Sunday, 30 January 2011

Cruise the Moorish Mediterranean and stay in a Moroccan riad

Tall ship sailing specialist Star Clippers is offering a unique opportunity to explore the history of the Mediterranean, combining the romance of a voyage through the Balearic Islands and Andalucia to Morocco with a stay in a beautiful riad in Marrakech.

This one-off cruise, on the line’s flagship, the five-masted square rigger Royal Clipper, departs Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, on October 15.

After a day exploring the dramatic medieval fortress town of Bonifacio in Corsica, the ship sets a course to Mahon, Menorca (above), Lord Nelson’s chosen base for the British fleet during the Napoleonic wars. There’s a day in Ibiza, best known for its nightlife but actually rich in history, from its Carthaginian origins to 500 years of Moorish rule. Ibiza is especially lovely in autumn, when the summer crowds have left but the sea is still warm enough for swimming.

Royal Clipper next calls at Motril on southern Spain’s Costa Tropical, an easy hop from Grenada and the magnificent Alhambra Palace. Then there’s a day at Safi in Morocco, famous for its pottery, before disembarking in Casablanca and being transferred to Marrakech.

Here, in conjunction with short break specialist Kirker Holidays, guests will spend four nights in the Riad Kniza, an exquisite town house that has been restored by one of the city’s top antique dealers, situated in the heart of the old Medina, just minutes’ walk from the famous Djemaa el Fna Square.

The riad, built around three open air courtyards, has just 11 rooms, as well as a pool, traditional hammam and roof terrace. Marrakech is a wonderful city for browsing the tangled streets of the souks, walking along the massive ramparts, soaking up the carnival atmosphere of the Square, or taking day trips into the Atlas Mountains.

From £2,199 per person, including flights to Rome and from Marrakech; eight nights’ full board on Royal Clipper; four nights’ B&B at the Riad Kniza, a three-hour private tour of Marrakech, transfers and the services of a Kirker Holidays concierge.

For more information, please visit http://www.starclippers.co.uk/ or contact the adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line Ltd.