>>>She constantly talks about the cruiselines "paying a good wage" without being able to support her position. Kuki and many others who know lots and lots of cruiseline staff say otherwise.<<<
Read into the 1988 lawsuit filed against RCCL by a former employee. In court it came out that the employee was suing for lost wages due to an injury. Court documents state that RCCL paid a gaurantee of $788 of base and gratuities a month. This was in 1988. Meaning if the employee did not make at least $788, RCCL would make up the difference. They are also "paid" in the form of room and board.
>>>When we were on our last cruise, our waiter voluntarily talked with us about his life - including his wages. He made a base salary of $50 per month and depended on tips for the rest of his income. <<<
Of course he is going to tell you some sob story. He wants to guilt you into tipping him more. Not me, I feel no guilt. They are not forced to work for the cruiseline by any stretch of the imagination.
Back to the original poster, nothing is going to happen to you if you don't tip. The lines on which I cruise do not automatically add a service charge per day to your shipboard account, believe me if they did I would be there on the first day they appeared complaining about such service charge.