Pollwogs & Shellbacks


The crowds start to build

Once again the Diamond Princess crossed the ‘line’ i.e the Equator. Of course this can’t be allowed to pass without a ‘crossing the line’ ceremony.
The director of entertainment was the ‘hostess’, and managed to get the audience alive with anticipation of a visit from King Neptune.

All those who hadn’t crossed the line – i.e the Pollywogs, were required to attend an initiation to become Shellbacks, (those who had crossed the line) – they were all volunteers.


More crowds and the large TV screen for those who can’t get close enough.


The empty chairs that can be seen are for the Pollywogs.


Dolphins guard the pool


Our Hostess arrives


And shortly after, King Neptune and his wife arrived. His wife, known as Double D,  should have stood a little closer to her razor.

The whole ceremony was in rhyme, and even the jokes rhymed, which must have taken some work.


The Italian Master (Captain) was also involved in asking permission for his ship to ‘cross the line’, also in rhyme.

He is 38 years old, happily married, and lives in Italy.
Apparently the most asked question on the ship was ‘Is the Captain married’ – and to be un PC, as far as I know, only the females asked that question.

DSC00451rcThe first group of Pollywogs are sitting and waiting their turn to kiss the fish.

‘Kiss the fish’ was the first part of the initiation, (it was a real fish). I took the above photograph of the large TV screen because I was not in a position to take a close-up of this part of the ceremony.


The next part of the ceremony was for each Pollywog to suffer being covered in various coloured food – mainly very sloppy jelly, rice dishes or coloured custard. They used to throw the initiated in to the pool at the end, but this was stopped because of all the work emptying the pool, cleaning it, and refilling.


At least the Pollywogs didn’t have to suffer being tarred and feathered, and they were hosed down later and given towels to clean up, before making their way to their cabins for a shower.


In all, three rows of passengers, and a row of crew members became Shellbacks.

The heat of the day (it was around 11.30 am) drove many of us indoors. I think we actually crossed the line around 12.15 pm.
Noon ever day was signalled by the striking of eight bells, the only link with my time at sea, but the sound of eight bells does bring back happy memories.

The Captain would then give a short chat on various nautical themes, e.g from the origin of ‘starboard & port’, to why eight bells at noon.

DSC00464rc Of course everyone received a certificate, even those who had already, ‘Crossed the Line’. I crossed the line in the early 60’s . . . . . . and at that time even the airlines used to give you a certificate.



Pollywog to Shellback

How to turn a pollywog in to a shellback.

On the 5th April we crossed the Equator on the way to Bangkok.
Many passengers had not crossed the ‘line’ before, so according to tradition they are Pollwogs. A ceremony was required to satisfy King Neptune and turn them in to Shellbacks. Fortunately I had crossed the line while at sea and Maureen has a certificate stating that she crossed the line when flying in a B 707 in the 1960’s, so we were Shelbacks and in the audience.


Neptune and his wife’s throne.


Jelly, cream, spaghetti and other slippery food waiting for the Pollywogs.

DSC05253rNot all of us have a point and click camera.


Neptune and his wife arrives.


Courtier opens the ceremony.


Each Pollywog kisses a fish in respect of the sea. (I am not sure what kind of fish was used, but it was a large one).

DSC05265r Various coloured food was thrown at the Pollywogs.


The heat on deck grew too much for these two Shellbacks, so we went for lunch in the air conditioned restaurant..

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