I agree that Renaissance was ahead of its time and had a mini version of Freestyle Cruising. Renaissance spoiled us for cruising. We cruised them three times in their short existence. Traditional dining became very boring and about eight years ago we started looking at other vacation options. NCL brought us back to cruising. NCL took what Ren and other lux lines had done in the past and kicked it up a notch or two. The multiple dining options and diverse entertainment were exactly what we wanted. Entertainment was where Ren was sorely lacking.
There is a great misconception that "repeat" cruisers are the life blood of cruise lines. These are the top levels of the loyalty programs. This level is not the life blood of a cruise line. Multiple cruisers don't spend money. Many of the "top end, repeat" cruisers book an inside cabin, at a low price, don't drink, buy pictures, gamble, take ship's shore excursions or buy photos or things in the gift shop. Many of these repeat cruisers walk off the ship with an onboard bill less than $200. That is if they didn't pull their tips. Sadly, many do. The other sad part is that many of these repeat cruisers think that the cruise lines should bend over backward for them. Guess what? Often the cruise lines are losing money on these repeat cruisers. No, these people are not the target market. The first or second time cruisers are the life blood of the major cruise lines. These are the people and families that spend money that goes to the bottom line.
Yes, there are exceptions to this. There are repeat cruisers who book balcony and suite cabins, spend money in the casino, purchase drinks and take ship's excursions. However, they are the minority. There are few, highest level of a cruise line's loyalty program, who are in this bracket. It's expensive to cruise often and keep up this level of spending and few can do this.
Carnival is targeting Mr. and Mrs. Middle America and their families. This is where the money is. A couple in their mid-thirties or early forties, with a couple of kids are the golden geese and the cruise line will do what they need to in order to attract as many of these geese as possible.
It's good business.