We've just returned from cruising Italy (8 ports, 3 overnights) on the Azamara Quest and it was fantastic. We are in our mid-late 40's, and travelling with two daughters (8 yrs and 16 yrs). We were obviously not part of the standard demographic for this particular cruise, but it's the best time we've had yet. Something special happened on this cruise, and passengers and staff gelled in a way you wouldn't dream possible. Passengers were (with a few exceptions) very kind and personable, and the staff seemed genuinely happy to be on board. With other cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Princess), we've always felt the staff were hustling us for tips ... it seemed to be a challenge for them to come up with the biggest sob story of what they'd left behind to come work on the ship. On Azamara, there was none of that - they loved it there! The captain is phenomenal - awesome announcements full of humour and lots of information.
Of special note for the other staff: Eric (magician extraordinaire, and all-round nice guy), Sam (very talented singer ... his cabaret was great), Lindsay Hamilton (guest artist - unbelieveable singer), Jim Badger (nightly informal cabaret ... an incredibly talented pianist, singer and funny enough to split our sides each and every night), Pinto (waiter in the dining room - very, very sweet man), and countless other staff who remember our names (so I'm embarassed I don't remember theirs) and always greeted us with smiles and conversation. Because the ship is so small (approx. 650 passengers, 400 staff), you see everyone all the time. As the captain said, "we can't hide", so they were out socializing with passengers on their off hours, greeting us in ports, and making us feel completely at home. Our girls had a wonderful time ... of course they did - they were on a ship with a few hundred grandmothers :-)
We highly recommend Azamara, and the Quest in particular. Worth every penny. We'll be back!