The whole shipboard gratuity mess is going to go away soon I believe. The cruise lines are getting tremendous flack from their employees about getting stiffed. Once the first mass-market line incorporates the gratuities as part of the cruise ticket (note: not prepaid gratuity) the rest will fall into line immediately. Gratuities are a cruising tradition that has really not been embraced by modern cruisers and it is only a matter of time until it is gone. I was on Voyager - Mar. 5 sailing, my first cruise in 12 years, and I was stunned at what I heard from our waiter and stateroom attendant about modern cruisers. The level of skipping out on or badly reducing the gratuities seems to be quite high. Both of these gentlemen are long term employees (16 & 22yrs.) and have witnessed the changes that have taken place, particularily in the last 8 years, according to them. I also noticed it on our last night in the dining room- a lot of vacant seats. The cruise lines really have no choice but to fix this problem themselves and that means adding the amount onto the fare. When that happens everyones' thoughts on gratuities won't matter.