This is one of those cruise ships dedicated to helping people. These ships embark every day now from such places as Miami, Liverpool, Naples or Athens, some of them stuffed with psychiatrists trying to help the passengers forget their troubles, others with physical culture experts trying to beat the blubber off a fat clientele, others with religious leaders trying to purge or mystify those who are aboard.

Our ship. The Erasmus, has a somewhat less complicated mission: theoretically, at least, it is just a ship which will hold us captive on the high seas until we have all stopped smoking. We sailed from Amsterdam a few days ago, puffing like mad on the dock before the horn sounded, and in a few short weeks we will be around Italy, the warm Mediterannean waters soothing us – one hope being, 1 assume, that craved minds will tum away from nicotine to romantic lust – until all lungs are healthy again.