Thanks, Bruce, for the info. So it seems that you have the same system as that in the U.K. but the only difference being the way in which the amount is assessed and then collected.
Tha assumption of 15% would be high to us but, if a conversation I had with a couple from Arizona is to be believed, low to them since they are used to paying 20-25% in tips.
Maybe the old "swings and roundabouts" comes into play. This still leaves of course the old black economy ( don't tell the Revenue about all your sales so you don't pay tax ) which I bet goes on to at least the same extent in the US as it does here and the idea of giving a dollar note every time the barman gives you a drink even if it only costs$3 which my simple arithmetic makes something over 33%. No doubt this makes up for the Brits who fail to leave anything.
As it happens my wife and I always leave a tip and, on ships, of at least the minimum amount. We happened to be on Norwegian Dawn's maiden voyage and NCL cut the daily tip charge from $10 to $5. As a result, and also because the freestyle concept meant that we would have different waiters each evening, we tipped in cash to all the different servers and usually $5. Perhaps other cruise lines might take that idea on board since I believe waiters etc. like being handed something personally. I certainly prefer it that way.
I was reading another posting on this board from a girl who had her envelope containing the tip returned to her by the room stewardess since it contained too little! The astounding thing is that the girl added some more thus leaving herself short of cash with which to get home. She had already given as much as she could afford and I bet the stewardess does not return the envelope if the tip is too much! If that happened to me I guarantee that the tip would be reduced if not taken back completely and the stewardess told to return whence she came in no uncertain manner i.e. much stronger language than that.
Enough already. The pub beckons and a soccer match to boot.
Cheers. Paul. See you up there Pete!