Saga cruise passengers 'told to pay £8 a day in tips'

Saga Rose cruise ship sailing off the coast of Isle of Wight southern England UK

Holidaymakers on a Saga cruise in Croatia claim they were told to tip crew £8 a day.

The 30 tourists on an all-inclusive cruise holiday were on board MV Emanuel for eight days.

According to the Daily Telegraph, they were allegedly told by a guide that the company recommended tipping this amount, which would be shared among the seven crew members.

They calculated this as £274 per crew member, with one traveller saying: "The general conclusion was that Saga was not paying the crew's wages, but was asking the passengers to pay them instead."

A Saga spokesperson told the Telegraph: "We pay the commercial market rate for chartering the ships on these holidays. In the light of this complaint, we will be reminding the ship owners of our policies regarding gratuities."

The Daily Mail reports that the week-long cruise, which visits Dubrovnik, Split, Mljet, Brac and Hvar, costs £1,250 per person and includes return flights, travel insurance, transfers, full board, drinks and excursions.

Tipping policies can vary widely between cruise lines.

Liz Jarvis, Editor of Cruise International magazine, says: "Many will add a service charge to your shipboard account, payable at the end of your cruise, while others leave it to your discretion."

"On US-owned ships, tipping is expected and you'll be given envelopes with suggested gratuities to be paid at the end of your cruise. Other lines have 'fixed-rate tipping' which you're free to vary according to how much you appreciate the service."

Your guide to cruise ship etiquette
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Saga cruise passengers 'told to pay £8 a day in tips'

Tipping policies can vary widely between cruise lines. Many will add a service charge to your shipboard account, payable at the end of your cruise, while others leave it to your discretion. On US-owned ships, tipping is expected and you'll be given envelopes with suggested gratuities to be paid at the end of your cruise. Other lines such as P&O have 'fixed-rate tipping' which you're free to vary according to how much you appreciate the service.

On cruises where drinks aren't included, when you sign for them you'll be required to add a service charge – it's a good idea to hold on to those receipts so you can keep track of how much you're spending. Always find out if tipping is included in the price, or whether it will be added on so you know what to budget, and if necessary, make sure you have some cash ready to put in an envelope at the end of your cruise to hand directly to your cabin steward and waiters. The crew work incredibly hard to make your cruise enjoyable and the tips they receive are crucial: so show them how much you appreciate what they've done for you.

It goes without saying that sometimes things go wrong. For example, our toilet system stopped working for a few hours when I was on a cruise in South East Asia recently. These things happen. It's helpful to inform the crew, but rest assured they'll be trying to fix it. Remember also that sometimes your ship may not be able to dock in a particular port because of adverse weather conditions. This is no one's fault, and they have your best interest at heart – so try not to get too worked up about it.

It can be easy to lose track of time if you're off exploring when you're in port – but remember that if you're not back on your ship in time there's a real possibility it will depart without you (I've been on a cruise where this actually happened to a couple of passengers. I honestly have no idea how they got home).

If you're not sure whether a show is for you, sit at the back. That way, you won't disturb anyone – including the performers - if you decide to leave and head for the bar.

On some cruise lines you may have to share your table with strangers. Find out what the score is beforehand, and request the right-sized table – the best size is six or eight, so you can have a decent conversation but also you're not stuck with people you have nothing in common with.

If you're on an all-inclusive trip where alcohol is part of the deal it can be tempting to keep indulging – but remember that it's very easy to reach your limit, which can be embarrassing at the least and downright irritating for everyone else! Take it easy. And if there's an all you can eat buffet, try not to eat everything in sight. Your waistline and the other passengers will thank you, I promise.

Don't hog the seats by the pool! If you're going to get up and go for lunch, it is the height of bad manners to leave your towel to 'reserve' your space. Be considerate. I once went on a cruise where the pool deck was occupied by the same towels and bags pretty much all day. In the end I asked the staff to remove them. 

Dress code can vary widely, but even the most relaxed ships have at least one formal night where you are expected to dress up, so be prepared. A smart dress for women and a tie and jacket for men is pretty much essential. Oh, and if you're travelling on a ship with a 'themed night', the very popular 'pirates', you may want to take along an eye patch and fake parrot. Trust me, some passengers make a huge effort....

Yes, of course it's your holiday and you should be able to do whatever you want. But guys, unless you have the body of a Greek God, please put a shirt on when you go for lunch – and ladies, a sarong will be your new best friend.

Be respectful of other passengers. Unless you're in the penthouse suite, the chances are you will have neighbours. Making loads of noise late at night or smoking on the balcony (this is usually forbidden on ships) will not endear you to your fellow passengers, and could result in complaints. If you're travelling with children, encourage them to be quiet when they're outside other cabins.

By nature, cruises are international affairs, and you're very likely to be sharing your holiday with people from other countries. This means that you may find announcements are repeated in several languages. And, of course, not everyone queues like the British. There's no point in getting annoyed or frustrated – you're on holiday! Just let it go and start enjoying yourself.


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Saga cruise passengers 'told to pay £8 a day in tips'

This is really frowned upon – and some cruise lines have banned 'chair hogging' completely.

You may happy exploring a destination on your own – particularly if it's somewhere you've visited before. But there are usually some amazing experiences on offer, from jeep safaris in Jamaica to dolphin exploration in Dominica and a classical concert in St Petersburg, so it's definitely worth checking them out.

Unless you can afford to book an extra cabin for your luggage (and we have heard of some very rich passengers doing this), average staterooms don't have masses of storage space. So just pack a capsule wardrobe – although it's always worth taking a couple of swimsuits so one can dry while you wear the other one.

Some passengers decide that because they've already been to a place they don't need to get off at a port – but there is always something new to discover, particularly if your ship offers 'destination immersion' shore experiences, or even just to get a change of scene. Many cruises have one (maybe more) days at sea on a cruise, so plenty of time to hang around the ship then.

OK, if you have really strong willpower, you *may* be able to avoid all the gourmet food (and there are usually lots of salads and healthy options available). But with so much excellent cuisine on offer it would be a shame to miss out on more the more indulgent creations from the likes of Marco Pierre White and patissier Eric Lanlard.

Of course holidaying with your family is a fantastic opportunity to spend quality time together – but cruise ships have amazing kids' clubs, with every possible whim catered for. Not only does it give your children a chance to make new friends and try different experiences, but it will give you a little alone time too. For example, on Oriana, Aurora and Azura, the kids' clubs are open until late – ideal if you want to give the kids an early supper and then enjoy dinner a deux knowing they're in safe hands.

It's compulsory. Plus, you'll also discover how to put on a life jacket (not as easy as it looks) and what a muster station is.

Joining the other passengers on deck as your ship pulls away from the dock is something very special and adds to that 'golden age of cruise' feel. There will usually be cocktails on offer so you can toast the start of your holiday, too (although check before you take one, as some cruise lines do charge for these).

The cabin staff work incredibly hard, and are often away from their families for months on end – so show your appreciation. Some cruise packages include tips – check what's included in yours and if you want to leave a little extra in an envelope, it will be gratefully received.

You can do this up to a point – it is your holiday, after all. But if you want to make sure your restaurant seating is at the right time or you can have that fabulous spa treatment (alfresco massage, anyone?), you'll need to do a little planning. Don't feel you have to do everything though – if you overschedule you'll just feel pressured.


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