My family of 3 bought the key to use from Southampton on Independence of the seas mainly as my son has a sensory processing condition that makes queuing and being in large crowds very difficult. We found it to be a mainly positive experience.
We arrived at the port about 10am and could clearly see a sign for key guests. There were queues starting to form at the standard check in desks.
We were the first to be greeted at the Key area and were very quickly checked in and given a key information card of what to expect from our perks. We had to get a muster wristband for our 8 year old and were then seated for a short while. There was a roped off area for what I guess were suite guests who were quietly escorted on board first then an announcement was made for key guests to board so my son thought we were first as he hadn’t noticed the suite guests being escorted. We walked past a very large crowd of people waiting to board and were one of the first on the ship.
We went to drop off our carry on luggage. There was a large key sign and desk to greet you and it was great to drop off our bags. We had packed in them appropriate clothing for ice skating just in case we were given a key hour for this before our main case was delivered to the stateroom.
Then it was off to chops for lunch missing the chaos in Windjammer. We are all vegetarian so only had the mac cheese but it was a very nice peaceful lunch where you were made to feel special. It did not take long as other guests have reported in their posts.
in our stateroom our key carry on bags were waiting along with all the key paperwork. Sure enough there was a key hour for Ice skating that day so it was a good idea to have ensured our long trousers were ready! We were the only ones on the ice for the first half hour and then only 3 other guests joined us.
There were not daily key hours as per when I booked the key but we found that there were still sufficient hours for our needs and they were at good times, in particular sea days. The sky pad we used 3 times and were the only ones every time. We tried to use it in a non key hour and there was at least an hours queue so we didn’t wait.
We did the flowrider once but it was available twice on the 2 week cruise and there were only 2 other guests.
Rock climbing, my husband went straight on but they seemed to be letting non key on as well on that occasion.
Due to the queues at non key times we would not have got to enjoy these activities without having purchased the key.
One day we received a fruit plate with a for key guests note on it in our stateroom.
With regards to priority port of call debarkation, generally queues weren’t too bad anyway. In our key paperwork we were told to go to the main restaurant area on deck 5 if you wanted priority escort off the ship. I was pleased about this as I didn’t want to just push my way to the front of the crowd like others have reported. We used this a couple of times, especially good if on a tender day! We were taken in a priority lift and escorted straight off.
We used the VIP theatre seating a lot. The areas were manned by staff who checked your key status to gain entry. We were very pleased with our front row seating every time as most shows were very full.
The internet package was great. We never had any problems accessing the web.
Our final perk was the fantastic breakfast on day of departure, being able to get off the ship late and being escorted off straight to our luggage. We were given a letter about what to do and It was all a seamless straight forward process.
Given our circumstances the key was right for us.