All on board for duck craze

By Ted Blankenship | July 31, 2023

I had no idea what we were missing when Dorothy and I took a cruise down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

We were content with chef-prepared meals, visits to historical places, jazz in the streets of New Orleans and lounging on the deck of our paddle-wheel boat. 

We didn’t know that if we had taken an ocean-liner cruise, we could have spent all that energy looking for rubber ducks. People on ocean cruises hide them for others to find and look for ducks others have left for them. 

Eve Chen of USA Today writes that it started a few years ago when Texan Ashley Davis bought 50 ducks for his daughter, Abby, who was then 11, to take on their spring break cruise. They hid several ducks each day on the ship for other passengers to find.

Now there are multiple Facebook groups dedicated to duck hiding. A Facebook page called Cruising Ducks has 192,000 members. A company called Ducks in the Window advertises itself as “the world’s largest rubber duck shop” with more than 1,000 styles of the flexible birds.

The cruise companies tolerate duck hiding as long as they’re in public places onboard. Ducks — rubber or real ones — aren’t allowed in pools, spas, shops or bathrooms.  Participants usually tie a tag around the duck’s neck with a message to the finder. 

It’s mostly an ocean-going game, but it could work on river cruises. Since these are often shorter, an easier-to-find bird — like a rubber chicken — might be appropriate. 

Duck hiders can get creative. One passenger found a rubber duck with a tiny face mask over its bill. Another duck wore a homemade sombrero and had a miniature guitar on a tiny sling around its neck. 

The ducks serve no purpose other than spreading joy to strangers, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. 

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