What is a Fish Extender/FE
A “fish extender” is something with pockets that has been created by you (or purchased online) that you use as your mailbox during Fish Extender Swaps on your cruise. The reason it’s called an “FE” is because it hangs from the fish right outside your stateroom door that Disney Cruise Line uses to hold papers and “mail.”
Making a Fish Extender can be as simple or intricate as you want it to be. You can use existing items/hangers from Ikea, Walmart etc., hang a fabric bag from your ‘hall fish” just make sure you secure it with a zip tie, or order a custom FE from crafting vendors like our friends at Goldeelox Creations (see image below.)
What is an FE/Fish Extender Swap?
A FE Swap is a gift exchange that is held while you are on your cruise. FE Swaps are run by other cruisers, think of it as “not so Secret Santa at Sea.” Prior to the cruise, fish extender groups are formed and organized via many different online outlets. I personally have found Facebook Cruise groups to be the best option for this as some sites that host them can be pretty “TA down your throat” pushy.
Once you find your cruise group, you can sign up for the cruise’s swap. Each swap can vary a bit by whoever is running it but the standard seems to be 10-15 cabins per cruise list. The FE list should note sign-up cut off, the number of cabins that is open for each list etc. to make it easier for you to understand that specific swap’s rules.
Once your FE’s numbers are finalized, each member of the group prepares a gift for the other participating cabins. There are no rules regarding gifts (no minimum or maximum dollar value). Often times, the gifts are handmade, but not always. You can leave a gift for the whole cabin, or for each person in the cabin, this is really a “dealer’s choice” thing. Once the cruise has commenced, participants deliver their gifts to the other participating staterooms, leaving them as a surprise in the fish extender pockets. It is rare to see a swap set up “set delivery times” so usually you can just deliver your gift when you want. One of the most fun aspects of taking part in a Fish Extender group is checking in throughout the day to see what little goodies are waiting.
Candy Swaps, Recipe Swaps
You FE can also be used to collect other items. Some cruises set up Candy Swap where cruisers leave each other candy or speciality food items made from where they live. Another swap you may see is a Recipe Swap where you leave a recipe on a post card. Sometimes these swaps ask you to leave your favorite recipe, sometimes they are themed. Theme wise we have left “Golden Piracy” recipes on Pirate Night, favorite resort recipes, and this winter we will be doing a Star Wars themed swap.