Chose this cruise as our 1st return to cruising since the start of the Covid pandemic and Celebrity had always rated highly with us previously. Unfortunately on this occasion they let themselves down even before we sailed. It was almost impossible to get in touch with anyone at Celebrity when we had queries. The hours spent waiting for the phone to be answered were unbelievable. Information provided regarding pre-cruise Covid testing & paperwork needed to ensure stress-free boarding on Celebrity website were almost 100% for US based passengers only and even they were confused by the info given. Once on board the main disappointment was the food. Compared with previous cruises both the standard and choice were not up to Celebrity's usual standard.. In the Grand Cuvee Anytime dining room the atmosphere was rather frantic, We were served stone cold vegetables with a hot main dish & on one occasion were told neither cauliflower nor broccoli were available with an entree, even though cauliflower cheese was on the menu as an extra side. The portion sizes were ridiculously small eg: 6 chips in total with a steak & chips main course & a very small ramekin of cauliflower cheese. We were also served uncooked potatoes (not just undercooked) with filet mignon in a speciality restaurant. They were replaced with cooked but that should not happen on a cruise line listed as 5-star. The majority of people we spoke to, who had cruised before, either with Celebrity or other cruise lines also expressed the same disappointment in the food served on board. We were frequently asked by 1st time cruises if this was the norm for Celebrity and we assured them it was not the usual standard provided. However, the staff were always friendly and trying to cope the best they could under difficult circumstances and as always the entertainment in the theatre onboard was excellent and very professional. This is not how to encourage passengers back to cruising & recoup lost revenue.
Cabin storage not well designed, drawers that didn't open fully for access & the wardrobe was awkward to access due to the vicinity of an overlarge sofa. Very comfortable bed & clean cabin. No USB ports available & only 3 accessible power points in the main area located next to one another at the small dressing table. A kettle & free coffee, tea, etc, was provided in cabin which was much appreciated. The veranda was adequate
As we had been to Bilbao we caught the shuttle bus in and then walked to the old town, which was quite a hike but mostly level. We were tempted in by the lovely aromas of a cafe selling delicious pastries, both savoury & sweet & a welcome coffee before continuing to the old town itself which is mostly pedestrianised with lovely walks along the river & plenty of shady trees & seats to rest for a while. Enjoyed lunch and a glass of wine in the square next to the railway station then walked back along the river to the Guggenheim which was close to the bus-stop for the shuttle back to the ship.
We booked an excursion to the Port wine cellars of Grahams Port which was both interesting and enjoyable. The tour leader was very good and kept the pace comfortable to ensure we could all keep up. The boat trip along the river was lovely with plenty of interesting commentary and a delicious Pastel de Nata & a small glass of Tawny Port to wash it down. So glad we did the excursion as I would of struggled with the steep roads on the other side of the river without the coach to drive us from one area to another.
We again used the free shuttle bus to get nearer to the town then took the easy walk along the seafront into this lovely bustling place. We enjoyed a delicious lunch with wine and a coffee at a restaurant overlooking the beach before we strolled back to the shuttle stop.