The cruiselines could solve this entire problem by including tips (or fair market wages) as part of the price, but they don't want to do that. They want to advertise a cheap fare and then hit the customers with fees, surcharges, incidentals, etc. . . ad nauseum. No wonder Joe Blow and family who scrape together the money for tickets have sticker shock when they start seeing the REAL price. I understand where this sentiment comes from. I am sick of modern marketing techniques, deceptive advertising, and fine print.
I saw a comment on this thread or a related one about how CUSTOMERS are trying to nickel and dime by not paying tips, well, the cruiselines are setting a great example of how to nickel and dime by their pricing structure. Imagine that, the cruiselines nickel and dime, so the customers nickel and dime or vice versa, it doesn't really matter. Instead of standing up for their employees and paying a guaranteed fair market wage, they are relying on custom, social pressure, and guilt placed on customers to pay their employees.
I am sailing on the Conquest at the end of the month with my wife. I will be taking my cruise ticket prices x 15% to establish a base line for tips. If service is satisfactory, the 15% will result in an amount higher than Carnival recommends. Inferior service will reduce the tip, superior service will increase the tip. If any server or employee mentions how little the cruiselines pay, I will reduce their tip. A good employee knows that guilt is a cheap method to get a tip and that customers on vacation should not be subjected to sob stories.