Cruising is, for the most part, not the same as it was when you were a child. Midnight buffets have been relegated to late-night snack buffets and are generally held once or twice a week. The captain's night is less emphasized than it once was, but is still held once a week during a 7-night cruise.
If you are looking for "excellent food and outstanding service," you are best off looking at some of the premium and luxury lines. Cunard probably has the closest to traditional cruising. Other good possibilities would be Crystal or Silversea, or The Yachts of Seabourn. All of those are luxury lines, with prices to match. Oceania is a luxury-style cruise line with somewhat lower prices than the "true" luxury companies. Interesting itineraries too. If you are looking for something still less expensive but traditional, Holland America might fit the bill. If you travel during times that most children are in school, you will probably find few children onboard any of these lines.
Lines normally put their smaller and older ships on the Bermuda run as gaining entrance is impossible for larger ships. Bermuda also provides somewhat lower yields than the cruise lines like, as they act more like a floating hotel than a cruise.
The Mexican Riviera is also a fairly low yielding run so tends to get older ships on it. One Mexican Riviera cruise that I like is Celebrity's Mercury run that includes 6 ports into the deep Mexican Riviera. It is a premium level ship and offers traditional dining. It is a cruise that might meet your expectations.
I have to agree with Karen. I think Holland America is closer to what cruising was like 20-30years ago. It is a premium line that is reasonably priced, and many of thier ship's are only a few years old and in very good condition.
I would like to comment on itinerary alone. While I love Bermuda, a Bermuda cruise is definitely not a "typical cruise". As Tom mentioned, in Bermuda they act more like floating hotels. While docked the casinos will not be open, the entertainment is very limited and while docked in Hamilton even late night parties and music on the open pool deck are against the Bermudian regulations.
I agree that Holland America resembes what cruising used to look like a decade ago, but unfortunately, HAL has a reasonably light presence on the Mexican Riviera. Going from memory alone, I believe that the only ship that HAL deploys for limited runs to Mexico is the Statendam. Between the Statendam and the Mercury, I would choose the Mercury simply for its unique itinerary. Acapulco, Zihautanejo, Mananillo, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo is a much better itinerary than than doing Cabo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and then Loreto and La Paz in the Sea of Cortez. The two ships are very comparable.
I noticed that the Oosterdam (Holland America) is now doing the Mexican Riviera; it's a new ship and we had a FANTASTIC 24 day cruise on her last fall.
Unfortunately, that cruise was so lovely that it caused us to be less than satisfied with our next two.........a Princess and an NCL. We are headed back to HAL in November and are anxiously looking forward to it!
Wherever you go, you will ENJOY cruising.
We liked the Anytime Dining on the Princess because it was held in the formal dining room but you could call in the morning and reserve a time or a time AND table for a definite time. Then, when in port, we never got back so late that we had to use a buffet.........we had a table awaiting our arrival.