A meditation on civilization. July, 2001: friends wave as a cruise ship departs Lisbon for Mediterranean ports and the Indian Ocean. On board and on day trips in Marseilles, Pompeii, Athens, Istanbul, and Cairo, a professor tells her young daughter about myth, history, religion, and wars. Men approach her; she's cool, on her way to her husband in Bombay. After Cairo, for two evenings divided by a stop in Aden, the captain charms three successful, famous (and childless) women, who talk with wit and intellect, each understanding the others' native tongue, a European union. The captain asks mother and child to join them. He gives the girl a gift. Helena sings. Life can be sweet.