We have cruised on a number of lines, and my parents took many cruises on HAL prior to it being taken over by Carnival. While first time cruisers would be very happy with it, we were somewhat disappointed. The little touches are not there anymore. Service is inconsistent; food is not up to the standard we expect of a luxury line; things that were previously complimentary (e.g. soft drinks) are now charged to your account.
Something as simple as a hot dog from the grill on the pool deck - the buns were stale, there was no relish available. The cook appeared to have no familiarity with an American hot dog, being Indonesian as many HAL crew are, not his fault - but this indicated a lack of training on the part of the food service department.
The breakfast buffet was very disorganized - poor traffic flow. On other lines, there are stewards available to help you, but it was very difficult to get the attention of staff if something was needed. Probably a symptom of personnel reduction. Also, not enough seating for the volume of people at peak times.
In summary, it is obvious that Carnival has taken over what used to be one of the world's top luxury lines. Unfortunately that is no longer true.