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8 Incredible Technologies Onboard Cruise Ships

15th January 2015

Whether you are a tech lover or not, there is a part of everyone that gets excited when a new gadget takes the world by storm. Whether it’s a new app on your phone, a robotic hoover that claims to clean your house without you moving or an exciting new wireless device that you all of a sudden 'need' in your life, we can’t help but evolve into the ever changing technical world.

Technology is everywhere and plays a major part in all of lives, and this doesn’t stop when we go on holiday. The cruise industry has taken a lead on the technology front and these floating hotels are now home to some of the most exciting technologies in the world.

Here are eight incredible cruise ship technologies:

Movies Under the Stars

It is possible to catch the latest flick almost anywhere now, whether on an aeroplane, train, or pretty much anywhere with your smartphone or tablet.

Although all cruise lines have televisions in staterooms and throughout the ship, it was Princess Cruises that took this one step higher with the 'Movies Under the Stars' concept. A gigantic 300 square foot, 69000 watt movie screen was added to the top deck of select ships. Offering guests the unique opportunity to enjoy blockbuster movies with a real backdrop of sea and sky, this concept has been a huge hit.

Available on: Royal Princess, Regal Princess

Robotic Bartenders

The leaders in cruise ship technology, Royal Caribbean did not disappoint with their latest creation on new ships Quantum and Anthem of the Seas. The Bionic Bar consists of two robotic bartenders that serve up a host of exotic cocktails.

Guests order their cocktail of choice via tablet and then watch in amazement as the robotic bartender mixes their desired drink. Each robot can produce one drink per minute and up to 1000 drinks a day.

Available on: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas

Interactive Restaurant

A dining experience like no other, Disney wanted to create an experience for guests to bring their imagination to life and successfully accomplished this with 'Animators Palate'.

As guests sit down at their dining table, they will find a black sheet and markers where they can draw characters of their choice within the lines given.

During dinner the restaurant changes colour and design through a shift of lighting and digital walls. As dessert time approaches, the entire restaurant comes alive. The interactive screens throughout will display movie clips featuring your very own drawn character.

Available on: Disney Magic, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy

Digital Wayfinders

With cruise ships increasing in size, it made sense to cater for those with a fear of getting lost or missing a show due to not finding their way.

When the world’s largest ship, Oasis of Seas launched in 2009 she came equipped with a new LCD wayfinder system. Located throughout the ship these screens offer a way for guests to find their way around using a touch screen display. These screens also show whats on, the way to your stateroom and a map of how to get to the location of your choice.

These Wayfinders won three awards for technological excellence from the Digital Screenmedia Association and Hospitality Technology Magazine.

Available on: Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Vision of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Legend of the seas

Cruise Apps

There is an app for almost everything nowadays. From fitness, cooking, and checking your finance to making your shopping list, booking a taxi and even planning your next holiday. With the significant increase of smartphone users, apps are vital.

Many cruise lines now have their own apps to enable guests to pre-book entertainment, view their itinerary and find out what’s happening onboard.

Some cruise lines raised the bar even higher, among our favourites are Norwegian Cruise Lines who realised an app where guests can keep all their holiday pictures in one place, navigate around the ship and get up-to-date event information.

Available on: Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises 

Virtual Balconies

Everyone likes to see the outside view when cruising so Royal Caribbean wanted to ensure even those staying in an inside stateroom could experience the incredible views the ship is passing. Early in 2014 it was announced virtual balconies would be added to select ships, starting with Navigator of the Seas.

These 80 inch LED screens are attached to the inside wall and project a real-time view of the outside. They work both in port and at sea so guests can experience exactly what it is like to have an outside stateroom.

Available on: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas 

Salt Room at Sea

Norwegian Cruise Line made a breakthrough in the spa category with the first ever Salt Room at sea onboard Norwegian Breakaway.

This special treatment room releases dry aerosol micro particles of salt into the room in a session with is proven to improve the immune and respiratory systems, leaving guests feeling healthier and refreshed.

Available on: Norwegian Breakaway

Sky Diving Simulator

Known for pushing all industry boundaries, Royal Caribbean wowed once again with their latest innovation on Quantum of the Seas. iFly is an indoor sky diving simulator that stands at the back of the ship to offer flying views like no other.

This 23-foot tall glass cylinder blows wind up to a speed of 160 mph for guests to feel like they are taking part in a real life sky dive.

Available on: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas


By Sally Grimes


What happened to the cruise industry in 2014?

16th December 2014

As the end of 2014 approaches and we frantically panic prepare for next week, let's take a moment to reminisce on all of the things that made this year one of the most memorable for cruise.

With the cruise industry rapidly growing, it is now one of the fastest growing sectors in the travel industry. 21.3 million people cruised in 2013 and this number is expected to significantly increase for the end of 2014.

It wasn’t only the growth that made this year so phenomenal, 2014 saw us enjoy new ships, new destinations, incredible refurbishments and a host of breaking cruise news.

So, was 2014 the year for cruise? Let’s take a look…

January

'Kicking off the year in style'

As everyone packed away their decorations and set their New Year’s resolutions, the cruise industry wasted no time in starting the new year.

In time for the New Year festivities, P&O’s Arcadia revealed her multi-million pound refurbishment. Showcasing a host of new amenities, newly designed staterooms and the addition of a new 'East' restaurant, the adult-only ship was ready to excite guests once again.

In other news MSC Cruises announced they will sail to Asia and Australia for the first time in 2015, P&O Cruises revealed they will be adding a large union jack to the hull of all their ships and Carnival Cruise Lines released details on their new 'Concerts At Sea' programme.

My January highlight: Oceania’s first world cruise sold out in eight hours.

February

'Britannia starts to unveil'

The resolutions were already broken and everyone started to think about their 2014 summer holiday. As cruises were booking out fast and it was looking to be another busy year for the industry, the cruise lines kept whetting our appetites with more news.

It was announced the world’s largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas will be coming to Europe in 2015, P&O Cruises opened their upcoming Strictly Come Dancing cruises and Fred Olsen released details that Julian Lloyd Webber will perform onboard Braemar.

The most exciting announcements were those made by P&O Cruises as they finally revealed details about new ship, Britannia. Unveiling the 'Food Heroes' concept and the five celebrity chefs would be working together onboard.

My February highlight: The first plate of steel was cut for Carnival Vista.

March

'A race to be the best'

As temperatures started to rise and Spring was in sight, it appeared the cruise lines wanted to heat things up early and a host of cruise news came flooding in.

Although we were still in the first quarter of 2014, many of the lines started to release their big plans for 2015. It was announced 2015 will see Norwegian Cruise Lines largest ship, Norwegian Epic based year-round in Europe, Cunard will celebrate their 175th anniversary with their entire fleet docking in Liverpool together, Fred Olsen will explore the Arctic and Disney Cruise Line will sail from the UK.

It was also the month for Royal Caribbean to start revealing plans about their new Quantum-class ships, announcing they will have no main dining room and Jamie Oliver will have his first restaurant at sea.

An exciting milestone for Norwegian Cruise Line was met as the first piece of steel for Norwegian Escape was cut.

My March highlight: Sir Richard Branson confirmed he will enter the cruise industry with the launch of 'Virgin Cruises'.

April

'Five years since Oasis'

Spring arrived and it was the busiest month for booking as families, couples and singles put their deposits down on their yearly cruise. The Mediterranean was again a popular choice for families, however Asia and Australia bookings were also proving more popular.

Royal Caribbean announced new ship Quantum of the Seas will be based in China, as well as the news CATS will replace Hairspray on Oasis of the Seas.

My April highlight: Carnival Cruise Lines launched their new children’s programme.

May

'Confirmed rumours of new ships'

As the flowers were starting to bloom and we were in touching distance of summer, the cruise lines made some announcements to remind us once again why this industry is a constant excitement.

Royal Caribbean announced they will build a fourth Oasis-Class ship and MSC Cruises confirmed plans to build two revolutionary new ships.

After celebrating the Royal Rendezvous, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth began her multi-million pound refit. After her 16 day refurbishment in Hamburg, she returned with new single cabins, new restaurants, a newly designed casino and new sun awnings on the top deck.

My May highlight: Princess Cruises announced they will feature in a new documentary on ITV called 'The Cruise Ship' portraying what life is like onboard.

June

'Quantum details revealed'

Summer was in full swing and as thousands of us departed on our summer cruises, Royal Caribbean ensured the only think we were talking about was Quantum of the Seas. Throughout the month they released details of what can be expected onboard.

It was announced that there would be a revolutionary new entertainment venue called 'Two70' that will feature floor to ceiling windows that change from day to night. The Broadway show will be Mama Mia and a twenties Gatsby’s themed venue will also feature.

My June highlight: P&O Cruises revealed more about the dining features onboard Britannia, including cheese expert Charlie Turnball will join the five other celebrity chefs onboard.

July

'..and more new ships'

Soaring temperatures hit England, however this did not stop people setting sail for their ultimate summer getaway. Southampton saw thousands of cruisers boarding their ships for Mediterranean adventures and airports were busy with people flying to the likes of Florida and New York to join their ship.

Royal Caribbean continued to create intrigue around Quantum and Anthem of the Seas as they revealed more news about phenomenal technology onboard. Releasing videos about the new WOWbands, interactive screens and virtual balconies, they branded everything "this changes everything".

Cruise & Maritime announced they will introduce new ship Azores to the fleet in 2015. Norwegian Cruise Lines also revealed plans for two new ships and Princess Cruises revealed their plans for a third Royal-class ship.

My July highlight: Fred Olsen launched a Poison, Murder & Mystery cruise where guests can fully immerse themselves in a murder mystery at sea.

August

'The return of The Love Boat'

The month that sees the most sunlight, August had everyone is good spirits. While thousands of us were sipping cocktails on the pooldeck, the rest of us were enjoying days in beer gardens and family BBQ’s.

Princess Cruises revealed new ship Regal Princess will be named by the original cast of hit US television show, The Love Boat. After completing her summer season in the Mediterranean she will return to Fort Lauderdale for her naming celebrations.

P&O Cruises and Cunard launched world cruises. For the first time three Cunard ships and three P&O ships will set off on world voyages in 2016.

My August highlight: P&O Cruises announced Aurora will undergo a £26 million refit.

September

'Hello to the Northern Lights promise'

As we slowly started to wave goodbye to summer, we were not the only ones with chilly temperatures on our minds. Hurtigruten announced their 'Northern Lights Promise'. Never before offered, they launched a promise no other tour operator has ever offered. If guests do not see the Northern Lights, they will be given a free cruise.

Norwegian Cruise Line agreed a multi-million deal to acquire Prestige Cruises, parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

My September highlight: Cunard revealed their latest line-up of guest speakers to include Ann Widdecombe and Michael Howard.

October

'LEGO, Hollywood Rocks and Elvis'

The heating was on and summer appeared a distant memory, luckily the cruise lines had a whole host of announcements to stop us feeling anxious about the winter.

Fred Olsen launched an Elvis Presley 80th birthday cruise, MSC Cruises partnered with LEGO and Cunard were commended for their incredible feedback on Queen Victoria’s performance of Hollywood Rocks.

Princess Cruises launched their new honeymoon registry system as well as announcing details for their 50th anniversary celebrations in November.

My October highlight: Princess revealed plans to bring their 50th anniversary celebrations to the whole fleet and will host celebratory parties on all ships.

November

'This changes everything'

As the mild winter continued and everywhere started to set up for Christmas, the cruise industry prepared for one of the most memorable moments of the year – the arrival of Quantum of the Seas.

After months of speculation and anticipation she arrived into Southampton ready for us to finally put pictures to life. She did not disappoint and living up up to her motto "this changes everything". With robotic bartenders, an indoor skydive, bumper cars and revolutionary dining – she received a thumbs up from all.

Shortly after Regal Princess was named in Miami following her successful season in Europe, Cruise and Maritime announced the addition of new ship Magellan and Fred Olsen revealed plans to refurbish three of their ships.

My November highlight: Norwegian Cruise Lines announced Norwegian Epic will debut new entertainment aimed at the European market as well as a Beatles Cavern Club.

December

'It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas'

As we put up the tree, search for gifts and indulge on the first mince pie, at the blink of an eye Christmas has arrived once again.

The month started with more new ship announcements. Luxury line Seabourn confirmed the order of another new ship set for delivery in 2018 and Celebrity Cruises revealed plans to build two new ships under the project name 'Edge' set to debut in 2018 and 2020.

Sir Richard Branson launched 'Virgin Cruises' and said he will "shake up the cruise industry" with two new purpose built ships.

My December highlight: P&O Cruises released 'The Great British Beer & Ale Menu' to feature on Britannia. It will be the largest selection of British beers at sea.


By Sally Grimes


7 Reasons To Be Excited About Quantum Of The Seas

23rd October 2014

Named as the first 'Smart Ship', she is the most technologically advanced ship in the world. With amenities never seen before at sea including bumper cars, an indoor skydive and an elevating pod, along with futuristic entertainment, extensive dining options and innovative staterooms, she is set to be a game changer in the cruise industry.

1. You can skydive in the middle of the ocean

In true Royal Caribbean style, they had to push boundaries with the onboard activities and Ripcord by iFly is about as exhilarating as it can get. This 30-foot tall glass flight chamber will give the feeling of a real life skydive as 30mph fans are projected upwards. This thrilling experience is like no other and can be found on the sports deck towards the aft of the ship.

2. You can dine in 18 restaurants

Introducing Royal Caribbean’s new Dynamic Dining concept, Quantum of the Seas presents 18 unique restaurants to take you on a culinary journey like never before.

With no traditional dining room, set dining times or formal nights, you can choose to dine in an array of exquisite restaurants. From Mexican, oriental and steak houses to Italian, buffets and American grills – there is something to tantalise every taste bud.

Popular Chef Jamie Oliver makes his debut at sea with speciality restaurant Jamie’s Italian, serving his finest Italian flavours and popular dishes.

3. You can ride 200 feet above sea level

I do not want to have a favourite part already, but I have a feeling this may be it! As a huge fan of the London Eye, when I saw there was going to be an elevating pod on top of the ship I couldn't quite believe it.

The North Star is a jewel-shaped capsule that will take you 200 feet above the ocean’s surface while taking in 360° views of the surrounding ocean or awe-inspiring destinations.

North Star will be complimentary to ride and no reservations will be needed.

4. You can download personalised apps

Many of us practically control our life from our phone and now you will be able to plan every part of your cruise from your finger tips with the exclusive Quantum Apps.

The cruise planner allows you to make reservations before you get onboard as well as during your cruise, including spa treatments, excursions and restaurant reservations. This app will also allow you to message friends and family on the ship and track exactly where they are.

Order a drink from your phone? Why not says Royal Caribbean. There is an app that will allow you to order drinks from your phone and then have them served by a robotic bar tender in the Bionic Bar – Incredible.

The introduction of the WOWband wristband will help you navigate your way around the ship as well as track friends and act as your room key and charge card.

5. You can watch futuristic entertainment

Royal Caribbean have won many awards for their onboard entertainment, so it made sense to pull out every stop for the entertainment programme onboard Quantum of the Seas.

World class singers, actors and dancers have been selected to appear in Broadway hit musical Mama Mia which will showcase in the main theatre during numerous evenings of the cruise.

Two70 is where entertainment and technology come face to face in a revolutionary new venue. In the day a modern open aired space to enjoy panoramic views of the outside, however when the sun goes down it completely transforms. Turning into an enchanted wonderland of rotating digital scenery, you will be able to experience aerialists, moving scenery and mind-blowing light shows as you sip on your favourite cocktail.

6. You can still enjoy your old favourites

As well as these new innovations, Royal Caribbean know what people have grown to love about their brand and do not want to take this away from their loyal guests. Quantum of the Seas boasts a number of original Royal Caribbean favourites such as the Flowrider surf simulator, the DreamWorks experience, Vitality Spa, and popular dining areas such as Windjammer Marketplace, Sorrento’s and Johnny Rockets.

The much-loved Royal Promenade will be the Royal Esplanade, however you will still get to feature an interior style promenade lined with shops, bars and other venues.

7. You can share all of this with your friends and family back at home

What is the point of making memories, if you can’t share them? This has proven to be hard on a cruise due to the slow and expensive WiFi at sea. However, Quantum of the Seas changes everything.

Quantum’s WiFi will be the fastest at sea and allow you to stream video, make Skype calls and post on social media to your hearts content. No buffering and expensive WiFi bills puts this ship way ahead of any others in the technology field.

Kids and teens (and adults if you wish) will also be able to link their Xbox live account to people all over the world in the Seaplex pod.

With innovation, technology and style set to dominate the oceans, Quantum of the Seas and her sister ships Ovation of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas are a class you won't want to miss.

By Sally Grimes


Quantum of the Seas - First Impressions

28th August 2014

Robot Bartenders, WOWbands and 40,000 Tablets...

With three weeks left until the 'big completion day' our Commercial Manager, Dave was lucky enough to be whisked off to the Meyer Werft Shipyard in Germany to get a first glimpse of new ship, Quantum of the Seas.

Set to be a complete game changer, it has been revealed she will be the world’s first SMARTship with innovations never before seen on land, let alone at sea. The most tech-savvy ship ever designed, prepare for something new.

Goodbye Seapass cards…Hello WOWband

One of the new technologies causing a controversial stir is the introduction of the RFID WOWband. These bands will act as a key to enter staterooms, payment for onboard purchases and access to the Royal iQ app. Unlike a Seapass card, it is waterproof and will not demagnetise, as well as being convenient to wear with no worry of it getting lost.

After a discussion on Facebook, it appears many are not so keen on the WOWband idea and fear it will not match formal outfits and look more like a branded all-inclusive resort band. The good news for these people is that the bands are optional and you will be able to keep your Seapass card instead.

WOWbands will cost $2 and can be purchased at any Royal iQ station.

Exclusive Cruise Apps

Two revolutionary new apps completely raise every bar in cruise ship technology. These apps allow every guest profile to be tracked, from stateroom number, dining preference and show times.

In connection with the WOWband, at the tap of a finger guests can interact with Royal iQ with hand signals at screen stations throughout the ship.

The app will also allow guests to track their luggage. Each bag will be tagged with an ID number on arrival and then you can track exactly where your luggage is and its expected time of arrival to stateroom.

Ensuring a hassle-free travel experience guests will be able to create boarding documents, upload ID photograph and receive digital boarding passes through the Cruise Planner app. Making it easy on the first day of a cruise, there will be no lines, check-in or waiting around and Royal Caribbean guarantee a 10 minute sidewalk to ship time.

High five to land-based internet speed

With so much technology onboard, my first thought was that there would have to be an extremely fast and reliable internet connection for this to work properly.

However, rest assure the internet speed onboard will match those on land. With a network of low-orbit communications satellites, they are a closer distance to earth than satellites used by other cruise ships, allowing a constant efficient connection.

This connection will also allow guests to use Skype and Facetime, features that are not yet available at sea.

Great news for teens – this new technology will allow them to play interactive games with friends the other side of the world.

Getting to know you

With every phenomenal ship, there is a phenomenal crew and Quantum of the Seas has made a revolutionary introduction to allow a closer connection between crew and guest. Every single crew member will be given a tablet with custom apps to keep a track of guest preferences including food allergies, show times and special requests.

Robot Bartenders

Yes, just when you think you have heard it all! A robotic arm will now be crafting your perfect cocktails. Is this the future of bar staff? Who knows, but for now this is one thing I cannot wait to see!

A single robotic arm can get ice, mix drink and shake them into the ultimate liquid treat. Located inside The Bionic Bar, guests will order their cocktail on a tablet and then sit back and watch in awe as these human-like machines make their cocktails of choice.

And that’s not all

As well as all of these new technologies, Quantum of the Seas and sister ship Anthem of the Seas will boast an array of industry first activities including bumper cars, an indoor skydive and an elevating pod that will rise guests 300 feet above sea level.

A new dynamic dining concept will take away the traditional dining room and allow guests to alternative between three different dining venues. A range of specialty restaurants will also be available including Jamie’s Italian featuring a menu created my renowned chef Jamie Oliver.

See our Facebook photo album for exclusive first images of Quantum of the Seas.


By Sally Grimes


What's In Store For 2014?

6th January 2014

Happy New Year to you all. I hope your festive period was full of happiness, love and lots of calorific food!

As we scrape the last of the cold turkey sandwiches, take the Christmas tree down and make our New Year’s resolutions (that we probably will not keep!) I am back in cruise mode and ready for the exciting year ahead.

My last blog proved that 2013 was an incredible year for cruise, but can 2014 top it?

More people trying out their sea legs…

Already predicted to be another booming year for cruise, it is expected that an increasing number of people are set to take their first cruise this year.

It's estimated that almost 65,000 people in Europe will take their first cruise in 2014 and 21,622,600 people worldwide will take a cruise this year.

Experienced cruisers are estimated to take at least four different cruises this year.

Where will people want to go…

The Caribbean and Med will remain the dominant cruise destinations this year. The Caribbean is always a strong favourite due to the year round warm climate and ability to visit multiple islands on one sailing.

With more ships departing from the UK during the summer months UK residents can enjoy a wider array of destinations without having to fly.

Cruise lines are constantly ensuring they have new destinations to offer so 2014 will see people cruising all over the world to even more exotic and unique locations, especially the experienced cruisers that thrive on experiencing new places. Ports that will gain more visitors this year include Durban in South Africa and Fremantle in Australia.

Asia and Australia have become increasing popular within the cruise industry and 2014 will see more cruise lines venturing here.

This year is the 100 year anniversary of the Panama Canal so it is a great time to take a cruise here.  With less than 200 days left until the opening of a bigger and better canal, Panama are going to celebrate this milestone by hosting exciting events throughout this period.  Almost all cruise lines visit this iconic part of the world but 2014 will see cruise lines taking special Panama Canal Cruises to join in the celebrations.

I predict South America will be a favourite this year as they host the 2014 Football World Cup. The anticipation for this event is building up and globe-trotters are already visiting Brazil, Peru and Chile for a taste of things to come.

MSC Cruises are sending MSC Divina on two Grand Voyage cruises to and from the World Cup. I have a feeling other cruise lines will see the potential in offering this too.

Cruise news set to boom…

More industry announcements, upgrades and news will keep us on our toes this year.

Oceania Cruises will complete their $50 million fleet upgrade and Regatta, Insignia and Nautica will showcase their upgrades during May and June.

The largest ship in the world, Oasis of the Seas will come to the UK for the first time and embark on a one-off transatlantic cruise from Southampton in November.  Selling out in record time it is set to be a once in a lifetime cruise. 

Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas will debut the first virtual balconies in November. Select rooms will have a virtual 80 inch floor-to-ceiling HD screen and project real time exterior views .

Regent Seven Seas will upgrade Seven Seas Mariner as part of their extensive revitalisation programme to ensure their fleet boasts the highest modern standards.

Along with other cruise fanatics, I am most excited about the new ships arriving this year.

To kick start the year, the first to arrive will be Norwegian Getaway. The new 4,028 passenger ship from Norwegian Cruise Line is set to arrive into Southampton in January before heading to her home port of Miami.

Princess Cruises will showcase their latest master piece, Regal Princess. Set to arrive in Spring she will be the sister of Royal Princess, I wonder if she will have such an iconic Godmother as her sister though?

Costa Cruises will launch their new 3,700 passenger Mediterranean inspired ship. Named Costa Diadema she will be the fleet’s new flagship and feature exclusive innovations new to the brand.

Saving the best to last (in some eyes anyway!) Royal Caribbean will launch their new mega ship. Scheduled to debut in November, Quantum of the Seas has stirred up a storm already. The build-up for this ship has been intense and according to industry experts it is the most highly anticipated ship of 2014.

Will this be the most exciting year?

Every year is exciting for cruise in my eyes and I love to see how each month cruise lines exclusively reveal unpredictable news that gets everyone buzzing.

Will 2014 top 2013? I can’t tell at this point but I am sure the cruise lines have plenty up their sleeves to make 2014 just as gripping as last year.


By Sally Grimes


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