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Casablanca cruises are full of adventure, cultural discoveries, and luxury when you set sail with Celebrity. Much like the famous Bogart and Bergman film of nearly a century ago, this Moroccan city evokes a certain romanticism of an exotic coast and culture that few other places do.
Casablanca is a vibrant coastal city set along the Atlantic seashore of North Africa. It is Morocco’s commercial hub and considered a holy city to many, thanks to its abundance of historic mosques and carefully preserved Moorish Islamic architecture.
In Casablanca, you’ll find modern shopping and dining, museums, culture, and oceanfront excursions all wrapped into one easy-to-navigate place. The city has a rich French colonial history, and has been a thriving international port since pre-colonial times. It continues to be one of the largest ports in the region, and a financial center for Morocco’s trade economy. The port has made the city a commercial and tourism hot spot, offering visitors on Casablanca cruises world-class amenities and service at every turn.
Perhaps the city’s most visually iconic attraction, the Hassan II Mosque is also Casablanca’s biggest tourism draw. This stunningly-sized and ornate mosque has one of the world’s tallest minarets, towering nearly 700 feet into the sky and visible from miles away by sea or land. The mosque’s interior is intricately engraved, carved, and decorated with religious iconography from many different eras. It is so big that it can hold up to 25,000 worshippers at a time, with acoustics that fill the space with beautiful natural sound and ambiance.
In the ancient city of El Jadida, a busy commercial port just south of Casablanca, tour the famous Portuguese Cistern. This 16th-Century cistern was built to catch and hold water to be used by residents and merchants during the Portuguese reign in the area. It is beautifully painted with traditional patterns from the era, with a thin layer of water reflecting the well-preserved colors and designs off of its ceilings. The Portuguese Cistern is classified as a cultural heritage monument in Morocco and a worthwhile day trip in combination with the other Renaissance buildings in El Jadida.
The Casablanca Cathedral, also known as the “Église du Sacré-Cœur” is an Art Deco-inspired former Roman Catholic church that was built by the French in the 1930s. Though it ceased all religious functions after Morocco gained independence in 1956, it has evolved into a popular cultural center. It represents an important period of French-Moroccan relations, and is emblematic of the blend of cultural and religious tolerance in Casablanca today.
Spend time shopping for gifts and artisan-crafted souvenirs at the Souq Habous market on one of Celebrity’s cruises to Casablanca. This tangle of narrow streets, packed with colorful shops and stalls is well known for gifts like African spices, rugs, clothing, leather goods, tea, and traditional trinkets. The Souq Habous is easy to walk around, and is located in the beautiful Quartier Habous in the south central section of the city. If you’re looking for something bigger, check out the nearby Central Market, too.
Every historic city in North Africa has a medina (or “old town”) and Casablanca's does not disappoint. Walk through the whitewashed streets and leafy squares filled with historic buildings still used for residential and commercial purposes today. Take a guided tour to learn about the history of the area, how it was built to fortify the city, and how European colonial rule influenced its past. The Casablanca Medina is also home to some great small cafes where the buzz of local chatter over mint tea fills the air.
The Corniche road is Casablanca’s seaside thoroughfare, busy with pedestrians taking scenic strolls along the water. This is where you’ll find some of the best views and picture-taking opportunities anywhere in the city. It’s also where the Hassan II Mosque is located, so you can pair a walk or bike ride with a visit to the world-famous attraction at one end of your adventure. Breathe in fresh ocean air as you marvel at the majestic minaret of the Mosque and the contours and colors of this fabulous city in the near distance at your side.
For the best food in Casablanca, you won’t have to go far from the port. Many of the city’s best restaurants are adjacent to the sea, or nearby in the old city. You can’t miss a French-inspired Moroccan meal at Le Cabestan, a restaurant that’s been in existence since 1927 and boasts oceanfront views right on the Corniche. For something unique, have an Old Fashioned cocktail and sea bass with saffron rice at Rick’s Cafe, a culinary homage to Humphrey Bogart with an indelible style and sophisticated modern menu. Make sure to try all the local teas, and don’t miss out on couscous or local lamb tajine before leaving town.
Long before luxury cruise lines like Celebrity began to visit, Casablanca was a global powerhouse for trade and ships of all kinds. The city got its name from the Portuguese (Casa Branca), which was later adopted to the Spanish language version “Casablanca”. It was dubbed this by merchants in the 18th Century, due to its classification as a safe harbor for pirates and other maritime traders to do business. Casablanca has a heavy French influence in its culture, which adds to the city’s eclectic art, music, architecture, style, and even language.
Cruises to Casablanca are popular partly due to the convenience of their port and quality of facilities. Like many ports in these regional itineraries, Casablanca's cruise port is very close to the medina (old city). This makes walking to activities, dining, shopping, and shore excursion transportation just a quick taxi or bus ride away. The port itself has a number of restaurants and shopping options so you can grab a last-minute gift or bite before continuing on one of Celebrity’s Casablanca cruises.
Casablanca is a big, sprawling city, spread out mostly along the shoreline hugging the Atlantic Ocean. Private shuttle and car services are recommended for trips anywhere outside of the city center, and in the center, you can walk or take a licensed taxi if needed. Traffic can cause delays in many parts of the city, but you’ll find that many of the most popular sites are not far from each other, and fairly easy to reach by vehicle.
Cruises to Casablanca wouldn’t be complete without some great shopping options, and this city’s got plenty to satiate the savvy shopper in all of us. Head to the Souq Habous in the 1930s-built Quartier Habous for a bazaar-type shopping experience, or to small boutiques around the Corniche that borders the harbor and port. You can also walk into the Medina for some gift shopping, which is adjacent to the port and easy to get to by taxi or a private shuttle from the terminal.
The local currency in Casablanca, Morocco is the dirham. It is the only legal tender in the country, however many older locals may still call it a “rial” or “franc” as a habit from before it existed. For larger purchases, prices may be listed in Euros to help with conversions, and money is easy to change at a currency office, or withdrawn from a local ATM. Make sure to bring cash for smaller items, and it is customary to tip by rounding up in small amounts, or leaving about 5-10% for good food/drink/tour service. Keep in mind, haggling for goods is a local custom here, and a very common and polite practice in marketplaces.