If you have done any research on the Disney Cruise Line thus far you may have come across the term Fish Extender, or FE. You may have also read about it in the blog post Need to Know Secrets. We are here to shed some light on this Disney Cruise tradition and help answer the questions you have about the Fish Extenders.
What is a Fish Extender?
The fish extender stems from the on deck mail delivery system that DCL put into place. Each stateroom has a fish, which is a decorative clip to hold important information. This could include spa appointment confirmations, excursion details, disembarking times and your Personal Navigator (although ours was always inside our stateroom waiting for us).
How did this come about?
According to legend the first cruise that featured a Fish Extender was a Disney Vacation Club group on a 2005 cruise. Shortly before this, online groups started arranging meet and greets, events and gift exchanges creating a group of friends before they were even on board (DISboards has long been the place for these types of meet groups). It was at this point that some brilliant Disney fanatic realized that you could leave your gift hanging from the fish, and the fish extender was born.
This is a very much homemade affair, but if you are not crafty (like myself) search Etsy for people who are. We love ours!
How do they work?
Along with your door magnets, they make your room easy to spot and they serve as a location to receive all the wonderful gifts that your follow passengers will bring by throughout the cruise.
Here is the most important thing, you MUST sign up for an FE group in order to participate. If you do not sign up, your fellow cruisers will not know that you are bringing gifts or expecting them. You will be very disappointed when you receive nothing in exchange. Please do your homework and find your group.
- Start with the DISboards, and find your Meet and Greet. Read through the thread and you will quickly begin to catch up on what has been happening in your group.
- Then look for your Facebook group (DISboards does not allow a Facebook link to be added to your Meet and Greet thread. If one is posted they will immediately remove it). Search under groups, names are typically formatted as Disney – ship name – date, example Disney Fantasy September 10, 2016. Much to the dismay of DISboards, I have found that most of the Meets are taking their planning to Facebook.
Once you find your group you will be able to sign up for the Fish Extender on your particular cruise. Remember, this is a non-sanctioned activity and is run by fellow cruisers. Each cruise has their own separate rules and ways of doing things. Typically there will be multiple Fish Extender lists and a cutoff is determined for the date and number of people that can sign up. Our previous cruise had 15 staterooms per group, this was a LOT because remember you are to give a gift to each person within the stateroom. Our upcoming cruise has limited each group to 10 staterooms per FE group and is up to 7 groups!
Gifts range from handmade, prepackaged, practical or just plain awesome. They come throughout the cruise and throughout the day. We loved coming back to check our “mail” to see what cool things came that day.
Should We Really Do This?
Obviously this goes back to personal preference. And there are definite pro’s and a few con’s.
Pro’s – The FE’s really add a magical touch to your cruise. It is just as fun for you as it is your little ones. Gifts are tailored to their ages and likes, and there is no need to buy a souvenir because you come home with a boat load of stuff, pun intended.
Con’s – That being said for a first time cruiser, especially if it is a short one this may be something you want to hold off on. Planning, packaging, packing, organizing and distributing gifts for up to 100 people may sound like a scavenger hunt and a headache. And to be honest finding 15 different staterooms on a ship the size of the Disney Magic was a scavenger hunt.
My advice would be to find your Meet and Greet group, you do not need to be apart of the FE Groups to be apart of the Facebook page. Take some time to look over what everyone is doing and decide if the added magic is worth it to you and your family. You may be just as happy decorating your door and skipping the FE.
What Should We Give as Our FE?
The gifts range from lanyards and picture frames for the adults, to ice cream toppings for the kids. They can be homemade or purchased. We did gifts that focused on our home state, think Old Bay. Pinterest and Etsy have tons of ideas. Just remember that you will need to pack your FE’s and that you will need to bring home all that you have collected.
My absolute favorite FE we received was a hand-carved cherry wood cross made by a fellow cruisers grandfather (and no joke they are the Disney family, I am so jealous of their last name). It sits on our mantel, and reminds me everyday of the blessings we have and the memories we made on that trip.
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