A quick guide to ducks on cruise ships (and how to win a free cruise!)

If you’ve been on a cruise within the past several years, you’ll likely have either come across a little rubber duck hiding somewhere or have heard about someone finding one. These ducks on cruise ships sometimes come with little tags with information about who hid the cruising duck and ask the person who found it to re-hide the duck for someone else (or keep it as a fun memory of the cruise). Furthermore, the tags might have instructions on how to share the find on a Facebook group, website, or Instagram with a hashtag.


The text discusses the trend of hiding rubber ducks on cruise ships as a fun game for passengers. Participants hide the ducks in various places on the ship for others to find, bringing joy to those who discover them. The activity has evolved from simple rubber ducks to more creative and elaborate versions, with some passengers even hiding other items like keychains and charms. The rules for hiding the ducks are based on common sense and courtesy, with guidelines to not hide them in certain areas like shops or pools. Passengers can purchase ducks online and print tags to participate in the game, with the chance to win prizes by sharing photos of found ducks.

Key Points:

  • Rubber ducks are hidden on cruise ships as part of a fun hide-and-seek game for passengers of all ages.
  • Participants hide ducks in public areas for others to find, bringing joy and creating a sense of camaraderie among cruisers.
  • Rules for hiding ducks include using common sense, avoiding certain areas like shops or pools, and not leaving them where they could be a safety hazard.
  • Passengers can purchase ducks online, create tags for them, and share photos of found ducks for a chance to win prizes.
  • The activity has gained popularity, with dedicated online groups and promotions organized around the cruising duck phenomenon.

BUT Why are people hiding little rubber ducks on cruise ships?

The cruising duck phenomenon started a few years ago as a fun hide & seek game for people of all ages on cruise ships. Allegedly started by a young girl and her father as a fun game with no real purpose other than to just make others smile. Hiding ducks on cruise ships has evolved from simple rubber ducks purchased online to elaborate homemade & 3D printed ducks that more creative people love to hide (I can’t wait to find one of those!). Some cruisers even enjoy hiding things like duck keychains, stuffed animals, or little charms.

Admittedly, I thought the idea was silly, and there are other cruisers who are downright angry that people hide these ducks on ships. Some passengers even proclaim they’ll throw them away if they see them!

Until I found a rubber duck hiding on a cruise ship, I didn’t realize the fun of it all. On a Baltics cruise aboard the Norwegian Dawn, I happened to come across TWO ducks and it really just gave me a huge smile and it was at that point, I realized the fun of discovering a cute little creature hiding somewhere discreetly. Finding a couple of rubber ducks on a cruise brought out my inner child and reminded me how the little things in life could be good fun. It’s infectious, to say the least. So on our two next cruises, there are a couple of ducks I plan on hiding myself for the first time. 

Cruising Ducks - Rubber Ducks On Cruise Ships
Many thanks to our reader from Rincon, GA for submitting this cruise duck! – MSC Meraviglia 2022

Are there rules to hiding cruise ducks?

In short, not really, but there are some common sense (and common courtesy) things to consider when hiding a duck on a cruise. 

Don’t hide ducks in shops

Only hide ducks in public areas

Avoid hiding ducks in pool, hot tub, and spa areas, 

Don’t hide anywhere outside where the cruising ducks could end up flying overboard

We think hiding ducks in restaurants and buffets are not the best idea for sanitary reasons.

Some places where people find ducks on a cruise ship:

•Deep in the plants found in the atrium area

•Discreetly atop a video game 

•Behind a piece of furniture peeking out 

•In a cabin safe on the day of checkout for the next passenger to occupy the room

Do cruise lines allow rubber ducks to be hidden?

Most cruise lines haven’t said one way or the other on whether leaving these ducks around the ship is allowed. In fact, Carnival Cruise Line recently said that they embrace the fun to be had by hiding these little ducks. Furthermore, while some passengers have said they see staff taking the ducks away and fear them being thrown in the trash, it’s fun to know that even the staff enjoy finding these ducks and sometimes collect them. Almost all of the cruise crew know about “duck hunting” and know not to throw them away.

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If you want to hide ducks of your own on your next cruise, here are a few resources:

Buy some cute (but inexpensive) ducks online. They generally cost less than $1 each

Make or buy tags for your ducks (usually downloadable ready to print). Here are a few examples of tags you can get on Etsy:

Our Cruising Duck tag Template FREE download (Coming Soon!):

Or you can make your own using these tag designs as inspiration.

What to do if you’ve found a cruising duck. Share your find!

We’d love to see your ducks! You could even win a cruise if you share your pics!

Throughout the year we have several fun promotions to promote cruising and all the fun that can be had. We’re assembling a gallery of great images including travelers and their ducks. For contributing to the cruising duck photo gallery, you’ll be entered into our annual cruise giveaway. It’s just that simple! (see official rules below)

Complete this quick survey, attach your duck photos and you’ll be invited to enter our contest! (It doesn’t have to be the ducks we hide, it can be any duck you find on any cruise ship!)

How it works, rules, and the boring stuff:

  • You can send as many photos as you want (5 per entry). There are no restrictions as to how many forms you may complete.
  • Submit photos of ANY & ALL ducks you’ve found!
    • While this is suitable for all ages, we recommend the form be submitted by someone 18 years or older, so they may participate in the contest to win a cruise. The prize, when awarded, will only be given to a legal adult.
    • Please do not submit vulgar or profane photos, they will be deleted.
    • This form is to share your photos with CruiseGear for the purposes of social media and brand promotion. This submission is NOT the contest entry to win a cruise. When the annual contest opens (January), you will receive an email with the link to enter the contest.

If you have any questions, please contact us!

Other places to learn about cruising ducks

There are quite a few online groups dedicated to the cruise duck fun. Check some out here:

Cruising Ducks Facebook Group

Ducks Reddit Group

CruiseGear duck album (coming soon)

Cruising ducks of Instagram

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  1. I was always a little late finding a Little Duck. I am going to o hide some on my next cruise. Hopefully I can bring a smile and make someone’s day special! I am determined to find one so I will keep looking !

    1. Vickie! Enjoy hiding and hunting! – I’m not gonna lie, when I find one, I feel like a little kid again. It’s quite bizarre but fun at the same time.