Disney Cruise Line Ends Popular Free Guest Activity

by SharonKurheg

Cruise lines are well known for offering great activities while onboard. Depending on what brand of cruise you’re on, you may have the opportunity to participate in wine tasting, special classes at the gym, high tea, BINGO, arts & crafts activities, you name it. And that’s to say nothing of the brand-specific entertainment some cruise lines offer, such as Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Night, the Broadway shows on Royal Caribbean Cruises, or the opportunity to meet Mickey Mouse and friends on Disney Cruise Line.

Besides the opportunities the cruise lines offer, passengers have been known to make their own sorts of fun. For years, some passengers have decorated the door of their cabin, so it can be personalized, perhaps with holiday decorations or a birthday motif if someone is celebrating a special birthday on the cruise. Swingers have also been known to decorate their door a certain wayso that others can find them.

In more recent years, cruise passengers have started participating in what’s called “cruising ducks.” Here’s how cruiseline.com explains it:

Remember playing hide and seek as a child? Well, that is basically what cruising ducks are. People hide ducks around cruise ships in nooks and crannies for others to find. When someone finds a duck, they have a choice, as the trend’s popular slogan states, “Keep or Hide, You Decide!” Those lucky ducks who spot a cruising duck can either re-hide it for someone else to find or keep the duck for their own collection.

Cruise ducks can be referenced as far back as 2015, but their most recent popularity stems from 2018 or so. The story goes that an 11-year-old kid named Abby boarded the Carnival Breeze with 50 ducks with notes attached to them, and hid them, just as a way to make other passengers smile. The game quickly spread to other ships and cruise lines.

a group of rubber ducks#cruisingducks has its own set of informal rules to keep everything and everyone on the “up and up”:

  • Ducks should only be hidden in public areas, never in crew-only areas or on any restricted equipment such as lifesaving gear.
  • No ducks should be hidden in any retail stores (this minimizes the appearance of shoplifting or theft when the duck is discovered and possibly taken).
  • Don’t hide ducks in restrooms or locker rooms, spa treatment rooms, on buffet food serving dishes, or anywhere sanitation may be a concern.
  • Tags or labels on ducks, if one chooses to use them, should be family-friendly without any vulgarity or profanity, as it is never known who will find and pick up the duck.
  • Don’t place ducks anywhere that could become windy or where there’s any chance that the duck could accidentally go overboard (that would violate many cruise lines’ environmental policies).
  • Ducks shouldn’t be placed in a ship’s pools or hot tubs where kids might overreach in their eagerness to collect the duck (they could fall into the water).
  • Ducks should be placed where most passengers can easily reach time.
  • Ducks should be in relatively plain sight so they can be seen without moving or rearranging items such as stacks of towels, library books, or dishes.
a wall with colorful shapes and numbersa shelf with a blue toy and a jar of nuts

Searching for the ducks is free, and you can keep any ducks you find if you’d like. If you want to join in on the fun by hiding ducks yourself, you can buy a supply of rubber ducks on Amazon, etc.

People who know about cruising ducks either love the idea or hate it ;-). Fortunately, for those who don’t like the idea of hiding ducks (they think it’s childish), it’s easy enough just to let the duck be if they happen to see it.

Until now, cruise lines have either embraced the idea of cruising ducks, or at least tolerated them with no specific policy. Even Virgin Voyages, which specifically asks its passengers not to decorate their cabin doors, doesn’t mention anything about hiding ducks. From Virgin Voyages:

a screenshot of a phone
But it looks like the ducking good times on one cruise line is now over. Disney Cruise Line is officially ending the #cruiseducks game. Or at least it is discouraging it and telling its crew members to remove any “hidden” ducks they might find.

From PlanDisney, the official source for Disney vacation planning advice:

On Dec 22, 2023
Shirley from FL Asked:
(Please note that experiences, policies, pricing and other offerings are subject to change and may have changed since the date of this answer)

Are we allowed to hide ducks on the ships? Security on our recent Disney cruise were removing them and told us to stop but I can’t find this written anywhere.

Ahoy, Shirley! Thank you for sailing to planDisney with your question. Welcome!

I’ve been hearing rumblings that guests are being discouraged from hiding ducks onboard Disney Cruise ships, so I called the friendly agents at Disney Cruise Line to ask if they had an official policy that I could share with you. I was advised that guests cannot hide things, such as rubber ducks in staterooms or public areas on the ship.

I know that this is a popular thing to do for many cruisers onboard, but it sounds like it’s being discouraged and as you said, Crew Members are removing any ducks they spot around the ship. I’ve got kids in my household with eyes that are trained for the ducks onboard so I guess it’s time I inform them to not re-hide any ducks that they might find!

It sounds like now we both have our ducks in a row for future cruises! If you have additional questions, please return to planDisney and ask. My panelist pals and I can help you when you vacation with Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort, and Disney Vacation Club.
Have a wonderful New Year!


So there you go. Disney is to be #cruiseduckless. I can’t think of any reason why they would discourage it, save for the control issue (Disney is huge on control). Especially when they still allow cabin doors to be decorated (albeit within certain rules). But other cruises allow or at least tolerate them.

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1 comment

Christian January 9, 2024 - 3:28 pm

Disney is getting all Scrooge McDuck here. Considering the fact that no harm is being done, it costs them nothing, and their cruises are very much priced on the premium side you’d think they’d let people have their fun.


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