So, you are going on your first Disney Cruise. You’ve heard how wonderful they are and how they really set themselves apart from other cruise lines and you just can’t wait! Now, it is time to research, research, research. Two things keep popping up in all of the fun stuff you are reading, though. Pirate party and Fish Extenders – what in the world?!

Disney Cruise Pirate Party Family Fun TravelThe Pirate party is pretty easy. Almost every itinerary has a Pirate Night where guests dress as pirates – to varying degrees, and party on the pool decks. Usually, this is the night for fireworks on board, as well. Disney is the only cruise line that shoots fireworks on every ship! Don’t worry, though, they designed all their sea fireworks with food based products so they can be absorbed by the sea creatures without harming them!

Some guests go all out on their pirate couture, some come with a few key costume props and still other guests do not dress up at all. It is entirely up to how you and your shipmates want to participate. Don’t discount the fun of dressing up, though! Kids will get extra attention from other guest and cast members, which always adds to the magic. Adults will, too! Speaking as an adult, when inside the Disney magic, you tend to revert to a time when that little extra can make you feel special, too! Right, Matey?

The Fish Extender concept is a bit more involved and takes a little work and effort on your part prior to the cruise.

First, you may be interested to know that most Disney cruises have a Facebook group of people all going on the same cruise. I just did a quick search on Facebook for Disney Cruise 2016 and this is a small sample of what came up.

Disney Cruise Travel Facebook Groups

Second, this is where most Fish Extender groups form.

Disney Cruise Fish Extenders Family Fun TravelBut, what is it? The term Fish Extender comes from the message holder next to your cabin door on a Disney cruise. Most are fish, but they can be a variety of sea creatures. Cast members use them to leave notes for you from the cruise line, but many people make extenders to hang down from the note holder. These extenders have pockets, often decorated with the cabin residents’ favorite character and their first name. This is where other passengers in your group leave – get this – presents!

FE (Fish Extender) groups are several cabins agreeing to gift each other with small trinkets over the course of a cruise – kind of like Secret Santa. The size of the groups range anywhere from 10-20 cabins, but could be more. There are no set rules; each FE group can come up with their own game plan. The idea is to collect information about your group – how many adults in each cabin, how many kids, kids age ranges, everyone’s favorite characters, allergies (lots of people give treats as gifts), cabin number (so everyone knows where to deliver goodies), and anything else you care to share. Using this information, you can gather gifts to bring on board and deliver them to your group participants – placing them in the extender they have hung on their fish.

What you give and how much you spend is up to you. Homemade crafts, edible treats, key chains, coozies – the list is endless and inventive. You can give a cabin gift for everyone to share, specific gifts for each person in the cabin, a gift each day, or one big delivery – there is no wrong way to participate! One of the best I have seen was ice cream toppings. There is free ice cream available on board and the toppings were a fun and useful gift!

If you think you might be interested, search out your cruise date on Facebook and join in! Getting to know people prior to your trip, can give you a head start on great friendships and potential playmates for your kids. You will soon start to see discussions of Fish Extender groups and how to join, feel free to ask questions, and get a feel for the guidelines for your particular cruise. Then you can decide if you want to give it a try!

Bon Voyage!