Sailed on Harmony April 28 - May 5 and purchased "the Key" for my wife and I. This is our fifth time sailing with Royal Caribbean so we thought we’d give it a try a since our Platinum status doesn’t have any real perks that we consider useful.
Arrived at Port Everglades terminal at about 10:30 and after dropping bags with the porter went to find if there was a designated entrance for Key members. Before leaving home, I printed our receipts with the Key logo on it showing that I had purchased the program. Showed it to a staff member inside the terminal and was directed to the loyalty tier and suites line through security which only had a few people in it. We had "Expedited Boarding" on our sail passes so when we got to the check in area we were just directed by staff to board right away. There was a sign marked "the Key" at the check in desk and I asked if we should check in there. The attendant said no and asked us to board. We were on the ship in about 10 minutes from the time we dropped our bags off to the porter. Everyone was boarding fairly quickly though, even non key folks. Whisking through security was probably the biggest advantage to this perk.
On boarding the ship we asked several staff members where the Key welcome desk was. None of them had any idea, so no help there. Boarding was via the Promenade on deck 5 and this is where we saw a small desk with two RC staff selling internet packages. Since the internet was included in the Key we stopped there. Told them we had the key and they gave us our internet access code. Asked where the key welcome desk was. He just gestured with his hand that it was “down that way somewhere”. So we went off searching again. About half way down the Promenade the blue Key signs caught our eye. Went up to the attendant and identified ourselves as having the key and he checked for our room number on his list. We said we were dropping off our carry on luggage to be delivered to our stateroom. He looked puzzled and said they don’t do that on this ship. I showed him on the RC website where it clearly stated it’s a part of the program. He again said not on this ship so we had to bring our carry on bags with us. He did say our rooms would be ready by noon. Only complaint on this is RC removed the carry on bag feature. If they remove a perk you already paid for, it seems logical to replace it with something else. The attendant didn’t give us the blue Key wristbands when we were first at the desk. My wife noticed other people walking around wearing them so we had to return to pick those up.
We had a choice of Jamie Oliver’s Italian or Chops Grille for lunch. We found that out just before leaving home as I was printing off the cruise docs and reservations from our cruise planner. We decided on Chops so we headed out with bags in tow to eat. Got there at 1140 and joined a long lineup. Got into the restaurant and seated little after 12 and the place was packed. After we were seated I decided to check to see if we had access to our room. My wife stayed at our table and I brought our carry on bags to the room. Room was ready and the sea pass was in the slot next to the door. There was no Key symbol or sticker on them as many have said on this forum. Service at Chops was slow and you could easily see the staff were overwhelmed with the crowd in the restaurant. They announced to those still in line that they had the option to go to Jamie’s which most did. Food was really good from the appetizers through to dessert. Steak was cooked perfectly. No issues with the meal itself.
Special Activity times.
Huge disappointment!! They only had four special time slots allotted of an hour each for the Key for the entire cruise. So not only has RC eliminated the checked bag feature it seems they have skimped on the activities as well. I’ve attached the schedule to this post. On day two we returned to our stateroom late that afternoon to find a small fruit basket and a letter welcoming us to “the Key experience” On the back was the pitiful special activities schedule. One attraction we really wanted to do under the Key was the Zipline which was scheduled for 2 to 3 pm. It was 4:30 pm when we got to our cabin and found this schedule on our bed. Too late to do the Zipline for the Key. The schedule should have been given to us during boarding or at the welcome desk.
Voom WiFi Internet.
Spotty at best and uploading and downloading was extremely slow around most of the ship. Streaming anything in our room on deck 12 was out of the question. Video just buffers and jitters. Deck 5 seemed to have the best internet connection. Texting and checking facebook, email, etc was fine.
We went to two shows at the Royal Theatre, Grease and the headliner show. We arrived at both shows about 30 min before showtime. Asked the theatre attendant inside where Key guests are seated and he directed us to the suites, diamond and pinnacle section. Its center of the theatre on the second level. Sat wherever we wanted in that section. For the headliner show, the front row of the section was reserved for suite guests but there were plenty of seats in that section. The seats we had with the Key were excellent for both shows.
We did the Fine Line aqua show. Again seating was in the center of the suites section. My wife had taken her Key wrist band off earlier and the attendants stopped her from taking a seat in the reserved section because if it. They asked to see her sea pass and of course there’s nothing on it to verify she had the Key. I had my wrist band on so I argued that my sea pass had nothing on it either. The line was backing up behind us so they eventually allowed her to sit with me in the reserved seats. We didn’t do the ice show. If you arrive about 30 minutes before the shows there are plenty of decent seats anywhere in the theatre or the other venues. Just make sure you have a reservation if you’re on Oasis class ships like this or you will be put in the standby line with no guarantee you will even get in to see the show. The comedy shows at The Attic have no Key section so its sit where you can.
The sixth night of our sailing we had a letter in our cabin from the Key program giving us info on the debarkation process. The Key luggage tags were with the letter. Place the bags outside the door of the stateroom by 11pm and they would be picked up. We could retrieve the luggage in the terminal in the designated Key section. Breakfast was 6:30 to 8:30 and we could leave the ship at our leisure. We didn’t have to wait for our section to be called. We had breakfast at the main dining room on deck 3 and it was a good meal with plenty of offerings in my opinion. Menu had continental, eggs, omelets, bacon, sausage, etc plus coffee and juices. As the debarkation letter instructed us to do, we went to deck five and were supposed to be met by a Key representative who would escort us off the ship. Got there and no Key rep. The staff told us join the line with the others even though we told them we had the key. The lineup wasn’t long so we got off the ship fairly quickly. Luggage was in an area with large Key signs over them. Picked up our bags and got through customs fairly quickly.
Overall, purchasing the Key wasn’t really worth it to me and I doubt very much that I’d get it again at the price Royal Caribbean asks for it. We bought it at $32 (Cdn) per person per day. If the internet is super important to you, (it wasn’t to us) then it has value since the on board price of the internet package alone is $20.00 (USD) per day per person. It’s just a few dollars extra for the other perks it offers when considering this. They still had the Key available on this sailing about a couple weeks before we cruised for $50 (Cdn) pppd. For what you get it's definitely not worth it at that price in my opinion . Lunch at one of the two specialty dining restaurants adds a small value, however, the choices are limited to the small selection they have on their lunch menus. Also, it doesn’t seem that the staff are well versed on the program yet considering the Key rolled out cruise wide last year. Again, I assumed perks like the carry on drop off to be on all the ships and was surprised that this ship removed that benefit. As many have said, purchasing the Key can be a benefit based on which features of it are important or attractive to you.There was a letter in our stateroom on the last night of the sailing from the Key program asking for feedback which I completed stating the good and bad of the program.