Thomson Cruise – Spain and Morocco

This cruise, taking in Majorca, Gibraltar, Casablanca, Agadir and Lanzarote was booked with Thomson Cruises on 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 and some people left the ship to take a look at Palma but we decided to stay on board and have a look around the ship. At around 11pm the ship left Palma to travel through the next day to our first port of call.

Gibraltar

Gibraltar Rock

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 declare themselves very firmly British.

We opted to take a guided minibus tour of the island. The half-day tour took us all around the island pointing out famous landmarks and stopping at the lighthouse in order to photograph the famous rock before going higher up to see the limestone caves and the famous Barbary Macaques, the only wild monkeys in Europe. At the end of the tour we were dropped off in the town centre for some shopping then made our own way back to the ship. All in all this was a very enjoyable day trip.

Gibraltar Caves  Gibraltar apes

 

Casablanca

There were a number of different tours available in Casablanca but we chose to take the tour that included a look at the Hassan II Mosque, the third largest in the World.

Hassan Mosque Casablanca

The mosque was the first stop on the tour and we were all herded inside. We had visited all sorts of religious establishments before and were aware that we would have to remove our shoes but 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 the mosque.

Hassan Mosque

After leaving the mosque we were taken on a road journey to look at the beach and also the homes of the richest people. The main point of this part of the tour seemed to be an attempt to sell Casablanca to western tourists. From the way the guide spoke we guessed that talk had been written by the Casablanca/Moroccan government rather than something he passionately believed himself.

Unfortunately I cannot remember exactly where our next stop was, but it was just up the road from the Royal Palace and featured some rather nice architecture and lots of fountains and plants.

Unknown building

We then stood and took a look at the gates to the Royal Palace, which was a bit pointless really as all you can see are the closed gates.

Palace gates Casablanca

Our final stop in Casablanca was to be for some 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.

Casablanca Bazaar

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.

 

Agadir, Morocco

Our second port of call in Morocco was Agadir. We had considered the Marrakech trip but opted instead for a 4 x 4 trip out into the Sahara Desert. We were not disappointed.

After driving out of Agadir and along roads for about 1 hour 30 minutes we took a turn off and within minutes we were in the anti Atlas mountain area.

Anti Atlas region Morocco

We got out and walked for about 30 minutes or so which allowed us to take a closer look at the landscape and vegetation.

Agadir region

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.

Sahara Desert

Then 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.

Berber village Morocco

After lunch it was back to the jeeps and we headed down to the coast for some fast driving along the sand dunes.

Moroccan Coast

We made one stop so that we could walk down to the sea and dip our toes then it was more speed driving before eventually rejoining the highway.

We made one last stop at a roadside pottery shop where we could finally do some bartering with the store owners.
This was an amazing trip and a great day out with good food, excellent guides and lots of laughter.

 

Arrecife, Lanzarote

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.

Lanzarote Volcanic landscape

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.

Lanzarote volcano fire
There was another cafe at the top and all the food served was cooked using the heat from the volcano.
We then visited the souvenir shop before returning to the ship.

This was an interesting trip and one that I would recommend to anyone visiting Lanzarote.

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