The Morning of Monday September 28, 2009 started unlike any other morning in my life. I was awaken by loud yet distant sounding clamoring as I rose and woke I then discovered what the racket was. It was Neptune Day! Neptune Day on Semester at Sea is the day when we (on ship) cross the equator. We were about to go from slimy pollywogs to shellbacks. I immediately jumped out of bed and threw on an old t-shirt and old shorts and made my way to 7th deck aft where we would begin our Neptune ceremony.
By no means do I expect you to think that we were about to undergo any traditional “crossing the line” ritual, an initiation rite that many Navy service people have undergone. It was tame in comparison to movies/videos, and accounts I have read. But nonetheless we started by having “fish guts” (a yogurt and water mixture of red or green) poured over our head, we then jumped in our pool on the 7th deck to rinse off and then promptly got out of the water kiss a “clean” (gutted out) fish. We then continued on into polywogdom and received our official title as a “pollywog”. We would then pay homage to King Neptune and Queen Minerva: we presented ourselves in front of King Neptune (the Captain of the vessel) and Queen Minerva (Associate Dean of Students) for inspection.
It was at that point that some of the students and staff did the ritualistic shaving of their head. The first person to go was a female student, Sarah. This beautiful young woman had long flowing blonde hair sat in the first chair as we stood there cheering and applauding watching the “barber” butcher her hair off and then take a pair of clippers and shave her head. In case you were wondering yours truly did not get her head shaved, my vanity would not allow it. However, I enjoyed watching as students and staff took turns in the barber chairs and had theirs done.
This concluded the Neptune Ceremony and though we did not cross the equator until 2308 (11:08pm) at 01 degree longitude and 0 degrees latitude we were shellbacks and enjoyed our “crossing”, another great day on the MV Explorer.