For many, various questions arise before a ferry crossing, especially if it is a journey with such a long time on board, as with the 52-hour crossing of the Mediterranean. In this article, you can read about the questions we asked ourselves and the experiences we had with the ferry to Morocco.
Short and sweet in advance:
- Check-in does not take place at the vehicle! You have to go to the appropriate counters in the building at the beginning of the vehicle queue.
- Boarding of the ferry to Morocco only possible about 1 hour before departure of the ship.
- No significant vegetarian/vegan options in the restaurants on board.
- Good croissants in various styles at the bistro counters.
- Pack plenty of drinking water.
- Cleanliness and condition of cabins ok.
- Dogs not noticed at check-in, but dog cabin clearly recommended.
- No facilities for dogs to defecate on deck.
- Entry and customs formalities for Morocco possible on board.
- Disembarkation was quick and ultimately problem-free despite unclear announcements.
The following are detailed descriptions and further details on the above-mentioned points:
Embarkation on the ferry to Morocco also means leaving Italy at the same time. Accordingly, many stations await you at embarkation in the port of Genoa. When you reach the ferry terminal of the GNV shipping company, your passport is checked as you enter the area. After that, access is free and you end up directly in the queues for boarding the ship. Unfortunately, you don’t get any information about the next steps when you enter the area. There is also a complete lack of any kind of information signs or notices. This is especially irritating for newcomers to the ferry, like us.
The following must be done before boarding the ship:
As with shorter ferries, e.g. to Corsica, check-in does not take place directly at the car, but must be done in the building located in front of the vehicle queue on the right-hand side. Papers such as passports and booking ticket (digital is sufficient) must be shown.
In addition, the exit formalities must be completed at another counter. After that, you can go back to the vehicle.
According to the shipping company, the check-in time for passengers with a vehicle begins 5 hours before the scheduled departure of the ship. Without a vehicle, passengers can check in 4 hours before departure. However, this definitely does not mean that you are already allowed on the ship. At least we, travelling with a vehicle, had to wait until shortly before departure to be able to drive into the belly of the ship. Therefore, on our next trip we would arrive at the ferry port later (with a safety buffer, of course) but definitely not with this time gap.
During the hours of waiting, an employee of the shipping company comes to the vehicle 1-2 times and wants to see the tickets received at check-in. Otherwise, nothing happens for hours. The ship is being unloaded the whole time, so it is not possible to foresee a departure.
It gets exciting as soon as the queue starts moving! Then it’s relatively quick and all the vehicles are on board. We had already read some horror stories about the GNV shipping company on TripAdvisor about the ascent and parking below deck (e.g. the co-driver suddenly has to get out of the vehicle without prior notice, which means that only the person left behind can get all the luggage upstairs and/or the vehicle is parked so tightly that no doors can be opened and the luggage can hardly be removed). We can report with relief that in our case this fortunately did not happen. Even though the ushers below deck gesticulated very frantically and unclearly, our vehicle was ultimately parked in such a way that we were still able to unload all the luggage well and in peace. Of course, it is always helpful to have everything ready in advance so that the last steps are manageable! Also remember where and on which deck you parked your vehicle!
- The first steps on board
Stairs or the two lifts take you to the passenger decks above. With the tickets received at check-in, you receive the tickets for your cabin at the temporary counter. Any food pass purchased will not be exchanged; the paper version from the check-in on land is sufficient for the restaurants.
Here and also the whole time before, our dog was not really taken care of! If you book via the GNV website, you will not be asked about animals travelling with you, only the dog cabin is available and we strongly recommend it. There are many signs in the corridors indicating where pets are allowed! So a normal cabin with a dog would be more than conspicuous 😉 To use the Pullman seats, which are automatically included in the ticket price without booking a cabin, the only option is to leave the dog alone in the more than hideous kennel room on top of the deck, which also has an immense engine noise level.
The cabin itself is in good condition in our case, has a total of 4 beds of which the two upper ones are folded in. This gives a sufficient feeling of space in the (dog) inside cabin we booked. The cleanliness is okay and not at all such that one would feel the urge to clean up afterwards. We had read this as a negative point in many reviews.
- Dog area on deck – where is the dog supposed to do its business?
What you better be prepared for is the lack of facilities for the dog’s “errands”. There are designated areas on deck where you can take your dog. Here, however, we desperately searched for a furnished corner, e.g. with a box full of sand or similar. So the dog has no choice but to defecate in whatever form on the bare deck. The owner feels correspondingly uncomfortable when he has to clean up after the dog. Especially because there is no auxiliary material available, e.g. a water hose or poop bags.
- Catering on board
Clear recommendation: pack enough drinking water for the two days of the crossing! Otherwise, the only option is to buy it at the bistro counters. We can highly recommend them for their really good croissants!
Unfortunately, we cannot recommend the other gastronomic facilities on board. Especially for all people who eat vegetarian or vegan food, this is an absolute tragedy!
When we looked at the menu of the on-board restaurant, it quickly became clear that apart from Pizza Margherita, there were no dishes without meat or fish! Therefore, we had set our hopes on the self-service on-board restaurant. But here too, apart from green salad, there were no options. Everything was prepared with meat or fish in some form. Even if not immediately obvious at first glance. In addition, the prices charged are totally inappropriate for a place with canteen flair and self-service. But since we had already paid for the “food pass” when we booked, we had to opt for the meagre options.
- Customs and entry formalities for Morocco can be completed directly on board
During the crossing, on both days of the ferry to Morocco, you have the opportunity to complete customs and entry formalities for Morocco at set times. Moroccan officials are on board for this purpose.
In our case, two booths were set up in the largest lounge. Unfortunately, here too there are no indications as to which counter is for what and where the queues begin. But thanks to fellow travellers, it was easy to find one’s way around.
At one of the counters, people’s documents are checked (3-month visa-free stay). If you are travelling with a vehicle, you also have to queue at the second counter. There, the vehicle documents are checked (6 months duty-free / don’t forget to have your green insurance card extended to Morocco by the insurance company at home if necessary! In our case, this was possible free of charge for a total of 6 months – RMV/KRAVAG in Germany)
When booking a cabin, the “late checkout” is often advertised. This now comes into effect. If it is part of your booking, you can stay in your cabin until 15 minutes before the ship docks. This is very convenient, as you can actually go straight to the vehicle. This saves you having to stand in the corridors for a long time, packed with luggage.
The announcements for disembarkation start relatively early and name the assembly points for the individual parking decks. For the next step, when the assembly points should then go to the parking deck and thus to the cars, the announcements were missing in our case. As a result, we eventually joined the “crowd” and went to the vehicle.
Thanks to the formalities already completed on board, which are necessary for entry, one can leave the harbour area in Tanger Med behind relatively quickly. A quick glance at the passport, at a second station into the vehicle and you get free passage!
What we experienced in Morocco can be found in the following category: Travelogues Morocco
If you have any questions, we would be happy to hear from you via the contact form or comment!
Toi, toi, toi, with the culture shock Morocco and an adventurous time wishes you