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Disney Cruise Fish Extender: Groups and Gift Exchange
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Disney Cruise Line is known for its themed cruises that are ideal for families, including favorite Disney characters, kids’ clubs, a wide range of activities, and sailing to exciting destinations across the world. More recently, Disney cruises have also become known for their Fish Extenders.

If you’re looking for that extra bit of Disney Magic and pixie dusting on your cruise, you will be delighted by Fish Extenders. They are one of the things Disney cruises include that make vacationing with the cruise line so much fun and a great way to make your cruise more special and personalized. They are also an ideal way to meet other passengers.

Fish Extenders (often referred to simply as FEs) are embroidered hanging bags. They usually contain pockets and the names of family members, children, and other cruise party members traveling together, and can be hung outside cabins using the small metal fish above the stateroom numbers. They function as mailboxes, to receive dinner invitations or information from cabin stewards, or as gift bags.

Passengers have started using them to enter Secret Santa draws, where guests receive small, anonymous gifts. These are often arranged through Facebook or Disney message boards, and the idea is to foster camaraderie onboard.

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about Fish Extenders before your next Disney Cruise Line Vacation.

Fish Extender Groups on a Disney Cruise

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Typically, guests get introduced to Fish Extenders (FEs) when signing up for message boards on their first Disney Cruise. They can choose to participate in the gift exchanges, many of which have themes. An FE group can have a variety of themes, from magnets, Christmas ornaments, and family toys to adults-only groups with more adult-friendly gifts like wine corks.

Most often, FE groups will have a maximum spend amount, which means that nobody has to pay too much to participate. Group sizes can vary greatly, with some FE groups including up to a hundred people.

Once part of a Fish Extender group, it is up to each passenger to provide their own gift bag. Many guests craft or sew them by hand, but the concept has also become popular enough that A Fish Extender can be bought online, through shops like Etsy. Gifts can be made or bought.

After boarding and settling in, passengers can hang their Fish Extender from the little metal fish outside their cabins and wait for gifts to arrive. Gift-giving can last for several days, with gifts coming from multiple secret passengers. It can be very exciting, especially for younger passengers, and is something to look forward to at the start of your cruise.

Fish Extenders aren’t organized, monitored, or influenced by cruise lines in any way, making them much more organic. It is a unique experience shared between passengers.

How Much Does it Cost?

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One of the fun parts about Fish Extenders is the DIY aspect of it. You can put your crafting skills to the test when making the gift bag, as well as the gifts.

Typically, personalized Fish Extenders can cost anything between ten and twenty-five USD when ordered online. More elaborate designs will also cost more. This means that making them yourself can save money on your cruise. There is also the option of buying generic hanging storage, something that can be found easily online or in stores and adding your name to it.

How much you spend on the gifts also depends on the nature of the group theme. Luckily, almost every FE group has a capped spending amount, which takes away the chance of it becoming an expensive experience.

It is also important to keep in mind that gifts need to be transported to the cruise ship, and some group themes (like Christmas ornaments) include more fragile gifts. Should they be packaged incorrectly, they may break on the way there, wasting your money.

There are some larger gifts, like toys, that can take up a lot of space in your suitcase and cost much more, so it is important to consider your options carefully before committing to a group. Choose something that fits your budget and your interests.

Fish Extender gifts can take many shapes and forms, and what passengers receive in their hanging gift bags can range from hand-made items to small store-bought goodies. While most Fish Extenders are Disney-themed, it really depends on the buyer what gift they want to include in the Fish Extender gift exchange. It can be a range of smaller items, or simply one large gift.

Some great Fish Extender gift ideas include:

  • Hand Sanitizers
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Glow Sticks
  • Luggage Tags
  • Keychains
  • Bottle Openers
  • Ornaments
  • Jewelry
  • Disney Cruise Ship Door Decorations
  • Pirate-themed Gifts (If your itinerary includes a Pirate Night)

Which Cruise Ships have Fish Extenders?

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Because Fish Extenders aren’t an official part of the cruise experience and are not set up by cruise lines, you may find yourself on a cruise ship with or without this fun little feature. It all depends on whether passengers decide to organize one for the upcoming sailing. You may also decide to start one of your own and create a Facebook group.

At the moment, it seems as though Fish Extenders are exclusive to Disney Cruise Line, however, they may become popular on other cruise ships in the future! Be sure to check Facebook and message boards for any groups that may pop up before your cruise date.

Disney Cruise Line Fish Extender FAQs

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Does Disney Wish have Fish Extenders?

While there are no metal fish or seahorses outside the cabins on Disney Wish, there are Cindarella-themed plaques outside stateroom doors which work just as well for hanging Disney Cruise Fish Extenders. This means that there may already be a Facebook group you could join, dedicated to the Fish Extender exchange.

In the same way, cabins on the starboard side of Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream have a metal seahorse instead of a fish.

Do Fish extender gifts need to be hand-made?

It can certainly save money to make the small gifts included in Fish Extender exchanges and can add some extra magic and pixie dust for the receiver, but it is completely optional and it can be time-consuming. Instead of being custom-made, the little gifts being exchanged can also be bought, saving you some time.

It is best to give yourself enough time before you board to make or purchase your Fish Extender and gifts, and the general rule of thumb is to make or buy them well in advance. If your extender is very elaborate and something you need to pre-order, you will need to give yourself even more time.

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