Crash Course in Cruising Ducks

cruise duck, duck
- Photo by Canva

The first time my friend told me about the cruising duck craze, I thought she was fully quacked! Quickly, I realized that there was quite a bit of ‘fowl’ fun being had on cruise ships I was missing out on. In case you’re late to the hunt (like I was), I’ve put together this handy guide on cruising ducks. Bad puns aside, this is an amazing way to connect and share a little joy with people you’ve never met. So, let’s all take a ‘beak’ into the world of cruising ducks.   

Intro to Cruising Ducks

Remember playing hide and seek as a child? Well, that is basically what cruising ducks are. People hide ducks around cruise ships in nooks and crannies for others to find. When someone finds a duck, they have a choice, as the trend’s popular slogan states, “Keep or Hide, You Decide!” Those lucky ducks who spot a cruising duck can either re-hide it for someone else to find or keep the duck for their own collection.

Usually these cruising ducks are prepared for their adventures onboard with a “Passport” that includes information like ship, cruising dates, where they are from, etc. Those who find ducks are often asked to post pictures using the hashtag #cruisingducks. The most popular community for photos, tips, and templates for these little aviary friends is on social media at the Cruising Ducks—Original Group page with more than 61,000 members. member Shellene from Texas knows what I’m talking about. She says, “I’ve hidden ducks on a couple of our cruises. I normally bring 12-14 ducks to hide and hide them real early in the morning or real late at night. I’ve found 2 ducks, and the secret is to get up early and start looking... especially the elevators and the railings. You can find them everywhere. It’s a lot of fun for kids.”

Photo by Member ltrvlfar

Duck Diversity and Inclusion

Now, it’s important to remember that cruising ducks come in all shapes, colors, and forms! You must keep an eye out not only for the classic yellow duckies, but also for themed ducks which are either purchased at popular retailers like Amazon or hand-crafted by the most ambitious of duck hunters. It is possible to walk down a corridor and spot a pirate, doctor, or military duck—you may even be lucky enough to spot a celebrity duck like Elvis or Yoda.

Not all ducks are made of rubber either, some people crochet or use wood. One of our members, Patty4paws, has a unique duck idea. “I fold origami ducks by the dozen anytime I am sitting, listening or waiting.” she says, “I’ve folded more than 200 sheets of 3”X3" origami paper into ducks on our last cruise to Alaska in 2019.” One thing is certain though, all ducks are created equal and the thrill of finding one is only enhanced by the various forms.

Duck History

Photo by Canva

While references to cruising ducks date back to 2015, the popularization of this phenomenon is mostly credited to an 11-year-old girl named Abby. With a goal of making others smile, Abby attached notes to 50 ducks, which she hid during her 2018 cruise aboard the Carnival Breeze. Generally, crew and staff know to leave these little guys alone for guests to find. While not every guest is a fan of this activity, Carnival Cruise Line’s Brand Ambassador John Heald even wrote, “Hide them. Find them. Have fun with them!” What is cruising for if not to have fun while connecting with people from across the globe.

Duck Code of Conduckt

Photo by Canva

According to the quacky cruisers who embrace these duck hunts, there are a few key things all those interested in participating should know. So that others can track its journey, make sure you attach a tag or somehow mark your duck with the slogan, “Keep or hide, you decide! #CruisingDucks”. Don’t forget to include the duck’s “passport” information too! 

Do not hide ducks onboard the ships in shops, swimming pools, hot tubs, or generally anywhere that a powerful gust of wind will send it flying into the ocean (#savemarinelife). Stash them anywhere else though including places like in restaurants, on signs, in the greenery, etc. While public locations are encouraged, it’s not unheard of to leave a little surprise in the cabin’s safe for the next cruiser to find.

Now that you are fully educated on the details of the cruising duck phenomena, I hope that you will join me in bringing some of these little guys on your next cruise—which can’t come soon enough.

Join the discussion

Have you ever found a cruise duck? Share your favorite cruise duck hiding place below.


Posted by Emmadevilish

Ahhh I loved my first cruise and hiding ducks! Although I was a pure rookie because I just got stickers for the ducks & they was light up ones... so the stickers didn’t work so much, but my next cruise I have the ducks at the ready ;) and they are themed as I’m from England can any one guess what I’ve gone with? Ahaha :D I love this cruise with ducks ;)

Posted by Patty4paws

Oriental Trading Company is a great source for unusual rubber ducks! Wait until they have a "free shipping on anything" code and stock up for your next cruise.

Posted by mommaleeof3

I’m so excited to try this. I’m on a holiday cruise, so I found some Christmas themed ducks at

Posted by Hawaiifunship

My first time hiding ducks looks fun

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