Yes, Carnival now charges for "special occasion cakes" no more freebies.
The cabin decorations in 2001 were great, worth it-enjoyed the whole trip.
One our cruise last July I saw a really neat decorated cabin door: it was metallic streamers with a Hawian theme. Like the old beaded room dividers of the 1960's. I think a hanging door decoration like this can be found at any party store, cheap and really caught my eye anytime we passed that cabin. Hey even a Happy Birthday cardboard sign taped up with Sponge Bob on it would certainly generate a smile.
We also ordered a vanilla and strawberry cake--very good by the way. I think I'd prefer the birthday candle from the waiter though if I had to spend money.
Adventure of the Seas RC April 2008
Carnival Liberty April 2007
Carnival Miracle April 2005
Carnival Destiny June 2001, July 2005
NCL Southward June 1985 Honeymoon!