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Guide to Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL Escape

Norwegian Cruise Line has been a major cruise line within the industry for over 54 years, founded in 1966. Renowned for its free-style cruising, Norwegian Cruise Line’s success is continuing to grow with the addition of Norwegian Prima set for August of this year.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is celebrated for its ‘free-style’ cruising concept, which offers guests great flexibility when planning their trips and vacations, such as no set dining times or location. Norwegian Cruise Line has an impressively large fleet complete with modern and innovative amenities for guests to enjoy. 

With the debut of Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet will consist of 18 ships. NCL is set to debut its second ship in the new Prima class in 2023, the Norwegian Viva, bringing the fleet total to 19 ships.

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For anyone interested in learning more about Norwegian Cruise Line, read on for our overview of the cruise line. Within this guide readers can find information important to booking a Norwegian Cruise Line vacation, information on exclusive amenities onboard NCL ships, and helpful tips for cruising with Norwegian. 

Overview of the Fleet 

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NCL

With the completion of Norwegian Prima in August 2022, and Norwegian Viva in 2023, NCL will have 19 ships in its fleet. With the addition of these new ships, Norwegian is debuting its newest class of ship, the Prima Class.

“The company has placed six ships on order from 2022 to 2027. The new class will build upon the brand’s legacy of freedom and flexibility found across its fleet and feature a host of cutting-edge designs that will further elevate its already award-winning guest experience,” states Norwegian Cruise Line about its new Prima Class.

Norwegian Cruise Line consists of mostly large scale cruise ships. With the smallest of NCL’s ships, the Norwegian Sun, capable of providing for 1,936 guests. The largest of NCL’s ships, the Norwegian Escape is capable of hosting 4,266 guests. Norwegian Cruise Line has been successful at refurbishing several of its older ships, and continues to make upgrades to older ships in order to keep them up to date and equipped with the latest technology and amenities. NCL’s oldest ship is the Norwegian Spirit which was built in 1998, and recently completed its refurbishment in 2020.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet categories consists of the Breakaway Class, Dawn Class, Epic Class, Breakaway Plus Class, Jewel Class, Sun Class, and the soon to be Prima Class. The Classes consist of the following ships:

Breakaway Class 

  • Norwegian Breakaway
  • Norwegian Getaway

Dawn Class 

  • Norwegian Star
  • Norwegian Dawn

Epic Class 

  • Norwegian Epic

Breakaway Plus Class 

  • Norwegian Bliss
  • Norwegian Encore
  • Norwegian Escape
  • Norwegian Joy

Jewel Class 

  • Norwegian Pearl
  • Norwegian Jewel
  • Norwegian Jade
  • Norwegian Gem

Sun Class 

  • Norwegian Sky
  • Norwegian Sun

Prima Class 

  • Norwegian Prima
  • Norwegian Viva

Two of Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships, the ‘Norwegian Spirit’ and the ‘Pride of America’ stand on their own apart from a specific class of ship. Norwegian Spirit sails primarily within the waters of the Mediterranean near the Greek Isles and Turkey, and starting in December 2022, will begin cruising to Australia and New Zealand. Pride of America sails exclusively on itineraries within Hawaii.

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NCL

Destinations 

Norwegian Cruise Line offers an extensive list of destinations to its passengers. Guests sailing with NCL can travel aboard cruises to the following locations and regions:

  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Alaska
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Bahamas
  • Bermuda
  • Canada and New England
  • Caribbean
  • Greek Isles
  • Hawaii
  • Mediterranean
  • Mexico
  • Northern Europe
  • Pacific Coastal cruises
  • Panama Canal
  • South America
  • Transatlantic cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line is additionally the only cruise line in the industry that currently offers year-round sailings within Hawaii, taking guests to four of the Hawaiian Islands. “Only Norwegian lets you visit four islands in seven days, which means you’re on an island each and every day!”, states Norwegian Cruise Line about its Hawaiian sailings. These sailings have a homeport in Hawaii, meaning the guests have the opportunity to sail anytime, year round on these itineraries.

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Norwegian Spirit

Accommodations and Staterooms

“Our award-winning fleet offers a wide range of contemporary and comfortable accommodation designed for you, your family or even your group,” states NCL about the accommodations aboard their ships.

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Inside stateroom

(Inside stateroom aboard Norwegian Prima)

There are six types of Norwegian Cruise Line cabins aboard their vessels:

  • The Haven by Norwegian 
    • Exclusive to Norwegian Cruise Line is The Haven. These rooms are designed as an “exclusive enclave with our most luxurious, well-appointed and spacious accommodations,”  says Norwegian. Guests staying in these room types will have access to exclusive parts of the ship, and will have personal service of a concierge and 24-hour butler.
  • Suites and Penthouses
  • Spa Staterooms
  • Club Balcony Suites and Balconies
  • Ocean Views and Insides
  • Studios for solo travelers
    • Norwegian Cruise Line has specific staterooms designed for solo travelers aboard Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss, and Pride of America.
    • This stateroom type is relatively unique within the industry. NCL also offers a special lounge dedicated to solo travelers. 
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NCL cabin

(Balcony cabin aboard Norwegian Cruise Line)

Read moreWhat’s included with Norwegian cruise fare?

Dining 

Norwegian Cruise Line states, “guests are welcomed aboard with a wide variety of complimentary and specialty dining options.” Norwegian Cruise Line specializes in free-style cruising, which means they want their guests to have the flexibility to enjoy their vacation aboard an NCL ship, their way. “Only Norwegian offers the freedom and flexibility of Freestyle Dining, which means no fixed dining times or pre-assigned seating. So follow your mood, not a timetable,” says NCL about dining onboard.

Norwegian Cruise Line ships features several types of complimentary dining and specialty dining onboard. Guests can enjoy complimentary dining in three of the Main Dining Rooms, as well as the Beyond Buffets, and 24 Hour Eatery on all of NCL’s ships. For an elevated experience, guests can arrange to enjoy meals in the Specialty Dining venues. Dining in one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s specialty dining venues will cost an additional charge.

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Prima dining

(Dining room aboard Norwegian Prima)

Norwegian Cruise Line’s specialty dining locations include: 

American Diner

  • American
  • Available on Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway.

Q Texas Smokehouse

  • BBQ
  • Available on Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Joy.

Modern Churrascaria

  • Brazilian Steakhouse
  • Available on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Star, Norwegian Sun, Pride of America.

Le Bistro

  • French
  • Available on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Sky, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Star, Norwegian Sun.

Food Republic

  • Global Cuisine
  • Available on Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Joy.

La Cucina

  • Italian
  • Available on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Star, Norwegian Sun, Pride of America.

Teppanyaki

  • Japanese
  • Available on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Star, Norwegian Sun, Pride of America.

Los Lobos

  • Mexican
  • Available on Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Sun.

Ocean Blue

  • Seafood
  • Available on Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway.

Pincho Tapas Bar

  • Spanish
  • Available on Norwegian Escape.

Cagney’s Steakhouse

  • Steakhouse
  • Available on Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Sky, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Star, Pride of America.

Treat Yourself

  • Treats and desserts
  • Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Pride of America.
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NCL dining

 

Bars and Lounges

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) ships offer an extensive list of bars and lounges. NCL has up to 22 different bars and lounges featured on their vessels that offer different atmospheres and refreshments.

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Prima Bulls Eye

The following bars are located in The Waterfront area of NCL ships:

Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar

  • Available on Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl.

Shaker’s Martini Bar

  • Available on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl.

Sugarcane Mojito Bar

  • Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Star.

Sunset Bar

  • Available on Norwegian Getaway.

Some of the bars and lounges aboard NCL ships are located poolside, these venues include:

Vibe Beach Club

  • Private lounge for guests 18 years and over.
  • Available on Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, and Norwegian Joy.

Great Outdoors

  • Available on Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Sky, Norwegian Sun.

Topsiders

  • Available on Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Gem, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Star, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Sky.

Waves Pool Bar

  • Available on Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Joy.

NCL also features several specialty bars and lounges available on select cruises. These specialty venues include: O’Sheehan’s Bar & Grill, Skyy Vodka Ice Bar, Magnum’s Champagne & Wine Bar, and The Humidor Cigar Lounge. 

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MSC Cruises Premium extra drink package

NCL has plenty of locations to enjoy the nightlife while onboard including the following clubs and lounges:

Bliss Ultra Lounge

  • Club venue
  • Available on select cruises.

Glow Party

  • NCL’s newest party at sea.

Spice H2O

  • 1980’s-themed deck party.
  • Available on select cruises.

Spinnaker Lounge

  • Dance floor venue.
  • Available on select cruises.

Syd Norman’s Pour House

  • Rock ‘n’ Roll themed dance club
  • Available on select cruises.
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NCL lounge

Beverage Packages 

There are several types of Norwegian Cruise Line drink packages for guests to choose from that range in price and variety. The different categories help provide many options for every guest’s needs and desires. 

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Alcohol free drink package

Open Bar

  • Includes soft drinks, beers, spirits, cocktails, wines by the glass, or draft beer up to and including $15 USD during the entire cruise.
  • Around $99.00 USD per person, per day.

Premium Plus Beverage Package

  • Includes specialty drinks, all beverages by the glass, soft drinks, beers, spirits, cocktails, wines, select bottles of wine with dinner, sparkling water, energy drinks, and specialty coffee.
  • Around $128.00 USD Per person, per day.

Corks & Caps Wine and Beer Package

  • Includes soft drinks, beers, and wine by the glass.
  • Around $65.00 USD per person, per day.

Soda Package

  • Includes unlimited soft drinks.
  • Around $9.95 USD per person, per day.
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NCL drinks

Entertainment and Activities

Shows 

Norwegian Cruise Line prides themselves on offering a wide range of entertainment to their passengers. Including theater and Broadway style shows, live music, parties and clubs, comedy shows, game shows, dance performances, virtual gaming and more.

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Prima theater

(Prima Theater aboard Norwegian Prima)

Currently being performed on NCL ships are the following popular Broadway style shows:

Kinky Boots

  • Musical story about an unlikely partnership.
  • Available on Norwegian Encore.

Six

  • Musical story about the lives of Henry VIII’s six wives, with a 21st century twist.
  • Available on Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway.

The Choir of Man

  • High-energy dance, live percussion, performance. 
  • Available on Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Escape.

Each NCL cruise will have different shows and entertainment and guests will be able to check what entertainment is offered each day once onboard.

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NCL entertainment

Casino 

Each Norwegian Cruise Line vessel is additionally equipped with a casino venue for guests to enjoy should they choose. Something unique to NCL’s casinos is that they periodically host tournaments. Each NCL casino has both table games as well as slot machines.

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Prima casino

Spa 

NCL ships have relaxing and rejuvenating spas for guests to feel pampered. Each spa is slightly different in terms of what services they offer, and their design. However, all NCL spas include: massage therapists, facials, fitness center, salon services and more.

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NCL Spa

Onboard Activities 

Exclusive to Norwegian Cruise Lines is the Thrillplex, a complex dedicated to guests who wish for some added excitement during their cruise adventure.

One of the most notable activities within the Thrillplex is an exclusive to Norwegian Cruise Line, race tracks at sea. This quarter-mile track will debut on the Norwegian Prima as the first of its kind in terms of length and design. Several other notable race tracks exist within the fleet, making it possible for guests to race aboard Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Encore. According to Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO, Frank Del Rio, the race tracks onboard Norwegian ships were inspired by his grandchildren when he asked them for new ideas of things to include on NCL ships!

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Prima speedway

(Race track aboard Norwegian Prima)

Other notable activities at sea hosted by NCL, is the largest rope course at sea, laser tag, virtual gaming, and aqua park zones with multiple pools and slides. The specific onboard activities change depending on the NCL vessel, and guests should check to see what activities are aboard their ship before setting sail to see the variety of options available to passengers.

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Prima aqua park

(Aqua Park aboard Norwegian Prima)

Kids Programs 

NCL offers several types of programs for children onboard every ship in their fleet. These ‘Kids Clubs’ are fantastic venues for children and teens to play and meet other kids their own age while on a cruise vacation. These clubs can be a great option for child-care as well for adults and parents to enjoy.

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NCL kids

The following youth programs are offered on most Norwegian Cruise Line ships and itineraries:

Guppies Programmes

  • 6 months to under 3 years

Splash Academy

  • Ages 5 to 12 years

Entourage

  • Ages 13 to 17 years

Late Night/Port Play

  • Offered as a Group Sitting for parents who wish to enjoy a late night out or a day at port.
  • Ages 3 to 12 years.
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NCL family

Wi-Fi and Internet 

Every NCL ship is equipped with 24-hour internet and Wi-Fi Cafes onboard. In-stateroom Wi-Fi is currently offered on the following ships: Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Dawn, Epic, Gem, Getaway, Jade, Jewel, Pearl, Sky, Spirit, Star, Sun, Pride of America.

Norwegian Cruise Line offers several Internet and Wi-Fi packages to its guests including:

Unlimited Wi-Fi Package

  • Access to unlimited web surfing, email access, and social media (no Tik Tok).
  • One device = $25.00 USD per day ($29.99 USD per day if purchased onboard)
  • Two devices = $44.99 USD per day ($52.99 USD per day if purchased onboard)
  • Four devices = $84.99 USD per day ($99.99 USD per day if purchased onboard)

Unlimited Premium Wi-Fi Package

  • Access to unlimited web surfing, email access (including VPN), social media, all entertainment apps (YouTube, Netflix, etc.).
  • One device = $34.99 USD per day ($39.99 USD per day if purchased onboard)
  • Two devices = $57.99 USD per day ($67.99 USD per day if purchased onboard)
  • Four devices = $109.99 USD per day (129.99 USD per day if purchased onboard)

Unlimited Social Media Wi-Fi Package

  • Access to majority of social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) sites except Tik Tok.
  • One device = $12.50 USD per day ($14.99 USD per day if purchased onboard)

250 Minutes Anytime Internet Package

  • This package gives guests 250 minutes of internet connectivity for use anytime during the cruise.
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Guests can save over 15% off the cost of Wi-Fi access if they pay for Wi-Fi access ahead of their departure. This is a great savings and important knowledge for those who wish to add Wi-Fi connectivity to their cruise voyage.

 

Loyalty Program 

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a loyalty program to all their guests. The more a guest sails with NCL, the more points they acquire. NCL calls their loyalty program, the Latitudes Rewards Loyalty Program.

After a guest travels with Norwegian Cruise Line for the first time, they are automatically enrolled in the loyalty program and will begin to earn points. Guests can earn points in the loyalty program with each cruise they take (1 point for every cruise night onboard).

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There are additional opportunities for guests to earn more points by either booking a suite or room in The Haven with NCL, or by booking a cruise through the Latitudes Rewards Insider offer.

With their points, guests can access exclusive onboard experiences, discounts, offers for members only, and more.

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Private Island 

Norwegian Cruise Line owns a private island by the name of Great Stirrup Cay, located in The Bahamas, along the Northwest Providence Channel. This private island and port of call owned by Norwegian Cruise Line is an exclusive paradise to NCL guests.

There are many opportunities and activities available to guests while visiting Great Stirrup Cay, including: visiting the beaches, snorkeling, relaxing in cabanas, zip lines, kayaking, tours, spa visits, and more. There are also several food locations on the island, including Abaco Taco, a complimentary build-your-own-taco location.

A visit to Great Stirrup Cay is included on many itineraries to The Bahamas.

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NCL great stirrup

Shore Excursions 

Norwegian Cruise Line has extensive offers of shore excursions available to guests on every sailing. Shore excursions are a fantastic way to explore and experience the various destinations and ports of call on a cruise sailing.

Norwegian Cruise Line categorizes their shore excursions by type of activity. The four categories are: adventure, family, featured, and sightseeing. These different categories help ensure that there is a shore excursion that will appeal to all guests’ different needs and desires.

Shore excursions are an additional cost, and tend to start at around $100 per person with Norwegian Cruise Line. Because of the additional cost, it can be helpful for NCL guests to plan out well ahead of time which shore excursions they wish to participate in, so that they can budget properly.

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NCL excursion

Shore excursions also range in the amount of time that they last at a destination. Some shore excursions are only an hour or two, while others last all day at around 9 hours.

Norwegian Cruise Line helps guests understand how strenuous a shore excursion may be by assigning each excursion with an “Activity Level”. These levels range from 1 to 3. An activity with a score of 1 means the following, “tours with this activity level involve walking over relatively level terrain, possibly some cobblestone, gravel, or a few steps. Comfortable shoes recommended”. An excursion with a score of 2 means the following, “tours with this activity level involve a considerable amount of physical activity. Not recommended for guests with physical limitations.” An excursion with a score of 3 means the following, “tours with this activity level involve physical exertion for extended periods of time. Recommended only for physically fit and adventurous travelers.”

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It is highly recommended that guests take into consideration the cost, duration, and activity level of shore excursions during their cruise planning process.

What to know about Norwegian Cruise Line

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Before booking a cruise vacation with Norwegian Cruise Line, consider the following helpful tips:

  • NCL is known for running large promotions, such as their “Free At Sea” promotions. Check the ‘Cruise Deals & Special Offers’ page on their website for deals and promotions to save some money or get a special perk on your cruise booking.
  • NCL offers special cruise pricing to guests who have sailed with them before and are a part of their Latitudes Reward Program. 
  • Norwegian offers special rates for solo travelers. This is something relatively rare for the cruise line industry. Check out the ‘Solo Cruiser Discount’ page on NCL’s website for the latest rates. Often times, NCL will host special events and activities onboard their sailings specially designed for solo travelers. 
  • Dining is relaxed and flexible on Norwegian Cruise Line sailings, this means that guests should spend some time pre-planning which dining locations they would like to visit prior to their cruise.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line has a free app available for download that can be helpful in familiarizing guests with the ship and offerings onboard particular sailings. Search “Norwegian Cruise Line” in the app store. 
  • Many add-ons to a NCL sailing cost an additional charge, it can be important for guests to think about which add-ons are most important to them. Planning out which things to purchase ahead of time will help guests budget and plan their cruise sailing and not be surprised by the final bill.
  • Prior to their cruise, guests should check for the latest update in NCL’s health and safety requirements. Currently, NCL requires that all guests 12 years and older, be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 2 weeks before embarkation. All guests will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen or NAAT (PCR) test within 2 days prior to embarkation date (NCL’s COVID-19 requirements as of July 26, 2022. Subject to change).

Read moreNorwegian Cruise Line Tips and Tricks

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