This cruise, taking in Majorca, Gibraltar, Casablanca, Agadir and Lanzarote was taken with Thomson Cruises in 2010.
We flew with Thomson airlines to Palma, Majorca where we boarded our ship. We had arrived well before the ship was due to depart so we spent the rest of the day getting to know the ship. At 11pm the ship left Palma to travel through the next day to our first port of call.
Gibraltar is a small, British Overseas Territory that stands at the gateway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Due to its strategic, geographical location there have been many disputes between Britain and Spain over ownership of the island. However, the inhabitants of the island very firmly declare themselves British.
We opted to take a guided minibus tour of the island. The half-day tour took us all around the island and our guide pointed out famous landmarks. We stopped at the lighthouse (above) to photograph the famous rock before driving higher up. We got out to see the limestone caves and the Barbary Macaques, the only wild monkeys in Europe.
At the end of the tour we were dropped off in the town centre. We did some shopping then made our own way back to the ship.
In Casablanca, we chose to take the tour that included the Hassan II Mosque, the third largest in the World.
The mosque was the first stop on the tour and we were all herded inside. We have visited all sorts of religious establishments before and were aware that we would have to remove our shoes. However, we were not prepared for the way we were ordered to remove our shoes, nor the way that our guide inside the mosque shouted orders and instructions all the way round.
After leaving the mosque we were taken on a road journey to be shown the beach and the homes of the richest people in the city. The main point of this part of the tour seemed to be an attempt to sell Casablanca to western tourists.
Unfortunately I cannot remember exactly where our next stop was, but it was just close to the Royal Palace and featured some rather nice architecture and lots of fountains and plants.
Afterwards we were taken to look at the gates to the Royal Palace. This was a bit pointless really as all you can see are the closed gates.
We thought our final stop in Casablanca was to be shopping in the Bazaar. Having seen the main bazaar featured in an episode of ‘The Apprentice’ we were looking forward to going there and haggling for some bargains.
However, this was not to be as we were instead taken to a smaller shopping area where we were told that haggling was not acceptable. We opted to stay on the bus.
Overall, I was glad to have seen Casablanca and visited the mosque but half a day was enough and I don’t think I will ever return.
Our second port of call in Morocco was Agadir. Having considered the Marrakech trip we opted instead for a 4 x 4 trip out into the Sahara Desert. It proved to be an excellent choice.
We drove out of Agadir and along roads for about 1 hour 30 minutes. Suddenly we took a turn off and within minutes we were in the anti Atlas mountain area.
We got out and walked for about 30 minutes or so which allowed us to take a closer look at the landscape and vegetation.
Then it was back in the jeep until our next stop at the edge of the Sahara desert. Here we also got to take a camel ride and sit in the baking hot sand.
Next it was on to a Berber village for a traditional lunch of bread, honey, meat and vegetables washed down with water or local wine.
We were serenaded with traditional music and amused with attempts at broken English catchphrases by the locals.
After lunch it was back to the jeep. We drove to the coast for some exciting fast driving along the sand dunes.
We made one stop so that we could walk down to the sea and dip our toes in the sea then it was more fast driving before rejoining the highway.
A last stop at a roadside pottery shop allowed us to do some bartering with the store owners and pick up some souvenirs.
This was an amazing trip and a great day out with good food, excellent guides and lots of laughter.
At Arrecife in Lanzarote we had opted to take the Fire Mountain trip to see the volcanic landscape of the Timanfaya National Park.
We stopped at the foot of the park for a camel ride. Having ridden a camel the previous day I opted out and went for a coffee in the local cafe instead.
Then it was back on the coach for a winding drive through the most amazing landscape. The coach driver slowed down frequently so that we could take pictures.
At the top we were treated to a display of the volcano’s firepower when a demonstrator dropped a piece of dried brushwood into a hole.
There was a cafe at the top and all the food served was cooked using the heat from the volcano. After refreshments we visited the souvenir shop before returning to the ship.