So, your Western Mediterranean cruise will be stopping in Morocco. How lucky you are! It is a stunningly beautiful country. Morocco boasts endless sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, entry to the expansive deserts of the Sahara, and colorful, exotic cities of movie legend and song: Casablanca, Fez (or Fes), Rabat (the capital), Tangier, Marrakesh, and more.
While in Morocco, be sure to see the following if you can:
- The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. It is one of the very few mosques you can enter unless you are Muslim, and is the third largest in Morocco. Its minaret however, is the tallest in the world.
- The Jemaa-el-Fnaa, the main square in Marrakesh and UNESCO world heritage site where you can haggle a purchase, and/or people watch all day and evening (though you really should not venture out after dark);
- Or the Majorelle Garden. This a 12-acre botanical garden in Marrakesh, and is home to the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakesh. The late French designer, Yves Saint Laurent, had his ashes scattered in these gardens;
- Fez, a huge medina (walled city with narrow, maze-like streets), that is car -free, and another UNESCO heritage site.
- The Berber market at Soul El Had or the Craftsman’s Souk in Agadir. Purchase pottery, woven items, and more.
- The tanneries at Fez. Here you can observe workers in the process of softening and dying leather with their bare hands and feet. After you can purchase leather products as a souvenir of your visit.
- A journey to the edge of the desert, if you have the time.
- A visit to the Souss-Massa National Park near Agidar. This is on the coast so you get a chance to see the beautiful beaches of Morocco plus wildlife and vegetation in their natural habitats. Most visitors rate it as “dazzling”.
Here are a few more tips for when you are in Morocco You might be unaware that:
- Photos usually require permission or you may be hassled to pay, even in a crowded market.
- A woman’s head, shoulder and legs should be covered in mosques or holy places. Dressing conservatively is a must, especially for a woman.
- Use of your left hand for many things like eating, paying money, shaking hands, etc. is frowned upon as the left hand is considered unclean. This is a hard one for “lefties” to remember.
- One shouldn’t blatantly show the soles of your shoes or feet as this is considered an insult.
- Though not a place for violent crimes, it is known for petty thievery such as pick pocking, or extreme hustling and shakedowns for services that starts out innocently enough, and may turn ugly. Groping of women is common. Travelling in a group on cruise line excursions or tours booked pre-vacation through a reputable service is recommended. Hiring someone on the street is not.
- You are expected to haggle! But, as in any purchase, know your limit and be ready to walk away. Also call your credit card company and tell them where
you will be visiting. This is a must anytime you travel but especially important in this instance. Not to do so may have you experiencing a “declined” message right when you thought you were scoring the best souvenir ever. A word to the wise though: traveller’s checks are not accepted, and the markets(souks) and many shops may only accept cash.
Your travel professional will have many more tips and advice for this area, and other ports of call, on your cruise to ensure you have the best of times on your vacation. Just ask. He or she may also have a story to relate of a visit to a kasbah (fortress) or the souks of Morocco.
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.