my case, one indicated this was a side job for him while he worked his way up to a real pilot's license and an opportunity to fly.

The flight instructor is your guide throughout the process, and will lead you from programming the flight computer, to assisting in push back from the gate, takeoff and landing. The instructor gets a good sense of your experience and can provide as much or as little guidance as you need.

While I did two full flights, there is an option just for takeoff and landing if you want to cut out the mundane aspects of flight planning and go right to the fun.

Comments

If you have ever thought it would be fun to fly a plane, or wondered about the intricacies of flight, or are simply a geek, this is the excursion for you. Moreover, it is something completely different from the usual shore excursion options in Nassau, which involve time on a beach or water.

The staff at Jetline Simulation are incredibly helpful and fun to fly with.  They lead you along the way and help you from start to finish, allowing you to focus on the fun parts of the flight.  Some guests want to do this as a fun little distraction, while others truly want the challenge of flying an airliner like real-world pilots do. 

This excursion reminds me of a fantastic moment in Indiana Jones and Last Crusade, where Indiana Jones' father was surprised to hear his son knows how to fly an airplane.

This might shock some of you, but I am a geek and have played flight simulator video games for years. 

I know, it's shocking.  Having a fair amount of flight sim experience, I thought I would really ace the flights but having every control available, instead of a keyboard and mouse, proved to be quite the challenge.

I relished in having access to the knobs, dials and throttles found in a real airliner. The simulator cockpit is the real deal, with gentle vibrations as you turn the engines on, taxi and take-off or land. There is even recorded announcements from the flight attendants at specific intervals of flight. The only thing missing was the in-flight meal.

If you are a fellow geek, you will love this kind of an excursion.  At its heart, you are playing a video game. A very intricate and challenging video game.

If you are by no means as geeky as I, never played a flight sim game ever, this is still a great group excursion because just like an escape room, learning to kayak, or exploring a mountain, the point of the flight experience is to test your ability to match what pilots do every day.

This is also a very short shore excursion coming in at only one hour.  This is great for working in an additional shore excursion or just something to do in conjunction with walking around Nassau.

Cost: $139 per adult.

Top 5 things to do in Nassau, Bahamas on a budget

In:
Category: 
14Aug2017

Chances are if you are sailing on a three or four-night cruise with Royal Caribbean you are stopping in Nassau, Bahamas. This has been a very popular port of call for the cruise line for many years. The actual distance from Miami to Nassau is only 184 miles, so this is usually the first or last stop of the cruise.

There are many excursions offered my Royal Caribbean in the cruise planner for Nassau, but there are not many options for those who might be on a budget. Let’s take a look at my top 5 things to do in Nassau without breaking the bank.

5. John Watling’s Rum Distillery

No matter what bar you visit in Nassau, you will notice they serve John Watling’s Rum. That’s because the distillery is right here in Nassau, in a home that’s over 200 years old. When I visit the distillery I always walk, but it does take 20-25 minutes and a rather large hill up getting there. So if that’s concerning to you just jump in a $10 cab ride.

When you arrive you are greeted with a sample of their famous piña colada. They then give you a quick 10-15 minute tour of the grounds and you end up in their gift shop where you can take the rum home with you. The tour and visit the property is completely free. They do have a nice bar where you can sample their three types of rum or order a full piña colada you sampled coming in.

4. Graycliff Hotel

Visiting this hotel is a pretty unique experience when you compare it to big resorts. The property itself is not very large and open to explore. They do offer day passes around $99pp, but let’s not forget we are looking for ways to save money and still enjoy all that Nassau has to offer. They have a few dining rooms in the hotel and really amazing to see the table setups. You can order pizza here, which is what they are famous for which is around $20.

Once you leave the hotel, right beside it is the Grayliff Chocolate factory. They make everything on the property and hand out free samples once you walk in the gift shop.

3. Queens Staircase

The Queen’s Staircase is almost hard to describe other than using words like, breathtaking. The walk here is only 10-15 minutes and very safe along the way, just look for the Nassau Hospital and the staircase is directly behind it.

Slaves carved the staircase in 1793 and there are a total of 66 steps down into a protected area for the Queen during that time. The area is totally shaded and feels really cool walking through it. Again this option is free to the public, but watch out for the locals trying to act like tour guides and expecting a tip. There is also a little fort outside the staircase you can explore too.

2. Baha Mar Resort

There is a lot of history around building the Baha Mar Resort on Cable beach. However, it’s finally open as of Spring 2017. The resort is on the other side of the island from where you dock, so you must take transportation over. In Nassau they have a city bus that the locals take for $1.25pp and you jump on it near McDonald’s. I know you must be thinking, how did the Atlantis not make this top 5 list, but this property is brand new and being over on Cable beach is a win for me.

My first time to the resort on the side of the island, I could not believe how beautiful and clean it was. Unfortunately, you can’t take use of the pool or beach on the property while visiting but you can gamble, shop, bar and explore the grounds.

1. Junkanno Beach

Coming in at number one is Junkanno Beach; you can’t be in the Bahamas and not enjoy their beautiful beaches. This beach is a short walk from the port and is open to the public. I discovered this beach many years ago and have been visiting ever since. I like being able to walk and leave whenever I want and the best part they have very cheap drinks at the tiki hut on the beach, like $2 beers.

They also have clean public restrooms on the beach that are fairly new. If you are looking for that free Wi-Fi they have that too! A few years ago I wrote my first blog post just on this beach so you can find more about the beach here.

Let me know what you enjoy doing in Nassau below, I’m headed there in a few weeks and would look to try something new on the island!

Excursion Focus: British Colonial Hilton in Nassau, Bahamas

In:
03Apr2017

Odds are if you take a Royal Caribbean cruise to somewhere in the Caribbean, there is a good chance you will stop in Nassau, Bahamas.  Nassau is one of the busiest cruise ports in the region, and offers quite a variety of shore excursions to consider.

On a recent stop in Nassau while on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, we decided to check out a well-respected resort just steps away from the port that offers a day pass for guests to enjoy their facilities without breaking our budget.  

Description

Located a short walk from the cruise terminal in Nassau, the British Colonial Hilton resort faces the entrance to Nassau harbor, and offers guests full access to the resort's pristine beach and pool. Guests that want to enjoy pool and beach time will find a convenient option on lovely grounds. The resort underwent an extensive refurbishment in 2009.

We reserved our spot at the British Colonial Hilton through a third-party website, ResortForADay.com.  The site will reserve each person a place at the resort, which only sells a limited amount of day passes. The day pass includes

  • $40 food and beverage credit per paid adult
  • $20 food and beverage credit per paid child
  • Beach access
  • Beachfront swimming pool
  • Towels, pool chairs and lounges
  • Beach chairs and lounges, umbrellas
  • Non-motorized water sports: kayaks, snorkeling gear

Transportation to and from the resort is not provided, but considering the location of the British Colonial Hilton to the cruise port, it is largely unnecessary if a leisurely 10 minute walk is not out of the question. If you need to take a cab, the price is $9.00 based on two and $3.00 for each additional person. The cab ride is also 10 minutes away from the hotel.

Arriving at the resort, you will enter the cavernous lobby to check-in.  The day pass is good from 9am until sunset. The bar takes the last food orders at 4.30pm with the bar closing at 5pm. Guest are welcome to stay in outdoor pool / beach area until sunset, however the lifeguard leaves at 5:00.

Following check-in, guests receive a special wristband and can then head to the pool and/or beach.

The pool area is located just outside the lobby, past the lush garden. It is a good sized pool, with a shallow and deep end, suitable for anyone that is comfortable to swim.

There are also lots of lounge chairs surrounding the pool, but shaded spots are quite limited.  In fact, at the pool the only shad provided comes from trees, so if shade is important to you, be sure to arrive early in the morning to grab a spot.  If all else fails, there is shade under the bar.

The beach area is quite large, and offers a great view of Nassau harbor.  In fact, it is a fantastic spot to watch cruise ships arriving or leaving, provided you happen to be there when such an event occurs.

Your day pass admission also includes a food and beverage credit, which is enough money to cover a lunch entree and cocktail.  The patio bar food and drink pricing is on the expensive side. Most entrees are around $20 and a cocktail will set you back about $15.  Keep in mind that your food and beverage credit does not cover gratuity or taxes.

Comments

When we considered the British Colonial Hilton, we wanted to spend our day in Nassau with the option of spending our time in the ocean of pool without spending a ton.  We travel with two young children (ages six and two), so trying to predict if the pool or beach will be to their liking is always tough, and the British Colonial Hilton seemed to fit our group needs.

For the price, I felt like we got exactly what we wanted from our day at the Hilton.  While other resort day pass excursions may have offered more to do than the British Colonial Hilton, we felt like the resort offered a great experience at a reasonable price. The resort grounds are immaculately well-kept, and our kids had a blast swimming for nearly the entire day in the pool.

The most obvious alternative we considered was a day pass to the nearby Atlantis resort, but the price difference was massive.  Certainly Atlantis offers quite a bit more to do in an even more luxurious backdrop, however, the price for us was too much to consider.

The two negatives that I noticed from my time at the British Colonial Hilton were the lack of shade at the pool, and the very high price for food and drink.  We were lucky to have arrived before most of the other day pass guests, because we snagged shade under one of the few trees by the pool.  The food and drink prices are something to be aware of, and I would advise only indulging enough to use up your credits.  The cocktail prices make Royal Caribbean's drink prices look like a bargain, so your best bet is to skip the binge drinking for somewhere else.

Overall, we really enjoyed our time at the British Colonial Hilton because it was exactly what we were looking for: a relaxing spot for pool and beach time that would suit our family's needs. 

Cost: $65 per adult, $30 per child (ages 6-12. Children 5 and under are free).

Royal Caribbean offering inexpensive Caribbean shore excursions starting at $19

In:
16Nov2016

Royal Caribbean's Shore Excursions offerings are now featuring some inexpensive shore excursions for guests on shorter sailings to Nassau, Bahamas and Key West, Florida.  Many of our readers are always interested in good and low-cost shore excursion options, so perhaps some of these will be helpful.

 

Through March 7, 2017, guests sailing on Empress of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas and Enchantment of the Seas can take advantage of these fun and inexpensive tours.

Nassau Tours

Key West Tours

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