Skip to Content

What the Duck? A Guide to Cruising Ducks

Whether you’re a first-time cruiser or someone who has sailed all seven seas, there’s a relatively new trend making waves on cruise ships: the cruising duck. These little rubber ducks are becoming a secret (well, not-so-secret anymore) passenger pastime, adding a dose of silly fun to your vacation.

Image shows Hands cradling cruising ducks.

What Are Cruising Ducks?

The story goes that this phenomenon started in 2018 when an 11-year-old girl named Abby brought 50 rubber ducks on a spring break cruise with her mom. They hid them around the ship for other passengers to find throughout the cruise.

It was fun for them to hide, and people loved finding the ducks. You can now find cruising ducks on most cruises with Facebook groups dedicated to cruising ducks boasting hundreds of thousands of members, in addition to the joy of sharing within the Facebook page dedicated to your cruise. You do not need to be on Facebook to hide them or find them, as this is fun for all and not tied to any social media platform.

The ducks are similar to the Jeep ducks, and you will find everything from a “standard” yellow duck to ducks that are themed for a holiday that occurs during the cruise and so much more. It’s something that brings a smile to people’s faces with a dose of whimsy on vacation. You’ll even find the cruising ducks at some resorts now, too.

Do All Cruise Lines Allow Cruising Ducks?

While the trend is catching on, it’s always best to check with your specific cruise line beforehand. Some lines fully embrace the ducky delight, while others might have (or create) policies against small toys being left around the ship.

The majority of cruise lines welcome the ducks, and I have personally found ducks on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian in the past few years. Even adults-only cruise lines like Virgin Voyages allow the cruise duck phenomenon.

You are less likely to find cruising ducks on cruise lines based outside the United States, but the trend is spreading. The same holds true for cruises that focus on older adults and river cruises like AmaWaterways, Viking, Silversea, and Princess Cruises. That doesn’t mean that the cruise lines have prohibited hiding ducks or that you won’t find any, but it is not at the same level as other cruise ships.

The main cruise line that actively does not allow cruising ducks is, surprisingly, Disney Cruise Line. The Disney official policy is that you cannot hide any items in public areas or staterooms, and crew members will actively discard any they see as they view this as a safety hazard to other passengers and the environment. Keep this in mind if you book a Disney cruise.

What Size Ducks Are Best?

The standard rubber ducks are the classic choice, as they are both easily tucked away in nooks and crannies and relatively easy for passengers to spot. However, cruisers are starting to expand what they hide from tiny, hard plastic ducks to making crocheted or whittled ducks, as well as duck key chains.

Whatever you do, please do not purchase ducks that are also whistles or are labeled as squeaky. They are highly annoying to listen to incessantly for many people, and kids especially find it hard to resist blowing any whistle they find.

The standard-size ducks honestly seem to work the best. While cheaper, the tiny plastic ducks are harder to find for people, and you cannot include the tags that let people know who shared the ducks, which is part of the fun.

Image shows Fingers pinching to hold a small plastic duck.

There are also some who hide larger ducks, and I even saw a stuffed duck that was over a foot long on my last cruise. Those become harder to carry both for the person who hides the duck and the person who finds it. Additionally, hiding a larger item in a safe place that can be found gets harder.

  1. Yellow Cruising Ducks

    These are the perfect standard cruising duck option.

    Buy Now
    07/17/2024 09:07 am GMT
  2. Assorted Cruising Ducks

    If you want some more variety when you pass out your ducks, go with these!

    Buy Now
    07/17/2024 09:12 am GMT
  3. Nautical Themed Cruising Ducks

    Go with a theme - whether it's nautical for cruising or whatever holiday you might be celebrating.

    Buy Now
    07/17/2024 09:17 am GMT

Where Should You Hide Cruising Ducks?

When you hide the duck, it has to be in a public place, and it must be in a safe area. You want it to be somewhat hidden so people have to look a little bit, but you don’t want it to be so hard to find that no one can discover it.

There is a sweet spot for the hiding. On my last cruise, a few people hid them so well that days later, they were still there, so they had to provide hints on the Facebook page to help people find them, and I’m not sure anyone actually did. That’s no fun for anyone.

The fun of cruising ducks is the element of surprise. When you least expect it and find a duck, that’s what brings joy to so many. Think creatively when you choose where to hide them – or where to look for them.

Plant a duck in a life vest on a pool chair, tuck one under a bar stool, or hide one on top of a game in the library. We often find ducks in hallways on a railing or resting atop a piece of artwork, but there are so many options, which is what keeps it interesting.

Image shows a Kid happy with a found cruising duck.

Other popular hiding spots include:

  • On a machine in the casino along the path from one end to the other
  • Near a restaurant entrance
  • On top of sculptures
  • In the elevators
  • On top of signs
  • Resting on brochure displays at the Guest Services or Excursions desks
  • In a corner just about anywhere
  • Sitting on tables or chairs throughout the ship in lounges and bars and other seating areas
  • On top of or within decorations on the ship but still visible when you glance at them
  • In plants and greenery
  • Tucked into seat cushions (but still visible or something you can feel when you sit down)

Where Can You Not Hide Ducks?

There are places where you cannot hide ducks. Make sure there are no safety hazards and that you don’t put them anywhere that might damage the ship.

That means you cannot put them in hot tubs or pools, on or in sprinklers, blocking fire doors, and the like. You also may not hide ducks in any of the stores on the ship.

Public areas mean that you cannot hide them in crew-only areas, which should be fairly obvious. Rest rooms and spa treatment rooms are also forbidden. Lastly, do not hide the ducks in food serving dishes on along the buffet line, as any found there require all the food in that serving dish to be thrown away.

The other consideration is wind. Just like you cannot put your swimsuits out to dry on your balcony because they may accidentally fly into the ocean, you must be sure to place your cruising ducks somewhere where the wind won’t blow them overboard.

Cruising Ducks Tips

Choose ducks that make you happy. You can go with the standard yellow duck or find a set with creative designs and decorations.

Image shows Cruising ducks on a counter.

It’s up to you how many ducks you bring to hide. Many people choose to bring 50 or 60 ducks, while others bring 100 or more. Some choose to bring just 5 or 10, so don’t feel pressure to bring a certain number.

Don’t hide them all the first day, and don’t wait until the last day to hide them. It’s fun to spread it out and hide a few here and there. If you wait until the end of the cruise, they may not be found before you disembark.

We tend to bring five or so with us in the bag we carry with us throughout the day. If we find a good spot and don’t see people around, we hide a duck and move on. This lets us be flexible and helps ensure people don’t take it immediately after we hide the duck.

Image shows a Happy kid finding a cruising duck.

We also include tags on the ducks which helps people know whose duck they found. This generally includes the cruise ship and date of the cruise, along with the family name of who hid the cruise duck. Attach them with a rubber band around the neck of the duck to keep them secure easily.

What to Do When You Find a Duck

When you find a duck, you have three options. You can leave it there for the next person to find, just happy that you spotted one, though this is the least common reaction. Most people choose to either keep the duck as a souvenir or re-hide it for someone else to enjoy.

If you have a favorite design or plan to collect the ducks, keep it. If you plan to throw it away when you get home or on the ship, hide it for another guest to find instead to avoid additional garbage and waste.

We keep the ones that have truly unique designs, as my youngest kid collects those fun rubber ducks and has for years. The rest, we rehide in a new spot after we post a picture of our find on our cruise Facebook group.

Most I’ve seen include a tag around the next with the family name that hid it. Some tags have specific hashtags you can use to share your discovery on social media, as well. People love to know their ducks were found.

Now that you know, will you participate in the cruising ducks trend?

It’s fun to do. And if you aren’t into it, just walk past. For the rest of us, the next time you set sail, pack a few little rubber ducks and join the fun. You might just spread some smiles, create lasting memories, and become part of this delightful cruise ship tradition.

Image shows an Overhead of a jumble of ducks with text have you heard of the cruising ducks? Everything you need to know.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Enjoy this article? Please share it and save it for later!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.