All You Need To Know About Cruising Ducks: A Game That Will Quack Everyone Up!

If you haven’t heard of cruising ducks before, we’re here to tell you all about it! Cruising ducks is a fun trend that’s taking the cruise community by storm!

All You Need To Know About Cruising Ducks: A Game That Will Quack Everyone Up!

No matter what cruise line you frequent, you’re likely to find some cruisers getting in on this duck action, either finding ducks or hiding their own.

But how did this all start, and how do you participate? We have all the answers below!

What Are Cruising Ducks?

Cruising ducks often come in the form of the traditional, rubber ducks you normally find bobbing around in bathtubs. But cruising ducks don’t have to be classic yellow, they can be colorful or themed to really show off your personality. 

Some people like to make their own ducks by crocheting them, knitting them, or turning them into homemade keychains. Needless to say, people are getting really creative with this challenge!

Many passengers also opt to share ducks that have a special meaning to them. Some ducks are tagged in memory of a lost loved one, while others hide ducks that share the passengers’ support for a worthy cause. 

The History Of Cruising Ducks

The cruising duck trend was started by a young girl named Abby Davis and her father, Ashley. They went on a Carnival Cruise in March 2018 and brought 50 ducks to hide on board during their 7-day cruise around the Caribbean.

They did this in order to make the cruise even more fun and put a smile on people’s faces – and it worked!

They also began the Facebook group, Cruising Ducks. Both Abby and Ashley have expressed total surprise that their fun little game would catch on in the way it has! The group now has more than 30,000 members and is very much active. 

The group details Abby and Ashley’s story about creating the cruising ducks trend, as well as other member’s stories of hiding ducks – and finding them – on their cruises. 

The Cruising Duck Game

You may be wondering what the game entails and what the appeal is. Well, it’s caught on because it’s a fun yet simple game. However, there are a couple of rules to follow – which we’ll get into later.

The cruising duck game is basically hide and seek. Passengers hide ducks on their cruise, and other passengers look for them.

Simple! This is sometimes referred to as duck hunting, but is obviously a lot more wholesome than the actual sport involving real ducks. 

As well as the original Cruising Ducks group, there are other groups on Facebook dedicated to the activity that provide lots of inspiration of how to decorate, tag, and hide your duck.

The Rules Of The Cruising Duck Game

Luckily, there aren’t a lot of hard and fast rules for cruising ducks. But the general rules are:

  • Buy rubber ducks or create your own to hide.
  • Label them with relevant information. Some passengers like to tag their ducks or give them passports. These can be tied around the duck’s neck, stuck to their underside, or simply labelled with permanent marker.
  • The message or tag should say ‘Keep or hide, you decide.’
  • Tag any social media post with #cruisingducks.
  • When hiding the duck, prohibited places are cruise ships, hot tubs, or pools.
  • Ducks also shouldn’t end up in the ocean, so make sure you don’t hide them anywhere where the ocean breeze can blow them into the water.

Where Do You Often Find Cruise Ducks?

The restrictions on where you can hide cruise ducks is pretty minimal, so people can really get creative when hiding their little rubber buddies!

You can find ducks nestling in greenery, perched on top of signage for a variety of venues around the ship, or hiding behind furniture in the atrium.

A duck hotspot on Carnival cruise ships is the RedFrog pub where you’ll find many ducks hiding behind the faux palm trees!

You may find a duck in your bedroom too, as many passengers like to leave a rubber duck behind for the next guests, and some have even been found in the safe!

You can also find ducks in more predictable places such as stairwells or elevators. Ducks found here often look like they’ve been casually dropped there rather than just hidden.

This can heighten the element of the surprise! But as long as the ducks are placed somewhere safe and unintrusive, it’s always a delight to find these duckies wherever they may be!

What Do You Do If You Find A Cruising Duck?

So now you’ve found a cruising duck, what do you do with it? Ducks often come with instructions to ‘keep or hide, you decide.’ This is a call to action to post a photo of the duck to social media – preferably the Facebook group.

Some passengers choose to keep their ducks, while other passengers choose to hide the duck to keep the fun going! You may opt to take your rubber duck on your next cruise, and tell the story of his voyage and how far the duck has now traveled. 

However, something to keep in mind if you do intend to hide ducks on your next cruise, is that you may never know if your duck has been found and who has found it.

Still, even if you never know what became of your duck, you can rest assured that your duck most likely made another passenger happy. 

As the admins and members of cruising duck Facebook groups like to emphasize, not everybody on cruises has a Facebook account or social media presence.

So an important thing to remember is to hide ducks without the expectation that you’ll know what happens to them. So even if you don’t get to see the smiles on people’s faces, it’s still worth hiding cruising ducks on ships.

Where To Buy Cruising Ducks

Luckily, there are a lot of cute ducks on Amazon that you can hide on your next cruise! Below, you’ll find just a few of the cute rubber ducks available on the site. We hope they can inspire you!

Assorted Rubber Ducks

These adorable assorted rubber ducks come in 10 different colors, which means you can hide a unique range of ducks on your next cruise.

Unicorn Rubber Ducks

Bring the most iconic, beautiful mythical creatures to life with these unicorn rubber ducks! This really is one of the most imaginative ways to play the cruising ducks game.

Easter Egg Rubber Ducks

If you’re taking a cruise for Easter, get into the spirit of the holiday by hiding one of these cute Easter egg rubber ducks.

Summer Vacation Ducks

If we can sunbathe, swim, and snorkel on our cruise vacation then why shouldn’t the rubber ducks get in on the fun too?

Halloween Ducks

If you’re going on a Fall cruise, why not bring some Halloween vibes onto the ship with these spooky yet adorable rubber ducks? Passengers are sure to love finding these duck Frankensteins, mummies, pumpkins, vampires, and witches on their cruise.

Personalizing Your Cruise Duck

You also have the option to personalize cruising ducks with passports, stickers, or tags. By joining the Cruising Ducks Original Group on Facebook, you can download passports and tags for your cruising ducks.

While you will need to join the Facebook Group to get access to these tags, they are free, and the group is a great way to get some ideas for your cruising ducks game. 

These templates can be found in the group’s ‘files’ section. You can even print the tags out on card stocks and laminate them to protect them from the elements. 

Other Facebook groups may have similar templates available, and there are some templates made for particular cruise lines. 

You can also make customized cruise duck passports, stickers, and tags with personalized, special messages, or you can head over to Etsy, Vistaprint, or Zazzle to buy some tags if you’re not the crafty type.

We particularly love these duck tags from Amazon which you can fill in with relative information.

How To Attach Tags On Cruising Ducks

To attach tags on cruising ducks, you can use colorful rubber bands around the ducks’ necks, or you can use curling ribbon or twine.

Other Fun Cruise Ship Games

Other Fun Cruise Ship Games

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are a fantastic way to befriend other passengers, as you are put into teams before setting off on your hunt. 

Family-friendly games will have you moving from deck-to-deck to find items on a list, such as a plaque displaying your ship’s first ever port of call, a deck chair marked ‘reserved,’ or someone wearing a logo from a particular sports team.

You will also need proof that you’ve actually found these items, so don’t forget to photograph them!

Some cruise lines make standard scavenger hunts a little spicier by making them more adult-oriented. Teams of adults might have to retrieve items of clothing, steal a kiss from a member of staff, or find someone with a piercing that’s not in their ears.

Marriage Games

These games can take many different names, and are extremely popular on most cruises. The aim of the game is to find out just how well people know their spouses, by asking them a range of questions for the amusement of the audience.

Often the game organizer selects three couples to participate. These couples will be newlyweds or couples that have recently married, an older couple that has been married for a long time, and a couple that’s sort of in between .

The humor comes from seeing how long the honeymoon phase lasts for the most recently married couple, and how clueless the couples who have been married for over 50 years can be about some details. 

Pool Deck Contests

For those passengers who have big-bellies, hair chests, and bony legs, the pool deck contest is their time to shine!

These contests usually take place on warm-weather cruises, and tend to involve passengers competing to see who has the knobbiest knees, the hairiest chest and – most important – the most impressive belly flop with the largest splash!

These contests are always a hit with passengers, and the winners are judged by who gets the loudest cheers! These contests are a great way to indulge in your silly side.

Battle Of The Sexes

A staple on many cruise ships, this head-to-head battle of skill and wits can take the form of questions about the opposite sex, or in the form of physical tasks. 

Although the question-based version is a lot of fun, there is nothing like watching all-male and all-female passengers try to do silly tasks such as popping balloons between each other’s bodies without use of their hands. 

Trivia Nights

Most mainstream cruise ships provide trivia activities a minimum of once a day, and sometimes more.

Quizzes can revolve around correctly identifying which famous person said a particular quote, to music-based trivia, such as identifying theme tunes to TV shows or movies. 

Trivia nights can also have more niche themes, such as Harry-Potter themed trivia. Passengers are divided into Hogwarts houses and compete for a House Cup, with the questions getting harder in each round.

Sporting Events

If you’re an active, athletic person you might be worried that there will be limited activities on a ship for you, but we’re happy to correct you! Basketball, mini-golf, and surfing are just some of the games found on most cruise ships that will keep you moving!

Ships that have basketball courts and mini-golf courses tend to hold free-throw tournaments and putt-putt competitions.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean is notable for its surfing, offering boogie-boarding and open surfing throughout the day on ships that have a FlowRider surf simulator on board.

Passengers often compete against each other to see who has the best balance on the board! So no matter what kind of sport you’re into, there’s bound to be something to get your heart racing and adrenaline pumping!

Arcade Game Contests

Whether it’s Wii tournaments in the atrium, or dance-offs courtesy of Dance Dance Revolution in the arcade, if you’re a gamer on board a cruise ship, there is lots for you to do!

But if you’re a little old-school or inexperienced when it comes to video games, we’ve got you covered. 

You can play more traditional fare such as Skee-Ball, air hockey, and claw games where you can win stuffed toys for your kids (or yourself, we don’t judge!) or more flashy prizes.

If you’re an introvert, arcade games are a great way to have some fun on a cruise ship. Some cruise events – while exciting – often involve an audience, which can put off some wallflowers. 

If you do well enough, some cruise ships will even give you tickets to reward you for your amazing performance! You can trade these in for small prizes that would make fun souvenirs for your loved ones at home.

Karaoke Contests

Karaoke is undoubtedly the king of cruise ship nightlife! It’s offered by most cruise lines, and whether you have the voice of an angel or are completely tone-deaf, your memorable performance is guaranteed to be the talk of the ship!

A few cruise lines provide open karaoke, as well as a more competitive event. Karaoke contests often attract large crowds as the contest gets serious.

Princess Cruises takes karaoke to the next level, with their ‘Voice of the Ocean’ singing contest, where contestants perform in front of a panel of judges – making you feel like you’re on a hit TV talent show – who blindly choose contestants, based just on the quality of their voices. 

Judges then give the contestants coaching, and the audience chooses a winner in the final performance. If you really want to let go on your vacation, what better way than to belt out your favorite song like no one is listening. 

Murder Mysteries

Everyone loves a whodunit, and murder mysteries take the fun of uncovering a mystery to the high seas! Carnival Cruises bases its murder mystery on the board game Clue, and turns the whole ship into the scene of the crime.

Players are given a case file and gather information throughout their cruise, visiting scheduled events to eventually find the culprit, location, and the weapon. 

Princess Cruises provides a similar game called High Seas Heist, based on real-life celebrity detective Lt. Joe Kenda. This game is provided in partnership with Discover, Inc.

Passengers receive video briefings from Lt. Kenda, gather clues hidden around the ship, and solve puzzles.

Unique Royal Caribbean Cruise Traditions

Unique Royal Caribbean Cruise Traditions

While cruising ducks originated on Carnival cruises, it’s now spread to practically every cruise line sailing today! But are quirky traditions a thing on other cruise lines? Let’s take a look at Royal Caribbean as an example. 

Passengers Wearing Matching T-Shirts

Wearing matching t-shirts on Royal Caribbean cruises is a pretty new trend (for the best matching cruise shirts, read here). Of course, group t-shirts are nothing new, and have been worn by attendees of birthday parties, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and school field trips for years.

However, weaning nautical-inspired t-shirts with cruise puns are becoming more commonplace on family vacations. 

These are particularly commonplace on embarkation day, and you’ll spot hordes of passengers stepping on board wearing fun, colorful t-shirts emblazoned with phrases such as ‘Yea, Buoy!’ and ‘Get Nauti.’

Some passengers who are traveling in a group for birthdays, bachelor/bachelorette parties, or other special events will customize their t-shirts with funny nicknames. 

Wearing a nautical-inspired t-shirt will certainly help you blend in with the crowd, but it’s also a great way to kick off your trip and get your family excited about the adventure you’re about to embark on!

Crown And Anchor Ranks Are Badges Of Honor

Royal Caribbean has a unique customer loyalty program referred to as the Crown and Anchor Society, and is taken extremely seriously by the passengers at the top-end of the program.

Royal Caribbean rewards these passengers with special perks that mean a lot to its members.

In fact, passengers with the highest status – members of the Pinnacle Club – will strut around the ship wearing their pins that are even engraved with their names!

The Muster Drill

There is nothing like ship safety drills on cruises, more commonly known as the muster drill. Similar to the safety drills carried out on airplanes before takeoff, muster drills are necessary drills carried out on the first day of the cruise.

Everyone must stop what they are doing and report to their muster station.

The drill lasts around 30 minutes, and involves locating your muster station in case of an emergency, learning how to put on your life jacket, and policies and procedures around health and safety.

Even if you’re a cruising veteran, these drills are a requirement for everyone on the ship.

Decorating Stateroom Doors

This is something that you would never see in a hotel on land, but is fairly common on cruise ships – decorating your door! This trend has a lot in common with the t-shirt trend we mentioned earlier.

Decorating your stateroom door is all about generating excitement for your trip, and showing off that excitement to fellow passengers! 

Door decorations can take the form of lights, name tags, paper creations, and pretty much anything you can attach to your door with magnets. 

Basically, it’s a fun, creative way to personalize your cruise experience, and if you bring the appropriate materials, your family can join in too.

However, to not damage ship property and make life easier for the crew, make sure you only use magnets, and not magnets like glue or tape.

The Quest

How do we describe The Quest? Well, it’s basically an adult scavenger hunt that is held as your cruise is coming to an end.

The Quest is hosted by the Cruise Director, and involves passengers completing a series of challenges in a short period of time. And while this sounds relatively tame, it can quickly get a little wild!

Teams need to find specific items, and also perform specific actions, that get more adult in nature as the game goes on. You have to see it to believe it!

Common Mistakes Made By First-Time Passengers

Common Mistakes Made By First-Time Passengers

We’ll take a look at rookie mistakes made by first-time passengers, so if you’re going for a cruise for the first time, keep these tips in mind!

Booking Too Late

If you have a very flexible schedule or you live close to a popular port-of-call such as Miami, then you can take advantage of great bargains by booking your cruise at the last minute.

However, these opportunities are few and far between, due to sophisticated computer algorithms that do an excellent job of altering prices to fill bookings sooner.

If you know you want to book a certain cruise or you are unable to be flexible with your plans, book your next cruise as soon as possible, preferably as soon as dates become available.

Prices will be at their lowest, but if they do drop for any reason, you can ask customer service to match the cheaper price.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that adjustments to price must be made before the ‘final booking window,’ when all rates are locked down. This normally happens 1–3 months before departure.

Not Adhering To Cruise Traditions

Cruise culture is definitely a thing, and cruise lines and ships all have specific traditions to make their voyages more memorable. The most popular trend is of course, cruising ducks!

But there are also many traditions unique to individual cruise lines, themes, or travel routes. Discovering them is part of the fun!

Taking part in these traditions will make your trip more fun, and it’s a great way to get involved with the cruising community.

Surfing The Web A Lot

Internet on cruise ships cannot just be unreliable, but very expensive too. This is because ocean cruises need to use satellite systems to provide internet. These are slow and more likely to experience drops in service. 

You will need to pay for this slower service. Older cruise ships tend to sell internet by the minute (usually 50-75 cents), while more modern ships sell day passes.

These tend to be about $25 per device, per day. This can add up fast! So while it is possible for you to watch Netflix in your cabin, it may not be economical. 

Instead, view this as a gift. Try to totally switch off while at sea and save your money. Cruise ships are packed with entertainment to fill the internet-shaped hole in your life, so make the most of it!

Plus, we all know the benefits of taking a break from social media now and then. 

But if you do need to use the internet to contact your family or check work emails, the quickest and cheapest way to do this is to wait until you’ve docked at a port and find a café or restaurant that has Wi-Fi.

Or, just use your internet on board strategically. Use the internet for a specific purpose rather than just to surf the web. 

Treating The Crew Poorly

While the crew are on board to help you, they are not slaves.

Bad passenger behavior includes meltdowns about certain items not being available on board, certain dishes not being available at the buffet, or even towels being folded rather than shaped. 

The staff and crew will always do their best to help you, but they absolutely do not deserve to be treated with hostility.

It’s important to bear in mind that sometimes events like dinner with the captain, are invitation only rather than a given, and having a crew member put in a good word for you could take your cruise experience to the next level. 

This may seem obvious, but be kind and polite to the staff and crew.

While you have every right to complain – as the staff and crew want to ensure you’re having a good time and want to know when things can be improved – just remember that they are people too, that work seriously hard to give you the best experience possible.

Waiting Until You’re Off The Ship To Book Your Next Cruise!

While this may sound a little presumptuous, this is one of the best cruise tips we can give you. Booking your next cruise while you’re on the ship is an amazing way to make the most out of loyalty points and free, onboard credit.

Once you leave the ships, the deals will leave too!

Ask your host what deals are available before you disembark. This is the ideal time to take advantage of a good deal on your favorite cruises – and ones that won’t be available later.

Cruise lines actively want you to book your next cruise while you’re on the ship and enjoying yourself, and they may offer you a cheaper upgrade to a higher tier of the loyalty program, as well as other great perks on your next cruise.

If you’re able to book your next cruise while on the ship, you should do this!

Final Thoughts

While cruising ducks is a game that invites some lame duck puns, it’s an undeniably fun trend for cruise-goers!

Abby Davis and her dad Ashley began this kindness project in 2018 when they hid some rubber ducks on a Carnival Cruise, and started a Cruising Ducks Facebook Page to share the fun with others.

Since then, thousands of passengers have got in on the cruising ducks game by hiding rubber ducks and finding them on cruise ships all over the world. 

We hope our article has told you everything you need to know about how to play the game, and how to personalize your ducks so they really stand out!

We also hope that we have given you an idea just how fun cruises can be, and if you’re a newbie to the high seas, we hope our tips help you to have a fun, relaxing cruise.

To learn more about Cruising Ducks, there are many Facebook groups dedicated to the games where you can find inspirational photos, templates for duck passports, printable tags, and more!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Big Should Cruising Ducks Be?

Two inches seem to be the most common size for rubber ducks. Of course, some people like to buy daintier ducks that are harder to find, or make a statement with bigger ducks!

However, you should be careful when buying mini rubber ducks, as this could pose a choking hazard to young children.

Do Cruising Ducks Have To Be Rubber Ducks?

Rubber ducks are not just little yellow ducks anymore! They can take the form of many animals, and even mythical creatures like unicorns. 

Opinion is divided on whether cruising ducks need to be rubber ducks. Some people take the view that anything goes, and the more variety the better! While some are more traditional and say only rubber ducks count. But really, it’s up to you!

Does The Crew Throw Ducks Away?

It seems like most cruise lines have informed their crew of the cruising duck game, and the crew can even get in on the fun if they wish.

As the trend was getting started, some crew members would throw the ducks away, but as the trend grew in popularity this no longer became an issue. 

The game is most popular with Carnival Cruise Line – where the game originated – and the crew of this cruise line have totally embraced it!

John Heald, a brand ambassador for Carnival, has stated that crews are aware of the cruising duck trend and will never throw a duck away.

What Phrases Should I Put On My Cruising Duck Tag?

Let’s take a look at the most common phrases on cruising duck tags:

“Oh what luck, you’ve found a duck. Keep or hide, you decide.”

You should also include details about where your duck came from, when you set sail, what ship you are on, and where the passenger who finds your duck can post an image on social media (i.e. the Cruising Duck Facebook group you are a member of).

Alex Kallen

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