Outside every Disney Cruise Line stateroom is some kind of fish (what it is varies by location on the ship). This fish is used for Disney Cruise Line to share communications with you like a reservation reminder for Remy or Palo, excursion tickets, receipts, etc. Think of it as a mailbox to get information from a crew member to you. A Fish Extender is something that you hang from the fish (like the organizer below) extending the “mailbox”. Then, other passengers like you sign up to participate in a fun gift exchange with one another, and deliver gifts to their Fish Extenders throughout the cruise. Kids especially love coming back to their stateroom to find a fun gift left just for them!
How did it start?
In 2005, a woman by the name of Debbie thought it would be fun to exchange gifts with other people on her cruise through the Panama Canal, and handed out the first Fish Extender gifts as we know them. This fun phenomenon has really caught on, and you’ll see Fish Extenders outside of many staterooms on your cruise. You can sign up to be part of a Fish Extender group with other staterooms on your sailing via Facebook groups. To find your group, just use Facebook’s search feature to enter your ship name and sail date (example: Disney Dream February 5, 2018). Please note these groups are run by other guests on the same sailing, and not by Disney Cruise Line.
What kind of gifts to people give?
I happen to be a very crafty person, so I like to give things like personalized pencil pouches or an embroidered tote bag. Not very crafty? No problem! One of my favorite gifts from our last cruise was a Mickey and Minnie coffee mug for both me and my husband. Some other popular gifts are dry erase boards, trading pins, personalized cups, keychains, and picture frames. Check out Pinterest for some more ideas and inspiration. The gift ideas are endless!
How many gifts am I supposed to buy?
That’s sort of up to you. There’s really only one rule and that is you have to give at least one thing to each stateroom that is in your group. After you sign up for a group, you’ll see the names and ages of everyone who is participating. You can make a gift for each person or you can make one gift that is for everyone in the stateroom, like a family photo frame. The average amount people spend on each cabin is about $10. Don’t stress about a dollar amount, but instead make sure you are gifting something you would like to receive too. Most groups are between 10-15 staterooms, so remember that when you’re out shopping or brainstorming over what you want to do. And keep in mind that at the end of the cruise, everyone will have to pack up everything they received and take it back home, so keep your gifts light and manageable, especially for those who may be flying.
Where do I get a Fish Extender?
Most of the Fish Extenders have one pocket for each person in the stateroom. You can use any sort of organizer that measures about 8-12 inches wide, and not longer than 4 feet long. If you get any larger than these measurements, it might get in the way of your door opening and closing properly. A quick search on Etsy, Amazon, or Pinterest will provide you with ideas and links for purchasing your very own Fish Extender. You can have them personalized, or if you have a crafty side, do the personalizing yourself with glitter, paint, stickers, etc. You can even find organizers at the office supply store or in the baby section of retailers like Target and Walmart. I have even seen some simple and cute Dollar Store tote bags hanging from the fish too!
I’m going on my first cruise, is this right for me?
There are plenty of first timers that participate in a Fish Extender group! Keep in mind that you will have to deliver the gifts to all of the other people who are participating in your group, and that will take time away from other activities, character meet and greets, etc. so you may want to wait if you’re only sailing for a couple of nights.
Bonus tips & tricks
Being in a Fish Extender group can be very time consuming, and lots of advance planning is needed, so here are a few more tips and trick to help you out. Make sure you put a tag on your gifts as you go so the recipients know who they came from. Before you set sail, organize your stateroom gifts by where they are located (aft, middle, forward) so you’re not running all over the ship trying to deliver your goodies. Once you find your group on Facebook, they will help answer any other questions and point you in the right direction. And finally, it’s your vacation so have FUN!!
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