I have been on 25+ cruises with the first being in 1964. Yes, things have changed alot over the years. The lines coming out with all the new larger ships creates more supply and cheaper prices. So then they have to make up the revenue by charging more for photos and liquor. It also means that staff don't have the time for training the way they used to, but I think some of this has to do with us the passengers. Cruise lines do listen to passengers. How many times have you heard or read comments like "It's my vacation and if I don't want to dress up, I won't"? Don't you think this means the line has to find a way to let passengers find a venue for dining where they don't have to dress up or the line stands to lose even more revenue? Also, I have heard waiters complaining that the passengers do not understand why they change silverware or plates so many times during the meal. That means the formality of the dining room changes when people don't want that kind of serivce.
I think the changes are a combination of things. I always enjoy my cruises because I feel I am on vacation and it is a time to be enjoyed and if I don't want to pay extra at a speciality dining, I won't and if the art auction bothers me, I don't go. These things are still my choices so why let it bother me.
Excellant attitude LBL! This is how I feel. Maybe there should be some information published on some of the traditions of the sea including formal evenings and also a lesson in proper dining. I think that this could be done in a non-insulting way and may lead to people feeling better knowing some of the rules to formal dining.