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They are odd, strange and quite entertaining. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see one of these quirky rituals on your next cruise.

Baked Alaska Parade

Started in the 20th century, waiters parade out into the dining room holding trays of Baked Alaska, a meringue dessert. It is believed this tradition started when cruise ships first got refrigeration and decided to make a song and dance about it. The dessert is carried out and flambéed with alcohol. The parade happens on the penultimate night on lines like Seabourn.

Crab racing

Pirate games are still played on certain lines – crab racing being one of them. Guests get to pick their critter, stand back and watch the action unfold. Lines like Captain Cook Cruises still hold these events on the final night. No prizes for guessing that this game can get extremely competitive, with guests throwing down large sums of money.

Diving into freezing water

The ‘polar plunge’ is a rite of passage for the brave (or foolish). Some lines strap a belt around their passengers and tie them to a pole, others will give them a life jacket. On larger ships, lines will reward with a certificate. Either way, you’re nuts if you try this.

Avoid the number 17

For the land folk, it’s 13, for the Chinese, it’s the number 4. On the sea, number 17 is considered unlucky in Italy so most Italian-owned ships will avoid the number all together. MSC Cruises doesn’t have cabin 17 or deck 17. Why? When the Roman number XVII is changed anagrammatically to VIXI which in Latin translates to “I have lived” or, “My life is over”.

The tiramisu ceremony

The tiramisu ceremony, only really found on Italian ships, happens when staff come out with the famed dessert waving napkins. “The tiramisu comes in and everyone spins their napkins over their head and sings,” said a spokesperson for Italian line MSC Cruises. “I’m told the tune changes, so it could be any of a number of traditional Italian songs”.