Buttons.. if you thought the food and service on Celebrity was terrific 4 or 5 years ago, you'd have really been impressed sailing them 5 yrs before that
Of course there's budgets. It's all about mathematics, as the cruise lines are in business to make a profit.
However, for example an 11 day cruise in 2000 cost us $208 pp per day for a balcony cabin. Today you can easily find that same cabin for the same cruise for $127 pp per day. That's $81 pp per day less that the cruise lines have to cover ever rising costs.
On the mass market lines in many cases you can get onboard for $75 - $100 pp per day.
Simple math. It's not a matter of paying a little more for better food and service. The differences are substantial.
Depending on the sailing, the luxury lines will cost anywhere from $400 -$1000 pp per day. The "premium plus" lines $250 - $350 pp per day.
Cruise lines today are building ships that cost over half a BILLION dollars. They have to service that debt as a part of that $100 pp per person day.
In order to do that they have to keep their ships full.
When you refer to ships 4 or 5 years ago, you would be shocked at how little was budgeted daily to feed the passengers. $10 per day would have been considered a lot.
I found it hard to believe they could feed us anything for that amount.
With rising costs I'd bet they are spending more than that today, while getting considerably less for the cruise ticket.