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ValerieJo

New Program called "The Key"

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I purchased the KEY when we went on the Brilliance of the Seas a couple of weeks ago.  Since the offer for us was 19.99 a day and I was going on a quick 4 night cruise with my friends and left our husbands behind, I thought It was a great deal.  All of us women purchased it and I really thought it was worth the money but I only paid for me so it was under $80.00.  We pulled up to the cruise pier and walked immediately to the elevator in Tampa and upstairs to the KEY check in.  Waited in a separate area for just a few minutes and walked right onto the ship. The staff was there right inside the door and took all our carry on right off.  We went to Chops and had a wonderful relaxing lunch without having to go to the free for all at Windjammer which we did not eat at all cruise.  We had free wifi, and designated area for the shows.  A wonderful relaxing breakfast before disembarked on last day and our luggage waiting for us in a separate area.  I loved the KEY and will certainly look into it again on future cruising if they still have it.  I could not justify it if I was traveling with a family but if it was just my husband and I, then I would certainly consider the price.  They also had specials automatically added on our sea pass card for free wine, specialty coffee and other benefits. 

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9 hours ago, shipmate13 said:

  They also had specials automatically added on our sea pass card for free wine, specialty coffee and other benefits. 

 

 

This is the first I have heard of this.

 

Are you sure this is not because of your C & A status?

 

Or

 

Did I miss something on the fliers cruisers that experienced THE KEY received.

 

Safe travels.

Edited by Lionesss

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13 minutes ago, Lionesss said:

 

 

This is the first I have heard of this.

 

Are you sure this is not because of your C & A status?

 

Or

 

Did I miss something on the fliers cruisers that experienced THE KEY received.

 

Safe travels.

Ding Ding Ding...we have a winner!  :classic_biggrin:

 

That original post you referenced was a good example of how misinformation gets spread by merging together 2 totally different programs.

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1 hour ago, Lionesss said:

 

 

This is the first I have heard of this.

 

Are you sure this is not because of your C & A status?

 

Or

 

Did I miss something on the fliers cruisers that experienced THE KEY received.

 

Safe travels.

We got those too but that was due to C&A, I don't think we used any of them though!

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Our KEY Experience: Liberty 3/3/19

 

I've read this entire thread over the last couple months to help decide whether to purchase the KEY package.  I decided to take a chance to see how it goes.  This was our second trip on Liberty and with RCI.  Previous cruise experiences were with other lines and before kids.  Our kids are ages 5 and 2.  I purchased at $20 per day for the 2 adults. We traveled with the grandparents who did NOT purchase the key.  This was their first RCI sailing.  The big deciding factor for me was based on the embarkation and debarkation experiences we had in Galveston for our first Liberty sailing.  I wanted to avoid those headaches and was willing to dump a small pile of cash for those reasons alone. What I know now is that for the most part, those headaches can be avoided without the key.  However, I'm happy with the key purchase and will purchase it again in the future if the price is right and I'm not feeling too cheap.  Overall there weren't any surprises and I had a good idea of what to expect.  So, here is our KEY experience and I'll start with embarkation. 

 

Embarkation: We arrived early this time. No lines to speak of.  Found a "key" sign at security and took my family through that lane.  The non-key grandparents went through the "standard" lane and were waiting for us on the other side by the time we finally got our wild children thru security.  For check in we found the "key" lane and went there. No real wait to speak of.  Again, found the grandparents waiting for us after check in.  Had we arrived about an hour later during the rush, I'm sure this would have been a different story.  They started boarding sometime around 10:45 I think.  Boarding went FAST.  They started calling suites, pinnacles, diamonds, and then key.  We started buckling kids in strollers when they first started boarding.  By the time we walked up there(within just a minute or two), they started calling Emerald I think.   The grandparents were on the ship about 10 minutes after they first started calling suites and pinnacles. 

 

Carry-on drop off:  This was nice.  Really enjoyed that.  Even left the stroller.  It's on deck 4 theater.  We entered on deck 3 and then walked up the stairs to find them.  Walked around the ship for a few minutes and made our way to Chops.  

 

Chops:  Windjammer and Chops didn't open until 11:30 and there was a bit of a crowd waiting to get in, including the grandparents. They went to the buffet and we went in Chops.  I didn't take a picture of the menu because it's the same as what a previous poster has provided.  They didn't give us a kids menu. They just brought them two extra plates and they had what we had.  There was plenty.  It was delicious and relaxed and we all left full.  Again, the grandparents had finished their meal and were waiting for us outside chops.  Took the kids to register for aquanauts and royal babies/tots.  OFF TOPIC: parents please take advantage of the open house hours to register your kids for kids club.  Its easy and fast.  If you just show up later that night or on day two to drop off kids, you will have to register/ask all your questions and it seriously holds up the line for everyone picking up or dropping off.  Also, for "Family Time Dining", RCI website says you have to be in early main seating diner for the kids club pickup.  On Liberty this is not true.  They pick up at 6:40 on deck 4 at the entrance to the dining room. It doesn't matter when you are seated.  Early main dining is at 5:30 so that's 1 hour and 10 minutes after seating until pickup.  They always serve the kids faster than the adults.  My time dining at 5:45 or 6pm would work very nice if you are interested in the "Family Time Dining" program,  although you may have to take the kids up to deck 4 to meet the kids club staff. 

 

Seating at Shows:  Platinum Theater Key seating is on the balcony.  The balcony works for me but it seems the lower level fills up much faster than the balcony.  The reserved section really never filled up completely even after they released the seats.  Grandparents were always able to join us after the section was opened up 10 minutes prior.  Sometimes they waited 5 minutes prior to release the section to all guests.  Studio B for the Ice shows was a different story completely.  Both ice shows filled to over capacity with some guests sitting in the isles.  We were very glad to have the reserved section.  Grandparents were able to find decent seats nearby.  There was a guest that was being very helpful by helping the staff police the reserved section.  Anytime someone came by, he let them know that this section was for "Diamond Plus".  However, he did seem very dissatisfied that us "key people" got to sit in his section.  The ice show was great.  Don't miss that one.  

 

Flowrider/Rockclimbing/Ice skating times: Sorry I didn't take a picture of the schedule but it was very very similar to the one already posted for Liberty.  There were 6 sessions for rock climbing, 5 flowrider sessions, and 1 ice skating session.  I used 4 flowrider sessions, 2 rock climbing, and the 1 ice skating. There were 3 key guests total show up for the first flow rider session on the first sea day.  5 key guests total showed up for the second sea day.  I missed the first port day flow rider.  The second port day flow rider session was interesting.  It came right after an advanced stand up session.  I showed up about 3-5 minutes after the hour started.  These guys were very very disappointed that I showed up and they were very vocal about it.  It was awkward for a bit. Apparently they had been told that if no key guests show up, the hour was theirs.  Here I was, and I'm definitely amateur flow rider.  I ride for about 5-10 minutes, wipe out a few times and sit down to take a break.  The staff motions for one of the advanced guys to get on, and all of a sudden, the rest are back in line.  Now I'm thinking to myself, do I just go cut in line when I'm ready to get back on?  Thankfully two more key guests show up and the instructor is uncomfortable with the non-key guys riding and sends them on their way.  The third port day and last flow rider key session I had the whole hour to myself.  The instructors practiced while I rested.  All of the key flow rider guests were amateurs like myself and it made for a very fun environment. Also a great learning experience, the instructors were great teachers.  I got my fill of flow rider during the key hours and I never showed up during regular open hours.  Rock climbing, never saw anyone else climbing during key times. Also never really saw any line to speak of during regular open hours.  I climbed twice during regular hours and didn't have to wait.  Ice skating: total of 7 key guests showed up. Myself and my 5 year old were the only ones to stay the whole hour.  It was nice.  There was a huge line waiting for tickets and I'm fairly sure at least some of them got turned away.  The ice skating was definitely a key benefit.  

 

Port of Call debarkation.  Didn't get off in Belize but the first tender was available if we wanted it. 

 

Voom internet.  We can do without it, but it was nice to have.  Glad we got it otherwise we would have missed some important communications from shore.  There was an outage of around 18 hours.  I went to front desk to find out if it was an actual outage or if my devices were messed up.  Heard other guests getting pro-rated refunds for internet.  Nothing of that sort for us, as it was part of the key package.  

 

Debarkation:  This is important and it's not listed on the website. But they give you a letter explaining the process on the last sea day.  If your goal is to get off the ship as early as possible, then you will want to skip the key breakfast and self assist with the first group out.  We went the the key breakfast and it was exactly what I was hoping for. I wanted to sleep in a bit, have a relaxing breakfast, and then quickly make our exit.  They will not get in any hurry after breakfast, but that's ok.  They take groups every 20 minutes or so.  You get escorted past a monster line right to your waiting bags.  And from there its a short line through customs.  Leaving dining room to out the terminal door in maybe 10 minutes.  We did wait in dining room for a little while, but totally worth it.  There is some confusion in the dining room because they have other non-key guests waiting to debark.  Just be sure to ask someone to make sure you are where you are supposed to be.  While being escorted off, they take you right past this huge line.  Other passengers did take note and some were vocal about it.  I did hear one "who are these f**** guys".  I was totally ok with that.  We were in the back of that huge line last year with fussy kids.  We dropped a small pile of cash to avoid that experience and it worked out great this time.  Oh and the grandparents were off the ship and to the car at 8:15 with self assist.  We got to our car at 9:40 and still beat them back to our hometown.  

 

Lessons Learned:  Comparing our first experience last year to our Key experience last week and to our parent's non-key first time RCI experience . It wouldn't have done them any good to purchase the key with their goals.  It made sense and was worth it for us with two kids.  I will purchase the key again for our next cruise if it's available and we can afford it.  If not then we can still have a good time without it. 

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7 minutes ago, Dan83 said:

 These guys were very very disappointed that I showed up and they were very vocal about it.  It was awkward for a bit. Apparently they had been told that if no key guests show up, the hour was theirs.  Here I was, and I'm definitely amateur flow rider.  I ride for about 5-10 minutes, wipe out a few times and sit down to take a break.  The staff motions for one of the advanced guys to get on, and all of a sudden, the rest are back in line.  Now I'm thinking to myself, do I just go cut in line when I'm ready to get back on?

That's definitely on the sports staff - they should have told everyone else to just leave for an hour.

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3 hours ago, Dan83 said:

Our KEY Experience: Liberty 3/3/19

 

Lessons Learned:  Comparing our first experience last year to our Key experience last week and to our parent's non-key first time RCI experience . It wouldn't have done them any good to purchase the key with their goals.  It made sense and was worth it for us with two kids.  I will purchase the key again for our next cruise if it's available and we can afford it.  If not then we can still have a good time without it. 

We will be purchasing the Key for our Cruise in September. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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23 hours ago, kjacruiser said:

wrong you get to have the key people sit with you as if they are diamond plus

 

I was actually responding to Radio in regards to her statement  that Diamond Plus amenties have not changed.  

 

Edited by Colorado Babe

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4 hours ago, Dan83 said:

Lessons Learned:  Comparing our first experience last year to our Key experience last week and to our parent's non-key first time RCI experience . It wouldn't have done them any good to purchase the key with their goals.  It made sense and was worth it for us with two kids.  I will purchase the key again for our next cruise if it's available and we can afford it.  If not then we can still have a good time without it. 

Thank you - enjoyed reading your extensive review of your experience with The Key.

 

These final two highlighted points in your "lessons learned" section are interesting, and consistent with other posts that indicate The Key isn't right for everyone. For example, if someone has a Suite, many of the services are already included. Also, some of the activities (Flowrider, Zipline, Etc.) only apply to some ships with those features.  The Chops Lunch ends at 1:30, and some folks don't get to or choose to board in time to use that.

 

So another lesson learned is that when it comes to paying $20 per person per day...The Key is great for some passengers while having little or no value for others. For those where it helps or shows value...great...the cost of $280 for 2 passengers on a 7-day cruise might be worthwhile on the larger ships.  

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Last cruise we went on we spent about 700 on extra flowrider sessions as my wife son and myself all ride so a chance to get in some extra sessions is the main reason we are looking at getting the key the other stuff is a bonus, wondering do they let you in early to get to the key seats as if so would be good to just go and get other good seats as don't really want to sit with the people that by the sound of it think they are better than the others on a cruise

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I have one more question for those who have purchased this and used it:  How does security know that you purchased the key before check-in?  I just did my check-in and didn't see it anywhere on there....just my D+.  Maybe it shows if you print out the SetSail pass but I was doing it all in the app. Curious so I don't screw this up.  Thanks!

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2 minutes ago, jrljel said:

I have one more question for those who have purchased this and used it:  How does security know that you purchased the key before check-in?  I just did my check-in and didn't see it anywhere on there....just my D+.  Maybe it shows if you print out the SetSail pass but I was doing it all in the app. Curious so I don't screw this up.  Thanks!

 

I had no proof of purchasing the key until check in. At security and in the check in line they just took my word for it. I suspect people may take advantage of this. It wouldn’t hurt to print off a confirmation from cruise Planner just in case they crack down on cheaters. Arriving early in Galveston, this was of no real benefit. My parents sailing without the key went through the regular lines faster than we did. Also with the set sail pass, I failed to realize the one I printed off only had my name on it and not the whole family. At security and at check in I had to pull up the others on my phone to get through security and checked in. 

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Does the Key give you special seating around the pool too?
 
Thanks!


That is not a current feature of The Key.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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On 3/10/2019 at 10:39 PM, shipmate13 said:

I purchased the KEY when we went on the Brilliance of the Seas a couple of weeks ago.  Since the offer for us was 19.99 a day and I was going on a quick 4 night cruise with my friends and left our husbands behind, I thought It was a great deal.  All of us women purchased it and I really thought it was worth the money but I only paid for me so it was under $80.00.  We pulled up to the cruise pier and walked immediately to the elevator in Tampa and upstairs to the KEY check in.  Waited in a separate area for just a few minutes and walked right onto the ship. The staff was there right inside the door and took all our carry on right off.  We went to Chops and had a wonderful relaxing lunch without having to go to the free for all at Windjammer which we did not eat at all cruise.  We had free wifi, and designated area for the shows.  A wonderful relaxing breakfast before disembarked on last day and our luggage waiting for us in a separate area.  I loved the KEY and will certainly look into it again on future cruising if they still have it.  I could not justify it if I was traveling with a family but if it was just my husband and I, then I would certainly consider the price.  They also had specials automatically added on our sea pass card for free wine, specialty coffee and other benefits. 

Was there a separate line to get through security in Tampa?

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Hello, long time reader, first time poster 🤣. We are going on the Brilliance of the Seas for five days in April. The Key is being offered for $19.99 a day and considering it covers the $11.99 internet fee (which I'd be paying already), $8 extra a day doesn't seem too bad if the benefits are truly there. But that's what I wanted to ask about...

 

The way the promotional material for the key is a written strongly references a lot of things only available on the Oasis class ships (flow rider, Studio B, etc). So has anyone gone on the Brilliance of the Seas in the last three months since this program was made available and could share what benefits they actually got?

 

Was there reserved seating in the Pacifica Theater and any of the other nightly show venues? Besides the rock climbing wall, where there any activities that had priority access for The Key guests? Any other perks you found they had that were not specifically listed on the cruise planner description?

 

It's been years since I've been on a Royal Caribbean cruise but I read on these forums that lines for the shows in the evenings are long. We're very much people who don't like waiting for things, so paying an extra $8 a day each to be able to walk up and get a good seat 10 minutes prior to showtime would be a benefit (if that's actually what we do get on the Brilliance in the main theater).

 

Oh, and I read a blog post that said it was limited to 100 guests per cruise - do you feel like that is the case based on the number of people you saw at The Key related events?

 

Any insight would be greatly appreciated as we're sailing in 25 days and I need to book soon. Thank you!

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On 2/11/2019 at 2:08 AM, SkaterJasp said:


Debarkation Day back in Cape Liberty was easy.. breakfast was the normal breakfast menu plus two special entrees selection. One was a filet and egg and the other one was a crab cake benedict. Once you are done with breakfast, a host will escort you off the ship. In the port, the luggages are kept next to the suite luggage by the entrance to customs. 
 

 

Does this mean that you do not need to find a porter to help with the luggage? 

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You don't need to make reservations for the shows but there is reserved seating for Key folks so you would not need to stand in line.

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1 hour ago, MsPAtSea said:

Any insight would be greatly appreciated as we're sailing in 25 days and I need to book soon. Thank you!

I don't have the answers for you, but my advice would say book it now and then if your research finds it is not worth it, you can always cancel.  Otherwise it could sell out.  I don't know the likelihood of that happening. 

I would say for debarkation alone on the Freedom, I would do it again.

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On 3/7/2019 at 8:13 AM, JRondo said:

We recently used the key and were very happy for the reasons everyone has posted. I would do it again for debarkation and wifi alone, assuming they keep the price around $20/pp.  

 

I really enjoy using Tripadvisor for travel and people told me to go to Cruise Critic.  I have found it very helpful in planning the cruise and activities.  I am disappointed by all the negativity.  I don't understand why people need to keep bashing RCCL.  If you don't like going on their ships, then don't  All places have perks if you want to spend money.  From going on a tour with a large group or paying extra for a private tour, getting first class seats, or spending more to go to the front seats in a concert.  It is how it all works.  I used the seating for the shows on Freedom.  I can tell you I was not impeding on suite guests as the area was not full for any of the shows.  Chops may have had more people than normal on embarkation day, I wouldn't know as this is only my second cruise, but it was very pleasant and not hectic at all.  

 

Anyway, I meant to do a real review, but so many great people have pointed out the positives of the key.  These are good for some people and not as important for all.  We are all different.  I kept following this thread to see what people thought

 

Happy vacationing!

What time did you board the ship?  My cruise documents state 12:30, but this conflicts with the information I read online about Chops serving The Key participants lunch between 11:30 and 1.

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We probably boarded about noon, as we toured one of the forts prior.  I have pictures with the time of 12:30 in Chops Grill.  My documents also said 12:30 for boarding.  There were plenty of passengers already on board when we arrived.  It also confused me prior to the trip and I wrote to RCCL and got a confusing email back saying they weren't sure what they were doing with the Chops lunch on this trip since it boards/leaves port so late.  They never got back to me.  I can tell you for sure they were serving at Chops and we were not the first to arrive.  Also, at check in, no one said we were too early and should have arrived at 12:30.  There were no lines outside at all, making me assume the majority of passengers had already boarded.  Not sure if this helps.

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41 minutes ago, Steeple01 said:

What time did you board the ship?  My cruise documents state 12:30, but this conflicts with the information I read online about Chops serving The Key participants lunch between 11:30 and 1.

Don't worry about your boarding time on your sea pass document.  Arrive in time to get on the ship for when you would like to eat lunch at Chops.  Your res. time is meaningless when you have The Key.  You can board as soon they start letting passengers on.

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