I went on my first cruise just last year. I picked it primarily on itinerary and we sailed on Eurodam to Alaska. Part of why I moved to Seattle a couple years ago was to have easy access to a bucket list item: Alaska cruise. I somehow thought I'd be "one and done." But we had a fantastic time and while we knew nothing about how to play the price drop or upgrade game, we felt we got tremendous value for the average price for an oceanview we paid. I had always thought cruises were financially out of my reach as a regular vacation option but if you added up cost of transportation (even gas/tolls if driving car) + decent hotel + all meals + all activities and excursions, you would be hard pressed to beat the expediency of a cruise. A lovely ship takes you around, you unpack once, you have good food from various venues pretty much any time you want it.
This year, when looking at itineraries, I was interested in one of the options sailing out of Vancouver on Celebrity. And I think it's probably a lovely ship. But the one thing that stopped me jumping lines was regular comments (never take 1-2 reviews about something - look for patterns) that the menus in complimentary dining venues were repeating over and over, so not much variety and hard pushes constantly to upsell into specialty dining. HAL spoiled us a bit with that. Yes we dined in Tamarind (so many had recommended it, no regrets, was a wonderful meal) but we didn't encounter repeating menus. And the manned stations in the buffet is a standard I prefer to the self-serve buffets in other lines. People are gross so anything that mitigates that behavior is great in my book. So, for cruise #2 I am again sailing with HAL. I don't have ANY interest in waterslides and go-carts or being on a ship with 5000 passengers - I want open spacious deck areas to be able to sit and breathe in the spectacular scenery.
I figure I got lucky with my first choice - HAL was a good fit for what *I* want in an experience.