Ceecee, do you mind sharing which ship you'll be sailing on? There is a difference between NCL's concept of the "service fee" and other cruise lines version of auto tipping. I have sailed 2 other cruise lines (princess & RCI) with auto tipping and it was convenient. Of course, you are still allowed to tip additional. But that's correct on other cruiselines BESIDES NCL all tips are pooled for the auto gratuity. But from what I understand if you tip <additional > each server is allowed to keep it, but they must turn the $$ over to their supervisor and then it is returned back to them. Sounds confusing.
NCL APPEARS to be different. An employee from POA reports that they do not see a dime from the "service charge" and their tips are nonexistant. That means the "service charge" is NOT pooled and employees are NOT given cash at the end of each weeks voyage. You may also want to contact Stephen from the Pride of Aloha thread for his explanation of the "service fee". Then you can draw your own conclusions
But the "service fee" on NCL and the auto/adjustable gratuity on other cruise lines are 2 different matters.
Hope this helps