Marty, your post makes a lot of sense.
I think it's good to try to set an example.
I just wish there was the *perfect* remark to make to a complainer/bully that would let that person know exactly how rude he/she is!
I think what bothered me was the woman who was verbally abusing the crew member was looking at me -- an innocent bystander waiting in line -- for support!
In other words, she kept turning to me, almost to get me to agree with her complaints!
As far as going to look for an officer, I discussed that after the situation with some people, and the consensus was that the crew member might feel that he had the situation under control, and bringing in a boss might do more harm than good.
Certainly the bully would see the officer's presence as more support for her cause, and would try to enlist his support. And of course the officer would have to be nice to her!
I [or my husband] spoke with the hotel manager, guest relations rep, assistant CD and other officers during the cruise to let them know how many rude pax we had encountered.
Several told us this particular cruise had proven "very challenging" to the staff.
They were being diplomatic.
I have never, ever been among so many ill-mannered people.