We took a cruise on Splendor in June when they altered the itiniary to Canada because of the flue. We had a great time and met with friends we made from meet and greet and meet on board threads. I didn't hear about the Captain recection not offering free drinks but I never go to them anymore. We were invited to some sort of frequent traveler party where they sold credits for future cruises and hawked Carnival stock. I bought 3 certificates for $100 each that are worth $200 on future sailings.(of course lots of free drinks) we cruise 3 times a year so that was a bargain. I also bought Carnival stock and got a credit $100 for my Nov. cruise. I bought and sold the stock several times and made enough to pay for the Nov. cruise.
As for diversity; I take cruises to get away from that kind of finger pointing. I never payed attention to what race my shipmates were and furthermore didn't care. We ate with a black couple from Pennsylvania and a couple born in the Philepiness (sorry I can't spell) and now residing in LA, and until this moment, I never gave a thought to their race. They are great people and we paled around with them some during the cruise and ports.
I have never been on any ship (and we have sailed them all except the 5k a week lines) where you couldn't find plenty of night life.
I have sailed out of nearly every port in America and have found that people are people and the experience is what you make of it. As for the crew, I thought the folks I dealt with were great and the ship and cabins were outstanding.
Smoking; my wife smokes but she never complained about going to an approved area. We were on Paradise once when it was smoke free, that was a bit hard on her.
My only complaint was that the audio was way to loud on that big screen mostser.
My suggestion to you is try to get your own group together or watch for group sailings with folks you have things in common with.