Yep, ships today are completely different than they were back then. They're even much different than those built in the late 80's and early 90's. They were still of the mindset that balconies are ships were not a good thing and their designs were based on the old-style transatlantic ships. As modern cruise ship building techniques and designs changed, they began to add more and more balconies to meet the demand. Nowadays, they're building ships that are as much as 80% balcony cabins. The oceanview cabins no longer have small portholes, but large windows. Newer ships are just overall better and safer than older ships. Yet older ships do have a certain old-style ambiance and romantic character not found on the modern ships that some of us absolutely love.
But along with design changes, the advancement of the stabilizers on ships has made a huge impact on the comfort of the passengers.
As for the elevators, that's why we prefer to be just slightly aft of the middle elevators. When you consider which elevators you use most often during a cruise, it's usually the middle or the aft alot more than the foreward. This is mainly due to the fact embarkation and disembarkation are usually done near the middle of the ship and most of the food venues are either in the back or the middle.
But we've been as far forward on a ship as you can get and still be in the ship. We were in the Atlantic and hit a pretty good storm. Swells were rather large and we had a great time trying to stay in bed. We had a ball, but most people were sick as dogs and not having any fun.