A good afternoon everyone:
Your email on the decline in food quality over your 7 cruises is something I have observed and suspected. I understand why - the prices have been suppressed for a while given the cost of cruising long ago. Cruise fares would be much higher if they were pricing the "old" product offering.
I can share the history of declining food and service from a Celebrity perspective - I figure it is the same for RCL and the main mass market lines.
I have 17 cruises with Celebrity, 5 Princess and 2 RCL.
In 1992 on Celebrity lines you had 1 waiter and bus boy for 3 tables. Your entree came on a plate and the bus boy arrived with a sterling silver multi divided platter from which you selected your desire of 4 sides - as much as you liked. The breads and salads were outstanding, the "plating" as per the brochures. The service was gracious and the wine steward knew the product.
In 1998 was the next peak when the true "mass market" influence started to appear - the entre was plated with the cruise lines sides. No choice. The bread and salads were "dumbed down".
In 2001 - enough said - the effect of 9/11 showed up in the real decline of food choice, quality and plating. The wine steward function was paired back.
In 2003/04 was the RCL purchase and Celebrity the former "premium" was ripped apart and the entire experience reduced down to true mass market. I remember 3 really poor quality experiences on Millie, Galaxy and Infinity. Truly awful food and brown wilted iceberg lettuce.
I cruise much less often now and generally on Oceania and Crystal on occasion, Celebrity at only select times. I am on the RCL board searching for info for a work friend.
Generally, the cruise lines are trying to balance alot of pressures and to cater to the increasing "informality" of the mass market. They generally do a good job considering their task is far harder than a hotel (hotels do not turn over their rooms 1x per week).
Cruising is still a good vacation.