Casablanca to Marrakech - DIY. Need help from those who have done it!!!

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#1
Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia
1,348 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
We will be arriving in Casablanca on MSC Divina on 13th Feb. We are in port from 8am to 10pm. Marrakech is the place I wish to visit, anything else can wait until I do a land trip in a couple of years.
I need specific information from those in the know!
Can you walk from the cruise port to Casa port railway station or are you better to catch a petit taxi to Casa Voyageurs?
If you can walk, how long would it take?
If better to take a taxi, what would the fare be?
Any responses greatly appreciated
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#2
Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia
1,348 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
As an aside, I am not interested in doing ship tours ( way too expensive and the local guides take you to their çommission stores).
I was looking at renting a car, whch would give us more time (maybe!!) but concerned about traffic and parking in Marrakech.
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#3
537 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
I'm hoping you get some helpful answers, as I am trying to plan for our visit in April. If nothing else, please report back how your visit went!

Happy cruising!
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#4
610 Posts
Joined Dec 2007
I would not do this as a private tour...it is a long ways along the highway, there and back. it is worth the ships' tour price to make sure you get back. we took a tour there..and all the buses were 2 hours late back to the ship, because we ran into soccer match traffic and there was no way around it. another bus was 2.5 hours late.

i just would not take the chance. do bring water along... our ship's tour was very very good.we walked through the souk...and there was no commission stuff going on. take water and toilet paper.
#5
13 Posts
Joined Mar 2013
Holy crap! Casa to Kech and back in a day? NO THANK YOU!

I lived in Morocco for 4.5 years. If you are going to Casa, my suggestions are:

1. Get out of Casa. Seriously. Other than Morocco Mall (and who the hell goes to Morocco to see a mall?!?) and the mosque that, yes, is maybe worth walking around for 10-15 minutes or touring... Casa is the armpit of Morocco.

2. Think about going to Rabat. I lived there the last two years I was in Morocco and miss it horribly. You can probably hire a guide for the day in Rabat-- let me know if the ship doesn't offer anything and I can message privately some info once I check with friends.

If you do Rabat, I'd check out:

- The Chellah-- old Mereneid ruins next to Roman Ruins right outside the Rabat city gates! There's not a lot of information on the history, so I'd either hire a guide (there or if you have a city guide for your time there, great) or do some research beforehand. It's only 10 MAD to get in ($1.25ish) and a great place to visit.

- The old Medina. If you are a walker, I'd walk there from the train station: just continue down Avenue Mohammed V past the Parliament and hotel Balima: you'll run right into one of the two main drags. I recommend a map: the main streets of interest are Mohammed V, Souika (busy! bustling!) and Rue de Negotiants (artisanal goods/souvenirs). You could spend a whole day getting lost. It's not the same as Marrakesh-- not by a long shot!-- but it's fantastic. I recommend tasting the sugar cane juice as well as an avocado and ginger smoothie. There are also fantastic olives sold by the bucket on Souika-- DELICIOUS and affordable. Rue de Negotiants has excellent souvenir opportunities.


At the end of Rue de Negotiants, you'll exit the old Medina and find yourself right across the street from the Oudaya. Go there-- it's a fortified neighborhood that literally used to be a pirate fort and the capital of the rogue pirate nation founded by the Sale (Sallee) Rovers. Today, there are gardens, a museum with jewelry from around Morocco, a fantastic cafe that overlooks the river Bouregreg (skip the coffee, try a gazelle horn and tea!), houses painted in white and blue, a row of shops and galleries, a carpet "factory," and a viewing platform with stunning views of the ocean, river with its blue fluca boats, Sale (sister city across the river) and lighthouse.

As far as what else to do, I'd recommend a meal at Dar Neji for affordable authentic traditional Moroccan food. The roof is traditional, the prices are good, and there are a lot of options. Don't miss out on the salad plate with a trio of salads. I also recommend trying other people in your group's food: chicken tagine with preserved lemons, couscous, bastilla, and kefta with eggs should NOT be missed. Skip desert at Neji and get ice cream or gelato on the street.

Getting to Rabat is fairly easy... well. No. I don't know how seasoned of travelers you are. I'd either walk to Casa Port train station or take a red "petit taxi" (pay the price on the meter), depending on where exactly the ship docks. Trains run every hour during off times and every half hour during the day. It's about a 70 minute trip each way, 70 MAD round-trip for 2nd class, 105 MAD round-trip for first. (I don't mind second-class... but you are guaranteed an assigned seat in first, so it's up to whatever you are comfortable with).

If you have even a small working knowledge of French, you should be fine. You will most likely be perfectly fine with English as well-- if not, most Moroccans are friendly and open to helping-- if you need help, asking if someone speaks English at a store or restaurant will hopefully result in them finding someone to help. I'd be more wary in Casa of people than Rabat, but I'm also a bit biased.

From the train station in Rabat (the second one- Rabat Ville.... NOT Rabat Agdal), everything except the Chellah is within walking distance if you are comfortable walking a few miles. I recommend it-- you get to see so much more that way!

In any case-- if you (or anyone else in the future reading this board) has any other questions, let me know. I love Morocco. I miss it daily. I HATE that so many people only see a tiny sliver of it (especially when people just see Tangier or Casa which are dumpy and sketchy if you don't know what you are doing) and miss out... so I will do whatever I can to help with people having a good experience.

I also spent a few months in Kech, so I can answer a lot of questions about that as well.

Peace!
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#6
537 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
koryisma, thank you for your very helpful post. We'll be docked at Casablanca on April 5 and are planning to do exactly this, take the train to Rabat. Really looking forward to it! I'm printing out your post to take along with us.

Quick question, since we will be there on a Friday, will things be closed? I know that the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca will not be offering tours that day, but how about things in Rabat? Thanks.
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#7
Fort Mill, South Carolina
6,625 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
We will be on a Celebrity ship in late November. Do you know where we will dock? Thanks!
How would we set up a private tour to see Rabat?
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#8
Toronto
214 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
We plan to make the trip to Marrakech from Casablanca. It is an overnight port, so plenty of time. Any current input on the best way to travel there?


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#9
Florida
2,197 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
Just finished a week in Morocco. We used Sahara Desert Trips and had an incredible tour. Youssef was our guide and Mbarek our driver. We travel 3/4 of the year and this is the first time we finished a week somewhere and could have done the same thing again the next week. You tell them how much time you have, what you want to see and do and they give you an itinerary that can then be tweaked. They also will do day trips. http://www.saharadeserttrips.com/
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Wayfairers


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#10
717 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
Glad to hear you enjoyed your trip! For potential travelers reading this trying to decide what to do in Casablanca, I'll share my thoughts. (Note: our ship did not offer excursions to Marrakesh).

Our day in Casablanca was the least favorite of our cruise. Granted, we were sick the day we were there so we scrapped our afternoon plans to visit Quartier Habous, the old Medina, Ain D'iab beach and to eat at Al-Mounia. We did a walking tour on our own and here's what I reported in another post:

"We walked in the area of Armed Forces & Mohammed V Blvds to take in the architecture (it's quite chaotic so it's hard to just pause and take pictures), went to the Central Market, walked down Rue Chaouia (it also has an alternate name), visited Palais de Justice's courtyards, Place Mohammed V (quite a bit of construction going on), the Arab League Park & Sacre Couer Cathedral (we did not walk the stairs to the roof). We went to the Kenzi Tower Hotel, part of the Twin Center in the Maarif District, and took the elevator to the 27th floor. We told the doorman and concierge of our intentions just to take pictures, and they gladly allowed us in. (They have 2 restaurants; one on the 27th floor, Sens, is open until 3pm and the other on the 28th floor, Sky 28, opens at 3pm). You can walk up one open flight of stairs to the 28th floor for panoramic views of Casablanca (even if Sky 28 is not yet officially open, as was our case). It has views than span for miles on all sides and was a good way for us to end our walking tour. You can be back to UN Square in under 20 minutes by foot from here."

I do feel we made the most of our time in light of how we were feeling. Again, perhaps if we were feeling better and had done everything we'd planned, we would feel differently about this port. The city is a shadow of what it once was. I am grateful for the experience of having visited, but if given another opportunity to visit would get out of town, as others have recommended.

Thank you, Wayfairers & koryisma, for giving your advice on how to best enjoy a visit!
#11
Florida
2,197 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
We also didn't enjoy Casablanca...and said we didn't care if we returned to Morocco. But we met someone who convinced us we didn't see the best part of Morocco and I am so glad we returned.
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Wayfairers


12/06 RC Navigator of the Seas - 7d Eastern Caribbean
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#12
Oakland, CA USA
1,419 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
You really can't DIY Casablanca to Marrakech in one port day. The train is about 2 hours one way, and there is a limited schedule. If you really want to go there in one day, take the ship's tour, but you will probably spend a good part of the day on the motor coach. And I agree that there is not much for tourists in Casablanca. If you have an overnight, you can take the train to Marrakech and book a room in any of many, many types of accommodations since Marrakech is a big tourist destination. It helps if you speak French if you DIY. Marrakech is fascinating and very different, but beware the incessant sales people.