Fish Extenders: What They Are and How You Can Join the Fun

Fish Extender Disney Cruise Lines

Updated May 9, 2024

If you are going on a Disney Cruise, you may have heard about Fish Extender Gift Exchange (FE gifts) and may be wondering what it is all about.

The Fish Extender Gift Exchange started as a gift exchange by a cruiser named Debbie on one of the 2005 Panama Canal cruises and has grown ever since. Even Disney Cruise Line has gotten involved. They offer a Fish Extender, which you can buy as part of the Family Nautical Package on their Gifts and Amenities page.

Family Nautical Package includes a a 3-person gift hanger
Family Nautical Package includes a a 3-person gift hanger

The Basics

Getting involved in the Fish Extender Gift Exchange is a breeze. All you need to do is find and connect with other cruisers who are sailing with you on your cruise. There are several convenient ways to do this, making it a fun and accessible experience for everyone.

The first thing to do is join the cruise group for your sailing.  I list groups here by ship. Another way to find fellow cruisers is to do a Facebook search. Most groups use a similar format when creating the groups. Enter Disney “the name of your ship” and “the date of the sailing,” your group should appear in the search results. If you don’t see your group, there may not be one started for your cruise. You can join a Fish Extender Facebook group, like the one I am a part of., to learn more about Fish Extenders; these groups are incredibly supportive.

Once you join your Facebook cruise group, ask how to join the Fish Extender Gift Exchange. Your Fish Extender coordinator will break up the groups, usually into groups of 10-15 5-10 of cabins.

So, you have joined your cruise group and signed up for the Fish Extender Gift Exchange. What is next?

Disney Cruise FE Exchange Gift
Disney Cruise FE Exchange Gift

The Fish Extender

The Fish Extender is like a mailbox that hangs from the fish, starfish, or seahorse outside your stateroom door. It can be anything that allows the gifts to be placed inside: a shopping bag, a pocket hanger, or a specially-made Fish Extender. You can make it yourself, buy it online from Etsy, or buy a hybrid—buy the holder and decorate it yourself.

If you make one yourself, remember that it should be 8-12 inches wide and no more than 5 feet long. When I made ours, it was far too long and required some tailoring.

Disney Cruise Fish Extender Halloween
Disney Cruise Fish Extender Halloween

Update

I have since remade our Fish Extender and made one for my sister. It is not as wonky as the original one, lol. We went with superhero themes this time Captain Marvel and Captain America.

Disney Cruise Marvel Fish Extender
Disney Cruise Marvel Fish Extender

The Fish Extender Gifts

The next big question is, “What to give?”

It is up to you to decide how you want to give your gifts. You can give a gift for the cabin, a separate gift for each person in the cabin, or a hybrid cabin gift and something small for each person. Usually, I give a hybrid gift for the cabin with a small gift for everyone in the cabin. I don’t get hung up on the gender or age of the guests in the cabin and try to give something appropriate for any age or gender.

I keep our gifts small. We fly in for our cruises, and the larger the gift, the more our luggage will weigh. Our first time doing a Fish Extender Exchange, our gifts filled their suitcase, and I have scaled back since then. I also give something I appreciate and can reuse at home or on future cruises. Also, only give what you can afford. Giving a Fish Extender gift doesn’t have to break the bank.

You only need to hand out gifts once throughout the cruise. To save time, it is a good idea to have a plan for how to deliver the gifts. Usually, we do floors and deliver all the gifts for one or two floors at the same time. Others will break up the gifts by the location of the cabin: forward, midship, and aft.

We gave this on one of our transatlantic cruises. I included a Canadian chocolate bar for everyone in the cabin. Here is how to make the Pirate Mickey Necklace including a printable pdf.

Disney Cruise Fish extender gifts
Disney Cruise Fish extender gifts

Last year we made Perler Bead magnets and cruise magnets and gave those as a gift.

Disney Cruise FE Exchange Gift
Disney Cruise FE Exchange Gift

Here are some of my favourites from Pinterest and the gifts we have received.

I hope this has answered most of your Fish Extender questions. If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments.

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This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning, that if you make a purchase through my links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support of this site.

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15 thoughts on “Fish Extenders: What They Are and How You Can Join the Fun

  1. Hi,
    I gave my info. at the dis site for the nov. 30th Disney Magic cruise and I noticed that when I didn’t get confirmed. That the person heading the group stated that she had to cancel her cruise and was asking for a replacement . I don’t now if I’m signed up or not.

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