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ValerieJo

New Program called "The Key"

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We purchased the KEY on the Liberty.  One of the perks is having "Access to the VIP seating at shows (reservations required through the Pre-Cruise Planner)".  I cannot see where you make reservations in the pre cruise planner.  Does anyone have experience with this?

 

Thank you!

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There are no pre-cruise reservations for shows on Liberty.

 

There is a designated area for suite guests and high level C&A members in the theater.  I'm guessing the KEY guests will have access to the same area.  There are no reservations, the seats in the designated area are first come, first served.  They are released to all guests about 10 minutes before the show starts.

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11 hours ago, 4hends said:

We purchased the KEY on the Liberty. 

You may want to post your observations after the trip at the main thread about this new program: 

 

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I was looking at my cruise planner and a new item showed up. It is called "The Key" and is being advertised as 19.99 per adult* per day (It's also saying 20% off, so the 'base' price is probably 24/pp/day). * The fine print says everyone in the state room aged 6 or older needs to buy it so "adult" is a bit loosely defined.

 

Here is a cut and paste for your perusal. I'm on Oasis of the Seas in Feb 2019.

OVERVIEW

Introducing The Key, your premier entry to exclusive and special amenities during your vacation. Step onboard worry-free and have the benefit of a personal drop-off service that delivers your carry-on bags directly to your stateroom. Follow it up with an exclusive lunch at Chops Grille® when you arrive. Fit more into your vacation than ever before with private hours per day at onboard activities, including Rock Climbing, FlowRider and more.

Start your day off right with priority port of call debarkation. Then score the best seats in the house for our onboard shows when you reserve your spot in Cruise Planner up to 72 hours before your sailing. Share it all in real time with VOOM® Surf & Stream 1 Device high speed internet package. End your adventure at your own pace with choice debarkation and an exclusive a la carte breakfast.

Summary of your benefits: 
• Carry-on bag drop off and delivery to stateroom. Drop-off located in main theater onboard and available until 1:30pm. Up to 2 carry-on bags per guest. 
• Exclusive embarkation lunch at Chops Grille® - seating from 11:30am – 1:30pm. 
• Private hours at onboard activities including Rock Climbing, FlowRider and more. Private hour information will be provided at carry-on bag drop off in main theater, Chops Grille embarkation lunch, and your stateroom on Day 1 of your sailing. 
• Priority port of call debarkation. 
• Reserved priority seating at shows. You can ensure your priority seating one of two ways. Reserve your show of choice in the Entertainment section of Cruise Planner up to 72 hours before your sailing. Or, reserve onboard at Guest Services any day of your sailing. 
• VOOM ® Surf & Stream 1 Device high speed internet. 
• Choice debarkation with exclusive a la carte breakfast. A la carte breakfast venue confirmation will be in your stateroom on Day 1 of your sailing.

* When you receive your SeaPass card, it will have an icon confirming your purchase of The Key. The Key must be purchased prior to sailing by each guest age 6 or older assigned to the same stateroom.

 

 

 

Personally, I don't think this will work for us, but since we are considering getting VOOM anyway, it might possibly not be so outrageous. I'll need to run some numbers. Also we were considering staying on the ship in ports so priority port of call debarkation isn't useful to us. We do like good seats at shows though. Ah! More decisions to make.

 

 

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From the RCI blog and twangster:

 

Royal Caribbean launched a pilot program that offers guests on select sailings VIP benefits and perks, called The Key.

The Key is being tested out on Liberty of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas for sailings beginning November 25, 2018 through the end of March 2019 and we recently had the chance to try it out on Oasis of the Seas.

For the November 25th sailing of the Oasis of the Seas Royal Caribbean introduced a new feature called 'The Key'.  'The Key' is collection of benefits that allow you to AMP your cruise to the next level by including exclusive benefits many of which are available only to guests who purchase 'The Key'.

‘The Key’ benefits include:

  • Carry on luggage storage and delivery to your cabin on boarding day
  • Boarding day lunch at Chop’s Grille
  • Voom Surf and Stream for each guest in your cabin
  • Private hours at marquee attractions
  • Priority disembarkation on select ships and ports and tender service ship to shore
  • The best seats in the house with VIP seating at pre-reserved shows
  • Choice debarkation on the final day with an à la carte breakfast in the main dining room

For this sailing 'The Key' was on sale in the Cruise Planner for $19.99 per guest per day.  Every guest over six years old in a cabin must purchase 'The Key' if any guest in that cabin purchases 'The Key'.  This pilot introduction of 'The Key' is also being offered on Liberty of the Seas.  

I was fortunate enough to secure 'The Key' for this Oasis of the Seas sailing and experience it the first time it is being offered on this ship.

When checking in at the Port Canaveral terminal they affixed a green dot to my SeaPass card to indicate I had purchased 'The Key'.  This green dot doesn’t really accomplish anything at this point, I think it’s purpose is to let guests know that Royal Caribbean is aware you purchased 'The Key'.  Perhaps in the future as the 'The Key' expands to ships in the fleet that distribute SeaPass cards in the cabins onboard, the green dot will be placed on SetSail passes so you can still use the benefits of 'The Key' before cabins (and your SeaPass cards) are available.  

The%20Key%20-1_1.jpg?itok=-oEkGEz2

On this sailing 47 guests purchased 'The Key'.  The program is being launched with a cap of 100 'The Key' membership positions available for purchase.  

After boarding I first took care of booking my specialty dining and purchased the drink package before I headed down to deck 4 and the Opal Theater to drop off my carry on luggage. 

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Inside the Opal Theater several crew were there to happily greet me and begin the benefits of 'The Key'.

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Here they removed the green dot and affixed a Key symbol to my card to indicate my membership in 'The Key' program.  They also collected my backpack, gave me a bag claim ticket and assured me my bag would delivered inside my cabin and not left in the hall like baggage checked outside at the terminal is once it’s delivered on the ship.

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With that I was off to roam the ship absent of having to drag my carry on bags around with me.   I didn’t appreciate before hand just how much I would enjoy walking around without having to drag my carry on luggage with me every where I went.  It was great!

I went off to reacquaint myself with Oasis of the Seas and begin to leverage my drink package.  Eventually it was time for lunch so I headed to Central Park to take advantage of my next 'The Key' benefit, lunch at Chop’s Grille.

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At Chop’s Grille they presented me with a card reminding me of the benefits associated with 'The Key'.

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Earlier when I was in the Theater they had presented me with a card containing my Voom code that is included with 'The Key'.

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The Chop’s Grille lunch menu consists of a selection of items from the Chop’s Grille dinner menu but presented in a manner suitable for lunch.

The menu can vary slightly by ship.  Here is what I was offered on Oasis of the Seas on this occasion.  

The%20Key%20Lunch-1_1.jpg?itok=HygzIAcl

 

At 1 pm they announced that cabins were ready.  Waiting inside my cabin was my carry on bag carefully placed on the sofa.  A letter inside my cabin once again explained 'The Key' benefits and displayed the times for the private and exclusive activities for this cruise.

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All guests who wish to use the FlowRiders are required to sign a waiver and check in at the sports desk where they will be provided a wrist band.  'The Key' guests receive an extra wrist band to note their membership in 'The Key' with exclusive access to the FlowRider at certain times during the cruise.  

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During the exclusive hours for 'The Key' at the FlowRider, the sports staff were directing other guests to the port side FlowRider which was available for all guests while the starboard FlowRider was exclusive to guests who had purchased 'The Key'.  During these exclusive hours, 'The Key' members only share the FlowRider with other 'The Key' guests which at times during this cruise meant very few and sometimes no other guests to share the FlowRider with.  At times I was able to ride the FlowRider for ten or fifteen minutes by myself.  I only stopped because I was tired.  

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Later in the day the Zipline was offered exclusively to 'The Key' guests and I was able to make several runs with no line and no wait between runs.  

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The starboard Rock Climbing wall also had exclusive hours for the 'The Key' guests.

Another benefit of the 'The Key' is access to reserved seating during entertainment. 'The Key' provides reserved seating in Studio B, The Aqua Theater and in the Main Theater.  Crew are on hand to inspect cards and ensure only eligible guests have access to the reserved seating areas in each venue.

'The Key' does require guests to make reservations for all shows.  Unlike Sky and Star Class Suite guests who don’t need reservations for any of the shows (other than the comedy shows), all 'The Key' guests must have reservations.  

Reserved seating areas are shared with Sky and Star Class Suites and Pinnacle members of the Crown and Anchor Society.  For Studio B this area is in the first few rows of the center section.  

The%20Key%20-13_1.jpg?itok=CLr_UgiN

With 'The Key' I had front row seats right next to seating reserved for Star Class Suite guests.

Royal Caribbean Ice Skating shows are great for kids of all ages and they never fail to please the crowd.  

 

Don’t miss these wonderful shows that are included in your cruise fare and they are best observed from the front row.

 

In the main theater the reserved seating area is on the lower level, center theater in the first few rows of the raised seating area which turns out to be one of my favorite seating areas.  

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In the Aqua Theater 'The Key' guests have access to reserved seating areas outside of the splash zone in the center section of the Theater with excellent sight lines to enjoy the show.

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On the last night of the cruise a letter was left in my cabin outlining the ‘Choice Deprtaure' with an exclusive breakfast for the morning.

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I headed down to breakfast shortly before 7am.  Outside of the deck 4 dining room a sign for ‘The Key’ welcomed me.

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I was escorted into the dining room into an area exclusive to The Key guests.

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A special breakfast menu for The Key guests was presented.

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Once I was finished with breakfast I was escorted up to deck 5 and through the deck 5 dining room out a separate exit onto the outer decks where security was waiting to scan me off the ship for the final time.  In the terminal I caught up with the tail end of the self-assist debarkation guests and had a 5-10 minute wait for customs.  

Before arriving to the ship I was curious how organized this first offering of the ''The Key' would be seeing that it was being implemented for the very first time.  I am impressed with how well it worked.  Clearly the staff have been trained and prepared for this first ever 'The Key' introduction with signage ready where it’s needed.  All of the stated benefits have worked flawlessly as if they had been offering 'The Key' for some time now. Exclusive hours were just that, exclusive for 'The Key’.

The dining room staff on the final morning answered a few questions for me.  They had been meeting and preparing for this initial 'The Key' cruise for over two weeks.  That preparation included planning the breakfast menu, making arrangements to open a kitchen just for 'The Key' purposes and choosing dedicated wait staff to serve 'The Key' guests.  This was not simply allowing more guests to sit with top tier members of the Crown and Anchor breakfast, this was truly an exclusive sit down full service breakfast with no buffet aspect.  

On this itinerary there were no ports that required or would benefit from priority debarkation at a port of call.  This is a feature of ‘The Key’ I did not have an opportunity to experience on this cruise.  Since ‘The Key’ may expand to more ships in the fleet it will likely be beneficial on specific itineraries that include tendering.

Final thoughts

Who is the ideal 'The Key’ guest?  ’The Key’ is suitable for anyone looking to make their vacation just a little more memorable.   Ideal for anyone who has never cruised a particular ship before the reserved entertainment seating means you can take your time heading to a show without having to line up long before to secure good seats.  The exclusive activity hours are ideal for any families that want to enjoy the activities absent of the normal lines for them.  With Voom included ‘The Key’ is ideal for families that would likely buy Voom on their vacation anyways, after all no adventure should go unshared. From the boarding day Chops Grille lunch saving you from a crowded Windjammer to the full service choice departure breakfast ‘The Key’ will ensure your family can make the most of every moment and all of it will be just a little more memorable.  

If someone has cruised a particular ship before, seen all the shows and is Diamond Plus or Pinnacle the incremental benefits of 'The Key’ might be diminished.  A family with young children might consider the included Voom to be wasteful and they will need to decide if the other perks are worth it. The exclusive activity hours may very well make up for a lot because it was really nice to avoid some of the lines. Any one who has children will know avoiding lines definitely has some value.

The reserved entertainment seating has a distinct value.  It was so nice being able to walk up 20 minutes before show time with most folks desperately trying to find some seating while I just flashed my card and sat right down in prime seats.  They always gets some envious glances.  

It many ways ‘The Key’ offers some Sky Class Suite benefits without the full price of a Sky Class Suite.  ‘The Key’ is a nice add-on for any cabin that can elevate the overall cruise experience.  Since Sky Class Suites are only offered on Oasis and Quantum class ’The Key’ offers a unique opportunity on other classes of ships providing features that no other guest can access.   

 

 

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I took note of the private flowrider sessions.  5 one hour sessions for “key” guests.  The good news is that they were done on the Starboard side which lets the port side (standup flowrider) remain open to all as usual.  Also interesting is that twandpgster reported that it was very lightly used.  

 

Since I’d be paying for an internet package anyway I might look into this for the kids just for the 5 bonus hours of unicorn flowrider time. 

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Thank you for the thorough review, Biker! We purchased for our February sailing, mainly because of my husband’s mobility issues. While not technically handicapped, I still dreaded having to get through crowds to get a seat at shows. He likely won’t zip line or use the flow rider, but I might!

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4 hours ago, Ourusualbeach said:

Since I’d be paying for an internet package anyway I might look into this for the kids just for the 5 bonus hours of unicorn flowrider time. 

 

 

3 hours ago, 3bzmom said:

We purchased for our February sailing, mainly because of my husband’s mobility issues. While not technically handicapped, I still dreaded having to get through crowds to get a seat at shows. He likely won’t zip line or use the flow rider, but I might!

 

The Key is something that will have great value to some guests but could be less meaningful to other guests.  That is the appeal of The Key - it has minimal impact to most guests while providing potentially great value to other guests.  

 

For some guests the exclusive activity hours might almost justify the cost alone.  For other guests access to reserved seating might be important.  We all cruise differently with different needs.  To each their own.

 

What did impress me was how well prepared the crew was for The Key.  I've got to be honest, I was very curios how well the ship would be prepared for this initial implementation and they passed with flying colors. 

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After reading about twangster’s experience with The Key, I would consider it, based upon ship and itinerary. I always sign on to the Voom Surf and Stream package anyway, suites are above my price point and I’m not in the upper tier of the loyalty program. 

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Knowing I book for 6, I can't see the value in the plan for my group.  We'd never have more than 1-2 internet device plans (and last time, we had zero), and without that usage, I just can't justify the cost, even at the "sale" $19.99/person/day price point.  Maybe if you had the option of the daily fancy lunch OR the internet for your party, I'd be likely to jump (since at $24.99 reg price, you could fit the "full price" cost of most of the fancy lunch places in and still have extra "fee" for the reserved spaces).  RCI, if you're listening, free lunch per day at the pay restaurants might get me in:)...

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13 hours ago, Biker19 said:

From the RCI blog and twangster:

content removed for brevity

 

Thanks Biker19 and twangster for the detailed review.  We likely will not use this for our upcoming cruise, but I can see the appeal for some cruisers.

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3 hours ago, SteelMagnolia9 said:

After reading about twangster’s experience with The Key, I would consider it, based upon ship and itinerary. I always sign on to the Voom Surf and Stream package anyway, suites are above my price point and I’m not in the upper tier of the loyalty program. 

Sounds like you would be a great candidate for this and enjoy the services that it offers.  Good luck !

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On 12/5/2018 at 7:55 AM, SteelMagnolia9 said:

After reading about twangster’s experience with The Key, I would consider it, based upon ship and itinerary. I always sign on to the Voom Surf and Stream package anyway, suites are above my price point and I’m not in the upper tier of the loyalty program. 

What loyalty program?  Have you been reading these threads? D+ members are being herded to the back of the line. Diamond members are being denied access to the Diamond Lounge and the crown and anchor baseball caps have been replaced with cookies left over from the last cruise. Yesterday,  I saw a creature that was half lion and half tiger on the animal planet. I'm not sure what it means but you better make sure you have some fresh water in your bunker. 

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10 minutes ago, gelli8112 said:

What loyalty program?  Have you been reading these threads? D+ members are being herded to the back of the line. Diamond members are being denied access to the Diamond Lounge and the crown and anchor baseball caps have been replaced with cookies left over from the last cruise. Yesterday,  I saw a creature that was half lion and half tiger on the animal planet. I'm not sure what it means but you better make sure you have some fresh water in your bunker. 

I was referring to the Crown & Anchor program. I’m not familiar with the Diamond or Diamond + level benefits or any lounge for them, although I know they are upper tier cruisers and I will probably never cruise enough to reach those levels.  

 

I appreciated twangster’s blog and learning about The Key program. 

 

 

 

 

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On 11/5/2018 at 9:02 PM, LisaLisa87 said:

I wonder if prices will fluctuate like other items you can pre-purchase via the cruise planner. I might bite if it dropped to $19.95/person/day, especially on a sailing with one or more tender ports.  

This was my exact thought - there's a price where I would pay for this, but it's not $24.95/person/day. Obviously they're trying to hit the sweet spot where it's appealing to *just enough* folks to sell out, so maybe there's a market for it about our meager means!

 

Also, as others have noted, it's kind of all about the internet. If you're buying that package anyway, then this starts to feel like a deal. If you don't normally buy internet, then it's a pretty big outlay for lunch and some line-skipping. (That said, I'm going on my first Oasis-class sailing next fall, so my line-skipping value may change after that experience!)

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Just checked our January Oasis cruise, and the "Key" on sale for $19.99pp/pd. The Surf+stream 1 device package is $11.99/pd.

Net of $8/pp/pd to upgrade to the key. If you throw in two lunches in Chops on embarkation day ~$26 each including gratuity, that leaves one to justify ~$60 for all of the other perks that are included. That gets it in to the range of  doable for us.

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 Alright, Im about to book “the key”. I read this in the fine print: “Offer includes priority check-in and boarding, carry-on luggage drop off with delivery to stateroom, exclusive welcome lunch at Chops Grille, private hours for select ship activities, priority port of call debarkation, reserved seating at shows, VOOM Surf + Stream internet package for one device per person and choice debarkation with an a la carte breakfast. 

Based on what I’ve read on this post, many poeple are saying its per stateroom....is it per person or per stateroom?? 

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1 minute ago, bburf42 said:

 Based on what I’ve read on this post, many poeple are saying its per stateroom....is it per person or per stateroom?? 

Per person and everyone under 6 must buy.

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43 minutes ago, Biker19 said:

Per person and everyone under 6 must buy.

 

Those toddlers will be getting more perks than most cruisers! 😂

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1 hour ago, KelJ said:

 

Those toddlers will be getting more perks than most cruisers! 😂

I do wonder how RCI came up with a cut off of 6 years old.

 

Biker, who was typing too fast and meant over 6.

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It’s available on my upcoming Anthem cruise and I decided to go for it. We’d already booked a chops lunch and paid for internet for one. So that was about $200 we will get back. Leaves us with a difference of $400 for our 8 night cruise. That may seem steep but priority boarding is worth a lot to me since I have a chronic illness and standing in line for a long time can be almost debilitating. And I really appreciate the convenience of not having to make reservations for shows all 8 nights.

 

I think we only tender at CocoCay and I’ll be happy to be able to get off early and ensure (hope) we can actually get good beach seating in the shade since my husband burns very easily. We wanted to carry on some soda and wine and this makes that doable. I’m also hoping that North Star has some of those private hours and perhaps additional perks will pop up. 

 

I think it it just depends on what’s important to you. Plus, the suites were way, way more than an additional $600 over our current balcony room. 

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^ the priority boarding won’t eliminate any standing in line and within two months the pier at CocoCay should be usable eliminating tendering. 

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8 hours ago, aflyingbuttress said:

 I’m also hoping that North Star has some of those private hours and perhaps additional perks will pop up. 

 

 

 

So you're spending $400 EXTRA to not make show reservations (that take 30 seconds to make) and HOPING you'll get more perks than they advertise?  I can't imagine they suddenly throw in more perks. 

 

That's a bad bet.  This is the most obvious rip off con program I've seen yet.  At least Carnival's program is one cost for the entire cabin, and the cabin is actually ready when you board.  

 

You'll save $50 on lunch.  Which by itself is an absurd price to pay for lunch on a cruise ship.  

 

I predict 6 months from now people will REFUSE to sail unless they can buy 'The Key' so they can drop off their carry on bags for $600...

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