I had someone question me regarding VAT, maybe I need to clarify. I have been doing the entire blog on my blackberry and it is very hard to edit and I don't have any ability to do spell check or any of that. My screen is roughly 1 inch square- I have the blackberry pearl. ;-)
VAT is not charged on the price of your cruise. However, it IS charged on everything you purchase on the ship- drinks, photos, spa treatments, gifts, and even baby sitting. I believe there is 7% on baby sitting and drinks.
Items purchased at the gift shop- are subject to 18% VAT. If you purchase more than $92 at Mickey Mate's you are able to fill out a form- that your return in Spain and your VAT will be returned via check. You cannot combine your purchases from shutters with those from the ship's stores.
Usually when you cruise with DCL, you do not pay sales tax on the items and they are duty free. This is where cruising here differs. I will take pictures tomorrow of the forms and post those tomorrow. Who ever at DCL that said you didn't pay VAT, IS VERY, VERY wrong! There are forms all over in your stateroom- even reminding you that if you send your laundry out to be washed- there is 7% VAT.
If you haven't learned that the people who you call at DCL are frequently wrong, you have been lucky. I have a very, very long example of that, but I will save that post for another day.
Also, please forgive me if I am not answering your comments. As the internet is not working well from the ship, I have not actually been looking at the blog. I am really bummed to see that my photos from Rome didn't post. They showed on my blackberry, but not on the computer here from the ship. Tonight they are actually working semi decently, I'm so pleased.
I sat with my table mates tonight at dinner seeing if they had any suggestions for anyone....
We thought that taking the train into Rome would be a great option for someone with one or two young children. You would have to be able to get yourself onto the train with your strollers, but the train is very, very cheap. It would allow you to do Rome at the pace that is acceptable for you and your family. You would also be able to leave when you wanted VS when the bus leaves. It might make you more relaxed as you can do what works best for you and if you have to leave right away, you wouldn't feel horrible as you wouldn't be shelling out a small fortune for transport. It would be less than 10 Euros for round trip transport, per person.
The open air bus we went on, would probably be very boring for younger children- as you are just driving around. If you had a young baby, it might give you a bit of rest- as he/she might sleep as you went around. I know my DS, who is 8, almost 9- would have liked it as we were out in the open and he would have thought that was fun. There was minimal explanation on what you were seeing, but if you walk up to the stand and purchase tickets (or on the train) they are around 16 Euros- so it isn't too expensive. We used trambus- the 110 line. ( If you search trambus or trambus open- you should find it.) I prepurchased our tickets online and they were about $25 and were good for two days- even thought we only used them for one. We didn't want to be bothered with carrying and exchanging Euros, so we prepuchased what we could. We took the train to the final stop from the ship and started there, which was the beginning of the tour. I am really bummed that my ROME post didn't go through as I spent some decent time posting that- and I also have to pay to post photos, so that kind of stinks. Any ways- for those of you who haven't been to Europe before- the transport agencies frequently strike. Yesterday, the taxi's were on strike and we knew before hand. Additionally, there was a demonstration and something at the Vatican. Despite these things, other than a little extra traffic- it wasn't bad. There is always traffic in Rome, so it was hard to tell the difference other than the tourist buses were a little delayed.
We took the bus around Rome doing the general tour- as it gave us a good over view and we were able to see many items this way, that we wouldn't be able to see on foot. It was a beautiful day and we all really enjoyed sitting in the open air looking around. We got off at the Vatican and stood in a really, really long line for St. Peters. I was really discouraged and thought we would be in the line for at least an hour- we got through in 10 minutes. This was the line for security and where they screened your outfit for modesty. There wasn't any charge to just go into the church and it was really, really beautiful. If you do nothing else, you should go there- and I am not catholic. The only bad thing about doing St. Peters without a guide is that you are not going to get all of the history you would normally, but we looked at this trip to Rome as an introduction. If you want to truly get the flavor of Rome and it's history- it isn't possible to do so in one day.
The combination of the bus trip, walking to the Spanish steps and Trevi fountain- and then the Vatican was enough for us. We were all ready to head back. This trip has been really, really fun- but very tiring! I really feel sorry for those on the 10 day without the sea day in the middle. Start working out NOW! LOL
I hope to do another podcast tomorrow from Florence and I will try to get some more photos posted.