From Pollywog to Shellback

It is a long standing tradition among the navies of the world to hold an initiation ceremony the first time a sailor crosses the equator. Prior to the crossing, a sailor is a slimy pollywog. Once they have crossed the equator and been initiated, they become trusted Shellbacks. The initiation ritual resembles fraternity hazing of new initiates and the ceremony is generally presided over by King Neptune. I have crossed the equator previously on a Lindblad ship in the Galapagos, so I was clearly a Shellback when I got on the Sun. In Susan’s case, she had only crossed previously by plane; so she may well be considered to be a pollywog.

On Thursday, we crossed the equator and had our own ceremony to initiate the pollywogs.Naturally, there had to be a Viking twist to the ceremony. They found a number of Vikings deep in the bowels of the ship to facilitate the initiation.The ceremony was presided over by Ægir, the Norse god of the sea. He was accompanied by a lovely mermaid. The first initiates were members of the crew that were still Pollywogs. They were first accused of various crimes such as watching You Tube videos that hogged the WiFi bandwidth. They were quickly found guilty by the assembled masses and subjected to the initiation ritual. Following that, any pollywogs amongst the guests were initiated.The first task in the initiation was to kiss a dead fish. In the top picture, one of the crew members is trying his best to avoid the kiss. In the bottom picture, our friend Susan (not my Susan, but one of the many other Susans on the ship) is bravely going right for the kiss. The Viking holding the fish is the Captain’s wife and she is involved in all the activities.After kissing the fish, you had to walk across the pool and then drink a glass of aquavit which you received from Ægir. You were then officially a Shellback. The guests were warned to wear a swimsuit. The captain in full uniform and his wife both participated; and by popular demand our cruise director, Heather, went in the pool in her evening dress.

It was a good time for all. Since I was already a Shellback, I did not participate. You will have to ask my Susan what her excuse was for not participating.

On Saturday we will be in the Marquesas Islands.

6 thoughts on “From Pollywog to Shellback”

  1. Looks like you are having fun. Never heard of this ceremony,probably because we only crossed equator on a plane!
    Keep having fun.

  2. I would be with your Susan. Sometimes it is more entertaining to be an observer than it is to be a participant. And for me (but not necessarily for your Susan), my days of parading around in a swimsuit are long over! LOL!
    I like the fact the Captain’s wife is mixing with the guests. I imagine she has a lot of ‘stories’ to tell.
    Question for you: Are you finding it easier to adjust to the time zone changes?

    1. Dealing with the time zones is one of the best parts of traveling by ship. At most, you change by one hour a night. And going from east to west as we are, all the changes are setting the clock back so you get an extra hour of sleep.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *