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Equator Crossing

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So I was just looking at a cruise from Hawaii to Australia coming up later this year, when it suddenly hit me. 

What do civilian cruise ships do when they cross the equator? 

So like anyone else, I searched YouTube as it never fails me. Sure enough there's a few videos and I watched one on Vimeo too! It looked kinda weak if ya ask me. 


Plus, not everyone goes through the ceremony yet they become shellbacks anyways? That is sooo wrong. 😂 

Anybody ever cross the equator on a cruise ship? It looks like they take volunteers. It also looks like the officers go through it too, though I'm going to guess they get voluntold by the captain. How does it work? Can I volunteer my wife?? 


I have already been to Neptune's court and have become a Trusty Shellback. Looks a lot easier to do on a cruise ship though. 😂 💀 

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2 hours ago, Atlantix2000 said:

Your question implies non-civilian (so naval? any other categories?) ships do something.  You might want to describe it since the vast majority of us are unlikely to know what you're refering to!

I shall describe my own experience, but first a little history.  No one really knows when the line crossing ceremony started.  It dates back over 400 years ago with the Viking and Spaniards.  In the ceremony, the sailor transforms from Slimy Pollywog, a mariner with no equator crossings, to a trusty Shellback, sometimes called a Son or Daughter of Neptune. This was a way for sailors to prove they are seaworthy. When a ship crosses the equator, King Neptune comes aboard to exercise authority over his domain and to judge charges brought against Pollywogs that they are only posing as sailors and haven't paid proper homage to the god of the sea.

This is a time honored tradition.  Even President Roosevelt became an "Honorary" Shellback. Cause you know, probably shouldn't make the prez go through the whole thing.  LOL

As far as I know, every ship that crosses the equator has a ceremony of some sorts.  Even little sailboats!


The rest of this post I shall rate as MA.  Mature Audiences only.  Viewer discretion is advised.

I appeared before King Neptune and his royal court on July 22, 1991.  It all started on June 22, 1991.  The shellbacks start to become rude to us slimy pollywogs, taunting us at every possible moment. It progressively worsened throughout the month until the day before we crossed the border.  That morning us pollywogs rose up and staged a "mutiny" taking over the ship. At least until a few hours after lunch when King Neptune and his Royal Court showed up. They instantly put a stop to the mutiny.  The royal court includes King Neptune, his queen, Davy Jones, the royal baby, and other dignitaries.  This is when we were forced to entertain the royal court with music, poems, a beauty pageant, and dancing. 

It was a little before 4am when the yelling, screaming, and banging started. We got up, put all our clothes on inside out and backwards, underwear on the outside, the whole nine yards...  Then it was on your hands and knees, and you'd travel like this for the next 4 or 5 hours.  The Jolly Roger is raised instead of 'ole glory, and it's go time!

First, it was time for breakfast.  So we crawled up the ladders and down the passageways to the mess deck. The shellback MS's (Mess Specialists as they're called in the Navy) spared no expense on our breakfast.  As far as I could tell, it was shredded raw potatoes with vinegar, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and olive juice. Served in a urinal. No naval breakfast would be  complete without eggs, so two or three of them would be smashed onto our head while we had our face in the urinal "eating" breakfast.  Now I know what you're thinking, but no.  They were brand new never used urinals.  They're made out of the same material our dinner plates are made out of.  Then we crawled down the hall through the scullery where we were sprayed with warm water.  This would be the last time we were dry for several hours. There were about 300ish of us wogs on the ship, so there were long lines.

Then we crawled down the passageway, up the ladder, up another ladder, up another ladder, down the passageway and outside to the main deck.


From there we were constantly being sprayed with fire hoses, which uses seawater if you didn't know.  I don't care how hot it is outside, if you're being constantly sprayed with seawater, you're freezing...

The beatings started.  You would be whipped with shillelaghs, which in the Navy's case was a cut up firehose.


I'm hearing rumors these aren't allowed anymore.  Whatever....

You crawl all over the deck, which is like 5 grit sandpaper due to the non-skid they use.  You're being screamed at, your butt is getting a little sore, you're soaked, you're getting tired.  But it never relents.


Since nobody actually ate the breakfast they threw it out on the deck, and you had to crawl through it.  Yes, they made enough for 300 people to eat.  Then you finally made it to the foodbox.  Dinner the night before was excellent!  Steak, Lobster, and Fish!!  A royal treat from the royal court!  Why?  You may ask?  Because they take all the dinner garbage from 400ish people and put it in a box outside on the main deck, and fill it with seawater.  Then you get to crawl inside the box and they close it, and beat the box with their shillelaghs, it's quite loud!


Then it's time for the royal court.  First you take a maraschino cherry from the Royal Baby's belly button with your teeth, but of course there's lard and peanut butter all over the place.


Then you have to kiss the Queen's feet, which they dump some kind of noodle concoction on your head...


Then you stand (on your hands and knees) before King Neptune and Davy Jones read the charges that have been brought up on you.  Scripts are read, yada yada yada, and off to take a Royal Bath in a pool of seawater.  This is actually the best part, cause you get all that crap off of you.  There's a friendly guy after that with a firehose in case you missed anything major in the bath.  After that it is commanded that all hands will honor and respect you as a trusty shellback!


Then you get to go take a Hollywood shower and throw your disgusting clothes out while the old shellback finish up, and cleanup everything.  Then it's a steel-deck picnic for everyone!  Simple stuff really.  You get a card, a certificate, and an official entry in your military service record.

It's just as bad on merchant marine ships too.  Which is why I asked how it was done on civilian-cruise ships and if anyone has actually been through it on Royal.  I would so want my wife to go through it.  LOL!!  I can't even imagine it being close to what I went through, and from the couple of videos I've seen, it's not. At all. Not. Even. Close.

So there ya go @Atlantix2000 if ya didn't know before, now ya know!  🙂

Although you may have been better off not knowing...

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6 minutes ago, teddy said:

lol.  I’m thinking this will seem very strange to anyone who wasn’t in the military.  What happens on deployment stays on deployment. 😁

Side note:  I was in WestPac in July ‘91 but never crossed the Equator.  


True! It was fun though. 😂 

We were halfway between the equator and Australia when we got recalled to the gulf. It'd be another two years until we finally made it down there. Which of course would include another line crossing. This time as a shellback. 😂 

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I have watched a UK TV show about cruising where a ceremony for crew and pasengers ( if they wanted to get involved ) took place when crossing the Equator. Same sort of thing where they were covered in all sorts.  If i remember correctly it was an NCL ship 

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I sailed on a 20-passenger yacht for a Galapagos tour in 2001. I don’t remember now everything that we did, but I remember we were all on deck for our equator crossing, there was some fanfare, and they served us all some very pretty cocktails to toast as we crossed. I can still picture those cocktails! Vastly different from your experience, wineguy!!! 😆😆

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