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A Guide To Fish Extenders on Disney Cruise Line

A Guide To Fish Extenders on Disney Cruise Line

You’ve booked a Disney Cruise, and you hear about fellow travelers participating in Fish Extender Exchanges. What exactly are they, and how can you join them during your sailing?

What Is A Fish Extender?

Credit: Marisol

Who would have imagined that the same hook that holds your Key to the World Card (room key) and other important notices throughout your voyage would be a fun way to connect with fellow guests who are traveling alongside you?

Fish extenders provide a unique and fun opportunity to connect and be a part of something special while sailing aboard Disney Cruise Line that has nothing to do with actual Disney Cruises. It was created for and by fellow passengers.

Fish extenders are typically fabric pouches that guests hang from a small hook outside each stateroom door on each Disney Cruise Line ship. The hooks are various objects, such as fish, seahorses, and sea stars. And now, on the Disney Wish, they are woodland creatures such as the Owl from Sleeping Beauty.

Where Do I Purchase a Fish Extender?

Credit: Marisol

Fish Extenders do not have to be fancy or entail much. I (Marisol) have seen various kinds, from intricate knitted and crocheted ones to gift bags with names on them. Personally, depending on the season, I like to spruce mine up a bit.

For example, during two different Spring sailings, I visited Target and purchased felt Easter baskets, punched holes in the bottom of each basket, and hooked them together to make a tower. I then added our names to each “bucket.” For Christmas, I’ve used a giant red felt bag.

Fish Extenders can have a separate pouch for each person participating or one for the entire group. There are no specific rules on what they should look like.  Most recently, I noticed that Disney Cruise Line have begun to sell their own “Fish Extender” pouch without calling them specifically what they are.

Fish Extenders can be homemade, as I have mentioned, or they can also be purchased online which are known to carry many different variations with different price points. For plain pouches, guests can bedazzle them up or down as they wish by personalizing them.

What Do you Give in a Fish Extender?

Credit: Marisol

Once again, there are no exact rules on what is needed to be gifted in a Fish Extender. We receive a plethora of gifts when we have participated in the Fish Extender exchange. My favorites over the years are a savings bank for future cruises, a Starbucks tumbler embossed with the DCL logo, a personalized mug, foldable hampers with the DCL logo, and personalized makeup bags.

We have also received Christmas ornaments and ice cream kits to make sundaes while on the ship. Other gifts include glow sticks, candy, pirate loot to wear during the Pirate Night festivities, and personalized luggage tags.

You can get as creative as you would like. Regarding price points, I have always set a $5-$15 limit per person. It depends on how many people participate in each group.  We have received homemade gifts and purchased gifts, and we have done the same. I tend to think of it as if I was filling a Christmas stocking of fun trinkets!

Our girls love to come back to our stateroom and check on the Fish Extenders to see if a particular delivery has been made!

How to Sign Up for a Fish Extender

Credit: KtP

Sounds like great fun, right? Where do I go to sign up? This is where social media will be your friend. Future Disney Cruise Line guests can quickly search on Facebook to find their ship and sail date to find cruise planning groups to join.  Once part of the Facebook group page, the Administrator of the group will usually make a post asking the participants who are interested in joining the Fish Extender group.

In the past, when I (Marisol) was an Administrator for one of our sailings, I put out an interest post. I then created a Google Doc asking for names of participants, their stateroom, contact information such as email, number, age of participants, any known allergies, favorite Disney characters, and any celebrations that will occur during the cruise. I also placed a closing date, usually a month and a half before the cruise, to provide ample time for participants to purchase or make their Fish Extender gifts.

Disney Wish
Credit: Marisol

At the time of closing, I compiled the list and place participants into different groups. For example, if I created a group with five participants, I would group everyone together and then name each group a specific Disney name. I would then distribute the group list to the Facebook group.

I also grouped different groups depending on whether they wanted to participate in the Family Fish Extender Group, Adult Only Fish Extender Group, and Child Only Fish Extender Group. Believe me when I tell you that this was a difficult and time-consuming job on my part!

One other thing to keep in mind is that if you upgrade your stateroom while at port, make sure to post a message in your Facebook group that you have changed staterooms so your group knows to deliver to the correct stateroom! I have also delivered our gifts the first night with a note indicating our room change!

When Do I Deliver Fish Extenders?

Credit: Marisol

Personally, my girls and I like to deliver our Fish Extenders during different parts of the cruise. If it is a short cruise, we gift toward the beginning of the sailing, and for more extended cruisers, we disperse towards the middle. It allows participants to return to their stateroom and find gifts throughout the sailing.  I highly recommend not delivering the night before disembarking, as many guests put things away in their luggage.

For easier dispersing of gifts, I tend to have my list prior to sailing on which guests are on what floor. That way, if I have two different groups on the same deck then I will deliver those at the same time. However, be ready because you will surely get in your steps as you walk all over the ship to deliver gifts!

I also always include a label with the participants’ names and our names. I find it pleasant to be able to find goodies in our Fish Extender and have a name to the items so we can give our thanks when we are back home and are able to log into our Facebook group page.

Many of our favorite memories are delivering Fish Extenders. The best part is walking up and finding that the stateroom door is open, or the guests are walking in or out of their stateroom as we place their goodies in their Fish Extender pouches. We have had many close encounters. It made us feel like Santa Claus on Christmas sneakily delivering gifts!

Final Tips

Credit: Marisol

Keep in mind that although participating in Fish Extender Groups is lots of fun, it does take time, money, and effort to participate in them. The rules of each participating group may have different regulations, such as group size. Several of our Fish Extender groups that we participated in included ten groups in total. I had an entire suitcase full of gifts before sailing!

Which leads me to my next point: you will need to travel to the cruise ship with your Fish Extender gifts. You will also need to travel home with the gifts that you receive. This can be difficult at times, depending on your mode of transportation.

For example, it is easiest for us to participate in a Fish Extender while driving to Port rather than flying. Unlike when we are flying, I must deal with excess baggage at the airport, at the port, or on the shuttle bus, and sometimes it is too much work even before the vacation begins.

Credit: Donna

I’ve also encountered where we came home with more gifts than we had traveled with. We then had to find room in our luggage to fit all of our beautiful presents. You may also run into additional issues depending on the size and if it is breakable. Remember I mentioned that one of my favorite received gifts was the savings bank for future cruises? I did not describe that it is made of glass! This was during a trip we flew out to Port Canaveral from Los Angeles.

Lastly, have fun participating in Fish Extender groups! It is not meant to be a stressful experience. Even if you do not decide to participate shortly, it is still fun to walk around the stateroom decks admiring the different types of Fish Extender pouches! 

Please share this article with a friend who will be sailing on Disney Cruise Line and is interested in participating in Fish Extender Exchanges.

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