my very first cruise EVER was on Carnival Ecstacy many years ago. I have wonderful memories of that cruise. I think food and service surpassed what I see now (but I was also an impressionable young person with a fairly inexperience palatte).
DH and I cruised a bit in our early marriage (royal and princess).
Then after a long break, we gave DREAM a try. I gave that cruise a very harsh review, but in fairness, I acknowledged that things may have changed during my break in cruising (and they did). We immediately took a Royal cruise, so we could compare, but we compared a very old Sovereign to a brand new DREAM. Dream won out.
But then to be uber fair, we went on Freedom, and Royal won out.
Until the events of the last year or two, I would have been open to sailing Carnival again (for the right price). But with all of the negative news coverage, they wont get me back as a passenger for a very long time. Splendour and Triumph will have to be displaced in my memory before I book them again. Even Dream has had its problems.
Recent news coverage aside, my biggest complaint with Carnival is service. I think service is truly what sets a cruiseline apart.