How My Kids Spent $160 on Tiny Rubber Ducks on a Royal Caribbean Cruise

While getting my 3-year-old ready for bed in our room onboard Majesty of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship, my 13-year-old and 7-year-old came rushing in the room with a bundle of tiny rubber ducks. No, I need a stronger word than a bundle. They entered with an agglomeration of tiny rubber ducks. So much so, the bottoms of their shirts were utilized as bowls while ducks spilled over the tops. “Look at all these ducks we won!” Exclaimed my excited 7-year-old. My 13-year-old chimed in on how they played a claw machine game and continued winning duck after duck.

I repeatedly say cruises are the easiest way to take a family vacation. There are so many activities going on and it’s simple to keep tabs on your children and being on the ship helps them gain independence. My 13-year-old wanted to take her brother for pizza and a break at the arcade the first night, and so I let them go out together for some brother/sister bonding.
Royal Caribbean room keys also function as credit cards. You swipe them to get in your cabin, but you also swipe them at restaurants, casinos, bars, gift shops, and yes, arcades. When checking in, you have the opportunity to deactivate a card if you desire. Before I handed the cards out at the beginning of our trip, I instructed my kids on how the cards worked and granted them a limit on how much money they could spend.
After two days at sea, I checked the balance to see how much my kids spent. Turns out, they charged $120 dollars during their rubber ducky party. I zombie walked back to the room carrying the itemized printout and placed it on the bed. My kids were in the Adventure Club, so I had time to calm myself down before seeing them.

Before dinner, I gathered everyone and we had a meeting in the room. I informed them from now on, they were done spending money, but I would leave my 13-year-old’s card active in the event of an emergency. Everyone else’s card could only be operated as a key card for the cabin. We left in agreement.
All seemed fine… and then… a day later… more ducks showed up in our cabin.
I inquired where they came from and my 13-year-old said she played some games and won the ducks. I wasn’t sunburned, but my entire body turned red. We were on vacation and I struggled not to lose my temper. So, I left the room and visited the concierge and had another printout made of our charges. The report listed $40 was recently spent at the arcade. That’s $160 spent on tiny rubber ducks. I marched the paper to the room and presented it to my daughter.

A month later and my kids are still working off their charges.

Hey kids, stare into the sun while I take a selfie

Here’s a warning to all cruisers with kids. Those cards are easy to swipe. Can you imagine being a youngster at an arcade with a card that all you have to do is swipe and play? You lose, then swipe. You win, then swipe. You’re not certain if you swiped correctly, so you double swipe. Those swipes add up. If you allow your kids the independence to spend, check room charges frequently. If you have the type of child that swipes easily, you might prefer to set restrictions on the card.

I closed all the cards except my own from that day on. But to be fair, I should have placed a restriction on my own. Swiping in the bar for the top-shelf scotch is also easy.

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  1. We collect rubber ducks (our guest bathroom is the duck bathroom and has 4 shelves of various ducks). But we get them a few at a time! I feel your duckish pain!

  2. Now THAT’S a good story! The good news is that’s about $5/duck. Quite a deal for a collectible you can ONLY get on a cruise ship! I’ve got to imagine there are some of those little, yellow duckies that are exploring the vast oceans as somebody’s parent probably didn’t have the fortitude you did and threw all those little buys overboard!

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