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Rubber Ducks On Cruise Ships

If you happen to run across rubber ducks on cruise ships, it’s not quite as random as it looks. This is part of a modern-day tradition that is designed to spread joy and cheer throughout the cruising world. Here’s what to know if you find one!

Photo of rubber ducks found on cruise ships.

The History Of Cruising Ducks

Cruising ducks is the coined term for the rubber ducks you find on cruise ships, and once you know the story, you can join in on the tradition. According to legend, it all started on a Royal Caribbean cruise when 10-year-old Abby and her father, Ashley, decided to bring 50 rubber ducks with them on a spring break cruise in 2018.

The intention was to hide them around the ship for Abby and strangers to find and have a laugh. They wanted to keep the duck hide-and-seek alive and started a Facebook group, and now Cruising Ducks is a great cruise specialty many people participate in!

What To Do When You Find One

The practice of “hiding” rubber ducks around a cruise ship has grown in popularity. You are likely to find one or two on almost any large cruise ship you sail. When you come across one, there are a handful of ways to go about it if you want to share the joy and keep a cruise tradition alive.

The first thing to know: What you do with it is totally up to you. You can hide it for someone else to find. You can take it home with you as a cute memento. You can save it for hiding on a future cruise. You can even ignore it and leave it where it is!

Why do people hide rubber ducks? It can be amusing to share your specialty duck with the world. People get creative with their input, and the Cruising Ducks community is a friendly, happiness-spreading movement.

Join a Duck Community

Many rubber duckies have special instructions on how to enter the Cruising Ducks movement, and one of the ways to do so is to join a Facebook group like this one or that one that one. The group is a growing community that helps you log your duckie finds so you can re-hide them for other duck-finders. But you can keep it if you want!

You can also log and track individual ducks on a site like CruiseDux.

Share It To Social Media

You can also share the excitement of your duck discoveries on social media. Many people share duck stories on other media like Instagram and TikTok. You can use the hashtag #cruisingducks to feature among the rest.

Hide Them Again

Once you’ve shared your lucky find on the internet, you can hide them in a new spot so others can log them. You can also bring ducky notes that list the date of your trip or a friendly message. You could write your name or social media account for someone else to reach you and share the joy.

Some ducks have multiple notes already, and you get to know their personal story, which is a sweet gesture with sentimental value. If you’re a regular cruiser and want to hide it again, the next tip allows you to further the duck’s vacation to see the world!

Take Them On Your Next Cruise

Many people transfer their rubber ducks from their original cruise ship to a different one when they go on an ocean vacation again. This is a special step that you can implement, too, with your bring-along rubber duck. If you want a duck to see the world, add a note that suggests a list of the duck’s boat and date of travel.

The transfer to a new cruise also saves you money and hassle from purchasing a new one before your next cruise, and they would love to travel the high seas again! If you forget to bring one, you should have no problems finding a gift shop that sells them – note that some shops have sellable ducks, and they are not hidden ducks!

Collect Them

There’s no better cruise souvenir than a rubber duck! If you’re a regular cruise-goer having one from each trip lets you collect memories.

Note that some people disagree with the practice of liberating ducks from the cruise circuit. If you plan on creating a collection of cruise duck foundlings, consider bringing some fresh ducks to hide so that the overall supply of rubber ducks on cruise ships can be replenished.

People have gotten creative with the cruise ducks they bring along, and some are even handmade. Rubber ducks are a specialty, and buying or creating one is as fun as finding one.

Rubber ducks on cruise ships | photo of snowman cruising duck

Best Practices For Cruising Ducks

If you want to take a rubber duck on a cruise, you must know the best practices to keep the tradition safe for everyone.  First, you need to know that shops are off-limits to hiding and finding ducks because some shops on board sell their own. You should also preferably avoid hiding them within restaurants but hiding them near their entrance instead is an option.

Pools, spas, and hot tubs may seem like a rubber duck’s dream, but for safety reasons, you should avoid them at all costs. Bathrooms are also not the best hiding spots, and it is discouraged. Rubber ducks also don’t enjoy being flung into the ocean from a gust of wind, so be careful where you hide them! Also, when you add a note to your ducky, ensure it is child friendly.

Crew-only locations and life-saving equipment are also a no-no for cruising ducks. Hiding places like buffets also causes sanitary concerns.

In summary, you should NOT hide cruise ducks in the following places:

  • Inside shops and restaurants
  • Pools
  • Hot tubs
  • Spas
  • Bathrooms
  • Any place where they can blow into the ocean
  • Crew-only areas
  • In life-saving equipment

Where To Find Cruising Ducks

Cruise ducks can sometimes be difficult to find, and not all of them are in plain sight, but nearly every cruise is bound to have some lurking around waiting to be discovered.

Some of the cruise lines that will likely have rubber ducks include:

  • Royal Caribbean
  • Carnival
  • Norwegian
  • MSC Cruises
  • Disney
  • Celebrity
  • Holland America 
  • Princess

Where To Hide Rubber Ducks On A Cruise

Now that the no-go locations are out of the way, where would cruising ducks wander? Many people, especially children, find joy in hiding them in obvious places like corridors, elevators, decks, and lounges. Some more ideas include atriums, arcades, casinos, and bar areas for adult seekers. You should also hide some lower to the ground so little ones can reach them.

The best time to go cruise duck hunting is the start of the cruise, but many people re-hide them throughout the trip, and you should be able to find one in spots you’ve already checked. Hopefully, plenty of rubber ducks are on your cruise so that you can bring one home.

Cruising Duck Ideas For Your Next Trip

The excitement of bringing cruising ducks along is very much worth it! The trend has brought wide rubber duck varieties to life – not just the normal yellow ones!

Some ideas for cruising ducks include:

  • Holiday-themed ducks like Christmas or Easter
  • Country-themed ducks like a Texan cowboy or your country’s flag
  • Different color ducks
  • Pattern ducks like hearts or one with unique textures
  • Unique ducks like angels, ones with unicorn horns, or even rainbow ones.
  • Pirates or mermaids
  • Plush toy ducks also work!

You can also customize your duck in multiple ways as a project with your children! Some ideas that you can add to your cruising duck include:

  • Magnets
  • Keyrings
  • Hair accessories
  • Stickers
  • Paintings or drawings

How To Write A Cruising Duck Note

You wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity of adding a note! You can add a small message or joke, share your name, and leave space so others can write their name. You can also give the duck a passport so people can fill in the cruises the duck adventured.

If you don’t have the money to bring a duck along, you can still take a note to add to a duck you find, then log it on Facebook and re-hide it. There are many ways to join the cruising duck tradition, even if you don’t buy a duck!

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Where To Buy Rubber Ducks

If you’re ready to purchase a rubber duck for your next cruise and to be part of the cruising duck movement, you can buy one from multiple places!

Some of your best options are:

  • Amazon
  • Etsy has a bunch of options, even customizable ones.
  • Dollar stores
  • Many cruise liners sell rubber ducks in their gift shops – in case you forget to bring one.
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Closing Thoughts

Participating in the sharing of rubber ducks on cruise ships is entirely voluntary. But doing so can add a bit of quirky fun to your holiday!

For passengers looking to add a unique and fun twist to their cruise vacation, hiding and finding rubber ducks on cruise ships can be a great activity. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to add some excitement to the trip and create memories that will last long after the cruise is over.

David Chapman


David is a seasoned international traveler with a diverse hospitality background. He loves cruising in Asia and the Mediterranean.

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Last update on 2024-07-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API