This subject is well covered but you have introduced a new slant on it. I will try to explain as briefly as I can. It is traditional that tips, gratuities, are paid on ships. Basically it is used by the cruise lines to keep the initial price down so that it looks more of a bargain and also as an incentive to the staff who are paid very low wages and therefore need the tips if they are going to achieve a reasonable income.
You can pay your tips prior to going on the ship and know that you will not have any unexpected amount to pay at the end. You can have your tips added to your shipboard account. On both of these occasions you will be given envelopes and vouchers so that you can give these to the nominated crew-members or you can pay them yourself to the staff concerned. Where you differ is that freedom or anytime dining throws up an anomaly because you will not have the same restaurant staff all the time therefore the system allows that your tips are taken from your seapass account and spread amongst the particular waiting staff concerned. This is the only time, to my knowledge, that the tips are kittied out and the rest of the time the staff get what you have allocated, through which ever method, to them. It really isn't difficult once you know the system. If you feel that the service you have received has not been good then you can ask for redress as far as the tips are concerned but I would advise caution here as your comments will be noted and staff will, I repeat, will lose their job if you lay it on thickly so make sure that the criticism is well founded or the consequences are dire. My view of tipping is slightly easier than Neil's as he says he hates to see injustice. I do as well but not so ardently. So there you are I hope that makes it plainer and now I'll wait for the onslaught. .... Ida