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Cruise ducks: all about hiding ducks on a cruise ship


If you're new to cruising, you might not be aware of the cruise duck tradition. While a relatively new phenomenon, hiding ducks on a cruise ship is a fun activity that connects cruisers from across the world. You might, for instance, find a duck hidden by a couple in West Virginia, even though you're from Los Angeles. 

Before a cruise, passengers will purchase (or craft) ducks to hide around the ship for others to find. Oftentimes, there will be a note attached that states the duck's origin. 

Essentially, hunting for ducks on a cruise is like participating in a scavenger hunt, just without any hints. 


It might state that the owners want to be contacted in a specific way, like through a Facebook group. Other times, the note will simply state their names, sail date, and ship name. Here's an example: 

  • Name: Jane Doe from North Carolina
  • Date hidden: December 12, 2023
  • Ship: Carnival Vista
  • Message: "Congratulations on finding me! I'd love it if you took a photo with me and posted it on social media with the hashtag #CruisingDucks. You can either keep me or re-hide me, so you can share the excitement with other guests."

(Photo shared by WAYNO on a Royal Caribbean Blog discussion forum)

If you're lucky enough to find a duck on a cruise ship, you can either keep it or re-hide it for another passenger. 

Whether you're a hunter, hider, or both, it can be a fun family affair to encourage everyone to spend time together. 

Hiding ducks on cruise ships supposedly started with an 11-year-old girl named Abby Davis


According to Cruising Ducks, mother-daughter duo Ashley and Abby Davis hid rubber ducks on their 7-night cruise out of Galveston, Texas. 

Prior to setting sail, Abby asked her mother if they could get some ducks for the trip, and they ended up boarding with 50 of them! The duo hid seven ducks per day.

Today, if you look up "Cruising Ducks" on Facebook, you'll find numerous different groups to join. In fact, there's one with over 230,000 people!

You can even tailor the search to your specific cruise line. "Carnival Cruising Ducks," for instance, has 64,000 members, whereas "Disney Cruising Ducks" has 19,000. 

You can either purchase basic rubber ducks or get some with a specific theme

rubber ducks

If you're taking a cruise around a certain holiday, such as Easter, the Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, you can find ducks that are themed. 

On Amazon, you can purchase a pack of 12 Christmas-themed ducks for around $14. Similarly, there's a pack of 24 spooky ducks perfect for a Halloween cruise, or cute Easter (bunny) ducks.  

Even if you're just taking a summer vacation, pirate-themed ducks are popular, as you are embarking on a sea voyage! 


Please note that we have linked Amazon items above, which contain an affiliate link. The affiliate link costs you nothing extra, but Cruise.Blog will make a small commission if you purchase the item through the link.

Read more: 20 best things to bring on a cruise that cost less than $10

There are plenty of places where you can find templates for tags


(Photo shared by asquared17 on a Royal Caribbean Blog discussion forum)

Whether you do not consider yourself creative or want to purchase tags to make your life a little bit easier, there are plenty of resources for you to turn to. Individuals in Facebook groups, for instance, often share tags. 

If you want something more unique, however, check out Etsy. Oftentimes, the individual selling the tags can personalize them, and you won't have to worry about handwriting all of your information. 

Plus, you can purchase some that are themed for holidays, too. 

Where are the best places to hide ducks on cruise ships?

rubber ducks

Once you have decided that you want to participate in the cruising tradition of hiding rubber ducks, you'll need to plan out where exactly you want to hide them. 

Obviously, you won't hide them in any private areas — like your stateroom — as nobody would be able to find them, so you'll want to think of all the public venues on your ship. Some public areas are off-limits, such as stores. You don't want anyone to get in trouble because it looked like they were shoplifting!

🙈 The lido deck is a popular place for cruisers to hang out on sea days. Since ducks love the water, why not place one near the pool or underneath a nearby lounger? Of course, you won't want to place one directly in the water, as the rocking of the ship will quickly move it! Additionally, if a young child happens to spot a duck in the water, they could endanger themselves by reaching for it and accidentally falling in. 


(Photo shared by tiny260 on a Royal Caribbean Blog discussion forum)

🙈 Hundreds, if not thousands, of passengers will travel through the ship's stairwells on a daily basis. I've seen ducks tucked into the corners of stairs, as well as placed directly on top of handrails. Sometimes, ships will also have podiums in the elevator banks with a model of the ship's deck plan. If it is wide enough, this could be a cute place to place a duck. While the lucky cruiser is trying to find their way around the ship, they'll also find a duck! 

🙈 If you want to place a duck in the buffet, make sure it isn't close to any utensils or food stations. If it's accidentally knocked over, it could easily contaminate a dish. Instead, place it on a table for someone to find after they've gotten their food!

🙈 Cabin hallways can be a great place to hide a duck, as many staterooms have small shelves outside of them. 

Tips for finding ducks on a cruise ship


Finding a duck while on vacation is special, and there are some ways that you can maximize your chance of coming home with a new friend!

🔎 Begin your search early in the morning or late at night when the majority of the ship's passengers are either sound asleep or preoccupied with evening entertainment. 

🔎 Search the popular gathering areas, such as the atrium, lido deck, and other public venues that tend to see a lot of foot traffic. You might have to get a little creative with where you look, though. Rather than searching on top of the pool chairs, for instance, check underneath. 


(Photo shared by foulmouthedleon on a Royal Caribbean Blog discussion forum)

🔎 Don't be afraid to ask crew members where they've seen ducks hidden in the past. If one person on a previous sailing thought to put a duck in a specific spot, there's a chance it might be repeated on your voyage!

🔎 You should also revisit areas. Just because there wasn't a duck in the elevator bank on Deck 5 in the morning does not mean that one wasn't placed there throughout the day! 

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