Ruth, I totally agree with you. On our Nov. 2000 Sea Princess cruise, we NEVER saw the matre d', yet, in their scheme of things, he'd share the tip. Yet, our head waiter wouldn't and he was at our table every night, made us many a special dish, etc. Far more deserving. Please don't tell me, as it was said in our disembarkation talk, that the Matre D oversees all dining. I've always been told that management (in other areas, not cruising) never gets tipped, so why is it different for the matre d'? It sounds as if he's a manager.
I am totally against prepaid tips. Not necessarily the concept, but more the wording. Do you HONESTLY thing you will not be given a hassle to remove or reduce the amount? Any charge applied to my account that I have to request removal of is a FEE, not a tip. Tips are totally discretionary--including whether one wants to give them or not. Once it's automatic, it's no longer discretionary and no longer a "tip."
I wish the lines would just raise the line and say "no tips". I think it would receive far less grumbling. (I've posted a similar post on the tipping board.) It would also solve the problem of those who stiff the staff.
I also like Kuki's idea of charging to your room and then YOU put the rec't. in the envelopes. YOU have the discretion of who and what to tip. You still wouldn't need to carry cash (agreed, a hassle.).