I am one of those people who think that tipping has gotten way out of hand in our society today. Everyone, from the clerk who pours my coffee in the Dunkin Donuts, to the newstand guy who sells me my daily pack of cigarettes, has a hand out ... or at least a tip cup. I put nothing in those cups and simply smile and say "thank you" in appreciation for good service.
On a ship, it's the same way. The only problem there is that the cruise lines have tailored the service people's wages to assume they will get tips. Hence, if you don't tip them, they really suffer. Their base wages are next to nothing. So, if the service is good, I tip the auto-tip. If the service is excellent, I might hand them some cash at the end of the cruise as well. If the service stinks (thank God that's never happened yet), I wouldn't hesitate to remove the daily auto-tip.
I don't know what the solution to this problem is. Sure, we can decide not to tip on a cruise ... because tipping is offensive to some of us ... but then we are punishing people who truly give us great service all week ... and depend on our tips to support their families.
I too would love to be able to tip individually ... give the people who took care of me well some extra money, and the heck with those I never saw. Unfortunately, though, at least on Holland America, if you go to the front desk and have the auto-tip deleted in favor of tipping individually, the people whom you tip (your cabin steward or waiter) will only have to turn in the cash you gave them to the tip pool. So, you're accomplishing nothing.
Believe me, tipping may be offensive to some, but what's the alternative from the cruise line's perspective? They will just factor in the appropriate daily tip amount to your base cruise fare, and you'll probably wind up paying more. It's not like the cruise lines are going to raise the service people's wages so you don't have to tip them. No mass market line is gonna do that.
So, I will continue letting the auto-tip ride when I take a cruise, and tip a bit extra when someone really wows me.
Blue skies ...