I’ve been dreaming about this day for a couple days now… actually I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so nervous. The day was finally here when I could shave my head! I woke up to work out one last time with hair, and creeped on “Neptune’s court” as they banged their drums and woke us all up.

Neptune Day is a ceremony that occurs when ships cross the equator. Any military ship goes through the ceremony along with certain traditions, and Semester at Sea makes this possible for students twice a year. The ceremony was originally created to ensure all shipmates were capable of being on the sea during rough times. Once you cross, you are deemed a “shellback” and those who haven’t crossed yet are called “pollywogs.”

The traditions for Neptune Day are voluntary for everyone on the ship. Some traditions are worse than others: wearing funny clothing, being hit with fire-hoses, locked in a small area and pelted with fruit, locked in a water coffin of salt water and sea dye, crawling through rotten garbage, kissing a belly with axle grease on it, chopping hair, and much more. Once you go through this, you get a certificate. There are different types: Golden Shellbacks are people who have just crossed the equator. Those who are lucky enough to cross where the equator meets the prime meridian are deemed Emerald Shellbacks (those from the USA) and Royal Diamond Shellbacks (those from other countries.)

King Neptune and his Royal woman, Queen Minerva

King Neptune and his Royal woman, Queen Minerva

Lucky for us, we had minimal duties to fulfill and we got the elite status! I chopped my ponytail off, got slimed, jumped into the water, and kissed the fish and King Neptune (our captain, Jeremy) and Queen Minerva’s (our Dean Eddie) rings. Once that was complete, we signed up for our certificate, and waited for the next open shaver.

My photographer, Meghan! She is GREAT! Post-donation, pre-shaving.

My photographer, Meghan! She is GREAT! Post-donation, pre-shaving.

There are a few reasons why I did it.
1.) It was either this or dreadlocks.
2.) It’s tradition, and I am not about to pass up an opportunity for regret to overcome me!
3.) Most of all, I did it in honor of my Grandpa, who recently passed from bone cancer. I wasn’t there when he passed, but his memory lives on.

I told him before I left that I was thinking about doing it, and while he was struggling to breathe, he managed to spit out, “if you do that, I will get up out of this bed!” Well, looks like we both did what we said we were going to do. :]

The famous before and after shot.

The famous before and after shot.

The energy was high all morning. Each of my friends cut a piece of my hair off! It was awesome! Most guys shaved their heads, and there were about 10-15 girls who shaved their head completely, with some doing variations (not a complete bald head.) Everyone kept telling me that I was so brave for doing it. Honestly, I couldn’t have imagined not doing it. I LOVE it right now! Already have a coat of sunscreen on it!

The new shellbacks--no longer pollywogs!

The new shellbacks--no longer pollywogs!

As freeing as it is to do such a bold thing, I am excited for it to grow back and try a whole bunch of different hairstyles. Neptune Day has proved to be alive and rewarding in every way possible. Ode to Neptune and my Grandpa and living life for every adventure that comes around!


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About Kait Squanda

Semester at Sea is a study abroad program sponsored by University of Virginia. It is a cruise liner made specifically for college students, professors, hall directors, and lifelong learners to experience a hands-on learning atmosphere around the world. My voyage will be traveling to 15 countries: Russia, Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba. WIth some stops before-hand, it is bound to be a trip of a lifetime!

7 thoughts on “NEPTUNE DAYYYYY!

  1. Kaitlyn,

    Your strength and confidence surpasses anything I can only begin to imagine!! Continue to share with all of us here in America how special this adventure is for you! You ARE beautiful throughout!
    I remember the day Dad (Grandpa) said that to you about your hair! Memories of that make me laugh, and then cry!!

    Love you! MOM

  2. OMG!!!!! Kait, I am really not surprised that you did this! You truly are beautiful.
    You are going to have sooooo many fun styles as it grows back Way to go! I commend your courage.
    I have followed your blog from the beginning. Your writing is a gift. I have laughed and I have cried. We can truly experience the countries through your talented writing! Continue to have fun, but BE CAREFUL!!

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