The problem is that many first time cruisers are misunderstanding that their cruise price DOES NOT INCLUDE TIPPING AND OTHER ON BOARD EXPENSES AND IS NOT ALL INCLUSIVE. For example, the high end cruise lines like Crystal and Silversea, Seabourn will include things like a mini bar that is restocked, some tours, wine at meals, and tipping. BUT WHAT THEY DON'T REALIZE IS THAT THE COST IS ANYWHERE FROM $6,000, $8,000 OR MORE FOR 7DAYS! AND THESE LINES ONLY HAVE SUITES.
The advertising needs to be changed. Cruise pricing is advertised "AS LOW AS" ....$599 per person. But that amount does not include port charges, security fees, insurance, etc. Tipping isn't even mentioned as extra to the cruise price. Everyone likes to feel they have secured the best price. But some passengers shouldn't take a cruise in the first place with the mentality they have. It they tried to do the same thing at a shore side restaurant, you can sure if they came back, their service would not be the greatest!
Maybe the solution is to nofiy passengers as soon as they place a deposit that tipping is extra and will be handled by a daily $10, non-adjustable, charge to their accounts. This way there are no surprises on board, or devious ways to get out of paying it once they are on the cruise.
As long as everyone pays the same amount (except for suites), it is fair. How the cruise lines distriibute the tips once they get them is out of the passengers control.
Poor service needs to be addressed as soon as it happens. This doesn't let the cruise line off the hook for responsibility but rather it places it right in front of their noses.
Almost every cruise line has open sitting for breakfast and lunch when they are in port. It doesn't take 2 hours for a meal. So why should the service at dinner be less efficient? With open seating you don't have the same wait staff and tables are fulled up as passengers enter the dining room. Once the table is full, everyone is served at the same time. NCL didn't invent something that wasn't already in existence. Tips are still expected. What has changed is that passengers have the ability to correct problems as soon as they happen. They no longer have to wait to get home and then start the process of complaining to Miami.