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Going From Polywog to Shellback

Submitted by Kristen, event staffer aboard Amsterdam

The crowd roared as 29 hand-cuffed polywogs made their way through the Lido Deck and into the cage where they would face their demise. The pool area was in a frenzy as the king and queen, doctors, nurses and pirates surrounded the sacrificing pool to decide the fate of those who had never before crossed the equator on a ship.

Captain Fred Eversen and his senior officers gathered at the head of the pool and were given the important task of deciding whether the polywogs would “sink or swim.” Much preparation went into the ceremony that was held at the mid-ship pool to avoid the expected high winds. The pool was decorated with skeletons and pirate ships; it was adorned on the sides with containers full of the disgusting slime that would soon be poured over each polywog in a rite of initiation.

The sailors began the ceremony. They were given their charges and were clobbered with a mixture that reeked of sour milk, syrup and lime juice.

Soon after came the shop staff, paymaster, cast members, spa staff, youth program coordinator and event staff. The charges varied from stepping on the toes of guests at the black-and-white ball to charging incorrectly for DVD rentals.

Each polywog was forced to kiss a fish before receiving their share of slime.

After being slimed, the polywogs were able to jump into the pool to clean off, but only after receiving permission from the passengers and senior officers. Some were forced to wait longer than others. They were now officially “shellbacks” (as someone who has crossed the equator is called).

Passengers gathered closely around the pool to take photos of the crew members in utmost embarrassment … and many succeeded. The hour-long ceremony successfully brought together many passengers and crew members in what can only be defined as a comedic event. And most importantly, King Neptune was given his polywogs and can now keep the seas safe for our future voyages.

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