cross equator ceremony

Cross Equator Ceremony

The Equator Crossing Ceremony is the most memorable day in the life of a seafarer. The Equator Crossing Ceremony is an age-old tradition to commemorate a seafarer crossing the equator for the first time. This is a usually light-hearted event that allows the ship’s crew to take some time out from their hectic schedules and have fun with the rest of the crewmates.

Cross Equator Ceremony
Line Crossing Ceremony

The seafarers who have crossed the equator before are referred to as Shellbacks (Sons of Neptune). Those who have never crossed the equator are called Pollywogs. The whole event is “controlled chaos” where the Pollywogs have to earn their place onboard as Shellbacks. The Pollywogs are initiated into the “ancient mysteries of the deep” by putting them through some physical tests. Although none of the seafarers are physically harmed during these tests, they are put through some really embarrassing tasks that one must accept with the right spirit. 

King Neptune who is known to be the ruler of the seas must be appeased and the entire event is conducted to please him. This keeps a seafarer safe from the dangers of the deep sea and brings him/her good luck.

Cross Equator Ceremony

One of the officers onboard is made to dress up as King Neptune. The event is initiated with the Pollywogs being dipped in water. They are first stripped off their clothes and made to kneel in front of King Neptune. Then they are dipped in water, following this raw eggs are broken on their heads and they are made to drink a stinking combination of beer, chilly sauce, raw eggs, etc. Their heads are then shaved in the worst way possible and paint or grease is applied all over their bodies. 

Cross Equator Ceremony

Followed by all this they are all tied together and paraded around the entire ship with a person beating drums behind them, they have to dance their way throughout this parade. At the end of this event the Captain, Chief Officer, and the rest of the crew congratulate the newbie on successfully completing the ceremony. But the event does not end here, usually, a feast is organised at dinner when the Pollywogs are given the prestigious “Line Crossing Certificate”. This certificate signifies that they have successfully completed the ceremony and they will never be put through such a ceremony again in their lives. 

The Equator Crossing Ceremony only happens once in the lifetime of a seafarer. One should live every moment of this event and enjoy it to the fullest. If you ask any seafarers about their equator crossing experience, they will share it with a broad smile on their faces. Although, the people at shore might consider this as workplace bullying and ragging, but none of them actually know anything about our lives onboard. This event resembles inclusivity rather than bullying, it is a custom meant to bond all the seafarers together and break the monotony of their long voyage. 

Good And Bad Aspects of Equator Crossing Ceremony 

Today, this ceremony has become a very controversial topic of debate. The old-fashioned veteran seafarers defend this ceremony while the new guys/girls stepping into this profession call it workplace bullying. Regardless of our views about this ceremony that we have discussed, mentioned below are some of the good and bad aspects of the Equator Crossing Ceremony.      

Good Aspects of Equator Crossing Ceremony

The Equator Crossing Ceremony is like a celebration welcoming the next generation of seafarers into this world full of challenges and hazards. The whole atmosphere of the ship is filled with laughter, smiles, and frolic during this ceremony. Below we have listed some of the good aspects of this ceremony. 

Strengthens the bond among crew members

Strengthens the bond among crew members

This ceremony presents an opportunity to bond with the ship’s crew. The work schedule is so hectic onboard that many times the crew members don’t get enough time to bond with each other. During this event, the whole ship’s crew is outside (except the duty officers) to participate and enjoy the ceremony. 

Breaks the monotony onboard

Breaks the monotony onboard

Working onboard can get really monotonous at times, especially during a long voyage. The equator crossing ceremony gives seafarers some time off from their monotonous daily jobs and tasks. This break from the usual hectic schedule gives them the opportunity to let go of the stress and responsibilities for some time and just live and enjoy the moment. 

Provides memories to cherish 

Provides memories to cherish 

The equator crossing ceremony is one of the most memorable days in any seafarer’s life. The memory of this special day is etched in their lives forever. They further share their experiences and stories with their juniors who might experience it in the future. 

Bad Aspects of Equator Crossing Ceremony

Even though the equator crossing ceremony is a light-hearted event meant for fun and enjoyment, it can sometimes lead to volatile situations if not organised in a proper manner. It also depends on the individual, as some people are really good at taking jokes and laughing at themselves while others might take offence to some of the things. Below we list some of the negative aspects of the equator crossing ceremony. 

Can lead to trauma

Can lead to trauma

This ceremony can be a bit traumatic for sensitive individuals. Some people are a bit reserved in nature and have never experienced such things in their lives. Hence, it can be a bit difficult for them as this ceremony involves some really extreme tasks such as stripping down clothes, shaving the head, breaking raw eggs on the head, etc. Sometimes if not handled well some crew members can cross the line and indulge in some inappropriate activity which can be really traumatic for the person involved in the ceremony. 

Can cause disharmony amongst the crew

Can cause disharmony amongst the crew

Sometimes the seafarers crossing the equator for the first time can take offence to some of the actions of the rest of the crew members. This can lead to certain volatile situations which can even lead to violence onboard if not handled properly.

The ceremony is considered to be unprofessional 

The ceremony considered to be unprofessional 

These days the equator crossing ceremony is more common in bulk carriers than tankers, as the work schedule is really busy onboard tankers. Hence, it is considered to be unprofessional to indulge in such activities onboard tankers. Although, it completely depends upon the Captain whether such activities are carried out onboard or not. The equator crossing ceremony breaks the momentum of work onboard which is one of the reasons why many Captains don’t allow it onboard their ships.

We have covered both the good and the bad aspects of the equator crossing ceremony in our blog. But still, we strongly believe that this ceremony is a light-hearted event and should be taken in the right spirit. It just happens once in your life, so enjoy every moment of it whenever your time comes. As these are the moments in the life of a seafarer that gives them memories to cherish for a lifetime.

“Embarrassment lasts a moment, regrets last a lifetime.”   

Avinash Wandre 

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Really informative blog sir🔥🔥🔥

Praneet Mehta

Hi Rocky, keep tuned in for more such blogs to be published in the future!


Yes sir. Thankyou