I am only telling you what happened on the N. Sun when I sailed on her 13-day transatlantic voyage. During the voyage I had plenty of time to try out different eating venues on the ship. Only after tables in a waiter's section were filled up with passengers arriving within 10-15 minutes of each other and asking to share did the waiter start to hand out menus starting with the last table to be filled up. If you choose to not believe me, then you had to be there! This is what happened on the N. Sun. As of result, many passengers opted out of automatic tipping which at that time they could. Now, that policy has changed.
It did not work the same way on the N. Sea who seemed to have a faster way to get passengers served without rushing them but still allowing them to make the shows on time. Again, as I stated before, there is a difference from ship to ship on how well or not freestyle works. Also, when large groups are aboard and insist on eating together at the same time, overall service differs.
If you reread my post, I said that many first time cruisers do not understand that although a cruise is advertised as "as low as" that port taxes, insurance, etc. and tipping on board are ALL extra and NOT included in the cruise price. Unfortunately, it is the way the advertising is worded and cruises are promoted that lead to misunderstandings for first time cruisers.
his is exactly what happened on the N. Sea. Many of the passengers felt their cruise was "paid for in full" and no additional monies were due unless they made an on board purchase. Sadly, many of them bought nothing, didn't tip and left the ship owing nothing. NCL has changed their policy to avoid this problem by adding the $10 per day, per person charge to the bill.