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11 extra charges on cruise ships that will drive you nuts – and what to do about them

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One of the great allures of cruising is that a lot is included in the fare. Those $499-a-week rates that you see advertised include not just a room on a ship but meals and entertainment, too. Plus the ship acts as your transportation. It gets you from place to place at no extra cost.

Still, for the most part, cruises aren’t all-inclusive. On many ships, there are a lot of little things — and some big things — for which you’ll pay extra.

Some of the things that come with an extra charge are as you would expect. You’ll pay extra for treatments in shipboard spas, for instance, or for guided shore excursions (in most cases).

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s new cruise newsletter.

But on many ships, there also are a growing number of extra fees that might take you by surprise — particularly if you haven’t been on a ship in a while. Some lines now charge extra for room service, for instance — something that always used to be free. On some ships, certain menu items in the “free” main dining room now come with an extra charge.

Here at The Points Guy, we call this the nickel-and-diming-ization of the cruise world, and we’re not happy about it. You shouldn’t be happy about it, either.

You also shouldn’t assume there’s nothing you can do about it.

Cruise lines with lots of extra charges

Want to avoid paying a lot of extra charges on a cruise? One way to do it is to book a trip with a luxury line such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Seabourn or Crystal Cruises. Luxury lines generally include almost everything in their base fares, from drinks of all kinds to gratuities.

Luxury lines have much higher fares than mainstream brands such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises, of course. But the price differential sometimes isn’t nearly what it appears when you start to factor in all the extra charges you’ll experience on a less all-inclusive line.

River cruise lines at many price points also are known for their all-inclusiveness. It’s common for even mid-priced river cruise lines to include shore tours in every port, for instance. Many offer wine, beer and soda with lunch and dinner at no extra charge.

Related: 15 ways cruising newbies waste money on their first cruise

As for the mainstream lines, the extra charges can be wide-ranging — and maddening at times. In the segments below, we look at nearly a dozen different fees that you may encounter when cruising — and advice on what to do about them.

Taxes, fees and port charges

At many lines, the extra-fee shocks start even before you get on a ship. The first one you’re likely to encounter is a levy for “taxes, fees and port charges.” It’ll appear on your final invoice during the booking process, and it often can run into hundreds of dollars. It can make a sailing significantly more expensive than it initially appears.

Be sure to factor in the cost of taxes, fees and port charges when pricing a trip on a cruise ship such as the 3,690-passenger Carnival Magic. (Photo courtesy of Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line)

As of the date of this posting, for instance, Carnival Cruise Line was advertising four-night cruises to Mexico out of Long Beach, California, starting at $179. But that doesn’t include taxes, fees and port charges of $104.64. So the true starting price of the cruise is 58% more than what you see in big print on the line’s website.

The taxes, fees and port charges line on invoices covers all the fees that countries, states, towns and ports charge ships and their occupants — fees that the line is passing on to you.

You can’t get around these fees. But you can go into the booking process wide-eyed by searching the fine print on booking sites for such fees before you commit to a particular sailing.

Internet access fees

Free internet has become standard at a lot of hotel chains, so it might seem logical that cruise lines would offer free internet, too. After all, they’re just hotels that happen to float. But, in general, only the highest-end lines in the cruise world (and many river lines) offer free internet. At many big brands such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Princess, you’ll pay sometimes exorbitant amounts for internet access. The fastest service on Carnival vessels, for instance, recently was priced at $16 per person, per day. Compare that to what you pay for internet at home.

One way to avoid the charges is to wait until you’re in a port to check your emails, read the news online and do whatever else you do on the internet. You often can find free internet in the cruise terminal where your ship docks or at a nearby cafe or eatery.

Another option: Some lines offer less expensive internet plans that offer scaled-back access. Carnival, for instance, has a less pricey “social” plan that brings access to key social sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) as well as messaging services such as WhatsApp but not much else, for $8 a day, . It may be all you need.

Room service ‘convenience’ fees

Complimentary room service used to be a standard on cruise ships. But a growing number of lines are charging extra for it. The world’s biggest cruise line by passenger capacity, Royal Caribbean, for instance, now levies a $7.95 per order “convenience fee” for room service even if all you order is a single side of hash browns. They also — and this could really drive you nuts — add an 18% “gratuity fee” on top of the convenience fee for good measure. For the record, we find that fee-on-top-of-a-fee structure absurd. Just say you’re going to charge us $9.38.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles 

Royal <a href=Caribbean” src=”https://vistagaze.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/OasisAeriaL440-scaled-1.jpg” class=”wp-image-976804″>
Royal Caribbean has a $7.95 fee for room service delivery, plus an automatic 18% gratuity. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

Other lines that have started charging for room service include Norwegian, which now has a $9.95 “convenience charge” for room service. Celebrity Cruises and Carnival both charge for room service delivered late at night.

The way around these fees is simple: Don’t order room service. On many ships, there is no-extra-charge food available nearly around-the-clock from multiple outlets, from casual buffet eateries to grab-and-go pizza stands. All it takes is a short walk from your cabin to grab it.

Related: 21 tips and tricks to make your cruise go more smoothly 

Drinks charges

While meals generally are included on cruise ships (at least in some on onboard eateries), you’ll pay extra for most drinks — and not just alcoholic drinks. On many ships, soda and bottled water come with an extra charge (though, oddly enough, coffee, ice tea, lemonade and hot chocolate usually are available for free). A soda can cost anywhere for $2 to $4, depending on the line.

The exception is on luxury lines, where drinks of all types generally are included in the fare. Many river lines will include many drinks, including beer and wine, with lunches and dinners.

If you’re a big drinker, consider a drinks package. They can save you money if you normally would order a large number of drinks every day.

Related: Are drinks packages worth the price? A line-by-line guide 

Corkage fees

Speaking of drinks, many cruise lines will allow you to bring your own wine or Champagne on board, usually in limited quantities. But if you do so, be careful where you drink it. Depending on where you pop open your own bottle, you might be slapped with a “corkage fee” of $15 or more.

Lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Princess levy such corkage fees for passengers opening their own bottles in restaurants, bars, lounges and other onboard venues.

You’ll pay $15 to open your own wine in a restaurant on a Princess ship. (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

The only way to avoid this fee is to open your wine or Champagne in your room and then either drink it there or take it around the ship in a nondescript glass. Not that this always works: Norwegian charges a $15 corkage fee even if you want to drink your own wine in your own room. They’ll levy the charge the moment you walk on board with a bottle.

Fees for lounging in adults-only areas

Several of the biggest cruise lines like to boast about the adults-only sunning areas on their ships where you can escape from the little ones. But what they sometimes leave out is that they’ll charge you for the privilege of being in a kid-free zone. Princess, for instance, charges $20 for a half-day pass to the Sanctuary, an adults-only lounge area found on most of its ships. Norwegian has adult lounge area called Vibe Beach Club on some of its ships that can cost a whopping $99 per person for a day pass (or $278 for two if you want a cabana).

If you love the idea of an adults-only deck-top area but don’t want to pay for it, you might want to look at Disney Cruise Line and Carnival ships. Both lines offer adults-only zones that are available to passengers at no charge.

Or consider a trip with Viking or Virgin Voyages. Neither allow kids.

Related: 5 cruise lines to try if you can’t stand being around kids  

Fees for select menu items in the ‘free’ dining room

One of the hallmarks of cruising is that there’s always a free meal available somewhere on a ship. All but the smallest vessels usually have a main dining room that is included in the fare as well as a buffet eatery where you can count on getting complimentary breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But in recent years some lines have started sneaking some extra charges into these “free” eateries. Carnival and Royal Caribbean now charge extra for filet mignon, lobster or a surf-and-turf combination entree in their main restaurants. The prices range from around $17 to well over $30 a plate. Princess sometimes turns its free buffet area into a “crab shack experience” serving such items as snow crab, jumbo shrimp, clams and mussels for a hefty fee. 

The way to avoid this: Order the chicken.

Related: The ultimate guide to Royal Caribbean ships and itineraries 

Fees for using spa areas

A growing number of cruise ships have luxurious spa complexes that go well beyond treatment rooms. You’ll find sprawling “thermal suites” with saunas and steam rooms, thalassotherapy pools, heated loungers, rain showers and even snow rooms (with real snow) where you can laze away the day. But on many vessels, you’ll face a steep charge just to set foot in one of these areas.

Norwegian charges $199 per week for a thermal suite pass at its spas, and lines such as Cunard and Carnival have daily fees for access to thermal suites.

The good news: Not every thermal suite on a ship comes with an extra charge. Fast-growing Viking has made free access to the thermal suites in its spas a hallmark of the line.

Fees for access to top attractions

Some of the signature attractions on big cruise ships such as Norwegian Encore and Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas come with extra fees.

Norwegian Encore’s much-ballyhooed go-cart track (it’s one of the only ones at sea) will set you back $15 for a single, eight-lap ride. The ship’s nearby laser tag course will cost you $10 for a five-minute shoot-out. In both cases, you can buy a weeklong pass, but only if you’re OK dropping an extra $199 per person.

The top deck of Norwegian Encore includes a sprawling go-kart track and a outdoor laser tag area. (Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line).

Royal Caribbean, meanwhile, will charge you extra for a 60-second flying experience on Anthem of the Seas’ skydiving simulator (after one initial free ride). Carnival charges $59 for a two-hour class in the kitchen classroom on its newest ship, Carnival Panorama.

Other cruise ship attractions that often come with an extra charge include wine-tasting events, IMAX theater shows, escape rooms and behind-the-scenes tours.

Related: 12 cruise ships with the most fun attractions 

Fitness class fees

Access to the fitness center on your cruise ship will be included in the fare, but that doesn’t mean you can go to fitness classes for free. On many ships, you’ll pay $10 or more for classes in yoga, Pilates, spinning and the like. This isn’t always the case. River lines and luxury lines often offer fitness classes at no extra charge. But on mass-market ships, expect to pay extra.

If taking lots of fitness classes is part of your vacation routine, you might consider the value of trading up to a higher-end cruise line that includes fitness classes (and other extras) in its fare.

Automatic gratuities

Some cruise lines call them service fees. Others call them gratuity charges. Either way, the daily fees that some cruise lines tack onto passenger bills can be a shock to first-time cruisers.

At some lines, these charges run as high as $25.50 per day. And, unlike the typical service fee or resort fee found at a land resort, they are not per room. They are per person. At big lines such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, it’s not uncommon for a family of four staying in a single cabin to see around $60 a day in service fees added to their bills. On a typical seven-night cruise, that’s more than $400 in fees!

Want to avoid such charges? One way around them is to book a cruise during one of the frequent promotions that some lines offer where they throw in service charges for free. Another option: Consider one of the growing number of lines that include service charges in their base fares.

Lines that now include gratuities in their fares include Azamara, Crystal Cruises, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea and Virgin Voyages.

Related: Everything you need to know about tipping on cruise ships 

Planning a cruise for the coming year? These stories will help:

  • The most spectacular water slides and watery fun zones at sea
  • Cruise ship restaurant nirvana: The 7 best meals at sea
  • 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • The most exciting new ocean ships of 2020
  • The best Caribbean cruises for every type of traveler
  • What to pack for your first cruise

Featured image courtesy of Princess Cruises

By: Gene Sloan
Title: 11 extra charges on cruise ships that will drive you nuts – and what to do about them
Sourced From: feedly.com/i/entry/NyV7uzPAbNVZ1TXzSJfeNlpmjDOJfZ9Tq9B9hQzBgXU%3D_1742d048336%3A7d0da7d%3A8973f4
Published Date: 8/26/2020 11:05:04 PM

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Gift Ideas to Buy for Hiking Fans on Black Friday

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Days spent on hiking is beneficial to every individual involved. It boosts up metabolism, burns out calories, releases oxytocin, and strengthens the muscles while keeping our bodily functions alert sharpening our senses. Hiking is a delightful way to explore places with our loved ones, friends, and relatives, so if you know a hiker inside your closest circle, giving them quality presents that can be used for hiking can enhance their experiences.

Black Friday Outdoor Equipment Deals

Hiking and wilderness exploration can be an excellent dynamic activity open to everyone. For some of us, a common detriment that we encounter is the amount of gear and equipment to prepare and bring for each of our adventures. These things should ensure our safety and convenience while being able to function proportionate to our needs.

Every seasoned backpacker or trekking enthusiast may indulge in quality tools and equipment that can assist them with their undertakings. If you know a passionate hiker you can read this review of the north face jester backpack in case you are wondering what to give them as a gift this coming holiday. Remember that the gear you want to present to them is manufactured with rugged materials built to withstand the strains and difficulties of natural terrain and different atmospheric conditions.

Black Friday is one of our most awaited shopping days of the year since it gives us the opportunity to land affordable deals with items of interest. Several companies have already launched many discounts and sales three weeks early before the actual event happens. More enterprises and products are expected to follow this trend until the ultimate showcase of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

If you want to purchase gifts in the form of outdoor gear and equipment, some of them are already accessible for early acquisition. But it is recommended to wait for Black Friday to avail them at their most discounted price. Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a shopping experience you do not want to miss when choosing and buying the best equipment for your next hiking activity.

Top Black Friday Gifts for the Hiking Enthusiast

Every outdoor specialist or hiking enthusiast knows the value that every tool on their arsenal can bring them while on the trail. They know that the quality of each item is proportionate to the function with their primary purpose. Modern-day equipment is built with robust materials that perform in conjunction with each personal need during any hiking adventure.

Hiking Jacket

Any person that wants to go on a hike should be prepared with every possibility. Rain, snow, hail, sleet, are probabilities that come naturally with adverse atmospheric conditions. Having a reliable hiking jacket layered with quality waterproof and tear-resistant fabrics keeps you dry while regulating your sweat output and body temperature.

Hydration Flask

Modern fluid flasks come in various forms such as the camel bak that lets you sip water or the rugged hydro flask manufactured with industrial metals. One of the difficulties caused by strenuous activities such as mountain climbing, jogging, hiking, or PT is the onset of dehydration. Outdoor items such as flasks and hydrating-equipment are designed to accompany every adventurer while providing them enough fluids during their journey.

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are built with nylon, advanced composites, and durable yet lightweight fabrics. These shoes are designed to be waterproof while having a slip-resistant base that helps you grasp even the slimiest surfaces. They are also incorporated with enough padding and fits well with the contours of your feet that aids in preventing physical damages and discomfort while hiking or navigating rough terrain.

Campground Tents

In case your hiking ends up in a two or more day ordeal, having a convenient camping tent may provide you immediate shelter and a forward outpost. Camping tents are now capable of fitting in 8 people all at once built with reliable and flexible all-weather fabrics supported by modular poles for quick builds. These tents can be easily folded and stored in a carrying bag for travel convenience.

Conclusion

Hiking is an enjoyable activity that everyone can benefit from. It is great for exploring natural areas of the earth while providing enough exercise to burn out calories and excess fat stored while sitting in the office. If you know an outdoor enthusiast, then Black Friday can be a great opportunity to gather items valuable to their next adventure.

The post Gift Ideas to Buy for Hiking Fans on Black Friday appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Shahbaz Ahmed
Title: Gift Ideas to Buy for Hiking Fans on Black Friday
Sourced From: feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheTravelExperta/~3/iLTbl2wK9RE/gift-ideas-to-buy-for-hiking-fans-on-black-friday.html
Published Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2020 13:44:00 +0000

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Surprise Alaska 50% bonus promotion, buy miles at 1.83 cents per mile

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A surprise Alaska 50% bonus promotion is underway right now, where members can purchase miles with up to 50% bonus. The current promotion of up to 50% bonus is applicable on minimum purchase of 30K miles, on transactions completed by December 23, 2020.

ALASKA MILEAGE PLAN – UP TO 50% BONUS MILES

Link to Promotion

 

This promotion is tiered with 40% bonus on purchase of up to 29k miles. Minimum purchase of 30K miles is required for the 50% bonus. The bonus tiers look like this;

  • Buy 3,000 – 29,000 miles, get a 40% bonus
  • Buy 30,000 – 100,000 miles, get a 50% bonus

With a 50% bonus, this promotion yields 1.83 cents per mile – a decent value. Note that Alaska MileagePlan has has 60% bonus promotions in the past, which yield 1.72 cents per mile. The current promotion can be maximized by purchasing 100K miles, for a total of 150,000 Alaska miles;

Recall that Alaska airlines will not be joining OneWorld alliance until March 31, 2021, which means a window to leverage the sweet spots in the program. In its current state, Alaska miles are one of the most valuable airlines currency in the market and come with great airline partners and routing sweet spots (including stopover on on-way awards) – couple of examples;

  • Cathay Pacific from North America to Asia (Cathay Pacific Business Class on 777-300ER review 2018), o/w for 30K/35K/50K/70K across all cabins
  • Fiji Airways (no first class) and Qantas from North America to Australia, o/w for 55k in Business or 70K in First Class
  • American Airlines from North America to Europe, o/w for 22.5K/57.5K across Econ and Business

If you plan on purchasing miles, I recommend using them in a short turnaround, because there is a good chance we see some devaluations as the generous Alaska MileagePlan joins OneWorld.

Additional Terms and Conditions of the promotion

  • Transactions must be completed between 6:00 AM PST November 13, 2020 and 11:59 PM PST December 23, 2020 to be eligible for bonus miles.

  • Miles are purchased from Points.com Inc. for a cost of $27.50 per 1,000 miles, plus GST/HST for Canadian residents. QST will be charged to Quebec residents.

  • Miles are non-refundable and do not count toward MVP and MVP/Gold status.

  • You may purchase and gift Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles in increments of 1,000 miles up to 60,000 miles, and in increments of 5,000 miles up to a maximum of 100,000 miles per transaction.

  • MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan member (Elite Member) accounts have no annual limit on the number of miles which may be purchased or gifted through Points.com. If you are not an Elite Member, your account may only be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles acquired through Points.com in a calendar year, whether purchased by you or gifted to you.

  • Offer is subject to change and all terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan Program apply.

 

By: Points Miles and Bling
Title: Surprise Alaska 50% bonus promotion, buy miles at 1.83 cents per mile
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/surprise-alaska-50-bonus-promotion-buy-miles-at-1-83-cents-per-mile/
Published Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2020 18:05:04 +0000

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Sponsored: The Modern Sapien: Book One: The American – Sci-Fi, Apocalyptic, Satire Book Review

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Sponsored – this review is sponsored by writer of The Modern Sapien, John Michael Thomas.

 

PREMISE

For the most part, I’ve been stuck inside since March, due to COVID-19. I’ve had to cancel plenty of travel plans, and have been cooped up in my place due to my pre-existing condition making COVID a higher threat for people like me. While I have been daydreaming and planning future trips – late in 2021, hopefully – I’ve been trying to improve my knowledge base and read more. The author reached out and asked if I’d do a review, and I said I’d be happy to read and review. I purchased The Modern Sapien on Amazon for $2.99 for Kindle, and there is also a paperback and Kindle Unlimited subscription option.

Per the author, The Modern Sapien “…takes place in future phoenix, and is a satirical take on the way we live. It’s sci fi cyberpunk.” Sounds good to me, I’m a huge fan of sci-fi, alternative history, and the like from authors like Robert Conroy or Harry Turtledove, so this should be a fun review. I’m writing this as I read through it, which is something I have not done before.

Cover art from Amazon

 

Initial Thoughts

I’m not even 10% into the book, and it lives up to what he said – satirical take on the way we live. Set ~80 years in the future, the EU has launched their neucular arsenal against what’s left of the United States, based in Phoenix, and people are not only not afraid, they welcome the destruction. Lots of discussion about warring hash-tags and selfies and the misery olympics, between presumably better-off people of Phoenix ‘almost’ dying and having conniptions, and the “poverty-stricken Malawi” saying welcome-to-my-everyday-life in Africa. Definitely a very reputation-oriented culture in this book, which reminded me of the episode “Majority Rule” by FOX’s Orville by Seth McFarlane, where citizens rate each other and appearance is everything.
The book’s structure of data entries from various character’s point of view is a bit jarring, not entirely setting the stage for readers to grasp. Who is this person, why is this person the perspective that is important – is not entirely clear. Similar to the World War Z book where it’s told from different person’s perspectives, perhaps later in the book they’ll tie together somehow.
Modern Sapien paints a fantastical, disparate picture of the world 80 years in the future, due to the devastation from something called the “Seattle Hack” led by evil villain Jeff Bezos, and how companies became conglomerates and their own city-states to survive. There’s a online universe called the Nexus, which is similar to the Oasis from Ready Player One or the Matrix virtual reality, but with the real-life costs of the movie Surrogates, where the humans still need nutrients to survive. It is strongly anti-consumerism, I think, highlighting the reverence and honor paid to the Red Solo cup for example, as a goal to be achieved – everyone wants an authentically created one, rather than a “fabricated” product.
A quarter of the way in, the book starts to explain the setting. I’m a bit confused why it’s brought up here, when it should have been at the beginning, but I just shrug and move on.
I learned a lot more about encryption than I cared or needed to know, but interesting nonetheless, at a very basic level.

Relatable

While it is sci-fi and futuristic, it is relatable, such as when the Japanese kid at his graduation party (called adulting party) gets mobbed by far off relatives he barely knows, or is forced by his parents to make small talk and say hello to people he just could not care about. I certainly understand that feeling, as growing up I was told to go say hi to this person or talk to that person, and I just hated feeling like a talking, dancing monkey.

There’s a very good Handmaid’s Tale vibe of sacrificing freedoms for security with protection military and drones. Give up your guns, and everyone is safe (thanks to the drones)

Very distinct sci-fi vibe, maybe steampunk I could see as well.

 

Themes

As I’m progressing through the book I’m getting a very weird Brave New World vibe where everything, everyone has its place. The satire continues, as the author mocks vegetarians, war hawks, gun nuts, the younger generation, social media obsession, consumerism, religion, and many other topics. Very interesting, making me develop a mental ??? as I’m reading through it.

 

CONCLUSION

I did notice and do some double-takes over various typos in the book, which I assume an editor would have caught, which can change the wording or meaning of the sentences. That’s not ideal, but a good first effort. I would certainly read more about other books in the series once they are released, and for a reasonable $3 for 200+ pages, I’m pretty pleased with this purchase, sponsored or not. It boots you off to this parallel world where things are different, yet vaguely the same. I was not expecting some of the NSFW language or scenes I found in the book, so I wouldn’t prescribe it for young adults, but to each their own.

You can purchase a copy or learn more about the book on Amazon here.

 

 

Sponsored – this review is sponsored by writer of The Modern Sapien, John Michael Thomas.

Featured Image is from Pixabay. Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links which, should you click through and/or make a purchase, grant me a commission. Also, I only post in the best interest of my readers. Lastly, thank you for supporting my blog and my travels. 

What do you think of my writing? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments, or reach me directly at TheHotelion@gmail.com! Like my posts? See more here, on TravelUpdate! Follow me on Facebook (The Hotelion) or on Twitter and Instagram: @TheHotelion

By: The Hotelion
Title: Sponsored: The Modern Sapien: Book One: The American – Sci-Fi, Apocalyptic, Satire Book Review
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/the-modern-sapien-american-sci-fi-apocalyptic-book-review/
Published Date: Tue, 17 Nov 2020 01:41:35 +0000

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