I'm not going to get into a discussion on which line is better for you since tastes very from person to person and my idea of great and your idea of greast can be two very different things. BUT, I can answer to part of your question. CCL's food-
If you have not been on CCL in over 6 years, then I can say the food should be improved since your last cruise. We took a break from cruising and started up again in 2005. CCL had brought in a new executive chef and re-worked their entire menu. I think the food is much better now than when we cruised in 95. Not that the food was BAD in 95, it is just improved. For service, you will get better service (more personable) on the smaller CCL ships than the larger ones. BUT, the larger ships tend to offer more ammenidies. So you have to choose which is more important to you.
Carnival Cruise Lines:
Fantasy 90, Celebration 95, Victory 05, Conquest 05, Spirit 6/06, Freedom 6/08, Holiday 7/08, Victory 6/09, Valor 9/09, Dream 6/10, Splendor 8/10,Conquest 8/11,Magic 11/11,Triumph 4/12,Spirit 7/12,Freedom 11/12, Triumph 2/13 - The fire cruise, Magic 1/14, Freedom x 2 6/14
NCL Dream October 2006, RCCL Mariner OTS June 2007, Celebrity Silhouette 2013