Explained: Rubber Ducks on a Cruise Ship (And How to Find Them)

Maybe you’ve seen pictures of passenger finds posted on Facebook. Or perhaps you’ve gone on a cruise and seen a little rubber duckie sitting in a corner, seemingly hidden but also out of place.

Ducks found on a cruise ship
Rubber ducks hidden around a cruise ship provide a fun hunt for kids and families. Here’s what to know about the trend, including tips on how to find them.

They are cute, fun, and if you look hard enough, these ducks can be almost anywhere on a cruise ship. So what exactly are they? How did they get there? And can you take them? Here’s what you want to know about those little rubber ducks that have invaded cruise ships.

A Passenger-Created Treasure Hunt for Ducks

Cruises are known for being fun. There’s music, events, shows, waterslides, arcades, and a lot more. But there can always be more fun, right? That’s where the ducks come in.

In a trend that isn’t quite clear where it started but has spread like wildfire thanks to social media, everyday passengers bring small rubber duckies with them onto the ship. They then plant these ducks around the ship in little hiding places that can be anywhere from the dining room to a lounge to the pool deck. If it’s a public place on the ship, there’s a chance that a duck is hidden somewhere.

Sometimes the ducks are adorned with a tag or label of the person/family that placed them or the date of the cruise and the ship. Other times they are simply there waiting to be found.

Look online and you’ll find all sorts of Facebook groups for finding ducks on cruise ships, or you might see them posted on the group of a specific cruise sailing.

As of yet, no cruise lines place ducks on their ships. This is all done completely by cruise passengers hoping to share a little joy via a duck “treasure hunt.” It’s simple, but an easy way to bring a smile to another passenger — especially if it’s found by kids who especially seem to love hunting ducks on the ship.

Cruise Duck Etiquette (Can You Take Them?)

So what do you do if you find a duck? Can you take it? Well, you have a few options.

If simply spotting a duck is enough for you, then you can leave it alone and let someone else find it. Some people just take a photo to show they found it and then let it be.

If you like, you can also snag it, see if there is an associated Facebook page for it or another way to share your find with others. If you want, you can also take the duck and keep it as a souvenir and a little memento of your cruise. Kids especially love to see how many they can collect during the cruise.

Perhaps the nicest thing to do is to “pay it forward” with the duck. When you find it, grab it and then find a new hiding place for someone else to discover. This keeps the duck in play and the hunt ongoing versus taking it out of circulation.

When hiding you want to make it a challenge (so don’t just set it in the middle of a table somewhere), but not so hard that it won’t be found before the end of the cruise.

Tips for Finding Ducks

Ducks found in a bathroom on a cruise
Ducks can be anywhere around the ship, including some that are pretty easy to spot.

Want to find ducks on your own? It’s a fun way to spend some time if you are looking for something to do around the ship, and kids especially enjoy the treasure hunt aspect. If you want to be successful, keep the following tips in mind:

Keep Your Eyes Peeled: It goes without saying that if you want to find a duck, then you need to be paying attention. On a cruise ship, however, there are so many distractions with things to do, people, artwork, bars, restaurants, events, and more. It’s easy to lose your focus and start checking out other things than staying focused on the ducks.

Tune Into Pops of Color: One good thing about rubber duckies is that they do anything but blend in. The classic yellow color is eye-catching, but ducks can come in any color from purple to blue to pink. The one thing that’s nice is that they are always a bright color that will mean they stand out. While ducks may be hidden on the cruise, you can’t say they are camouflaged. Keep your eyes tuned into pops of color and you might find a duck faster.

Get the Whole Family Involved: It makes sense that multiple sets of eyes are better than one. If you want to up your chances of finding a rubber duck on your cruise, then make it a family activity. Have everyone in on the hunt and you’ll cover more ground and be less likely to overlook a hidden duck.

Remember, these ducks are all hidden by passengers. That means the number of ducks on the ship will vary. We’d guess that cruises during the summer and holidays when there are more kids sailing are more apt to have a greater number of ducks as it seems to be popular with families. In other words, it could be that your cruise has a lot of ducks to find or fewer than normal. You’ll never know until you start searching.

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