What price would you put on priority embarkation, carry-on luggage drop off service, an exclusive lunch at Chops Grille, Surf+Stream unlimited internet, private hours at ship activities, the best seats in the house in the main theater, aqua theater and Studio B, a full service breakfast on the last day of your cruise, priority disembarkation and to top it all off, this was only available to 100 guests? If you answered “Wow! I would pay any price for these perks”, you are in luck and the brand new Royal Caribbean Key program may be the perfect addition to your next Royal Caribbean cruise.
Find out more about the perks of The Key and why we LOVED the program below…
Perk #1: Priority Embarkation
The Key benefits were in effect as soon as the boarding process began. We were able to board the ship with the Suite Level guests. They called The Key members to join the line with the Suite guests and it was awesome to board early and be one of the first guests on the ship. This may be beneficial to you if you need to book specific reservations that you were unable to book online before the cruise (laser tag, restaurants, etc.) or if you are looking to get on the ship as soon as possible.
MY THOUGHTS: We arrived at the Royal Caribbean terminal at 10:30am and we were through the check-in process by 11am. It was so nice to proceed through the boarding process and get on the ship right away. I always want to get on the ship as soon as possible and there really is nothing worse that having to sit in the terminal and wait to board. I loved that we checked in and then we were on the ship. The whole process took around 20 minutes. It was so fast and I loved it.
Perk #2: Carry-On Bag Drop Off
There is nothing worse than having to drag all of your carry-on baggage all over the ship while you are waiting for your cabin to be ready. I always wished there was a way to drop your bags off like when you stay at a hotel. My wish was granted with The Key.
Our bag drop off location was in the Royal Theater. We walked in the theater and there was a table set up with tags, just like you would see in a hotel. We gave the crew member our room number, she looked up our account and then tagged all of our bags with labels. She informed us that our bags would be delivered to our room and would be waiting for us inside the cabin.
MY THOUGHTS: Dropping off our bags was amazing and a great perk if you arrive to the terminal early. We carry so much gear with us and it was nice to just drop everything off and enjoy the first few hours on the ship without any baggage weighing us down. I will say that we were nervous to drop off our camera gear bag. If we lost our camera gear bag, we would lose our entire ability to shoot video for the week. This would have been devastating. BUT! Everything was very professional and I loved that our bags were waiting inside the cabin.
Perk #3: Unlimited Wifi
This was a HUGE perk for us and the primary reason we purchased The Key. With all of our social media accounts, it was nice to have unlimited access to post everything that we were experiencing on the ship. The internet codes were found on a piece of paper in our cabin but we were also given the internet codes after dropping our bags off. I loved that we were given the codes because we were able to connect right away (instead of having to wait for our cabin to be ready).
MY THOUGHTS: We always purchase an unlimited wifi package if it is available and having this included with The Key is something that sealed my decision to purchase. I loved that Sean and I both had separate internet accounts so we didn’t need to kick each other offline to check emails. It’s not a big deal to do this but it is so nice when you can have separate accounts and never have the need to worry. If you do not use the internet, I would still say The Key is worth it with all of the other perks included but the internet is a huge selling point of The Key for us.
Perk #4: Chops Grille Lunch
An unexpected surprise for us was lunch at Chops Grille. There is a special sign in front of Chops welcoming The Key guests and everything after that was near perfection. We were seated the second we walked inside. There were a few other guests already seated but the restaurant was mostly empty. We ordered and we had the best embarkation day lunch ever. Check out the menu:
MY THOUGHTS: It was wonderful. It was so nice to be in a quiet place, with no hustle and bustle. There were 6000 people boarding the Symphony at this time but we felt like we were in our own, private world. Our food was flawless and we loved the whole experience. This was the perfect way to begin a cruise vacation!
Perk #5: Private Hours for Activities
If you love the activities on Royal Caribbean ships, you will LOVE that you get special hours dedicated to just The Key guests. There was a times schedule in our cabin for the activities included in The Key program. For our ship, we had special times for FlowRider, Ziplines & Rock Climbing. A fantastic way to experience all of these fun activities without needing to wait in a long line. We spoke to a bunch of crew members working these areas and they told us that not many Key guests used these times, which is great if you want to use the FlowRider for as long as you want. Check out the schedule:
MY THOUGHTS: If you like these activities, this is a fantastic perk. For us, we did not do any of these activities (although I did suit up and attempt to try the FlowRider but I chickened out at the last second, lol). I also did not think the times were very convenient. I understand that these are popular activities but I do not know a lot of people who want to FlowRide at 9am. Maybe if FlowRider was later in the day, I would have had more courage to ride but at 9am, I took one look and said “nope, not happening”. I also wish they included ice skating and laser tag. Even if there was only one time slot for these events, we would have been there.
Perk #6: Best Seats in Theaters
My second favorite perk of The Key program, was the priority seating in all the theaters (Royal Theater, Aqua Theater & Studio B (ice rink)) You must create a reservation for any show you want to see but after that, you are able to sit in the Suite section of the theater. Look for the banner that says “Suite Guests” and then present your key and you are good to go, enjoy the show.
MY THOUGHTS: I absolutely LOVED having priority seating for all of the shows because you could show up 15 minutes before the show and have a fantastic seat. We typically arrive at the theater 30-45 minutes before the show starts so we can get a great seat but with The Key, no need. One thing I will say is this – in the Royal Theater, do not sit in the first 2 rows because you will not be able to see past the bar that looks down into the theater. Row 3 is the perfect row and where we saw Flight. Loved this row!
One other thing to keep in mind – you are sitting in the Suite row so if you are already in a Suite cabin, this perk would already be part of your cabin perks. This may influence whether or not you should purchase The Key.
Perk #7: Full Breakfast Before You Leave
For us, the worst part of the cruise is the last day but you know what makes that a little less sad…a full breakfast before you head out the door. This menu was amazing. I loved all the options available. Check out the menu:
MY THOUGHTS: This was a great way to end a fantastic cruise. You come in with a great meal at Chops Grille and you leave with a great breakfast. You could not ask for a better ending to a perfect week.
Perk #8: Priority Disembarkation
The cruise has come to an end and now it is time to either stand in the long walk off line or wait for your luggage tag number to be called. This is typically an arduous process but not with The Key. With The Key, you receive priority disembarkation. After we finished our breakfast, we were greeted by a guest services manager who walked us straight through the walk off line, straight out the door, down a special service elevator and right to the customs line.
MY THOUGHTS: We were shocked at the level of service the crew put into helping out this final step with The Key guests. We have stayed in suite level rooms on many lines, which come with priority disembarkation but we have NEVER been walked to customs. It was the sweetest and nicest gesture we have received from a cruise line, as we are leaving the ship. Just this perk alone is worth The Key. Getting a fantastic breakfast, walking past all the stress of the walk off line and straight to our car was priceless. Kudos to Royal Caribbean for this final, added touch!
Pricing & Availability
Now that you have read all the benefits you get from The Key, let’s talk about the price. I deliberately wanted to add this last because in my opinion, the perks far outweigh the current cost. Currently the price for The Key is $19.99 per person, per day and every person in your cabin is required to purchase the Key. Not too shabby right? For us, this was a no-brainer because unlimited internet alone is $15.99/per person, per day. The additional perks made The Key the perfect addition to our Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas cruise.
(You can purchase The Key through the Cruise Planner in your Royal Caribbean account)
I would definitely recommend this program and we will be purchasing the next time we sail Royal. Two thumbs way up from us for The Key!
Thanks for reading!
Stefanie Mullen is a Travel Filmmaker, Vlogger, Artist, Brand Ambassador and the CFO & Customer Service ninja of Rampant Design, Inc. She is a talented painter and former Walt Disney World parade performer. Stef is married to the AMAZING Sean IRL.