Beginners Guide to Fish Extenders on Disney Cruise Line

If your family is planning a Disney Cruise Line vacation, chances are you have read about Fish Exchanges and Fish Extenders. But you have no idea what they are, what they mean or why they both have FE as initials. In this post I will tackle the Fish Extender. Get it… tackle. I promise, no more bad puns. After you have read all about Fish Extenders, read the Ultimate Fish Exchange FAQ.

What You Need to Know About Fish Extenders

A Fish Extender derives its name from the fish (or seahorse) which adorns the wall outside of every stateroom onboard. The fish protrudes from the wall, allowing guest to hang banners or decorations from them. The banner drops down from the fish, and somehow the Fish Extender was born.

Image from Kristin Turner KTTW Travel

A Fish Extender at it’s essence is a banner with pockets which acts like a Christmas stocking at sea. Your Fish Exchange gifts are placed in your Fish Extender pockets. Each pocket is about the size of a full-grown man’s hand. In the photo you see my hand, and I can easily palm a volleyball.

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The Fish Extender we use on most of our family cruises is 8” wide, with pockets that are 5” tall. The pockets are not large, and that is the point. The gifts you give and receive are meant to be small. This helps in transporting the gifts to and from your cruise.

Fish Extender vs Fish Exchange: Are they the same thing?

I’ve always thought it unfortunate that Fish Extender and Fish Exchange sound similar. In fact, several people use the terms and acronyms interchangeably. Luckily, the context of the sentence will help you figure out which term the speaker (or writer) means.

Fish Extender = Banner with Pockets

Fish Exchange = The Process of Giving and Receiving Gifts

How do I Get a Fish Extender?

Fish Extenders aren’t sold in regular stores. If you want to buy yours you have a few options.

Custom Order has a number of crafters who make creative pieces which can be personalized with names and characters. Prices vary based on the crafter, intricacy of the design and number of pockets you need.

Annie from TheRabbitsHoleShop on Etsy created this fabulous Fish Extender for my sister’s family. Her super innovative chalk-board-on-top design means you can personalize the header with different messages throughout your cruise. She will also send vinyl stickers with names for each pocket, which are removable. This feature is perfect for traveling groups whose members change from cruise to cruise. Remove the sticker of the unlucky guest who can’t cruise with you, and write in the name of the happy person who joins your party for the next sailing.

Fish ExtenderFish Extender

Tiffany from Gradysmommy made my original Fish Extenders (seen at the top of the post) way back when, and she also crafted a Fish Extender for my cousin (see the photo below with her adorable little girl) which was a happy coincidence, as neither of us had any clue the same person had made our FEs several years apart. Tiffany is great with custom orders. Her reviews are fantastic, and I can tell you that the quality is top notch. My Fish Extenders look just as good now as they did when I first received them. She also makes fabulous pin banners to display your Disney Trading Pins. Genius!

Fish ExtenderFish Extender Pin Banner



You can also get crafty and make your own Fish Extender. I finally made the leap and made my first DIY-NoSew Fish Extender last week. It took some time and creativity, but I think it came together nicely.

DCL Prep School Tip: Keep the width under 10″ to ensure it fits on the wall outside your stateroom.

I used leftover burlap from a window treatment, burlap bags from the craft section at a local store, ribbon and lots of no-sew iron-on bonding. Oh, and a glue gun. You always need a glue gun or it can’t properly be called a craft project.



Pencil pouches, shoe hangers and hanging organizers are great raw materials for fish extenders. You just need to add a bit of creativity to finish them. An organizer like this just needs a touch of personalization with paints or fabric.

Connect multiple pencil pouches with ribbon. Be sure to get the kind with holes. A glue gun is a must for this type of DIY project.

I’ve even seen Fish Extenders made from Duck Tape!

Whether you buy your Fish Extender or make it yourself, the important thing is to have fun!

Disclaimer Time: The Etsy crafters featured are businesswomen I have worked with long before writing for DCL Prep School. I purchased the FEs with my own money. I was not paid or compensated for sharing their work. My opinions are my own. This post does contain affiliate links.

Now that you know all about the Fish Extender, you are ready for The Ultimate Fish Exchange FAQ.

What is a FExch