While we have been cruising for over 20 years, I do understand,and accept that cruising is not for everyone. For many vacationers, the value they get with a cruise, puts it at the top of the list.
It seems that your are fortunate to be able to vacation often, and are selective about the ambiance of your surroundings, and, from what you have seen, and heard from your family, a cruise ship does not support, what you like about the vacations you have taken.
I agree that any cabin, you would book, unless it was a catagory of a suite & up, you will feel, and be cramped. On largers ships, the design is such, that the flow lessens the crowded feeling, but you are still sailing with 2500- 4000 people. There will be some lines, getting on, and, off can be an issue at times..these things are a given, and most go with the flow.
Courtyard Villas, on the NCL line allows a sense of privacy & dining, within these, set apart cabins.I have toured them, and they are stunning. Other lines like Seabourn, Crystal, might surprise you with what the level of fine dining and a much smaller passenger ratio. Something to consider.
Living close to a port does make a shorter cruise to test it out easier to do, but honestly, what you would experience of a short run, is not a true test, in my opinion.
Cruisers are a devoted bunch, as you have found out. This is my opinion alone, and, excuse my straight forwardness. There comes a time, when you will just stop defending how you spend your vacation dollars. What is sublime for one, is misery for another..You've listened, and researched, and if you decide it's not for us, so be it. Look at the family's cruise pictures, and smile.