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Old 06-13-2010, 06:55 PM   #31
lisalisalisa
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I look forward to your trip report. Your girls are adorable.

We saw Magic off from Dover yesterday and my boys said that they didn't want to go to California this summer anymore they want to go on Mickey's ship.

We are hoping to go on a 10 night Med next June.
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Old 06-14-2010, 04:32 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by lisalisalisa View Post
I look forward to your trip report. Your girls are adorable.

We saw Magic off from Dover yesterday and my boys said that they didn't want to go to California this summer anymore they want to go on Mickey's ship.

We are hoping to go on a 10 night Med next June.
I wanted to do an 11 night next year but they made all the UK summer holiday cruises into 7 nighters as DH and I are both teachers that rules out the earlier cruises unless we do the one that falls in half term and take 3 days unpaid leave for the end of the cruise (I am part time so could get away with that, DH would have to do some serious brownie point earning!!

I am sure you will have a great time in California, I really want to take the girls there one day but I am not brave enough to do the flight with them until they are a little older - 8 hours to Florida was enough for me last year!!!

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Old 06-26-2010, 05:18 AM   #33
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Have added some updates including news of our upgrade!

Just 5 weeks to go now

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Old 06-26-2010, 10:37 AM   #34
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Mel,
Love the dresses! Can't wait to hear about your cruise with two young girls. We would love to do this trip so can't wait to hear how it goes.
Nice upgrade
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:27 PM   #35
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Mel,
Love the dresses! Can't wait to hear about your cruise with two young girls. We would love to do this trip so can't wait to hear how it goes.
Nice upgrade
Thanks!

Your girls are about the same age as mine were last summer when we cruised. I see your cruise will be your first DCL trip but not sure if you cruised before but if not I think you are going to love how easy a vacation a cruise is compared to a land vacation when you have small children. We LOVED the fact that everything was so near and the fact that there was great entertainment for them laid on by the experts!

DH and I are getting VERY excited now, only 4 weeks til tomorrow and I have still managed to keep the secret from the girls

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Old 07-06-2010, 05:33 AM   #36
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Day 10 - At Sea

The Plan
As the Back To Back was a last minute addition to our trip we have not really made any firm arrangements. There were no Palo Brunch reservations left online but as we will be reboarding quickly in Barcelona we hope to snag anothr Brunch ressie for this cruise on embarkation day... possibly for this first sea day.

Other than that we will be settling into our new cabin - we got a little upgrade from a cat 12 to an 11 but will try for a window upgrade at port depending on prices and availability but of course we know we will have to pack up and move rooms so I am sure that on this first full day we will make many wrong turns heading to the room from the previous cruise!

No other plans for today though.

The Reality

Well my trip notes never resurfaced so I am GOING to finish this report with the remaining photos and my vague recollections!

This morning was the first Princess Gathering of the second cruise. We knew well enough to get in line early and although the line IS long I love the format of this, one line and then when you get to the front you move from princess to princess with no lines in between. Olivia was still not keen on going to have her photo taken on her own so this was really for Isabelle!

While we waited in line Alice came by and stopped to talk to the children in the line which was nice and made the wait a little better.



When we got to the front Isabelle of course had her photo taken with all the princesses, her favourites were Snow White, Belle and most of all Tiana as we had watched the new Princess and the Frog movie onboard in the first leg of our cruise.







After this excitement Isabelle was keen to get to the kids club, Olivia was booked into the nursery and we went off for visit number two at the Palo Brunch. No photos this time, I think I decided that as we took photos the first time this time I would just savour the lovely food!

I think we just chilled out for the afternoon before getting ready for formal night.

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Old 07-06-2010, 05:35 AM   #37
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Day 11 - Valetta, Malta

The Plan
Having read a couple of trip reports I have decided that I really want to do the Blue Grotto and then just explore Valetta on foot. Many years ago I went on holiday to Capri with my parents and visited the Blue Grotto there which this one is apparently named after. It was lovely and I think Isabelle would love it... not sure how Livvy will get on in a little boat for half an hour but hopefully it will be fine!

I have read that it is best to do this in the morning for the best effect so we plan to get off the boat and take a taxi to the Grotto. I have heard lots of good reports about the little fishing village nearby so depending on how the price works out we may see if the taxi driver will do a little mini tour with time to do the boat at the Blue Grotto and then spend a little while in the nearby village before heading back to Valetta.

**Update - I have now read that you can get the bus very cheaply to visit the Blue Grotto - the post Is aw quoted 65 cents each way on the number 38 bus - we may hop on that if we feel like sampling the local bus service! **

We will probably then get back onboard, have lunch and see what the kids want to do. Some of us will then probably go and wander around Valetta for a while taking in the atmosphere and seeing a few sights before returning to the ship.

The Reality

Well reality was a little different to the plan!

Firstly I have to say I was totally blown away by Valletta. It was so unbelievably pretty. This was the view as we sailed in.





We decided to walk into town first to take a look around. We had borrowed a DCL stroller on this trip as Olivia wasn't going to last very long walking in the summer heat! DH and the girls are just in front of the quayside promenade in this photo.



When we got to this point the stroller seemed a little less of an ideal option but we persevered!



We had a lovely stroll around Valletta town and then it all went a bit pear shaped! We decided to head back to the ship for a while and walked downhill back towards the water. On the way we passed this sign - I felt a bit mean getting Izzy to pose next to it as she is only just 5 in this photo and didn't read the sign before letting me take the photo - I doubt our pet rabbits would appreciate this!



Well unbeknownst to us Valletta has two natural harbours and we ended up walking all the way back to the wrong one. This put us miles away from The Magic and somewhat lost! We found Valletta public library and asked about how to get back to the ship - we got directions and started on a VERY long hot walk back in the heat of the afternoon. Some of the exciting sights we saw included Valletta Driving Test Centre, Valletta Cat Rescue Centre and an industrial estate. Imagine my excitement when we final spotted the Magic in the distance!



Eventually back on board we took the girls for ice cream and a late lunch. They had a quick splash in the toddler play area and then Isabelle was keen to go back to the club. Olivia was booked in for a couple of hours at the nursery. DH and I went back to the quayside and sat at a table in one of the waterfront cafes. We enjoyed a drink and used the free wi fi to check in with emails etc... At the table next to us there was one of the guys from the cruise entertainment staff with one of the girls who works in the nursery doing the same as us, enjoying a drink, a snack and some wi fi time!

Later when I collected her she was busy dancing with Cinderella no less so I waited and got a couple of photos!



I have no idea what we did for dinner etc... but I know our towel animal was an elephant again which is my favourite!


Last edited by Melcatfish; 06-16-2013 at 11:26 AM. Reason: UPDATE
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Old 07-06-2010, 05:36 AM   #38
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Day 12 - Tunis, Tunisia

The Plan
I am seriously torn here.

I really want to go to Sidi Bou Said. My dilemna is as follows... If we do the DCL tour to Sidi Bou Said and Carthage it is 4.5 - 5 hours which is way too long for ou DD's. I have read that we could get a taxi tour very reasonably priced and we could then have the opportunity to time it to suit us but I have also read the "beware of Tunisia!" posts. Now once upon a time I was a fearless kind of girl who walked down dark alleys at night without a care and a taxi in Tunisia would require no second thoughts but once you have kids there is a tiny seed of worry planted!

I am sure that we will be fine, I don't want to go on a 5 hour tour without the kids (especially as i have read that several tours in Tunisia over ran) so I guess it is likely that we will do the taxi tour and either take the kids or not take them!

Regarding the camels at the port... well part of me is a little uneasy about them being there but on the other hand we probably will ride them on the basis that when would we get the chance again! I hope they are well cared for camels though.

DH and I have an early Palo dinner reservation for tonight. I am hoping to change it to a later time if possible when we board though.

The Reality

Well we waited until the cruise was well under way to finalise our plans for Tunisia. By this point we realised how much the kids enjoyed the clubs and decided we would book the DCL 4 and a half hour tour to Carthage and Sidi Bou Said. The children went to their clubs and we headed out on our tour.

We visited Carthage first and it was enjoyable to stroll around the ruins of this ancient city although quite amazing to see how the ruins had been built on top of up until very recently!





We enjoyed the tour and our guide was very informative. He pointed out the Tunisian presidential palace and then as I (and several other people) snapped a picture pointed out that it is illegal to photograph it! He smiled and said he would take us to a part of the ruins where we could photograph the ruins and get the "palace" in the background! It wasn't even an attractive palace!

We managed to get a lovely lady on our tour to take our picture and in the background you can see the Atlas mountains.




We had a little look around the museum, browsed the gift shop, I loved the artwork but wasn't sure I could safely get any home so was very bad and took a photo of the display as a reminder!



Darren plays drums and was interested in the display of local percussion instruments.



After that we reboarded our bus and headed over to Sidi Bou Said famed for it's almost exclusively blue and white architecture. We looked at the museum house, climbed to the top of the house and took in the marvellous views and then strolled some more taking photos and enjoying our trip.



We returned to port (pretty much on time) and I was amused after all the blue and white doors to find this door at the port



Before we got onboard we saw all the camels lined up on the quayside. Having been a little uneasy before I was quite pleased not to have to make a decision as the queues were really long and we needed to get back and collect Olivia from the nursery. We did snap this photo though.



After we collected Olivia Izzy decided she wanted to stay in the clubs for a while longer. Olivia was getting a bit braver with the characters and so she and I checked out Mickey and Minnie in their Tunisian outfits!





Dinner tonight was in Lumieres. It was the rotational menu so I thoroughly enjoyed Mrs Potts French Onion Soup again - just love it! At the end we were joined by Belle and the Beast to dance through the restaurant.


Last edited by Melcatfish; 06-16-2013 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 07-06-2010, 05:36 AM   #39
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Day 13 - Naples, Italy

The Plan
OK so today we don't really have a plan. We might try to go to Sorrento on the train and mooch around the town there. It is one of those days where we want to just soak up the atmosphere and enjoy being in Italy! We have been to Pompeii together and I enjoyed a holiday in Sorrento and on Capri when I was younger so rather than sight seeing we want to just relax and maybe eat some pizza or pasta!

The Reality

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then got off the ship.

As we got off the ship Donald in his Italian outfit was waiting on the dock so we of course had our photo taken!



It quickly became clear that the ferry times to Sorrento were not going to work for us as we would have needed to get the early ferry. No problem, instead we went for a stroll around town. Now Naples gets a bad press and we did have to walk past a few vendors touting for business and tours and firmly say "No" but it wasn't awful. While we were there there was a city wide refuse collection strike though so there was a lot of trash in the streets

We strolled, took photos, bought magnets and postcards and headed back to the ship.







Onboard we went to Topsiders for lunch, there was a crepe station which was lovely and we all enjoyed a nice lunch.





We saw Matt our assistant server working there. Olivia really did like him but so I have no idea why she wouldn't have her photo taken nicely although we were looking into the sun a bit I guess.





After that we used the pool for a while - we had the Mickey pool pretty much to ourselves as many people were still ashore on their excursions.



Soon it was time to get ready for dinner in Animators Palette. I got a little surprise at dinner, when Jayson brought my order he also fetched me an order of French Onion Soup from Lumieres... Yummy!




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Old 07-06-2010, 05:38 AM   #40
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Day 14 - Civitavecchia, Italy

The Plan
Now, if you are reading this but not in a seated position, brace yourself or take a seat.... We are not going to Rome! There, I have said it! i know it is a huge shock to some that we could even consider such a thing but even with the option of the cheao BIRG ticket we aren't planning on going to Rome on this trip.

As background, DH and I visited Rome on a cruise excursion on our honeymoon in 2002 - we had a lovely day, saw lots and decided to go back for a mini break so the following year spent 4 days there exploring the sights and enjoying the city. Being from the UK it is not a long or even particularly expensive trip to go for a few days to Rome or any of the mainland European cities and ports so for us it wasn't difficult to decide that on this trip Rome wasn't on the cards. Our children are too young to last a full day excursion without getting tired and fed up and also, in our opinion, they are too young to appreciate the history and significance of the major sights. I have no doubt in my mind that I will take the girls to Rome and many other cities when they are older but just not this time!

So waffling and justifications over what ARE we going to do? Well this is a tricky one, we are going to play it by ear. We may go ashore and amble around Civitavecchia if it looks appealing. I have no memories of the port area itself from our previous visit and obviously we don't want to wander round an industrial port for 3 hours so we shall see. One thing is for sure, the pools are going to be empty, the ship will be quiet and we will definitely spend some time enjoying that - of course there may even be a spa special if bookings have been slow while everyone else visits Rome!

The Reality

We really did just hang out onboard today. We had the pools to ourselves a lot of the time and Izzy was thrilled to see her favourite Youth Activities counsellor was out doing pool duty today. Here she was with Crystal by the pool. Note Izzy was the only one in there or we wouldn't have asked Crystal for the picture when she was on pool duty!



We also saw Chip and Dale wandering around the pool deck!



The day was just really relaxing and with so few people onboard it was quiet! The kids had a quick poolside lunch today and then to the club \ nursery for a bit while Darren and I went to lunch at Lumieres which was very peaceful!

Not sure what else happened as there are hardly any photos!

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Old 07-06-2010, 05:40 AM   #41
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Day 15 - At Sea

The Plan
Again there are no firm plans for the day but sometime in the trip I do hope we can catch a couple of movies. We will be rewatching Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in the next week or so to hopefully be ready to watch Toy Story 3 onboard. I also want to watch Alice in Wonderland and Up, neither of which will be great for DD1 based on what I have been told so perhaps an evening or an afternoon when the kids are in the club \ Flounders... who knows.

The Reality

Today was a quiet sea day. Darren and I had reservations for High Tea at Palo at 3pm which, although it isn't my favourite Palo offering, was still very nice.

This photo makes me smile as I don't actually like tea but I thought I would give it a try - as predicted I didn't like it but the food that came with the tea was nice!







Darren on the other hand loves tea and enjoyed trying a different type of tea.



We did indeed see a film on this trip. I took DD1 to see The Princess & The Frog. I enjoyed it and so did she but I felt it was one of the more sinister Disney films and she was scared of the shadow Man and his menacing shadows! Luckily, overall she really enjoyed the film!

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Old 07-06-2010, 05:41 AM   #42
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Day 16 - La Spezia, Italy

The Plan
La Spezia is one of the ports that caught my eye when reading trip reports and "Strawberryblondes" trip report detailing her trip to Cinque Terre (albeit in the rain) had me intrigued with that area. Having done some research into this we plan to get a Cinque Terre card and travel by train to visit the five little towns and maybe walk between one or two of them (the easier routes of course!)

Of course I am hoping to experience it in the sunshine but if it rains it still looks beautiful and is probably the place I am most interested in visiting this trip. As a little snippet of information I also saw on the Podcast Med Cruise interview with Brent that it is his favourite port and that he got engaged there!

The Reality

We gave the kids the option of whether to join us or hang out in the clubs. Izzy wanted to stay onboard and Olivia had a space booked in the nursery so we dropped them both off and took a render ashore. We followed the directions and walked through the town to the train station. On the walk we saw loads of street vendors all selling umbrellas. Once we arrived at the train station we queued for a long time to get to the front. We then discovered that the Cinque Terre card was not sold there but at the news stand on the platform!

Ticket in hand (and validated at the machine) we made the short trip to the furthest of the five towns; Monterosso.



We had a wander around, looked at the beach area and took some photos. We then got a gelato from this place which was nice and refreshing.



Then it started to rain - we got wet, really wet. I kept thinking back to those street vendors and wished we had an umbrella!







Because of our long unnecessary queue at the train station we were on quite a tight schedule and had a lot less time in some of the towns than I would have liked. Our favourite was Vernazza and I would have like to have spent more time here. We used our train ticket to take a brief stop in all five towns before heading back to the ship. The walk back seemed a lot longer in wet clothes!

Back onboard we collected the girls and got ready for Pirate night. We really don't love this menu but we do enjoy the interaction with our serving team!



On the way back to our room we ran into Minnie in her Pirate outfit



The deck party was cancelled due to the weather unfortunately which was awful by this point. We later learned that the last tender back had been stuck out on the water for ages before the seas were calm enough for it to safely dock with the ship!

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Old 07-06-2010, 05:42 AM   #43
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Day 17 - Ajaccio, Corsica

The Plan
I have visited Ajaccio twice and my two abiding memories were of a lovely beach and hundreds of Napolean statues - I figure our day will involve both. Perhaps a couple of hours at the beach, back to the ship for lunch and then optional (for the kids) wander round the town after lunch.

just a lovely relaxing time on a really lovely island

The Reality

We got off the ship and took a ride on the cute little road train. Ajaccio was very busy as it was the anniversary of Napoleons birth, they were setting up seating for a parade along the streets. As we remembered there were Napolean statues everywhere including this one which our train stopped in front of to allow us to get off and photograph it. Darren decided to adopt the same pose as Napoleon!





After the train ride we took a walk round town and took a while to play on the beach. The girls loved the chance to get their feet wet and play on the sand.





We ambled back to the ship for lunch and opted to sit on deck with some fast food from Plutos!





As had become our routine Olivia was booked into the nursery for a couple of hours in the afternoon and Izzy wanted to go to the club. Darren and I went ashore for a while, I loved how the Magic was reflected in this port building.



Almost three weeks away from home was lovely but we wanted to check in back home so we took the laptop ashore with us in the hopes of finding a café with wi fi - to no avail though Not sure why Darren thought he would get any wi fi here though!



We found a little café selling Movenpick Ice Creams. As a child I remember a particular ice ream parlour on holidays which sold Movenpick Caramelita so I was really excited to see it on their menu and pleased that it tasted just as good as I remembered!

We went back to the ship after an hour or so and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. I can't remember what we did for dinner but I do remember there being a lot of speculation about us leaving port late as there was supposed to be a big fireworks display as part of the Napoleon celebrations. Izzy and I headed up on deck and waited and waited but no fireworks appeared in Ajaccio

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Old 07-06-2010, 05:43 AM   #44
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Day 18 - Villefranche, France

The Plan

I read that the beach in Villefranche is nice so if the weather is good and we feel like it we will go there, if not it will be another day of easy touring. Perhaps a train to Monaco or just a wander round Villefranche itself. By this point we will definitely be on go with the flow schedules!

The Reality

Well today we decided to try and take the train to Nice. We walked to the station in Villefranche which was a lovely walk



We successfully got there, bought and validated a ticket and boarded a train to Nice. When we got there we followed the Centre Ville signs but found we never quite made it to anything resembling a decent town centre. We did see the cathedral from the outside





but it was getting hotter and hotter and we were basically just walking the streets aimlessly. Everyone was getting hungry and hot so to my great shame we ended up in McDonalds as I knew there would be something the kids would eat, air conditioning and toilets!



After that we headed back to Villefranche, we browsed the little market area by the port and then reboarded the tender. Predictably the girls went to the clubs and Darren was feeling like he had had too much sun so he had a nap in the room. I went back ashore to spend a little more time (and money) in the market and bought a couple of cute necklaces.

We found out that the cancelled fireworks from Pirate night would take place tonight so Izzy and I went out to watch them later on. It was actually the first DCL fireworks we have actually seen so it was a nice moment together.


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Old 07-06-2010, 05:44 AM   #45
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Day 19 - At Sea

The Plan
Well our epic vacation on the Magic will be nearly over. We plan on spending this day mooching around and making the most of the remaining time on the Magic. I am sure we will do all the boring jobs like packing as well as stopping by to say goodbye to the cast members who have made our trip special.

One good thing about having a sea day as the last full day is that you don't feel like you have to hurry coming back from port to get packing, it always puts a dampener on the afternoon of Castaway Cay day if in the back of your mind you are thinking about packing so I am glad this itinerary has the last day as a sea day!

The Reality

The last day was spent preparing to go home We packed and organised souvenirs and clothing while the kids went to their clubs or played in the room. Isabelle wanted to do the Friendship Rocks show so she went to the preparation session and then we went to see her in the show.



We then got ready for dinner. Our last evening was in Animators Palette and we enjoyed watching the Baked Alaska parade. I am going to be controversial and say that the Baked Alaska is really not a good quality dessert on DCL - it is NOTHING like a baked Alaska should be, three flavours of ice cream in there? what's that about? Maybe it is a cultural thing, maybe it is just because they have to mass produce it but for me Baked Alaska should have a nice sponge base, vanilla ice cream, lovely soft meringue which has just got a crucng to the outer shell (preferably slightly brown and caramelised) and in an ideal world served with strawberries! We have long since learned that it if you order it amend your expectations!



After the meal we tipped our serving team and said our goodbyes. We don't do last morning breakfasts in the dining room, it is too rushed and tends to take some of the shine off memories of the serving team who are busy and on a mission that morning! We got another server to take a picture of us with Jayson and Matt who we had really come to enjoy over the trip.



After dinner we had the task of doing the rounds saying goodbye to all those who had made our trip so special:

Crystal in the kids club



Grace from Shutters



and the lovely ladies in Flounders; Lisa and Katie



On our stateroom fish there was a message. I had read on the boards about this and hoped I knew what it was and I was right! We got an invite to the special meet and greet in Studio Sea before the Til We Meet Again Party. This is a lovely little event which a small number of families get an invite for. No one is sure how or why they pick, whether it is random or if CMs choose based on chance interactions etc...

It is really late and Darren was all for not going or sending me with just Isabelle but I told him it was really lucky to get one and we may never get another invite so off we went. All the characters assemble there before the party and just mingle with the guests, you can chat and get photos although it is very informal so not much time for lots of posing. Here are just a couple of our shots from the meet & greet.







After that it was time to see the Til We Meet Again show, hand in the kids club pager and turn in for the night.

While Darren got the kids ready for bed I finished off the last night ritual by ordering room service before it closed. A Cafetiere of coffee, a couple of fruit bowls, cerelas, juices and cookies. These were delivered within 20 mins and we put the cold stuff in the chiller ready for morning. MUCH simpler than trying to hurry for breakfast in the dining room at 6am... That time of day should NEVER exist on vacations!

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