I have yet to have a cruise so i guess you can take my opinion with a grain of salt lol
But my friend sailed on Disney her whole childhood and her family was reluctant to do another ship but Disney is so expensive and they found themselves saving more money with Carnival and enjoying themselves more (especially when she hit her upper teen years) She said even though it isn't Disney Carnival can be very family oriented and it is basically what you make it.
I'm close to the age of your oldest, I am very excited for Carnival
And Like I said I have never been on a cruise but I have done a whole lot of research (it's how i found this site) and soda cards are pretty pricey unless you drink at least 3-4 sodas a day. I am a huge soda person but thinking logically I may just stick with water and maybe specialty drinks as a treat
Cheers! Going out of NY sounds exciting