Embarkation in Barcelona was relatively smooth, and once completed we were escorted to our balcony stateroom. On opening the door I was very impressed with the décor, a welcoming palate of white, grey and beige. All furnishings were in excellent condition and apart from the ubiquitous shower curtain in the very small bathroom, I was very satisfied.
On exploring the rest of the ship I found a number of other changes compared to their other ships. Firstly, the under-used Casino has been replaced by The Den. During the day you can research and discuss your future travel plans here, and in the evening it becomes a popular bar and meeting place with a pianist playing and singing popular classics. The pool area has also been refreshed, with very comfortable mattresses and seating areas dotted around. The Sunset Veranda was once again our favourite place to enjoy breakfast and a pre-dinner drink on the outside terrace.
On this short itinerary we stopped at Toulon, a place we had visited here before, so we decided to take the bus to the station and then the train to Ollioules-Sanary-sur-Mer, where a short shuttle bus ride took us to this very beautiful fishing village. The fishermen sell their daily catch each morning on the quayside and the harbour area was surrounded by bars, cafés and restaurants. After exploring we found a lovely restaurant in a cool spot away from the seafront and enjoyed an excellent seafood lunch.
Our next port was St Tropez, and just sitting at a café on the quayside for a couple of hours watching the busyness of the port was all we wanted to do. There were many large yachts moored and watching the comings and goings was very pleasant. We did not depart from St Tropez until 10pm, and that meant that we could enjoy the famous Azamara 'White Night'. The crew go to so much trouble to clear the pool area of sunbeds and lay out linen-covered dining tables and chairs, there is a poolside barbecue set up and a wide variety of food to be enjoyed, including sushi, seafood, freshly prepared pasta, salads, a huge cheese board, crêpes suzette as well as a variety of desserts. We had music and dancing all evening - it was a great night.
The next day we arrived in Monaco for the Grand Prix. Along with many other cruise ships we had to drop anchor away from the port. We enjoyed breakfast watching hundreds of helicopter flights in and out of the heliport. The sea was quite rough and it was a tricky manoeuvre to get on and off the tender boat, but we made it and walked into Monaco to enjoy all the thrills and excitement. As we had attended the Grand Prix previously, this time we found a bar and enjoyed watching the race on the big screen and in the dry. Unfortunately the heavens opened just as the race was about to start and we heard from other guests later that evening how exposed, cold and wet they were watching from the stands. We felt very fortunate!
Our final day on board was a sea day as we returned to Barcelona and it was a lovely opportunity to relax in the sun, read a book and recharge our batteries. We arranged an early disembarkation which was very easy, and we were soon in a taxi on our way to the airport for our flight home, sad to leave such a lovely ship.