Pollywogs and shellbacks, the Equator crossing…The generosity of people we meet…

This passenger at the King Neptune Equator crossing ceremony seemed to get the brunt of the food rubbed into his beard.

Yesterday was the King Neptune celebration poolside in commemoration of crossing the Equator. This particular observance is traditional on many cruise ships as they cross the imaginary line of demarcation of the Southern and Northern Hemispheres.

Pollywog or Shellback: The Navy’s Line Crossing Ceremony Revealed

The Navy is chock full of myth and tradition, and what happens at sea even affects our language. From the Sirens and Sea Monsters of the Odyssey to the boatswain’s call, many naval traditions date back hundreds and even thousands of years.

The Line Crossing Ceremony might be the most interesting of today’s naval traditions.

A Time-Honored Tradition

Line crossing ceremonies have been a part of naval tradition for at least 400 years.
No one is sure when or how the Line Crossing Ceremony, “Order of Neptune,” came about. The ritual dates back at least 400 years in Western seafaring.
The ceremony observes a mariner’s transformation from slimy Pollywog, a seaman who hasn’t crossed the equator, to trusty Shellback, also called a Son or Daughter of Neptune. It was a way for sailors to be tested for their seaworthiness.
When a ship crosses the equator, King Neptune comes aboard to exercise authority over his domain and judge charges against Pollywogs that they are only posing as sailors and haven’t paid proper homage to the god of the sea.
What proceeds is a day of festivities, which builds camaraderie among the seafaring crew? High-ranking crew members and those who have been Shellbacks the longest, dress up in elaborate costumes, and each plays the part of King Neptune’s court. For instance, the ship’s captain might play the part of King Neptune himself.

For more details on the above website on this celebration at sea, please click here.

Our captain Rick Sullivan and cruise director Graham prepare for the King Neptune ceremony to begin.
On the cruise to the South Pacific in May 2015, we were delighted to see the hilarious poolside activities as the crossing was made, and again on our return to the US, we were camera-ready to see it once more.
Captain Rick describes the significance of the Equator crossing celebration.

Please click here for our previous Equator crossing in 2015 and the resulting King Neptune celebration aboard Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas.

King Neptune and his court make their way to the stage poolside.

In many ways, it signified the reality of our leaving this part of the world perhaps for the last time in our world travels when we have so much more world to see in years to come.

King Neptune’s beard reminded us of fake Santa Claus beards.

Many Aussie and Kiwi friends we’ve made aboard the ship over these past two years in this part of the world have graciously offered we stay with them when and if we return someday. 

Volunteer participants, both passengers and ship staff, were led to the stage by RC staff members.

As much as we appreciate these generous offers, it’s unlikely we’d take advantage of staying with newly made friends since we’re not the easiest house guests in the world with our myriad idiosyncrasies and routines. 

The brave participants face the stage to determine their fate.

Nor would we ever want to take advantage of such kind offers when it would be impossible for us to reciprocate when we have no home of our own to extend such an invitation.

The volunteer passenger with the real beard could easily have played King Neptune.

As for yesterday’s King Neptune Equator crossing event poolside, we waited until the last minute to head to the pool. We anticipated we’d end up standing in the hot sun for lack of better spots available when it appeared most passengers aboard the ship, roughly 3200, were attending.

Oh, oh. I ordered grouper for tonight’s dinner. I hope it’s not this same fish! The first part of the ceremony included kissing the grouper.

The bright sun wouldn’t bother me, but Tom hasn’t had sun exposure lately and is prone to getting a sunburn within 10 minutes of exposure. Since the onset of our travels, he’s always been extra careful to avoid a sunburn due to his pale Irish skin.

Dr. Wesley, the ship’s young doctor, participated in the ceremonies by dumping food on the top of the heads of the brave participants.

We haven’t been out to the pool since we boarded the ship for this reason and also due to the fact we’ve been busy indoors mingling with other passengers, working on our posts, and generally having the time of our lives. 

Red pasta sauce and a white cream sauce were poured over the heads of these two participants.

Once we maneuvered our way to the right in front of the activities near the outdoor stage, we were in a good position to take photos. At the same time, we laughed and cheered over the loud and raucous litany of traditional events typical for shipboard observations of the Equator crossing.

Upon taking many photos, the festivities came to an end while we dashed to the closest elevator to return to our cabin so we could finish and upload the day’s post.

Every deck with a possible view of the festivities was packed with passengers anxious to see the show.

We packed our laptops in our smaller computer bag. We headed back to the Diamond Lounge until it was time to dress for the evening for yet another night of engaging conversation and interaction. 

We’d planned dinner with a lovely couple we’d met the prior evening during dinner, Alice and Nate, with whom we had much in common, although they’re more than 20 years younger than us.

King Neptune was pleased with the punishment bestowed upon the pollywogs and shellbacks.

After a superb dinner, we all headed to the Palace Theatre for the “hypnotist” show, a silly compilation of typical hypnotist jokes and ridiculous performances by willing passengers who didn’t seem to mind the antics presented in these types of shows.

Today at noon, we’ll attend the Diamond Club luncheon specifically offered for Crown & Anchor members with a designation of Diamond Club or higher. There are two categories above ours which include Diamond Plus and Pinnacle. We’ll eventually reach Diamond Plus, which offers a few more perks, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever reach Pinnacle, the highest perk-laden top tier. More on that later.

They all were such good sports.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more photos of this amazing return trip to North America. We’re well into the second half of this 24-night cruise, now on day 14 with 10 days remaining until we disembark in Seattle.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, May 4, 2016:

In Bali, Gade stopped at the side of the road when he spotted this monkey and baby. We had no idea we’d see much wildlife here. Of course, we were thrilled! For more details, please click here.