Do cruise ship restaurant and cabin staff get ALL of the tips charged to your account at a fixed daily rate? And do the drinks waiters receive the 15% that is added to each bill? Are the tips taxed in any way before they get them? It seems to me it might be better to pay the tips directly to the staff in cash, even if it’s the same amount.
If you are concerned that somehow some of the tip pool money is siphoned off by the cruise company, I understand that NEVER happens! The bar staff does get the 15%. Taxes, if any are due, are paid by the recipients after they get the tips — it is income to the recipients and not to the cruise company. You are, of course, free to have tips removed from your onboard account, although I suggest you not do that. First, the tips pool goes to a lot more people who do the wonderful things to make your cruise special than you will ever see. Second, if you have tips removed and then pay people directly, they are not allowed to keep it and are required to put it into the tip pool! The only way to get something "extra" to a particular person is thus to keep the tips on your account and hand that particular person the extra — and that person can keep it.
I realize that a lot of people really hate the tip-pool stuff, and in theory I would like to see all tipping disappear entirely, both tip-pool and individual. However, the cruise companies would then need to pay the crew members a lot more money, and that would raise the cost of a cruise for all passengers. And frankly, I am all for that, since it would mean that crew members would be paid appropriately and that the cost of that pay would be evenly spread out among ALL passengers. However, it appears that tipping is here to stay, at least in the forseeable future, and I think the tip pool is a better system than individual tipping — the less-visible crew members also get a share, and none of the crew is "after" people for tips. I travelled quite a bit before tip-pool days, and it got very uncomfortable!