If you’re going on a cruise and have heard about cruise ducks, you might be wondering what its all about. Cruise ducks have been around for a few years and the fun trend is only becoming more popular!
While hiding cruise ducks is most well known on Carnival cruises, you’re likely to find cruising ducks on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Disney and other popular cruise lines.
I’ve been cruising for about 20 years, and first heard about cruise ducks about 5 years ago. Since that time we’ve found cruising ducks on several cruise ships. On a recent Princess cruise, we finally decided to join in on the fun and participate in the cruise ducks trend.
In this post I go over everything you need to know about cruising ducks, from it’s origins to how you play the game.
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What Are Cruise Ducks?
Cruise ducks are small plastic or rubber ducks that cruise passengers hide in different areas of the cruise ship. You can buy traditional yellow rubber ducks or show off your personality with fun themed ducks.
Some cute ducks I’ve seen include sports themed ducks like hockey or baseball, holiday ducks for both Christmas and Halloween, Princess ducks, and more.
Some people create their own ducks by knitting or crocheting them, while others have been creating home made keychains. It’s pretty incredible to see how creative people are getting with this cruise trend.
However, this isn’t the whole story. Cruising ducks is actually a fun game, with a few rules to follow if you decide to bring cruising ducks on your cruise vacation.
The Cruising Duck Game
The cruising duck game is similar to a game of hide and seek. People hide ducks on a cruise, and other cruisers look for the ducks. Sometimes this is referred to as Duck Hunting (in the sweetest way).
Once people find a cruise duck, they’ll often post a picture of it in a Cruising Duck Facebook page or use the hashtag #cruisingducks and post to Instagram.
Cruising Duck Game Rules
Are you wondering how to play? The cruise ducks game is simple, but there are actually rules to follow and a few things to know.
1. Buy or create ducks to hide
You can buy small rubber on Amazon and in party stores. These days you can even find cruise duck sets which include novelty ducks, tags and ties.
2. Label your ducks
Label your ducks with the following information:
- name (can be family name)
- cruise ship
- sail date
As an example “Smith family – Carnival Mardi Gras – April 1, 2023)
3. Print out cruise duck tags
It’s fun to put your information on cruise duck tags or “passports”. Some people use stickers and place these right on the bottom of the duck, or may even label with a permanent marker.
4. Keep or Hide, You Decide
The cruising ducks game is really just meant for fun, so an important element is to use the message “Keep or Hide, You Decide” on the cruise duck tag.
It’s ok to search for cruise ducks and keep them, or to rehide some to continue the fun.
5. No hiding cruise ducks in shops, pools or hot tubs
Cruise lines don’t mind cruisers bringing the novelty ducks onboard. However, there is a rule that cruise ducks can’t be hidden in shops, pools and hot tubs.
6. Cruise ducks should never go into the ocean
Remember that you don’t want any ducks to go into the ocean, so never hide them on outer railings or anywhere where a gust of wind can blow them off the ship.
7. Post to social media (optional)
It’s fun for people who hide cruising ducks to see that they’re found, and they may include an instruction to post a photo to a cruising duck facebook page or to use a hashtag #cruisingducks. However, posting a photo of your cruise duck isn’t mandatory.
What is the Story Behind Cruising Ducks?
According to everything I have read, the popular cruising duck trend was started by a young girl named Abby Davis in March 2018. Abby and her father Ashley Davis, went on a 7 day Carnival cruise and brought 50 ducks to hide during their Caribbean cruise.
Their purpose was just to play a fun game and make people smile – and did they ever!
Since that time, they started the Facebook group, Cruising Ducks – Original Group, which now has over 180,000 members. According to Abby’s dad Ashley, they never thought the group would get this big and that this “kindness project” would catch on as it has.
Cruising Ducks Communities
There are several Facebook groups, including the Original Cruising Ducks group, where you can get ideas and be inspired, as well as ask all the cruising duck questions you could think of.
In cruise duck facebook groups, people will post photos of their cruise ducks, tags and passports as they get ready for their upcoming cruise.
Cruisers who’ve found ducks onboard cruises post their photos as well.
What To Do if You Find a Cruising Duck
If you find a cruising duck on a cruise ship, it will usually have an instruction to “keep or hide, you decide” and a call to action asking you to post a photo within the Facebook group, if possible.
Some people decide to keep the cruising duck, while others may choose to hide it to pass on some fun to another cruise passenger or crew member.
You could even take the new found duck friend on your next cruise, and post about his voyage and how far he’s traveled.
Something to remember if you do embark on hiding ducks on your next cruise, is that you may never know who found your duck (although you might). Even so, your special duck probably brought a smile to someone and could mean more than you know.
“This group is a community kindness project”, says the admin message on Cruising Ducks Original Group.
Remember that not everyone has internet while cruising or social media (Facebook or Instagram).
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Where Can You Buy Cruising Ducks?
You can look for small rubber ducks at party stores and online. As cruising ducks have gained popularity, there are a few ready to go cruise ducks sets available as well.
Here are a few popular novelty cruise duck options on Amazon:
Personalize Your Cruise Duck with Cruise Duck Tags
You may want to personalize your cruising duck with your own cruise duck tags, passports or stickers.
If you join Cruising Ducks Original Group, you’ll actually be able to download tags and passports for your cruising ducks. Before you can do this, you do have to join the Facebook Group, but it’s free and a nice group of people who really just want to contribute to the fun.
You can find the free templates in the “files” section of the group. You can print the out on cardstock and even laminate them if you like
If you prefer, you can also make your own or find cruise duck stickers, tags and passports that you can order on Etsy, Zazzle, Vistaprint or on Amazon.
How to Create Your Own Cruising Ducks
There are ways to create your own ducks. For instance, some people crochet or knit their cruising ducks. I’m amazed at the talent of Natali Sholes Young and her daughter, who crocheted some their cruising ducks to give away!
Some Cruising Ducks have a Story
One thing that I noticed, and that frankly surprised me as I researched this trendy activity, is that many people shared ducks that had an extra special meaning.
Some ducks were tagged in memory of someone special who had a love of life, but has sadly passed on. Other people shared ducks that had a beautiful message for Autism awareness or another worthy cause.
Natali, a first time participant, kindly shared the story of her special ducks (seen above). Half of her ducks will be tagged for breast cancer awareness and the other half for Type 1 diabetes, since she is sailing during the months of awareness for these diseases and they are important to her.
She says “I’m here to spread awareness with a whole lot of fun and smiles!!”. Love it!!
How to Attach the Tags on the Cruising Ducks
You can use colored rubber bands to attach the tags to the necks of the rubber ducks, twine or some curling ribbon.
I recently saw this idea posted in a Cruising Duck Facebook Group. This fun duck themed ribbon is great for tying duck tags or passports on to your cruise duck.
Recommended: Duck theme ribbon to tie tags (amazon link)
There are so many cute rubber ducks that you can use if you’re bringing cruising ducks. You can even find some for holidays like Christmas, Easter and Halloween!. Here are a few favorites available now.
Cruise Ducks Frequently Asked Questions
What size ducks should I order?
Most people seem to like the 2 inch size, although some buy bigger and some buy smaller. Do be careful with buying ducks that are very small as these could be a choking hazard for young children
Can cruising ducks not be ducks?
I can’t believe I wrote that, but you probably know what I mean. Rubber “duckies” come in different animal forms and creations.
It seems that there are various answers to this question, depending on which Cruise Duck Facebook Group you join.
Some say anything goes, after all it’s all in good fun. Others say ducks only. Personally, I don’t see an issue with having other similar novelty toys.
Will the cruise ship’s crew throw the ducks away?
Most cruise lines have made their crew aware of cruise ducks, and most crew members say they enjoy it. Early on, some reported that crew would throw away the ducks, but this doesn’t seem to be an issue now.
Crew may even enjoy the fun of receiving one from a guest. Some crew say they bring a couple home to their children when they finish their contract.
Carnival Cruise Line, where this trend is extremely popular has truly embraced it. John Heald, brand ambassador for Carnival has said that crew have been made aware of the cruising duck phenomenon and won’t be throwing away ducks.
Is there sample wording for my cruising duck tags?
Here are some ideas….
“Oh what luck, you’ve found a duck. Keep or hide, you decide”
Don’t forget to let people know where your cruising duck came from, the ship and sail date and where they can share it/post it on social media should they want to (your cruise duck Facebook group of choice).
Many more ideas are posted with Cruising Duck Facebook communities, so definitely check the out.
If you prefer to order your tags ready made, here’s a cute one (on Amazon).
Where can I find more Cruising Duck pictures to get inspiration?
Here’s a list of some Facebook groups I found which will have posts from people sharing the ducks they’ve made and are ready to hide, and others who have found them and posted.
I’ve scrolled through a few and have seen so any great ideas for ducks and tags. If you like the passport printable shown in the above photo, Dee has kindly created a printable which is available in the Cruising Ducks – Original Group Facebook community.
Cruising Duck Facebook Groups
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There are a few Facebook Groups dedicated to the fun activity of hiding and finding ducks. They’re a place to connect with other cruisers, get ideas and see the ducks that are being prepared for upcoming cruises, as well as the photos posted of ducks that are found on board.
The nice thing about these groups is to be able to chat about cruising ducks and ask questions to other people who are really into this.
Check out the files section for resources like templates you can print out, and events where others in the group may be cruising with you. It’s similar to a cruise roll call.
Here are some groups to get you started:
- Cruising Ducks – Original Group
- Carnival Cruising Ducks
- Cruising Ducks
- Norwegian Cruise Line Ducks
- Princess Cruising Ducks
- Cruising Duck Hunters
- Royal Caribbean Cruising Ducks
- Celebrity Cruising Ducks
Video: Cruise Ducks Explained
Cruising Ducks Craze – Amazon Novelty Products
I couldn’t help but notice that beyond these adorable rubber ducks, there are tons of other stuff all dedicated in some way to Cruising Ducks. I’ve seen people posting duck socks, duck ties, and duck t-shirts.
Some have pretty cute sayings that I got a kick out of, including shirts that said “Duck, Duck, Cruise“. If you played this game as a kid, you might find it amusing too. You can find a wide array of t-shirts and other duck related stuff on Amazon.
Recommended: This cruising duck shirt comes in a quite a few different colors and sizes: Cruising Ducks Novelty t-shirt (Amazon link)
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Recap: A Guide to Cruising Ducks: the Trend That Will Quack You Up
Cruising Ducks is a fun trend for cruise passengers that’s becoming more popular with every year! Whether you’re cruising on Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian or another cruise line, you’ll likely find some cruise ducks onboard.
The cruise ducks game is fun for families with kids and adults alike!
Have you found or hid any cruise ducks or will you be participating by hiding ducks on your next cruise?
P.S. If you found this helpful, please don’t keep it to yourself ;-). Please share on Facebook or PIN to your favorite Pinterest board (share buttons at the top). Thanks so much!