Libya seems to be the destination of choice for the more offbeat American and European cruise lines since the U.S. State Department dropped its travel restrictions on the country at the end of February.

Clipper Cruise Line, Hapag-Lloyd and Travel Dymanics are already adding Libya to their programs.

Hapag-Lloyd is scheduled to visit Libya in September on an 11-day cruise from Lisbon to Limassol. "There are no warnings anymore."' said Foreign Sales Manager Claudia Reinhardt-Barz. "'This is another side of North Africa that people have not seen for many years, and we are looking forward to it."

For the first time in its 35 years of operating educational cruises aboard small vessels, Travel Dynamics will be going to Libya this October and again in March and November 2005. The "Ancient Lost Cities of Libya" cruises will operate this October aboard the 34-passenger Callisto, sailing from Crete to Tripoli for nine nights, and on the 88-passenger Clelia II in 2005, sailing from Crete to Palermo on 10-night cruises.

Clipper has added Libya to two 10-day cruises in May 2005 aboard the Clipper Adventurer. "We are definitely going (to Libya)," said Marc Gross, vice president of operations and product development. Gross noted that although he is not 100 percent certain of the itinerary, at press time he reported that it will be an "Antiquities of North Africa" cruise, will have two departures, and will "most likely" sail from Lisbon to Malta. Libya will definitely be the highlight, and there will be at least two to three nights in Tripoli. "I am sure the Libyan tourist arm will put on its best face when Americans arrive," Gross added.