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Traditions and tourism
cruise to Morocco is ripe with immediate and enduring fascination. Though just an hour across the sea from Spain, it seems at once very far from Europe, with a culture – Islamic and deeply traditional – that is almost wholly unfamiliar.
Throughout the country, despite the years of French and Spanish colonial rule and the presence of modern and cosmopolitan cities like Rabat and Casablanca, a more distant past constantly makes its presence felt. Fez, perhaps the most beautiful of all Arab cities, maintains a life still rooted in medieval times, when a Moroccan kingdom stretched from Senegal to northern Spain, while in the mountains of the Atlas and the Rif, it is still possible to draw up tribal maps of the Berber population.
As a backdrop to all this, the country’s physical make-up is extraordinary: from the Mediterranean coast, which you’ll get to know during your MSC cruise to Morocco, through four mountain ranges, to the empty sand and scrub of the Sahara.
The coast is best enjoyed in the north at Tangier, Asilah and Larache, and in the south at El Jadida, Essaouira. Inland, where the real interest of Morocco lies, the outstanding cities are Fez and Marrakesh. The great imperial capitals of the country’s various dynasties, they are almost unique in the Arab world for the chance they offer to witness city life that, in patterns and appearance, remains in large part medieval.