Rubber ducky, you're the one … for more than 30,000 cruisers. If you've found a rubber duck while on a cruise this year, you're not alone. In a trend that's likely to make Ernie from "Sesame Street" rejoice, rubber duckies have proliferated on cruise ships in a game that's taken off online and onboard. Here's why you may see rubber duckies on your next cruise.
Grownups Helped a Kid's Idea Grow
The Cruising Ducks Facebook group is a network of travelers who've taken to hiding ducks on cruise ships for fellow guests to find and enjoy. Group members are free to keep their ducks or continue hiding them for the next cruisers. According to the group's official Facebook page, a 10-year-old girl named Abby from Liberty, Texas, started the phenomenon when she hid 50 rubber ducks on a Carnival Breeze cruise. Now cruisers of all ages have taken up her methods to brighten fellow cruisers' days and simply inject a little extra fun into their trips.
"Our goal is to see how far our Ducks will travel and where their journey might take them," the group's page reads. "Keep or hide, you decide, but please post your Duck's travels here so everyone can enjoy."
There Are Rules to the Game
The Cruising Ducks page requires participants to include a photo of their duck when hiding it or when found, as well as which ship the duck began its "journey" on. Players are encouraged to include the Facebook logo and the Cruising Ducks page name on or near the duck to promote others to participate in the game. Participants are also prohibited from hiding the ducks in cruise ship shops, because no one wants to be accused of shoplifting, and are discouraged from placing ducks in hot tubs, swimming pools or anywhere that the wind might blow them overboard.
You're Not Limited to Just Ducks
Cruising Ducks' group administrator Amy Coon Tobey says players aren't limited to just traditional rubber ducks in order to play. In fact, they don't have to be ducks at all. "Plush, stuffed, key chains, clips, homemade, candy, you name it — and any type of animal," she told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I even did a bunch of water Pokemon." According to Cruise Radio, pigs are the second most popular critter in the game, followed by flame-red rubber ducks.
Not Everyone Loves the Game
Like seemingly anything else fun, innocent and innocuous, Cruising Ducks inexplicably has some haters. Some detractors' Facebook comments about the game didn't include reasons at all, including one that reads, "If I ever see one of these stupid ducks everyone is talking about I'll take it home, set it afire and post a picture of that. Man, people are stupid." Others cited environmental opposition to the activity, with one writing, "So you have no problem leaving plastic garbage all over the ship. Gotcha." Another said he'd dispose of any ducks he found to avoid spreading the norovirus, writing that if he saw a duck in his room, he'd assume "a steward or the person before me did not clean the room/public space."
Thankfully, the cantankerous commenters are outnumbered by enthusiasts, and Carnival brand ambassador John Heald wrote in March 2019, "Well the ducks have certainly taken off and I love seeing people’s faces when they find one, they quack me up." He added that most of the ship's crew know not to dispose of ducks that they find, leaving them to delight the next person who stumbles upon the tiny toys.
Where to Spot a Duck
If you're interested in rubber duck hunting, there are a few places when you're almost sure to spot them. Cruise Radio reports that many ducks are visible on ship signage, behind furniture in lobby areas, in elevators and state room safes. Duck seekers are also almost guaranteed to find them in the RedFrog Pub's greenery on Carnival ships.