Crossing the Equator – Seabourn Style

Begging for mercy from King Neptune

Are you a Pollywog or a Shellback?

Well if you have crossed the Equator before then Neptune would deem you to be a trusted Shellback.  If you have not crossed, however, then you are nothing but a slimy Pollywog and will be summoned to Neptune’s court for punishment.

I had heard of this ceremony from my father who served many years in the Royal Navy.   Actually witnessing the ceremony is something else.  The newbies on the crew (pollywogs) who had been chosen to be  initiated were a bit nervous about what to expect.  And they were justified in this.  King Neptune came aboard and dished out punishments irrespective of whether the accused cried out “Not Guilty”.

“What shall the punishment be?” he shouted out to the crowd.  “The Barber or the Butcher?”.  Both these good “gentlemen” were waiting at the pool side suitably armed with saws and giant razors all covered with large quantities of tomato sauce for effect.  The butcher was equipped with scrubs, a stethoscope and great buckets of spaghetti (posing to be innards) plus the odd chicken bone. 

The butcher operates

It was great entertainment all round with the Captain joining in.  At the end of the punishment a whole fish was presented to the poor pollywog and the crowd chanted – Kiss the Fish, Kiss the Fish.  If you are interested you can read more detail of this old naval ceremony on wikipedia.  Believe it or not, it dates back hundreds of years. 

Yes I kissed the fish

Luckily only the pollywog crew were picked on – none of the guests.  We did however receive a great certificate signed by the Captain which will be proudly displayed over my desk.

Sadly this was to be my last day on Seabourn.  I have not been on a cruise where I felt so much part of the family – both fellow guests and staff.  We made some wonderful new acquaintances and met people from so many different and interesting walks of life.  The ship is so intimate there is always the opportunity to exchange stories about our home towns, children and grandchildren.  The staff and crew are exceptional.  There is no other word for it and the reason why Seabourn consistently receives so many awards :  such as

Best for Luxury – 2010 Editors’ Picks Awards Winner, Cruise Critic;
Best Small Ship – Seabourn Odyssey -2010, Porthole Magazine Reader’s Choice Award;
World’s Best Small-Ship Cruise Line – Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, 2010;
World’s Best Small-Ship Line – Travel + Leisure annual World’s Best Awards, 2010;
 “Gold List” Condé Nast Traveler for 12 consecutive years

But don’t just believe me – or them – just go do it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Jean de Freitas from South Africa - our lovely cabin stewardess

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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