The fun cruise trend that will brighten your day

Cruise passengers are adding to their fun by hiding and finding rubber ducks around the cruise ships they sail on. Even though the game irritates some (miserable) passengers, I think it’s a lovely way to connect and share a little joy with people you’ve never met.

In case you’re late to the hunt, here’s what you need to know about cruising ducks.

It’s a simple game really. People buy (or make if they’re extra creative) ducks to hide around the cruise ship for others to find. Sometimes, the ducks come with notes asking that their original owner be contacted or that, once found, a picture be posted in a specific Facebook group. In other cases, the ducks are emblazoned with the name of the ship and the date of the sailing, making them great souvenirs.

When a duck is located the finder can decide whether they want to add it to their collection or hide it again for someone else to find.

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And if you think that it must be only one or two people in on the game, think again. There are numerous social media groups devoted to cruising ducks, including the Cruising Ducks Facebook Page, which has more than 110,000 members. The page is also a great resource, especially for those looking for templates for the ‘passports’ many use to tag their ducks.

Read: What it takes to supply a cruise ship

So how did it all start? Credit for the fun trend is given to a young girl from Texas named Abbey. Back in 2018, she hid 50 ducks on the Carnival Breeze during a seven-day cruise with her family. They all delighted in watching the ducks get discovered by passengers, one apparently wasn’t found for three whole days even though it was sitting in plain sight.

Cruise passengers from around the world now take part. One cruising ducks fan, Kathleen Repinski, says: “One of our favourite things to do is hide a duck where we can sit nearby, have a drink, and just wait for it to be found. The excitement, especially when it’s a child, is just plain heartwarming.”

Cruising Ducks Facebook group member Mary Wolek says she likes the idea of hiding ducks because they “swim, fly, and walk freely”, and it provides “a feeling of camaraderie by sharing a gesture of – let’s enjoy our journey, together. It’s an amazing feeling to realise we are all in this together.”

Looking to get involved? You can buy traditional yellow rubber ducks or show off your personality with colourful or themed ducks. Some people even create their own ducks by knitting or crocheting them. It’s not just rubber ducks, either. Some people hide anything duck-themed, such as custom jewellery, mugs, hats, keychains, you name it.

It’s incredible to see how creative people are getting with this cruise trend.

As for the tags, most people design their own, often stating the date of the cruise and the name of the ship so people know how long they’ve been hiding.

Read: How to pack for a cruise

“I’m adding on a free drink to the finder of my gold ducks so the people can come meet me at a specific bar at a specific time, and I will get to meet them in person,” explains cruising ducks fan Melissa, who, after being isolated through the pandemic, saw this as a way to ease back into socialisation. “In a world where everything feels cynical and acrimonious, cruising ducks feels wholesome and doable. It is low commitment but feels like you could be making people happy.”

While there aren’t official rules, there are general guidelines. Among them:

  1. Hide the ducks in public areas (although some people leave one in their stateroom for the next guests to find).
  2. Do not hide ducks in the shops on board the ship.
  3. Avoid places where a gust of wind might send the duck flying into the ocean.
  4. Given how many children enjoy searching for the critters, avoid using obscenities on the attached notes.

With relatively limited restrictions, you can get creative when it comes to finding hiding places for your little friends.

Read: Top five cruise myths debunked

Cruising ducks can often be spotted resting gingerly atop signage for various venues around the ship, or peeking out from behind furniture in the atrium. Those wanting to leave a surprise for the next passengers occupying their stateroom have even been known to put a duck or two in the cabin’s safe.

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Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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