What the Heck are Fish Extenders?
After I booked our Disney cruise, I tried explaining to him what we were going to do but it just wasn't coming out as awesome as I knew it would actually be. So, like any good parent, I scoured YouTube to show my kid what we were in for. We watched so many videos of families entering the ship, meeting characters, going down water slides, and everything looked so amazing. Then my son clicked on a video that said something about "fish extenders". I had no idea what he had found. I wasn't sure if it was information on an excursion or if he had reached the dark crevices of the web where the creeps hang out. But it turned out to be so educational!
Apparently, every Disney cruise has a private facebook page created for it. This allows cruisers to get to know one another, share tips, and past experiences. You can find this group by going to the DIS board website and searching the name of your ship and departure date. Disney cruisers also have the option to participate in "fish extenders". On the outside of every stateroom on every Disney cruise ship, there is a fish clip. It's just a little fish that your stateroom attendant uses in order to put your tickets for excursions, special events, and reservations. It also is a great place to hold a fish extender. Debbie Chitester came up with this idea on the May 2005 Westbound Panama Canal cruise, as she found similar items at a local store in Ohio and gave them to a group of friends on board a cruise they took together as a group. A fish extender can be anything you hang on this fish in order to hold more stuff. Some people had one canvas tote bag for the whole family and some people had handmade personalized ones with separate pockets for each family member. Here is ours:
I ordered it online from Goldeelox Creations. She had every character you could think of to put on it, as well as many different themes. I opted for a Christmas theme since we were doing a Christmas time cruise (and I figured this would be cute Christmas decor after the cruise was over). My parents also went on the cruise with us and theirs was a "Finding Nemo" theme. It had a seagull at the top that said "Mine?" and then a Marlin pouch and a Dory pouch. It was super cute.
So what else do you do with these things? The video I originally watched was on FE (Fish Extender) gifts. In the Facebook groups I mentioned earlier, you can request to be put in a FE Gift Exchange group. This group consists of about 10 different cabins - so anywhere from 20-80 people total. Each cabin number in the group writes out details about the people in their cabin. So mine would look like this: Dad, Mom, 4 year Boy, 1 yr old Girl. You also had the option to list specific things (Disney, Star Wars, or Avenger themed - since Disney owns all of this), so people would know what your kid's interests are.
Everyone has the option to gift however they like. They can spend as much or as little as they feel comfortable and they can either give one gift to the whole cabin, individual gifts to each person, or whatever combination they desire. But every person in your fish extender gift exchange group should end up with one item from every cabin. Yes, it is a lot of extra work before you go on vacation. Yes, you will have to pack an extra suitcase just for all of this stuff. But yes, it is oh so worth it.
So...what do you do with the stuff? Since you have everyone's cabin numbers and their names are on their fish extenders, you can deliver the gifts anytime during your cruise. On ours, we got stuff every day. Some people timed it where they gave beach-type items on the day we were docked at an island or they gave Star Wars themed gifted on the day the the latest Star Wars movie premiered. And some, like me, just delivered gifts randomly and when we had a spare moment (there's a lot to do and see on a Disney cruise).
So what kind of gifts do you give everyone? How do you please everyone? You can't. All you can do is your best. Some people bought store-bought items and some people made handmade items. At the end of the day, it's about giving. I've included a few photos of gifts I received in this post so you can see some of the awesome gifts we received. And, of course, I was in a hurry and forgot to take photos of what I made/bought. Oh well. Use your imagination.
My son absolutely loved coming back to our room periodically throughout the day. He would race off the elevator, run down the hall, and stick his hand in everyone's FE pocket to see if any of us received anything. It was also a great bargaining tool with him when it was nap time or we needed to hurry to go do something and he was poking around.
I hope this post has been informative and that if you choose to go on a Disney cruise, that you choose to do a FE gift exchange. It's so fun and giving is always in style.
Since our cruise was in December, we also had a recipe exchange and an ornament exchange. We didn't participate in the recipe exchange (I can only handle so much, people!), but you can see more on the ornament exchange here.