As a 27-year-old that has taken 43 cruises growing up thanks to my parents shared passion for cruising and taking me along, I've seen noticeable improvements in regards to how third and fourth stateroom occupants are regarded by the cruise lines. When I first cruised, I was young and short enough not to care about sleeping on a simple linen draped non-convertible couch, but it's a notable improvement to have sofa sleepers common in most staterooms these days. The most significant improvement is how less expensive cruises are today than when my parents and I enjoyed our inaugural sailing. The value of cruising is amazing!
I think anytime dining with multiple venues is the largest change for the better. The other big change has been the more casual dinner attire; most of my cruises no longer require a tuxedo or even a sports coat.
"The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
F Scott Fitzgerald
Silversea Silver Explorer (23nts) - Kangerlussuaq, Greenland - Nome, Alaska - Aug 14
Seven Seas Voyager (30nts) - Dubai - Cape Town - Nov 14
Being able to eat when we want and with whom we want is a big difference from our first, and several later cruise's.
The bed's are absolutely better! On our first cruise they were "kneeled" on so much that there were "holes" you had to sleep around !
Not having to wear cocktail dresses (or worse!) and a tux to eat in the MDR on formal night is a wonderful change! When we do eat in the dining room on those night's we're well dressed, IMO (skirt, sparkley top for me, slacks, long sleeved shirt, tie for DH).
Unless you're sailing out of your home town, it's just too expensive to pack "formal" stuff!
"A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour."
Carnival Inspiration 2002 Carnival Elation 2004
Grand Princess 2004 NCL Sun 2005
Sun Princess 2006 NCL Dream 2007
Caribbean Princess 2007 NCL Dawn 2008
Island Princess 2008 Island Princess 2009
Golden Princess 2009 Carnival Conquest 2010
Grand Princess 2010 Island Princess 2011
Grand Princess 2011 Carnival Magic 2012
Carnival Dream 2012 Island Princess 2013
Carnival Magic 2013 Carnival Legend 2014
On my first cruise there were no such things as shore excursions .
My "first cruise" offered shore excursions, but they weren't any fun. (Oh wait,,,that was aboard an aircraft carrier!)
Actually I think the biggest improvement is "THE BEDS". I can recall the beds being so bad that it was about like sleeping on a hammock! Really broken down in the middle, and in poor, poor condition. Also, the cabin was ALWAYS a surprise. Unlike now, you never knew what size, or shape the cabin would be, as the cabins weren't "cookie cutter" like they are now. They were all different, and built around the ships machinery, plumbing, etc. Always suspense until you opened the cabin door!
There are a number of things that are different now from when I took my first cruise in February of 2000.
Internet Cafés and access have improved. On my first cruise on Celebrity Mercury they had an "Internet Cafe" that consisted of two Sony PC's that were not working. Actually the keyboards weren't even hooked up. When Internet became normal the speed was so bad that it wasn't worth spending the money. 56Kbps dial-up was a heck of a lot faster. Now it is faster but you still have to be patient. I commend most lines for upgrading their technology and spending the money for this.
There is less regimentation in almost all cruising. Open seating options for dinner, a more relaxed (sometimes too relaxed) dress code though I was never a big fan of playing dress up and donning the tuxedo. There are also a lot more opportunities to spend your money. Most of those are in the dining category with specialty restaurants, pastry shops, upscale coffee and other venues.
I also agree with the beds. The "egg crate" cushion was a normal request I used to make. In the last fifteen or twenty cruises there was no need to even ask for one. I'm not sure if they still provide them.
Cruising isn't the same as it was ten years ago but it is still a great way to vacation.
__________________ Cruisemates Community Leader/Moderator
"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me