Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Fish Extenders!
My first Disney cruise (before I became a travel agent) I walked around wondering what all the cute organizers hanging from the hooks outside the cabin were? Well, they are called Fish Extenders. Every stateroom has some sort of fish hanging on the wall outside the door. A Fish Extender is a type of pocket organizer hanging from the fish hook with compartments for each family member. There are usually groups of 10 cabins in each Fish Extender Group. The best way to find your cruise group is to type your cruise date and ship name in the Facebook search bar (ex. “Disney Wonder March 22, 2018.” Once you find your cruise group, you will need to request to join the group and then you can sign up for Fish Extender. This is a gift exchange with the other cabins in your group, giving a small gift for each person in the group – averaging around $15 spent per cabin, although some people do give a “cabin gift” that would serve everyone in the cabin.
I’m not going to lie – Fish Extenders are a lot of work – but a whole lot of fun. It took me until my 4th cruise to decide to participate. I’m glad I did because it was so much fun for the kids. They loved coming back to the room to find little gifts left for them, and they also enjoyed delivering our gifts to other cabins. It could get tricky if you are flying, because you likely will need a separate piece of luggage just to hold the gifts you give and bring back the ones you receive!
You can make your own Fish Extender if you are somewhat crafty, or you can purchase pre-made from sites such as Etsy or eBay. Although I am not the craftiest person around, I didn’t want to spend $50 on a Fish Extender, so I decided to make my own. I bought this organizer from amazon.com for around $10:
I then bought items from the Disney craft section in Michael’s to decorate my organizer along with some ribbon:
I was pretty happy with the end result. I then added our names using vinyl from my cricut machine.
Once all 10 cabins have been assigned to your group, you will be given a list of the name of each person, their cabin number and the children’s ages, along with helpful information such as each person’s favorite character, favorite Disney souvenir, if you are celebrating anything, etc. This is usually done months in advance to give you time to decide what kind of gifts you want to give those in your group.
I decided to give everyone the same gift (all the women received the same gift, same gift for men, etc). I wanted to give them something useful but also something a little personal and of course something “Disney-fied.”
These are the gifts I ended up giving:
For the women, a small makeup organizer with a Disney cruise vinyl logo from my cricut machine, with a sample of Advil and a shout wipe:
For the men:
Star Wars socks and an anchor bottle opener. For the socks, I bought a set of 3 from JCPenney and broke them up. The anchor bottle openers were purchased from eBay for only about $1.50 each.
For the girls:
I made Pirate mickey ears. I had bought these headbands from amazon: (insert pic/link) to give away at a travel booth I had at a vendor event, and had some left over. So after googling how to make a bow without sewing, I decided to go with this. I was happy with how they turned out, and even made some for the girls and I which we wore on Pirate Night.
For the boys:
I had a really hard time trying to decide what to get boys of all different ages that could be the same gift. So I probably took the easy way out, but I think it’s something they all probably enjoyed – a candy movie kit for the theater on-board in a Star Wars Gift Bag:
After I got everything made it was time to figure out how to package. I bought clear cellophane bags from amazon.com for the headbands, Frozen Ziploc bags for the women’s gifts, Star Wars Ziploc bags for the mens gifts, and then the Star Wars gift bags for the boys movie kits. Everything was pretty compact when I finished so I was able to pack it in a smaller suitcase:
Each gift does need to be labeled with the name and cabin number and I also put which cabin the gift was from along with our last name. If your gift is too big for the Fish Extender pocket, you can set it in front of the door. It’s up to you when you want to deliver the gifts. We spaced ours out each day and delivered to rooms at the Aft of the ship one day, Mid-ship one day and then Forward. This helps not walking all over the ship. Make sure you take a look at the layout so you’ll have a plan in place.
The best advice I can give is to not stress out about it, it’s supposed to be fun! Don’t feel like you have to break the bank to give a nice gift, we all know the cruise is already expensive. Homemade gifts are appreciated or you can find some cute but useful items in the Target dollar spot, Etsy or at www.aliexpress.com (if you are ordering from Ali Express, you need to do it a few months in advance, as most items are shipping from China and can take a while to arrive – but they have some great prices.
These are some of the gifts we received from our Fish Extender (not all!)
I definitely recommend trying Fish Extender on your next cruise if you are able, this was one of our kids fondest memories from our last cruise!
Have you ever participated in Fish Extenders? Do you have any questions or comments? Pictures to share? I’d love to hear from you!