ST HELENA -- The RMS St. Helena stayed tied up dockside in Cardiff, South Wales, for four days beyond her scheduled departure date. When eventually she sailed, she was hit by a Force 9 gale and unexpectedly high swells in the Bristol Channel. Most passengers, many of the crew and even the ship's doctor kept to their bunks.

David Dinen, his youth and vitality supported by antimotion tablets, did more than stay upright. He paced the deck, adjusting to the ship's rolling and pitching. He went down into the engine room to look and learn, though engines are not a particular passion of his. Looking and learning, though, are principles. He went up on to the bridge to watch and be instructed. A medical student from Philadelphia, he is the first in his family to be headed for a career in medicine. He intends to be a specialist pediatrician. "I like children," he said. "I want to be able to set sick children up for healthy lives."

At the ship's first Atlantic Ocean port of call, the Spanish resort of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, of course David went ashore. He walked uphill through the town of Santa Cruz, where cobbled boulevards are set with open-air cafes, and jacaranda trees are heavy with lilac bloom. He visited the church of San Francisco, the botanical gardens, and the museum that retells 18th-century histories of battles and conquests and the mortal wounding of Admiral Nelson. "I'll come back here one day and spend more time," David declared.