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What Fish Extenders Do for Your Disney Cruise Line Vacation (and What are They)

Updated on March 16, 2020
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I have been freelance writing ever since elementary school. My passions include music, age-appropriate dance, travel, and more.

There are ways to get into the magic when on a Disney Cruise Line vacation. You can wear Disney hats you've bought from home or made yourself. You can wear shirts either homemade or store-bought. You can have your little girls dress up like princesses.

And you can bring along fish extenders (FE's).

FE's are names after the metal ornament (can be a starfish or seahorse, depending on the ship, as well as the fish itself) besides the outside of your stateroom. Cast Members sometimes leave excursion tickets, disembarkation documents, and other things in the hanging organizers. It's pretty much like a mailbox.

Here's one example of an FE. (Yes, I made it myself. I want mine to be patriotic with a little Disney magic.)
Here's one example of an FE. (Yes, I made it myself. I want mine to be patriotic with a little Disney magic.)

They function (or are, if they are used for the cruise) as hanging organizers, either bought from the store and made plain or made from own materials. They have dowels and string or ribbon so that they can hang from the fish ornament. (It can also be a starfish or seahorse depending on the category of stateroom.)

Cast Members would sometimes put items that are important and not-so-important in the pockets. They include Navigators (printed cruise itineraries for each day), Port Adventures (shore excursions) tickets, luggage tags for disembarkation, and treats. Guests leave gifts for those who are participating in the exchange.

They are often Disney-themed, from Mickey and pals to even princesses.

The economical benefits of having an FE for your cruise are phenomenal. They help you save on souvenirs! Sure, you can buy as much if budget allows, but FE gifts are often handmade by guests and you get free ones! Those things make your vacation one of the most remarkable.

Receiving FE gifts are as free as pictures from your cruise! Both are remarkable and economical!
Receiving FE gifts are as free as pictures from your cruise! Both are remarkable and economical!

Important Note

It's imperative to join a Disney Cruise Line meet that corresponds to your cruise date. Once you join it, sign up for an FE exchange using a designated list.Otherwise, you end up with empty pockets each day.

"While we were delivering our gifts, we noticed two FE's that were not on our list that were rather empty all of the time," one poster on the DISBoards forum (where you often sign up for said meets and corresponding exchange lists) wrote.

"Now they (the two families) may have been part of some other exchange, but it is also possible that people misunderstand and just hang them up and then are disappointed."

Oh, and don't forget to make your gifts and tag them!

Didn't I mention that you can be as simple or elaborate with your FE? One stateroom in my group during my 2018 Disney Dream voyage even used an Avengers tote!
Didn't I mention that you can be as simple or elaborate with your FE? One stateroom in my group during my 2018 Disney Dream voyage even used an Avengers tote!

Making Your Own

FE's can be plain or as well-decorated as you please. Personalization can spell out the difference between a stolen one and one that is completely you.

You can buy a shoe organizer (I suggest buying one that has a margin between pockets for room to cut vertical rows.), remove the hooks, hot glue a dowel, tie string on both ends, and decorate.

Also, you can dig into your attic for your overgrown and old but not stained Disney shirts and make pockets out of them. Then, hot glue or sew three edges onto a vertical piece of fabric. (I suggest that the latter would be 5-6.5 inches wide to not get caught by the stateroom door.)

INSPIRATION ALERT! Here are smatterings of examples of FE's and decorated stateroom doors!

FE's don't have to be restricted by the Disney Characters who appear on the ship. Some people reported theming them to Pooh and pals, The Nightmare Before Christmas cast, Star Wars, and others who don't.

And you can use materials on hand as well as those you bought yourself. Salvaged denim pockets large enough to store those FE gifts can be sewn or hot-glued onto a vertical piece of cut-up old jeans. If you want to get fancy, you can arrange hotfix rhinestones or studs in Mickey icons and heat set them with an iron or applicator tool. (Just be sure to prewash them before doing it.)

Again, images from old Disney shirts can be repurposed to make an FE!

If you make the pockets bigger in this tutorial, you'll make this a very nifty FE!

Whenever you sign up for an FE exchange, you're sure to reap the benefits. As well as it provides you the spirit of giving, it also helps you save on souvenirs. So why not consider doing an FE exchange for your next cruise?

Do you do FE exchanges each cruise?

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