Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Crossing the Equator: Become a Shellback

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As we sailed from Panama to Ecuador, many of the Enrichment Voyage participants woke up to quite a commotion when the crew ran up and down each deck, clanging pots and pans and pounding on doorways. What most of the shipboard community did not know is that today marked a very important occurrence, Neptune Day, the crossing of the Equator which comes with various rites of passage.

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

And lucky for me, I didn’t have to go through them again as I was already a shellback!

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Those of us who had been through the ceremony on the MV Explorer before—the seasoned shellbacks if you will—got to convene early early early in the director’s office to get suited up for the day’s events.

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Some of us had more prep than others, by way of green body paint!

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

One of Semester at Sea’s founders, Dr. Lloyd Lewan, resumed the position of King Neptune, a role he has played many times in his decades with the program. Rita Enders, who was on her 20th voyage, was his Queen Minerva. Staff who have crossed before served as the “royal court,” or goddesses of the sea.

Another shellback, Dr. Louis Patler, gave a brief description of the event and read Neptune’s creed, to which all pollywogs were required to respond with a hearty “aye!”

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Then, field office coordinator Jennifer Mowad stepped forward as the sacrificial initiate. After being showered with a bucket of undecipherable green slime, Jennifer jumped into the pool to rinse off, then kissed a dead fish before also kissing King Neptune and Queen Minerva’s rings.

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

 

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

The rest of those scurvy pollywogs followed her lead.

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Some people opted not to participate, but not those enthusiastic, musical boys from The Exchange. They were all about getting slimed (no doubt, an effect of growing up in the Nickelodeon generation)!

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Another facet to the crossing ceremony includes having one’s head shaved by the royal barbers, which a number of pollywogs bravely opted to do. This included our noble Enrichment Voyages director Nathan Blessing, who only joined the program earlier this year and thus had never crossed the Equator before.

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

After all the willing pollywogs had been initiated—and the deck was filled with chunks of newly-shorn hair—the goddesses sacrificed their king, who in turn jumped into the pool himself and changed the water to a murky shade of green.

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

Of course, he was made to pucker up and lay a big one on the fish, as well.

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

It was a brilliant morning. Neptune Day is undoubtedly one of the events Enrichment Voyage and Semester at Sea participants look forward to most, and I already can’t wait till my next stint at sea when I get to initiate a whole new group of unsuspecting victims (*cue evil laugh*).

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

 

Neptune Day, Semester at Sea | Camels & Chocolate

COMMENTS
  • August 20, 2012
    Aimee

    The third port (not including Nassau as a port) is Colon, Panama!

    • August 20, 2012
      Aimee

      I guess since we clarified Cartagena, Colombia would be the 3rd port! I was just looking through the pictures again and it always catches me off guard when I see someone from my voyage in your pictures!

      • August 21, 2012

        Remind me which ones you sailed with again??

  • August 20, 2012
    Nikki Souza

    I’m not sure if you’re counting the first port or not, so the answer is either Cartagena, Colombia or Colon, Panama.

    • August 20, 2012

      Good point–I will count your answer and clarify above in the post!

  • August 20, 2012

    That looks like CRAZY fun!

  • August 20, 2012

    3rd port is Cartagena

  • August 20, 2012

    One of my friends did a semester at sea a few years ago and had a great time. Now I can see why!

    • August 20, 2012

      It is a great, GREAT time! And as fun a place to work as it is to be a student =)

  • August 20, 2012

    The third port will be Cartagena, Colombia and hopefully I will be there! 🙂

  • August 20, 2012

    The third port is Cartagena, Colombia!

  • August 20, 2012
    lynn

    Third port will be cartagena, colombia!

  • August 20, 2012
    carla

    3rd port is cartagena, colombia…I hope I’m there!

  • August 20, 2012

    the third port is cartagena, colombia!!

  • August 20, 2012

    Cartagena, Colombia!

    I’m headed your way right now, well to Memphis (15 free minutes of wifi on Alaska Air this month 🙂 woot woot)

  • August 20, 2012

    3rd port is Cartagena, Columbia… what an awesome experience!

  • August 20, 2012

    Cartenga, Colombia!

    • August 20, 2012

      WHOOPS. I’m not sure where that ridiculous typo came from. I’ll try again.

      Cartagena, Colombia. 🙂

      • August 21, 2012

        You don’t get penalized for misspellings here, ha 😉

  • August 20, 2012

    The third port is Cartagena, Colombia… and I’m dying to go there!

  • August 20, 2012
    Anna Piszczkiewicz

    The third port will be Cartagena, Columbia.

  • August 20, 2012
    Ris

    The third port will be Cartagena, Colombia!

  • August 20, 2012
    Heather

    The third port including embarkation is Cartagena, Colombia!

  • August 20, 2012

    The third port is my second home – Cartagena, Colombia! It is where I met and fell in love with my fiancé!

  • August 20, 2012
    Amanda

    The third port is Cartagena, Colombia!

  • August 20, 2012
    sara

    Cartagena, Colombia!

  • August 20, 2012

    I think I commented about this before, but this looks like so much fun! If I wasn’t going to be working in South Korea/traveling home to see family in December I would totally be entering your contest as many times as possible 🙂

  • August 20, 2012

    Looks like fun was had by all. That green paint brings back memories of when I painted myself green for Halloween. Sadly I was allergic to the paint. It took months for my face to go back to normal (:

    • August 21, 2012

      That does not sound like a pleasant experience at all! I have to say I was fine with just throwing on a toga and leaving the body paint to somebody else =)

  • August 21, 2012

    I’d kiss a fish to get to the third port at Cartagena, Colombia. Hope you’ll be the one to initiate me. Although I have been south of the equator while in SA.

    • August 21, 2012

      But have you sailed across it? That’s when you get initiated as a shellback!

      • August 21, 2012

        Not yet. But hopefully in December. What a great line up of speakers.

  • August 21, 2012

    That’s looks like so much CRAZY fun do there and lots of Funny moments i had seen in pic.

  • August 21, 2012
    CJ

    Cartagena, Colombia, which always makes me think of Romancing the Stone 🙂

  • August 21, 2012
    Kendra Moore

    Third port of call is Cartagena, Columbia!

  • August 21, 2012

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Sometimes I envy how much fun your life is!

  • August 21, 2012

    Ha.. that looks hilarious. I don’t think I would kiss the fish or let them shave my head. 😉

  • August 21, 2012

    How awesomely hilarious!! Enrichment Voyages looks more appealing with every post you make.

  • August 21, 2012

    Dude, that sounds like the best tradition EVER. I wonder if I can implement it at work…

  • August 22, 2012

    Don’t think I’d be willing to have my head shaved but I’m definitely up for being slimed!

    Third port is Cartagena, Colombia.

  • August 22, 2012

    The third port is Cartagena, Columbia. 🙂

  • August 22, 2012

    Intense! Looks like the most eventful cruise ship I’ve ever seen… next to the ones that need to be evacuated of course lol.

  • August 22, 2012

    Neptune Day sounds like a blast! What a right of passage…literally and figuratively!

  • August 22, 2012

    The third port is Cartagena, Colombia! I was Rioche in the Northern Department. It was very hot but I loved it! The sea was so warm. But I’ve never been to Cartagena. I remember this town’s name from Jewel of the Nile movie.

  • August 22, 2012

    Sounds like such a fun day!!

  • August 23, 2012

    Awesome photos!! What a funny, special experience. I wish I could travel to Panama–and here you’re a seasoned “shellback”!

  • August 23, 2012

    It’s Cartagena, Colombia! I misread the first time and posted that over on your original giveaway post too, woopsies.

  • August 23, 2012

    This looks like a blast. And kissing a dead fish? Very similar to the Newfoundland Screech tradition of kissing the cod 🙂

  • August 23, 2012

    This looks so rad! What a way to celebrate. Now, are you a shellback if you have done it before in general or with them?

  • August 23, 2012

    I love how much you guys jump into every activity — wow!

  • August 25, 2012
    Pamela

    I hope I am on board when the MV Explorer stops at it’s third port of call Cartagena Columbia!

  • August 26, 2012
    Eric

    3rd port of call is Cartagena, Columbia

  • August 27, 2012

    Ha ha hilarious photos! They’ve really captured some of the horror on peoples’ faces as they kiss the fish! 🙂 What fun!

  • August 28, 2012

    Love the pics, you can feel the fun oozing from them!

  • September 18, 2012

    What a great post! I’m looking forward to going to both Panama and Ecuador next year. Thanks for sharing.

  • September 28, 2013

    What a nice story and photos 🙂 Looks like everyone had a great time!

  • June 29, 2014
    Annoyed Sailor

    This is a total disgrace to ACTUAL shellbacks. Men and women who work the seas as a profession, who know sacrifice, in some cases, years at sea. Just the simple fact that you are willing to post pictures of the ceremony and discuss details, even minor ones is a complete affront to real Shellbacks. We are a time honored and sacred brotherhood, you disgust me.

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