Heading South of the Equator
It had been a busy few weeks since boarding our Oceania Cruises Nautica ship in Athens. The ship had been heading steadily south on our great 10 week adventure. We had survived our transit through the pirate zone! It was finally time to celebrate crossing the equator!
After visiting the Maldives we headed for the Seychelles. The Maldives gave us our first chance to snorkel to experience the awesome clear waters of the atolls. We were excited to scuba dive in the Seychelles. We were certainly ready for an initiation at sea!
Between the Maldives and Seychelles, we would celebrate crossing the equator. The equator separates the northern and southern hemispheres. Places on the equator experience the fastest sunrises and sunsets. Be prepared to catch them!
Why Do You Celebrate Crossing the Equator?
Since ancient times, sailors have had strange rites to celebrate crossing the equator. It is believed that celebrations began in the Middle Ages or maybe even as early as the Vikings.
Today the passing rite is meant to initiate Polliwags into the secret society of Shellbacks. Polliwags are soft, gushy creatures that have never crossed the equator. Once initiated, Shellbacks are now hard, tough creatures with experience.
When David was in the Navy, they had a more rigid celebration rite than our cruise ship. We had both crossed the equator by plane, but this was our first crossing by ship. We would both join in to celebrate crossing the equator.
How Did We Celebrate Crossing the Equator?
As the time approached when we would cross the equator, people gathered on the pool deck. We were warned to wear bathing suits. People jostled for position to get the best viewing spot.
We heard the music and saw the Court marching around the upper deck and down the stairs. Neptune was escorted by his wife, mistress, pirates and one mermaid. Other than Neptune, I am not sure what his normal Court looks like.
Julie the cruise director, narrated the story and then announced each brave soul who chose to celebrate crossing the equator. Seated in a chair, you were baptized with a glass of ice water.
After shocked into total awareness, you were then moved to the crowd chanting “Kiss the Fish”. At that time, you were to kiss the fish to complete your transformation.
David was prepared for a ceremony that would include some chugging of booze and a push into the pool. But the cruise ship was making things a little tamer. While a good number of the cruising people rushed in to take pictures, a much smaller number actually went through the ceremony.
Even the Gingerbread Man Was Spotted Crossing the Equator
We met a couple on the cruise that we have been exploring with. Greg and Dottie have travelled a lot. On this trip we would recognize their 100th country with a celebration dinner.
They are travelling with the Gingerbread Man (affectioning known as the “GM”). Their grandson’s teacher is using family travels to help teach her class geography. Greg and Dottie have ensured that the GM has experienced every part of our cruise from Dubai to Cape Town. The GM was not missing the chance to celebrate crossing the equator!
A Good Time Was Had by All
But people who went through the rite to celebrate crossing the equator had fun. Everyone would get certificates that showed we had made the crossing. We would add this one to a similar one we got for transiting the Suez Canal.
When all of the guests were finished, there were a number of the entertainment staff who were crossing the equator for the first time. They took their turns to go through the crossing rite amid much cheering from the guests.
The equator passage rite was a good break in our routine of eating, educational lectures, entertaining cooking classes and sunbathing! We were looking forward to continuing our cruise down the African coast to arrive in Cape Town for Christmas.
Have you had a chance to celebration crossing the equator? What was your crossing celebration?