I'm going on the Norweigan Sea to New England and Canada in late June. What are the chances of getting a bottle of rum on board? Also, with freestyle dining comes an automatic tip added to my bill. Is there a way I can tip traditionally, ie tip the wait and housekeeping staff at the end of the trip?
Put it in your luggage wrapped in bubblewrap and inside some clothing and it 'should' do okay. Then again, you may smell like a drunk later. <G> If you are discreet and only bringing one bottle they more than likely will not take it from you if you handcarry it on in one of the carry-ons. No guarentees either way. As far as tipping goes, the tips are automatically set up to come out of your shipboard account. You can go to the Pursers Office and tell them not to deduct it from your account but you prefer to tip the traditional way and they will provide you envelopes for you to tip the approprate staff.
I'm not going to be any good for your tipping questions since I haven't been on NCL since the new rules were promulgated, but I think I can answer the other part. I'd say it's extremely unlikely that anyone would be looking at your CHECKED luggage for spirits. If you're going to get "caught" it will be when your carryon luggage goes through security.
Keep in mind that the security X-ray jockeys are not usually cruise line employees and they probably couldn't care less.
Now, here's a poser ... why are there ice buckets in staterooms if there isn't SOME expectation that there would be a use of ice?