Anxious....I am so jealous! I am going through "cruise withdrawal"!
You will have a great time. There is always so much to see and do. If you notice someone with a big video camera filming as you board, wave and try to get on film. They will do that a lot. Then on CH. 6 in your cabin you can watch the travelog and see yourself on TV. Very fun. At the end of the cruise you can buy the tape for $25. We almost bought it, but didn't and now I regret it. But it was fun to watch every morning while we got dressed. As for the food, no, you don't have to eat in the dining room every night. We did, but we also ate at the buffet every morning and for lunch. (Little tip, go to the line OUTSIDE the Seaview grill instead of going inside. The lines were MUCH shorter and it is the same food! However, go inside through the dining area all the way to the back of the ship. On either side you can sit in a nice quiet spot and watch the ships wake.) I think they offer many of the same foods at dinner that you would get in the dining room. That way you can experience all there is to offer. Breakfast had made to order omlettes, french toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, cereals, hash rounds, bagels, fruit and of course ice cream and pizza if you so desire! Lunch was mainly burgers, fries, hot dogs and assorted casseroles. How old is your daughter? If she is at least 15 or 16 I don't see why she can't eat on her own at the buffet while you get pampered in the dining room. She will probably meet new friends to hang out with. And if she is younger she will like Camp Carnival.
Also, I agree with Runner, take a light jacket along for outside at night and a sweater for the chilly areas on the ship. I forgot to pack ANYTHING long sleeve and I was sorry. I was chilly quite a bit. Some areas (like the casino and lounges) are kept cooler. I think they are trying to keep people from getting sleepy.
We were first timers too, and one thing I was not prepared for was the wind! It gets very windy on the outside decks. Even during the day I was too chilled by the wind to lay in the sun on the veranda deck. It was much warmer and less windy on the lido deck near the pool. Of course it was much more crowded too!
Another thing I never heard mentioned were the flying fish! We saw so many it became commonplace. Just watch over the side of the ocean as you sail along and you should spot these little fish (about 12" long?). They spring from the water and fly along for about 20' before they dive back in. Very neat.