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A Week in an Alternate Universe without COVID!


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This post is a "think piece" about our world without cruising.  DW and I are cruise lovers who used to spend about 100 days a year on ships.  Like many here on CC we have missed our cruising life (which will, for us, resume in July with a trip to Greece).  But unlike many, DW and I have continued to travel by seeking out alternatives to cruising.  Last week we flew to Cancun to spend 8 days in an adults-only All Inclusive resort.  Our AA flight to Cancun was about 80% full with folks from all ages and various diverse groups.  We all wore masks in the airport and on the aircraft.  At Cancun, the airport was crowded and seemed normal except for masking (just like in the USA).  We were immediately met by our private transfer company and our driver and ourselves remained masked during the 40 minute ride to our "high end" resort.  At the resort (which is beyond huge double gates) we cleared security and drove into the expansive resort that had hundreds of guests.  As soon as we entered the main building (to check in) we noticed that none of the guests were wearing masks and staff had simple face shields (no masks).  For the next 8 days we lived a very normal life where nobody wore masks and few seemed to worry about social distancing.  Everyone we met was either from the USA or Mexico and all told us they were fully vaccinated (there was no vaccination requirement to enter Mexico or the resort).  We had a fantastic 8 days and just about forgot that there is still a Pandemic.  Life at the resort was completely normal with some capacity restrictions (i.e. tables were a bit further apart in restaurants to comply with Mexican government requirements).   Our resort "got it" and realized that many folks want normalcy and apparently figured that grown ups are capable of making their own decisions on mitigation.  Folks were certainly free to mask-up and could have easily social distanced.  But in our 8 days at the resort we did not see anyone making those kind of choices.   I am talking folks of all adult ages from young honeymooners to we seniors.  It was the happiest group of folks I have seen for over a year and it became obvious that all shared the same secret....that life can be normal for those that make that choice.

 

The reason for my post is to let folks know that one can find a relatively normal travel experience despite what you might hear in the press.   There are plenty of folks who understand that being fully vaccinated means liberation and these folks (including us) reject the ridiculous messaging that vaccinated folks need to act like prisoners and pretend that vaccines do not work.  Vaccines do work and they work well (you can find the facts to support this on the CDC's own web site).  For those folks who have doubts and want to stay locked down and masked we do think that is a personal decision that serves their own needs.  For those of us who have decided it is time to return to a normal life it is possible.   I should add that when we returned to the Cancun Airport yesterday morning the terminal was a complete zoo packed with travelers.  As per airport rules everyone was masked (although many wore masks below their nose) and folks seemed very happy to travel.  We had lunch at a packed airport Margaritaville where all we saw were smiles from the happy diners/drinkers.  Personal responsibility and decision making is a good thing and many travelers "get it."

 

I am very concerned about the future of cruising from US Ports.  The kind of restrictions and rules (mostly being imposed by the CDC) not only make little sense, but will make cruising a different kind of experience which will either force cruisers to ignore the restrictions or have many finding the experience awful!  Cruising on a ship where folks must constantly wear masks,  social distance (how do you do that in bars, lounges and elevators) is not cruising in the traditional sense.  Having all kinds of rules and restrictions on dining, attending shows, shore visits, etc. will make lots of folks very unhappy and not be a good thing for cruising.    One of the reasons we finally booked a smaller ship cruise in Greece is the promise of no port restrictions.  Since our ship will have only vaccinated folks (passengers and crew) and our far from the nonsensical arm of the CDC should make for more reasonable onboard mitigation measures.  

 

In the USA, COVID has been defeated for those that have been vaccinated.  The risk of a fully vaccinated person getting (or spreading) COVID is so small that it does not justify any kind of restrictions on those folks.  It is unheard of to have government imposed healthcare restrictions on a population of such a low risk (the CDC's own numbers put the risk at no more then 1 in 14,000 for the vaccinated and there is some reason to believe that even that number overstates the risk).  We now see the  hypocrisy when government officials contradict themselves every day with both words and actions (anyone see the photo of the Bidens with the Carters?).   Time for our government to stop all this nonsense and simply say that fully vaccinated folks can return to a normal life without restrictions.  And for those who still choose to believe that restrictions and lockdowns are a good thing....well they can choose to continue those ways (this is caused free choice).

 

Hank 

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13 minutes ago, Hlitner said:

 

In the USA, COVID has been defeated for those that have been vaccinated. 

NO IT HAS NOT. Maybe but maybe not. I think it's irresponsible for your to post things like this. You set yourself up as quite the authority and then you spread questionable opinion as fact. Please stop it.

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23 minutes ago, clo said:

NO IT HAS NOT. Maybe but maybe not. I think it's irresponsible for your to post things like this. You set yourself up as quite the authority and then you spread questionable opinion as fact. Please stop it.

What I think is "irresponsible" is for the CDC to treat vaccinated folks like the unvaccinated and thus, further discourage vaccine-hesitant folks from getting shots.  Many of them now say, "why should I get vaccinated when many of the rules do not change?"  So you and I can agree to disagree.

 

What I said about fully vaccinated folks having very little risk is backed up by the CDC's own data which they choose to ignore.  They have backed themselves into a corner by, on one hand, telling folks that vaccines are very safe and effective and on the other hand telling them that even if you are vaccinated you are not safe!   Why they continue to ignore their own data of about 5800 "breakthroughs" out of over 77 million fully vaccinated and many more partially vaccinated is anyone's guess, but it sure is not based on the application of science and statistics.   That is less then 1/100th of 1%!  You can do your own math but no matter how you do it there is no justification of restrictions on fully vaccinated folks.

 

Hank

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Posted (edited)

I want to return to cruising every bit as much as anyone on Cruise Critic -- and yet I have enough detachment to realize that just because I "want" a thing doesn't mean that thing should happen when there are other, more paramount concerns.

 

Yes, the restart is going to be difficult. Where, now, are all those cruisers (some of the same ones who are belly-aching now about not being able to cruise) who repeatedly said that if the industry gets the restart wrong, it would be disastrous?

 

People repeatedly point to the cruises that have resumed sailings as indicators that sailing can be resumed safely, AND YET the heads of the major cruise lines seem to rebuff what those lines are doing.

 

THEY (the lines that have restarted in a limited way in Europe and Asia) are sailing with a strictly limited capacity. Celebrity, on the other hand, after announcing it would not exceed 50% capacity on its "new" Caribbean sailings and only book balcony and above, has now opened up bookings in lower categories. Either the line is suffering and cruises aren't booking (which rather puts the lie to those who insist there is a huge pent-up demand).  OR they are going against their announced protocols and sailing at a higher than advertised capacity -- in which case it rather proves the CDC's case that the lines cannot be trusted to regulate themselves.

 

THEY are requiring group shore excursions (not all cruises who have announced restarts are doing the same).

 

THEY have strict mask wearing/social distancing criteria -- do we trust that RCL, CCL, and NCL will enforce this?  As someone posted on a different thread, just think of what a typical scene by the main pool looks like on a sea day on one of these large vessels. How will they keep people from moving chairs, congregating at the pool steps or at the bar, etc.?

 

"The vaccine changes everything...."  Yes, but we have to be patient. None of the lines that have restarted are requiring vaccination, because vaccination in Europe has been slow to rollout. So what, then are our models? There aren't any.  Being on a cruise ship for a week is NOT the same as being on a plane for a 3-hour flight or even being in a hotel overnight, much as people might like to equate them. Some have said that cruising is more like a residential facility -- a dorm or an assisted-care facility. And we have seen instances already where ONE unvaccinated worker has spread disease among residents, some vaccinated, some not.

 

An unvaccinated worker set off an outbreak at a U.S. nursing home where most residents were immunized. - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

 

Or if you prefer, the CDC version:  COVID-19 Outbreak Associated with a SARS-CoV-2 R.1 Lineage Variant in a Skilled Nursing Facility After Vaccination Program — Kentucky, March 2021 | MMWR (cdc.gov)

 

If you think this could not happen on a cruise ship, especially one where 100% vaccination of all is required, you have your head in the sand.

 

Short story -- I guess I am just not able to live in an "alternate universe."  I live in this one.

 

I'm not ready to cruise yet, but I see plenty of happy people where I am -- happy to be vaccinated, but also realistic that a pandemic isn't rolled over in an instant. Maybe we should just pause and think of something a bit higher than our own giddy happiness at being able to travel.

 

Edited by cruisemom42
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6 hours ago, Hlitner said:

I am very concerned about the future of cruising from US Ports. 

 

I was a business schooler when the Tuna industry said Sorry Charlie to the US because we could not manage/regulate  the balance between commerce and eco-system,   and the fishermen and canneries all packed up and moved to Manta Ecuador,  the new Tuna capital of the World.      

 

I can see the potential for the same thing happening to the cruising industry,  it may be happening right before our eyes,  right under our noses, under our masks, slipping through our fingers,  like sands in an hourglass,  these are the days our our lives.

 

I predict that if we don't see cruiseships sailing from US ports this year,   we may never see them again in the US.

 

How's that for a feeling of impending doom?

 

 

 

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31 minutes ago, JRG said:

 

I was a business schooler when the Tuna industry said Sorry Charlie to the US because we could not manage/regulate  the balance between commerce and eco-system,   and the fishermen and canneries all packed up and moved to Manta Ecuador,  the new Tuna capital of the World.      

 

I can see the potential for the same thing happening to the cruising industry,  it may be happening right before our eyes,  right under our noses, under our masks, slipping through our fingers,  like sands in an hourglass,  these are the days our our lives.

 

I predict that if we don't see cruiseships sailing from US ports this year,   we may never see them again in the US.

 

How's that for a feeling of impending doom?

 

 

 

I completely agree and have been trying to think through a possible business plan/model for the cruise industry to survive.  Once I have worked out some issues I will try to post it on CC (if the mods permit).  But I can already say that my model includes no cruise industry in the USA.  The huge cruise ports of Miami and Port Everglades would simply rot away and rust for lack of cruise business (perhaps they could be adapted for commercial shipping.  The 10s of thousands of hotel rooms filled every week (by cruisers) will be empty of the hotels will need to adapt.  The 10s of thousands of restaurant seats (mostly in Miami and Ft Lauderdale) will go empty.  And that is just for starters.

 

Hank

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49 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

Maybe we should just pause and think of something a bit higher than our own giddy happiness at being able to travel.

Yes please. There's shallowness or a sense of entitled privilege that gives me the icks. 

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44 minutes ago, JRG said:

I predict that if we don't see cruiseships sailing from US ports this year,   we may never see them again in the US.

 

So what? Those who want to cruise still can. But in a different way. Change is inevitable and change, IMO, is good.

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18 minutes ago, clo said:

So what? Those who want to cruise still can. But in a different way. Change is inevitable and change, IMO, is good.

 

Change is wonderful.    My point was that the US and San Diego economy lost billions during the 1970 progressively because we all collectively didn't understand how to regulate things.

 

I was illustrating the fact that we could be losing the cruising industry,   it wouldn't happen overnight,  but more like gradually,  kind of like it is now,  and another blow to the fiscal year could be all she wrote.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, JRG said:

 

Change is wonderful.    My point was that the US and San Diego economy lost billions during the 1970 progressively because we all collectively didn't understand how to regulate things.

 

I was illustrating the fact that we could be losing the cruising industry,   it wouldn't happen overnight,  but more like gradually,  kind of like it is now,  and another blow to the fiscal year could be all she wrote.

 

 

 

Oh I understand. But throughout history certain industries have gone away or been greatly reduced:

 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2018/12/18/americas-dying-industries-businesses-losing-most-workers/38693221/

 

It seems like the natural order of things.

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I think this is all a negotiating ploy. Yes, the tuna example is a bad outcome for tuna processing in the US. I suspect the significantly cheaper costs in Central America made the decision a no-brainer...in fact, it was probably a "we have made the decision, unless you give us a significant break" type extortion attempt, as opposed to a more balanced negotiation. But I bet few even noticed other than the employees. Not to diss the employees, but they probably were going to get hosed one way or the other, as the decision was made. This type of negotiations can result in concessions, only for the business to be back in a couple of years for more concessions, and the same threats and ultimate planned results.

 

Cruising from US ports is a business that draws millions and millions of people each year, and is very visible to the public, as Cruise Critic's existence proves very well. Can tuna fishing/processing say anything close? Absolutely not. The first action on every business person's checklist is to pull the "woe is me, we are leaving" card. But another possible action plan is to realize the value of business, plus the demand that exists, and adjust business plans, including raising prices to cover increased costs, and redesigning your product. This has been done many, many times. Yes, there might be some bumps getting the restructuring done, but if the strong demand is there, smart business people will find a way to get it done.

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The tuna industry is a good example but only one of many similar examples.  We have plenty of industries that have been driven out of the USA by simple economics and have never returned.  I can take you a few miles down the road and show you a huge abandoned Caterpillar factory complex that was completely abandoned (and relocated to Mexico) because of labor union demands (the Union told their workers not to worry because Caterpillar would never move).  We can look to the US Steel Industry which never recovered from the strike of 1986.  Part of our auto industry has been relocated to other countries because of economics and some of that industry has been lured to the USA by States that offered huge economic incentives.  Folks tend to think in terms of their own agendas, but Corporate CEOs and Boards live of die with the bottom line.  Take away a corporations ability to generate revenue and make a profit and they will generally react.

 

Corporations function, in some ways, like a person.  They do whatever they can do to survive.  Both labor unions and government has too often made the mistake of thinking, "they will never leave."  But history is pretty clear that once a company's back is against the economic wall they will react (or not survive).   One has to only look at the rust belt to see what happens when economics no longer fit a business plan.

 

We have all heard the old saying that "you can't fight city hall."  For the cruise industry it is now becoming apparent that they cannot fight the CDC who has left them with two viable choices, move most operations out of the USA or face financial failure (which may happen anyway).

 

Hank

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4 hours ago, Hlitner said:

The huge cruise ports of Miami and Port Everglades would simply rot away and rust for lack of cruise business (perhaps they could be adapted for commercial shipping. 

 

You make some valid points in your posting but not in this case.  That sentence is laughable in the case of Port Everglades (I don't know enough about PortMiami).

 

Port Everglades is a already a very successful commercial (container and cargo ships) port first and a cruise port second.  It is the largest container port in Florida and the 12th largest in the US.  Looking at operating revenue generated in 2019 of $171M  (not using 2020 for obvious reasons), cruise revenue contributed almost $60M.   See https://assets.simpleviewinc.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1/clients/porteverglades/FINAL_FY_2020_Waterborne_Commerce_Chart_06fe0023-5a81-4d0b-a549-53c1ceceaf0e.pdf.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, capriccio said:

 

You make some valid points in your posting but not in this case.  That sentence is laughable in the case of Port Everglades (I don't know enough about PortMiami).

 

Port Everglades is a already a very successful commercial (container and cargo ships) port first and a cruise port second.  It is the largest container port in Florida and the 12th largest in the US.  Looking at operating revenue generated in 2019 of $171M  (not using 2020 for obvious reasons), cruise revenue contributed almost $60M.   See https://assets.simpleviewinc.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1/clients/porteverglades/FINAL_FY_2020_Waterborne_Commerce_Chart_06fe0023-5a81-4d0b-a549-53c1ceceaf0e.pdf.

 

 

Am aware the Ft Lauderdale is already a very successful port (as is Miami).  But that is all the more reason to take advantage of an abandoned cruise port and convert it into even more commercial docking space.  Of course that assumes that the US Cruise industry disappears.   

 

Hank

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10 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

None of the lines that have restarted are requiring vaccination, because vaccination in Europe has been slow to rollout. So what, then are our models? 

With one exception (MSC) all the cruise lines re-starting in the UK require all pax to be vaccinated.

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4 hours ago, wowzz said:

With one exception (MSC) all the cruise lines re-starting in the UK require all pax to be vaccinated.

 

Please note that I said "have restarted", not "are restarting".  Those lines haven't started yet and we can't guess how successful they will be until they have happened.

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Hank, for the most part I agree however; the way our government is set up , I don't see this happening. Especially with that free choice thing . 

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On 5/6/2021 at 11:08 AM, Hlitner said:

This post is a "think piece" about our world without cruising.  DW and I are cruise lovers who used to spend about 100 days a year on ships.  Like many here on CC we have missed our cruising life (which will, for us, resume in July with a trip to Greece).  But unlike many, DW and I have continued to travel by seeking out alternatives to cruising.  Last week we flew to Cancun to spend 8 days in an adults-only All Inclusive resort.  Our AA flight to Cancun was about 80% full with folks from all ages and various diverse groups.  We all wore masks in the airport and on the aircraft.  At Cancun, the airport was crowded and seemed normal except for masking (just like in the USA).  We were immediately met by our private transfer company and our driver and ourselves remained masked during the 40 minute ride to our "high end" resort.  At the resort (which is beyond huge double gates) we cleared security and drove into the expansive resort that had hundreds of guests.  As soon as we entered the main building (to check in) we noticed that none of the guests were wearing masks and staff had simple face shields (no masks).  For the next 8 days we lived a very normal life where nobody wore masks and few seemed to worry about social distancing.  Everyone we met was either from the USA or Mexico and all told us they were fully vaccinated (there was no vaccination requirement to enter Mexico or the resort).  We had a fantastic 8 days and just about forgot that there is still a Pandemic.  Life at the resort was completely normal with some capacity restrictions (i.e. tables were a bit further apart in restaurants to comply with Mexican government requirements).   Our resort "got it" and realized that many folks want normalcy and apparently figured that grown ups are capable of making their own decisions on mitigation.  Folks were certainly free to mask-up and could have easily social distanced.  But in our 8 days at the resort we did not see anyone making those kind of choices.   I am talking folks of all adult ages from young honeymooners to we seniors.  It was the happiest group of folks I have seen for over a year and it became obvious that all shared the same secret....that life can be normal for those that make that choice.

 

The reason for my post is to let folks know that one can find a relatively normal travel experience despite what you might hear in the press.   There are plenty of folks who understand that being fully vaccinated means liberation and these folks (including us) reject the ridiculous messaging that vaccinated folks need to act like prisoners and pretend that vaccines do not work.  Vaccines do work and they work well (you can find the facts to support this on the CDC's own web site).  For those folks who have doubts and want to stay locked down and masked we do think that is a personal decision that serves their own needs.  For those of us who have decided it is time to return to a normal life it is possible.   I should add that when we returned to the Cancun Airport yesterday morning the terminal was a complete zoo packed with travelers.  As per airport rules everyone was masked (although many wore masks below their nose) and folks seemed very happy to travel.  We had lunch at a packed airport Margaritaville where all we saw were smiles from the happy diners/drinkers.  Personal responsibility and decision making is a good thing and many travelers "get it."

 

I am very concerned about the future of cruising from US Ports.  The kind of restrictions and rules (mostly being imposed by the CDC) not only make little sense, but will make cruising a different kind of experience which will either force cruisers to ignore the restrictions or have many finding the experience awful!  Cruising on a ship where folks must constantly wear masks,  social distance (how do you do that in bars, lounges and elevators) is not cruising in the traditional sense.  Having all kinds of rules and restrictions on dining, attending shows, shore visits, etc. will make lots of folks very unhappy and not be a good thing for cruising.    One of the reasons we finally booked a smaller ship cruise in Greece is the promise of no port restrictions.  Since our ship will have only vaccinated folks (passengers and crew) and our far from the nonsensical arm of the CDC should make for more reasonable onboard mitigation measures.  

 

In the USA, COVID has been defeated for those that have been vaccinated.  The risk of a fully vaccinated person getting (or spreading) COVID is so small that it does not justify any kind of restrictions on those folks.  It is unheard of to have government imposed healthcare restrictions on a population of such a low risk (the CDC's own numbers put the risk at no more then 1 in 14,000 for the vaccinated and there is some reason to believe that even that number overstates the risk).  We now see the  hypocrisy when government officials contradict themselves every day with both words and actions (anyone see the photo of the Bidens with the Carters?).   Time for our government to stop all this nonsense and simply say that fully vaccinated folks can return to a normal life without restrictions.  And for those who still choose to believe that restrictions and lockdowns are a good thing....well they can choose to continue those ways (this is caused free choice).

 

Hank 

Hank, if you can, please email me information about this wonderful sounding AI resort in Cancun at vster5 at Comcast dot net. Thanks in advance

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I’m not sure I would describe a week in a Cancun all-inclusive resort as a “normal life.” That would be punishment for me, because I detest the artificiality of (1) all-inclusive resorts in general, and (2) anything having to do with Cancun. But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.

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20 hours ago, clo said:

So what? Those who want to cruise still can. But in a different way. Change is inevitable and change, IMO, is good.


And the heck with all of those businesses and workers who are displaced.

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5 minutes ago, DaveSJ711 said:

I’m not sure I would describe a week in a Cancun all-inclusive resort as a “normal life.” That would be punishment for me, because I detest the artificiality of (1) all-inclusive resorts in general, and (2) anything having to do with Cancun. But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.

Interesting take.  I think of AIs as something akin to a cruise ship on land.  AIs are similar to cruise lines in that there are several different classes of AIs.  All things being equal, DW and I would much prefer to be on a cruise ship but that option has been somewhat limited until the summer.  For what its worth we were only in Cancun to the extent of driving through to go north to Playa Mujeres which is a relatively new resort area far removed from the city.  The entire resort area (which has multiple resorts with more being build) lies behind security gates with additional gates at most resorts.  Although we love being in Mexico (we live in Puerto Vallarta for part of the year) Cancun (the city) would not be high on our list.

 

Hank

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When I hear the word "change" I figure it is code for taking away some quality, rights, etc.  So if "change" in cruises means having very limited dining hours/options, mask wearing (even at a dinner table), hot tub police (limiting a hot tub to a single person who has a time limit), mandatory cruise line excursions, long queues for elevators that are limited to 2 persons, etc.  then I am not a big fan of change.  If change means eliminating all passengers who like "change" then I am a big fan :).

 

Hank

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My alternate cruising universe might have me sitting at a 10 top in the MDR with some of CC's more passionate and prolific posters, listening to them profess their opinions as facts.

 

I think I could survive through one dinner.

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On 5/6/2021 at 5:45 PM, JRG said:

I predict that if we don't see cruiseships sailing from US ports this year,   we may never see them again in the US.

 

Predictions are wonderful things. No one ever seems to remember them when they are wrong (which is most of the time) -- only when they are correct. 

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