Carnival Settles Latest Controversy Over Cruising Ducks

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For the past decade or so, hiding ducks has been a fun part of cruising for passengers who are in the know. 

The cruising ducks game is simple: It’s just the act of hiding rubber ducks around the ships to brighten other guests’ days when they come across the small toys.

The ducks usually come with a note with instructions on if the guests should keep or re-hide the duck, and a little bit about the passenger who brought them onboard in the first place.

While some cruise lines have discouraged the game, such as when Disney Cruise Line released a somewhat controversial statement discouraging the activity at the beginning of 2024, no brand has banned the game and the ducks aren’t on any prohibited or restricted items lists. 

Now, the cruising ducks have caused another debate: Should crew members be allowed to participate in the game and keep the ducks they find, or is this activity strictly for guests? 

John Heald, Carnival Cruise Line’s official ambassador, took the question to his Facebook page to see what his followers thought about it after one unidentified guest complained. 

“Honestly, do people really mind if the crew ‘steal the hidden ducks.’ They love them too, it brings them joy but based on today’s posts if you think the Beards should instruct the crew not to take them please let me know,” said Heald. 

The ambassador gave his followers three multiple choice answers to choose from in the comments. 




“I say let them join in on the fun, I mean why shouldn’t they get to. Anyone who thinks otherwise, well they can just duck off! Lol,” commented one Facebook user. 

“The crew should get to participate too. They become like family for those few days on the ship,” wrote another.  

Out of over 7,000 replies to Heald’s post, the overarching sentiment echoed the above comments – that crew members should be allowed to join in on the fun. So, that debate is now settled! 

How Can Crew Members Participate On Crew Ships?

While passengers are on the ship to unwind and travel to new destinations, crew members are there to work – and work they do!

Crew members work long hours, often with no days off, for months at a time. The average cruise ship contract is between four and 10 months long, which is a long time to be away from family and working that hard without much reprieve. 

Depending on the employee’s rank and the specific cruise line, crew members may also be limited on where on the ship they can go and what activities they are allowed to do in their limited time off.

Carnival Cruise Line Crew
Carnival Cruise Line Crew (Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz)

For example, there may be limitations surrounding if guests can use the main dining rooms, visit the specialty restaurants (often at a discount if this is allowed), or enjoy the amenities onboard, such as the pools or guest fitness center. 

Rank plays a big role in determining where crew members have access, with entry level positions, such as low level wait staff and housekeepers, sometimes forbidden from entering any and all guest areas while off duty.

Read Also: Living on a Cruise Ship: What You Need to Know

Even in the comments of Heald’s posts, many people appreciated the tough working conditions and sacrifices that crew members make to ensure guests enjoy their time at sea. 

“On my last cruise I was up late hiding my ducks. There was a young crew member who saw me. I offered him one and he was so excited. He told me he had been hoping for months to find one but never had. The smile and gratitude he gave me made my whole cruise even better,” wrote one former passenger. 

“I’ve given ducks to crew at times. Once while talking to our room steward she was telling us about her 2 small kids (4&6 I think) and how she likes to pick up gifts for when she goes home so my husband gave her 2 ducks. She was excited. It’s nice to be nice,” said another. 

“We like to hide them on their carts in the hallway lol. We always give ducks to them. They do so much for our cruises,” replied a third. 

Embracing crew members in the cruising ducks game is certainly a nice way to include them and thank them for their service, especially when their privileges onboard may already be quite limited.

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