Cruise Meets/Fish Extenders/Decorations
What else can you do to prepare and get more excited about your cruise? Check out a discussion forum online and find others who are going on the same cruise as you! On Cruise Critic, these groups are called Roll Calls. All you need to do is find a discussion forum you are comfortable with and look for a Roll Call or cruise meet group for your cruise line and date. Cruise Critic is great because they represent so many cruise lines. There are other discussion forums that are specific to particular cruise lines. Disney fans do have a lot of discussion forums to choose from.
Usually with the Roll Call groups, people will post their questions, plans and other information just to get to know each other. Many of the groups will plan activities once onboard. Most will plan a meet either in the cruise terminal or once onboard, many times around the sailaway party. Some groups will come up with creative ways to know who belongs to their group. On our recent Norwegian sailing, the group decided to put a colored BandAid on back of their left hand. That way if you saw someone with this, you could feel comfortable approaching them to ask if they are part of the Roll Call.
Some cruise lines will offer a meeting or gathering for the Roll Call groups as well. They usually have a minimum number of participants so they are not having a party for only a couple people. On a recent cruise, the cruise line offered space, refreshments and even had some of the senior officers attend.
Some of the groups I have been involved in have had BBQ meet and greets before the cruise, exchanged name badges and lanyards, customized t-shirts with a cruise theme, set up special beverage tasting and spa events. The most unique idea I have seen was on the Disney Magic Westbound Panama Canal cruise. The cruise meet group decided to give gifts to each other. One person decided for the gift to give a pocketed wall hanging with Mickey Mouse poses on the pockets. This was hung on the fish decoration next to the cabin doors and called a Fish Extender. This idea has caught on like wildfire and many Disney cruise groups now use the Fish Extender and quite a few people have even customized these pouches (also called FE for short). We have participated in FE exchanges on a number of cruises and have received some interesting gifts. Lots of pirate items (tattoos, stickers, notebooks, etc.)! The most unusual gifts were handmade address books and notepads, a custom whiteboard, a rubber chicken, a poker game and a small bottle of liquor. Lots of magnets, ornaments, pens and pencils.
Keep in mind that the doors on your stateroom are most likely metal. This means that you too can customize magnets and put them on your door. This makes it so much easier to find your cabin door as they all look the same. We have had many different magnets with lots of different themes. Some were specific for the cruise line, some for the cruise theme (as determined by the cruise group), some for theme nights. We've even gotten magnets regarding a birthday or anniversary and one with Tinkerbell and a couple glasses of wine, indicating it was a serving of fruit. When we have cruised at Christmas time, we have even done stockings and wreaths, made out of foam with magnets.
The most important thing to remember with the cabin doors is that you want to just use magnets on the doors. No tape or glue should be used as this will damage the doors. You can either print your design on magnet paper or you can print on paper and laminate if you'd like, then affix magnets to the back of the paper.