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I am sharing my thoughts on The Key on Symphony in my trip report, which is here.  Feel free to ask me anything.  I am almost done with my report, just have to finish up the disembarkation day.

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Key benefits are published and well known.  

 

Arriving after boarding has started as this poster did, of course there is no waiting area dedicated to the Key because boarding has commenced.  Why wait?  For what would you wait to board if the ship is boarding?

 

They stated they arrived at 12:30pm.  Cabins open at 1pm.  There is little doubt that carry on storage wasn't a thing because cabins would be ready in mere minutes.   

 

When I had the Key I arrived at 10am.   Waiting area was there.  I was called to board right after suites/pinnacle.  Luggage storage was available as stated on the Key paperwork handed to me.  It was useful because i arrived before boarding commenced which was hours before cabins were available

 

They found little value in the times of Key exclusive activity hours.  For some that may be true, for others it may be perfect.  This is highly subjective.  Unfortunate that it didn't fit their schedule but it sounds like expectations were off, not delivery of Key benefits.  I enjoyed the Flowrider at 8am all to myself with the Key.  I didn't expect Key hours to be mid-day during prime time.  

 

Priority seating - suite guests have the same privilege.  If unoccupied, seats are open to the general public at T-15 minutes.  That is well known and stated.  Expecting seats to be saved until T-5 appears unreasonable.  No where does Key benefits state seats are saved until T-5.  Wrong expectation or failure to read.  

 

Priority disembarkation at ports of call.  Oasis class has never needed this.  It isn't a thing.  They don't tender, period.  I knew this when I had the Key on Oasis yet despite not having a special lane for me upon walking onto the pier, I can't imagine how my debarkation at a port of call could have been possibly enhanced by one.  Ships that tender is a different situation.  

 

Voom is included for everyone yet her kids didn't use it.  How is that a failure of the Key?

 

The Key isn't for everyone.  Research goes a long way to determine if any additional purchase is right for your needs.  The Key is no exception.  

 

 

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We used the "KEY" on our "Enchantment" cruise in March. Lunch in Chops was average, boarding the ship was easy and quick. Luggage carry-on drop-off was smooth and painless. Made it to our room before we did at 1:00 pm. We never used it for the shows or any other perks. Disembarkation breakfast was "FANTASTIC" (Crab Cake Benny was out of this world) got lead right to the front of the line and we were through customs and on the road in less than 30 mins.

 

Overall my experience was mixed. However my wife wanted to try it and she said it was worth the extra money. Me, I'm not so sure...

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We had the Key on our Serenade cruise at the end of March.  It was worth the money for us.  Embarkation was a breeze just behind the Suite people.  I liked dropping off our backpacks in the theater.  Lunch at Chops was very nice.  Our backpacks were in the closet and our internet codes were on the bed with a welcome letter.  We have always gotten just one internet device and shared so it was great to each have our own.  Serenade has a rock wall, but no flow rider etc.  We were not interested in the rock wall but there were several times for it.  If the ship had a flow rider it would not be something we would do anyway.  The reserved seating was great.  We could watch March madness games until 10 min. before the show and then get good seats for the show.  The best part was the final morning.  I have always disliked the crush of people in the Windjammer, trying to find a seat, lining up, having to find our bags etc.  We put our bags out the night before with the provided key tags.  That morning we went to the dining room, had a wonderful relaxing breakfast and met up with our escort at 7:50.  We had a late flight so we were in no hurry.  The escort took us down to where our luggage was.  It was easy to find and then the escort took us to a custom line in front of the long snaking line of non-key people.  It was wonderful and we will do it again.

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1 hour ago, Iamcruzin said:

I admire your intentions as I too would like to read just the reviews. I wish the moderators didn’t lump the Key into one thread.

 

I'd be glad to keep a review only thread, but there are already more than 20 posts of non-reviews.

 

So, if you all want this to be a review thread, then don't post anything except reviews.

 

I'll delete all the non-review posts, we shall see how that goes.

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We just got off Symphony this past Saturday - Sailing date of 04/20/19- Western Caribbean.

 

I purchased the Key when it first came available - and have followed along the threads up until the time of sailing.

 

I was upset that the terms changed significantly from the time we purchased the Key until our sailing, but hung in there, thinking that I would "go with the flow" and see what happened.  Here are my opinions - others may be different....... 

 

Embarkation Day - Our family of 5 (me, hubs, MIL, sons ages 16 and 22) arrived at the port at about 10:30am and were one of the first ones on the ship before 11am.   We boarded right after the Diamond and Star guests, at the same time as the suites were called.  Walked right on.  Easy. However, there were tons of people boarding at the same time, and I know they did not check to see if we actually had the Key or not - so not sure if the Key was any real value, as the boarding was so streamlined as it was.  

 

We first went to the theater and my mother in law dropped off her carry on.  The attendant was super nice and took the bag quickly.  She told us that all of our Key paperwork would be waiting for us in our cabins.

 

Chops was not open yet, so we went and made our specialty dining reservations first.   We were then the second in line to eat at Chops.  Yes, the food was fantastic, but it was packed and lunch took a while.  It was ok for us, other than my kids were antsy in wanting to get out and start exploring the ship.

 

After eating at Chops, it was announced that the cabins were ready, and so we went to check them out.  The Key paperwork was sitting for each of us on our beds. We all quickly signed in to the Wi-Fi and quickly read through the "benefits" of being a Key member.  I noticed that that special Key hours for the flow rider, zip line, ice skating and rock wall were reduced to one hour for the entire week - mostly on the sea days if I recall.  

 

We went up to the sports area to sign our waivers and it was there we received a wrist band to show that we were Key members.  We were told that being a Key member would only allow us special time during the set-aside hour for the attractions - if we wanted more - during non-Key hours, we would need to notify the attendant and they would "work us in" - and were advised that it would create a "fuss" so it was discouraged to even try - and to just wait until it is our Key hour - I asked how come we only got one hour for the whole week and was told "demand".  They were not very helpful.  I got the impression that there were problems before and they were trying to discourage Key members from "cutting line" or making a scene.  So, for our family, while we all planned on participating in the Key hour during the cruise, we ended up not really needing it for anything other than the flow rider.  Rock wall, zip line and ice skating - we had no problems and there was never much of a wait for these attractions.   

 

Now, the flow rider was another story.  There was always a line. We decided to wait until the Key hour - which happened to be from 9-10 on the second sea day - almost end of our trip.  By then, everyone in my family gave up, except for me - I waited for this all week long and by golly, I was going to do it!   There was a private session from 8-9am that day and for some reason, they ran long - so our Key time did not start until 9:10am - yes, I was keeping track.  There were 12 Key people in the line and  the attendants came around in the beginning and checked for the Key on our Sea Passes.  They gave each of us a Key wristband - (others like me, had taken them off from the very first day because I didn't want them to show in our formal pictures for the whole trip!!)  All went well for the first turns -we all took a turn with the wakeboard.  Then things got a little hairy.  Other people - non-Key people, started getting in line, making the 12 people line into a 20 people line. The attendants did not check their Sea Passes and as such, I am pretty sure that some of those peeps were not Key people.  I ended up getting 2 turns in that hour.  Actually, at 9:49pm, the attendants made an announcement that beginning at 10am, anyone could ride, and if they got in line now - meaning at 9:49am - the time would be 10am before their turn came around. I thought this was totally unfair - we already was gypped at the beginning of the hour and now were got gypped at the end of the hour too.  Other Key riders thought the same thing.  So, my advice - if one of the main reasons you are getting the Key is for the flow rider, do not do it.  Ok, my rant over  the flow rider access is over. On to the next Key "benefit"....

 

We did enjoy the priority seating at the shows.   Yes, we did have to make prior reservations which was NOT required in the benefits when I purchased the Key, however, from reading others experiences beforehand, I did make reservations on the planner prior to sailing for our family.  We arrived at each show about 20 minutes and were directed to the special Key/Suite sitting area- which were very good seats, not the prime, but really good.   (If  you do not have the Key and you want the best seats, show up 30 minutes ahead of time and you can get prime seats.... except for some seats that were always reserved for the peeps that paid mooloo money, and if you paid $30k for a cabin, my family agreed - let them sit where ever they want even in the middle of the ice if they so desire!)    

 

Priority debark at ports - no real benefit. I did take my Key benefits sheet with me each time we were at port - just in case. But I never needed it - there were never any lines to get off - or even back on the ship - for that matter.  (Note - Symphony did not tender in any port, so that may have been  be different if we had to tender anywhere)

 

Fruit basket - I read where others received a fruit basket for being a Key member, which I never really "got" - because fruit was abundant on the ship  - and free, but regardless, we did NOT get a fruit basket.  I looked at it as one less thing to clutter up our cabin.

 

One other benefit that was not mentioned anywhere, but as Key members, we did not have to "check out" pool towels. We simply told the towel attendant that we were Key members and we did not have to scan our cards like everyone else.  Funny to think, but this was a nice benefit, as I regularly saw a line of peeps either waiting to scan their sea pass cards to check in or out a towel, while we simply just told them we were "Key" and they handed over as many towels as we wanted - or we just leaned in and pitched our used towels into the bin.  I wonder how they really knew or kept track that we were Key members anyway. There is no way they remembered us every day.    

 

Debark day breakfast - this was nice.  A couple of days prior to leaving, something popped up on our TV, asking us what time we wanted to leave.  We picked 8-8:15.  So, on the last day, we ate in the dining room at 7 and then waited with a few other Key members to be escorted off the ship.  She took us through "back hallways" and we popped out right where the "Key" bags were.   This would have been an absolutely awesome benefit - and probably worth the entire cost of the Key in itself, except that one of our bags was MIA and we had to wait for at least 30 minutes for someone to find it.  I have no idea where it was, but all of a sudden, some girl appeared out of nowhere with our bag - during which time, we watched about a thousand people - non Key peeps - get their bags and walk out in front of us.  We still had  to go through customs - no Key benefit there - but that was completely painless and we were out of the terminal and in the parking garage in about 10 minutes - once we had all of our bags that is.....

 

Overall impression - would I get the Key again? Absolutely not.  Yes, we all had Wifi for the week and there were a couple of nice "benefits" along the way, but we are the type that likes to disconnect from society (and annoying work emails) when on a ship  and for what we paid, it was not worth it.   If the actual "benefits" we received were listed in the original offering of the program, I would not have purchased it.  What made the original Key beneficial to me was not what was delivered.  I was looking forward to the "no reservations required" for the shows - because I did not want to have to be on any schedule - if I wanted to go to a show on a night, I would have liked to just show up and not have to plan ahead like we were made to do.   I  was also looking forward to a few days of "Key only" activities - like the flow rider - not just 2 turns in a shortened hour constantly watching if the attendants were checking for wristbands.   Chops was nice - but next time, we could have just as nice a lunch at Park Cafe.  Shows - good seating, but we could have got just as good seats or better on our own.  The disembarkation was also nice but worth the cost?  No.  I am fine with my decision to buy the Key.   I just will not do it again.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

We had the Key on Adventure of the Seas in January.   We had an hour  each day on the flowrider.

 

  We arrived at the terminal alittle after 11:00, and there was no one there waiting.  Everyone had boarded already so although we were able to go to the suite check in line, it wasn't needed.

 

The lunch on embarkation was very nice.   Starting off vacation with the chaos of the buffet is not my favorite.

 

No reservations for shows, so they had saved a section of the theater and  studio B.   The ice show was pretty crowded, so that worked well.   But the shows were not crowded, so the key wasn’t much of a benefit.

 

I had originally booked a group lesson for my 2 boys on the flowrider.   It was $70 each for a group lesson.   It was a Christmas present to them, so after I purchased the Key, I still kept the lesson.   It turned out the didn’t have enough people signed up so it got cancelled, but the staff told us we were getting pretty much the same attention with the Key sessions. 

    The sessions were 1 hour every day.    It was my family of 4 and 2 other people most days.  One day, we couldn’t make it so they had it all to themselves for 1 hour.   The 2nd to last day,  probably 10 key people showed up to try it.

 

 In my opinion, if you want flowrider time, it is worth it.   Otherwise it would have been harder for me  to justify.   

 

 

Edited by duderino

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The "key", our experience ++   First time cruisers, 

I would recommend the Key for first timers

 

April 7th from Puerto Rico on Freedom of the Seas.  there was no advantage at checked luggage drop, we were directed to the same location as everyone else, there was no special line to go through, what i think was customs, before entering the main ship processing area inside.  Once inside the Key check in line was clearly marked, but being there were no lines it was not an advantage.  We went aboard and headed for Chops Grille, lunch was provided as promised.  We did not attend, wall climbing, flowrider,  or entertainment so i do not know if it would have been of value there.  There was a priority line returning from shore activity, but there were no crowds so it was not beneficial.  Leaving the ship was a different matter, we had breakfast as promised, then a "guide" would escort those who were ready to leave, about 10 in our group  I would guess we passed 6 to 7 hundred people waiting  in line to leave the ship, we were escorted to our luggage,  identified as a key location,  whisked to customs and out to the street.

we literally did not stop walking from breakfast to the street.  First cruise, I would definitely recommend the key to first timers, with the inclusion of two WiFi packages, i have no regrets, experienced travelers maybe not so much.

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Posted (edited)
Key Review 
We were on the Allure of the Seas sailing out of Miami on the 21st April. There was my wife, child (8) and I. We bought the key based on the package of benefits as opposed to just 1 or 2 of the benefits so believed it was worth the £18.99 per day we paid.
 
Perk 1 Boarding 
 
We left our hire car at the airport around 10.20am and got Alamo’s free shuttle to the port of Miami arriving about 10.50am. We went up the escalator and asked someone standing beside a key sign where key check in was located. He looked confused and pointed us to a line with loads of people and told us to find the first available agent with an ipad. For some reason there was a mass of people queued for the first 3 or 4 agents but hardly anyone at the far end so we went there and were seen by an agent immediately.  I don’t know if we skipped some queue or the mass of people was a few large families on the same booking. We had already checked in through the app so he confirmed everything and retook my wife’s picture and that was us off to security. 
Security was painless and we were off up another escalator to pick up my sons muster station wrist band and with that we proceeded to embark around 11.10am. 
 
As we didn’t arrive before boarding started and weren’t sent to any key only check in the key is no benefit here unless you plan to arrive before 10.30am. I thought I read when I booked the key that we had our own check in desks but I can’t find this benefit anywhere so maybe I just misread about priority boarding and assumed it meant priority check in as well. Regardless, 20mins to check in, go through security and board is impressive. The airlines/airports sure could learn a thing or 2 from RCI at Miami. 
After stepping through the gangway we encountered our first problem with the key. I approached a crew member and asked were key members dropped off their carry on luggage? She honestly looked at me as if I was speaking a foreign language. Ok I probably was as I have a thick Northern Ireland accent 😊 but she honestly and had no idea what I was on about and asked another employee who told me my luggage would be available outside my room after 1pm. I explained that a key benefit was to drop off all carryons that would be left inside our stateroom and they suggested I try the theatre. I asked which one and they gave me directions. At least they got that right. At the entrance to the Amber Theatre on deck 5 there was a crew member standing beside a key sign and lots of carryon luggage so I knew I was in the right place. They took my room number and checked this against a printed list of key guests and we checked a couple of carryons.  
 
I have seen this mentioned as not much of a benefit but we had been advised to take a carryon with a change of clothes, swimsuits, medication etc. just in case there was an issue with luggage and this allows you to drop this luggage off to be delivered into your room for the 1pm room opening. I’m glad I did this as one of our bags was missing and it was the one with all our clothes for the week. The other 2 bags were in the hall waiting for us. We had spent 10 days in Orlando prior to boarding so had packed 1 large bag with all the stuff we didn’t need for the week that we could put out of the way and just work out of 1 large bag and a smaller one that held my son’s clothing and all our toiletries. So at least we were able to freshen up and change before dinner that evening. When the bag hadn’t turned up before dinner we had been advised by our room attendant to try security on deck 2 in case it had been held for any reason but it wasn’t there. My guess is it was on deck 6 as there were a few bags for deck 6 on our deck 9. It turned up after we had come back from dinner sometime between 7 and 8. 
 
Perk 2 Chops Grille Lunch 
 
I’ve read a few people in the other Key thread turning their nose up at this benefit because you can do Chops Grille anytime but I really liked this benefit. Not having to queue in the Windjammer or go to Park Café was a nice touch and the food was really good in Chops. 
We arrived just after 11.30am and there was already a queue to get in. We soon found out it was because a couple at the front of the queue were arguing with the concierge about getting in for lunch as they didn’t have the key. They were being told this was an exclusive lunch for key guests only. At first the concierge couldn’t find their room number against his list after checking up and down the list a few times and when he asked them did they definitely have the key they responded “What’s that?” When he told them they needed the key and would have to leave they argued with him. Come on people move along, us key guests are hungry for our privileges……and the food. 
 
We eventually got seated and had a wonderful lunch. Sorry no pic of the menu for the key guests lunch but you can find it in some of the other reviews. Here are some bonus pics of the Shrimp Cocktail, Filet Mignon and Royal Cheesecake. We all had the same thing except for the Chocolate cake which I only have a half eaten pic of so I won’t post.
 
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There have been reports of lunch being very slow and while it wasn’t quick we were still finished around 12.50 just over an hour once seated so we explored the rest of Central Park before heading to our room at 1pm. 
 
Perk 3 Voom Surf + Stream 
 
Each key guest gets 1 device each. This was really useful as it allowed me to keep in touch with work e-mails during some down time and make my return to work after the cruise a little more relaxing. My son used it to watch You tube videos so it was quick enough for most things. The downside to this is we didn’t get the info on Voom until we got to our room at 1pm. When I had tried to connect to the ship’s wi-fi while standing in the queue at Chops it was asking me to buy a package so I thought I had to wait until I got a code when we got to the room. This isn’t the case. When you register with your username and room number and click on the package it will tell you there is nothing to pay and you are connected. No codes required!!! This is an excellent perk.
 
Perk 4 Exclusive Key Hours  
 
The rest of the key information was waiting in the room. Here is the schedule of exclusive key hours on the Flow Rider etc.  
 
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While the Allure of the Seas has a much larger schedule than most other ships the schedule isn’t really that great. All the Flow Rider hours were at breakfast time 8am-9am when the flow rider is just opening and hardly anyone is about anyway so it’s almost exclusive without the key. The rockwall times between 5 and 7pm were also of no use as we had early dinner sitting (5.15pm) so couldn’t use these. The other times between 2pm and 5pm were all port days which might not be of any use to those on excursions.
 
We did manage to use the rockwall on the Labadee day as we had come back to get out of the sun for a little while and there was no one else using it and we had a blast. Also the rockwall on Day 1 was of no use as we didn’t have clothing we would be comfortable in. 
This was a major fail in my opinion but might be of greater use to those who’s schedules fit better with the times. I did make use of the Flow Rider times but left early to meet my family for breakfast (son was a half inch too short for Flow Rider and wife had no interest so I was on my own). This was great as I’m a novice and after mastering boogie boarding on the 1st go I tried my hand at stand up and was glad there weren’t too many around to watch my laughable attempts. There was never more than 4 or 5 key guests using this perk at any of the flow rider times I attended.
 
Perk 5 Priority Debarkation and Tender Services 
 
The Allure of the Seas doesn’t have any Tender ports on the Eastern Caribbean schedule and we never needed any priority debarkation at any other time so this was no benefit to us. 
 
Perk 6 The best Seats in the House (Not IMO) Reserved Seating 
 
I wouldn’t call them the best seats in the house at Amber Theatre and we didn’t get to use the perk for the Aqua Theatre as our show was canceled and rescheduled for 10.45pm (of no use with an 8 year old). The seats were as good as you could get in Studio B for the Ice Show. This was a great perk. For a couple of shows we turned up with only 5 minutes to spare and there was plenty of seating for us in the Key Seating. They released the remaining seats to anyone with only a minute or 2 to spare which meant we usually had no one sat beside us. 
This is a great perk. Not having to stress about getting to a show 15-30minutes prior to guarantee good seats was really good for us. I can see this having no benefit to those in suites but this was a great benefit to us less privileged minions. 
 
Perk 7 Departure Breakfast and Choice Departure 
 
I’ll start this by saying we were in no hurry to get off the ship. Our flight wasn’t until 5.30pm in the evening and we had no plans or excursions (and hardly any money left). The night before we received our instructions and key baggage tags.
 
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We had planned to not go for breakfast until 8.30am but the ship docked early and the banging outside started at 4.00am so my wife and I were awake so once the little one woke we got ready to go and were down for breakfast about 8.
 
I was looking forward to breakfast after seeing some reviews but honestly I found it only ok to disappointing. Service was slow. While it was busy I didn’t think it was overly busy for how long service took. Just before we went in I heard a few stories from others who had given up trying to get into the Windjammer as it was rammed but I don’t think that should have had any effect on the key breakfast. Maybe it was slow because they took so long over cooking my steak and eggs. A medium cake well done and over easy eggs had a dry yoke. Don’t get me wrong it was tasty but it wasn’t perfect. My Wife and Son enjoyed their French toast and pancakes so it wasn’t all bad.
 
After breakfast we headed to the Champayne Bar on deck 5 to leave the ship. When we arrived there was loads of people waiting. It turns out it wasn’t only key guests that were told to meet there. Some people with excursions were also meeting there and it caused confusion among crew members and everyone else. It took about 10-15mins to separate everyone with the excursions leaving first and creating some more space for other key guests that had arrived. There was about 20 of us trying to get off at the same time and one crew member trying to get us all off which was hard work trying to keep us together and not mixed with the excursion guests still in a queue to get scanned off the ship. We turned right after getting off the ship (everyone else seemed to be going left) and were escorted to some elevators that brought us out where all the key luggage was waiting. We headed for customs which was some face recognition scanner and then out onto the street.
 
Although it was a bit messy to begin with this was really quick and I could see it being a benefit to those in a hurry and willing/needing to go earlier than we did. 
 
Recent reports show the key is now priced at $34.99 per day per guest. IMO it’s not worth that. Even at $19.99 to $24.99 that most have paid for it you really need to think long and hard about whether the sum of each perk adds up to the value. I think it was just about worth it to us and I would consider booking it again but not at that new price. No chance. I hope no one pays it so the price comes back down to a reasonable value for the perks provided.
 
There was also nothing in our post cruise survey about the key where I could express my views.
 
EDIT: Just to add the crew members were very diligent in checking everyone had the key for the show seating and use of the private hours. They asked to see our sea pass which had the key symbol printed on it. We only had to wear our key bands for the private hours and we got a fresh one for each hour rather than wear it all the time.
Edited by mcdni

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I posted notes on my Key experience in the original Key thread. I will put links to those notes here for anyone interested. Please note that it looks like the Key is a moving target, both by which ship and date as RCL makes changes to the program.

 

Two Adults (no children) with The Key on Oasis of the Seas sailing from Port Canaveral (RT) on 10 Feb 2019 (7 Nights). Cost 19.99 pp per day.

 

10 February

Key Times Schedule

11 February (Nassau) Flowrider Notes

11 February - Main Theater Seating (Cats) Notes

12 February Sea Day Flowrider Notes

12 February - Rock Climbing Notes

12 February - Ice Show with No Reservations

14 February (Sint Maarten) Flowrider Notes

15 February Flowrider Notes with brief Rockwall Commentary

16 February Flowrider Notes, RockClimbing Fail, Parade Fail.

17 February Disembarkation and final thoughts

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Host Clarea...Curious if we can somehow keep this thread up towards the front.  I found it on page 18 or so.  I'm thinking that people who would be willing to leave a review might not find this thread.

Not sure if you can do this or not.

Thanks for keeping this thread reviews only!!

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My review I posted 5/4/19 on one of the Key threads:

 

I just got back from Navigator using the Key program.  It was $20 per day when I booked, and I wanted internet anyway, so it was a $56 experiment, purchased mostly for the Flowrider.

 

I'd talked with someone from Royal beforehand and they gave me a tentative Flowrider schedule. It wasn't great, and was worse when I got on the ship:  Day 3 (my favorite port Roatan) from 11-11:30, Day 4 (another port day) 2 - 2:30, and Day 7 (sea day) 2-2:30.

 

The Royal person had promised (via email) that Key members would also get priority during regular sessions.  I printed that email and took it, but it wasn't needed.  The Flowrider staff were familiar with the Key and said they prioritized based on the number of Key guests and others in line.  I took advantage of it a couple times. They suggested every 5th person, and I waited a little more than that.  Later in the week, I just felt too self conscious to do it, but that's on me.

 

I went to the final Key session. They did check cards for the Key emblem, and there were probably 8 -10 of us.  I was feeling pretty whiplashed after my first turn, so didn't stick around.  

 

Going back to embarkation, we made a stop on the way so I wasn't on board until just after 1:30, and there was no crowd, so no need for priority.  I didn't realize it was 1:40 when I arrived at Chops, but no mention was made of the 1:30 stop time.  It wasn't crowded at all and lunch was good - a nice start.

 

I used the priority debarkation at one port, and it was fine, but didn't use for the other ports.  I wish I could have used it in Grand Cayman (tender port), but was doing an excursion with DS and his girlfriend and they were tender 14.  Ugh - hours later.

 

I used the priority seating for the skating show, which was great.  (No reservations on our cruise.)  Didn't do the debark breakfast.

 

All in all, not sorry I got it, and I'll see how it evolves before I decide whether to keep it for my next cruise...if Royal even keeps it around.  

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This is copied and slightly edited from the email I sent to Royal about our experience with The Key.  They called me to discuss our experience, but it sounds like things have not changed for the better.  

 

Our experience on Symphony of the Seas, March 2019:

 

Prior to sailing, I had purchased The Key.  I was interested in the VOOM internet, so my teens and I could communicate on board, and I was intrigued by the private hours for activities and the lunch at Chops. I knew we wouldn’t be dining at any specialty restaurants for dinner as my daughter has food allergies and we wanted to stick to the Main Dining Room for dinner.  But this seemed like a safe choice for us.  While the priority embarkation and disembarkation and priority debarkation at ports was interesting, it was not a big draw.  I was hoping for good seats in the shows as well. Overall this seemed like a good choice for us.  

 

The Key experience on board was not what I had expected, though.  When I purchased The Key, the email confirmation promised the following benefits:

 

Package includes:

Carry-on luggage drop off with delivery to stateroom
Welcome lunch at Chops Grille
Private hours for ship attractions
Priority debarkation and tendering at ports of call
Reserved VIP seating at shows
Complimentary VOOM Surf + Stream internet package for one device per person
Choice debarkation with exclusive à la carte breakfast
 

In March 2019, the benefits of The Key on Royal Caribbean’s website were listed as this:

 

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The biggest difference I see here is the benefit of “Daily private hours on marquee activities” which sounded promising, until you compare it to the letter that was waiting for me in our stateroom:

 

46546112915_115ac905e7_k.jpg

 

The activity wording has changed.  “Enjoy priority during ship activities and dedicated hours as per the schedule listed at venues on the back of this letter.”  Hmmm, what did that mean?

 

Priority Boarding:

 

We arrived at the port at around 11:00am and were hurried into the building, up the escalators, through security, and onto the ship.  We stopped for a bathroom break and were on the ship at around 11:20am.  I tried to ask about Key boarding but was waved along with everyone else.  This was no benefit to us.  

 

Carry-on Luggage Drop Off:

 

Upon boarding I asked where we could drop off our luggage as Key members.  We were directed to the theater.  They looked up our names on their list, and tagged our luggage.  This was very convenient for us as we only pack carry-on bags.  It was nice to unload them so we could walk around the ship.

 

Access to ship activities:

 

When we brought our luggage to the theater, which was a benefit that was greatly appreciated, we were given wristbands and told these would give us priority at the ship activities like the Flow Rider or rock wall.  I asked for clarification and was told that we could show our wristbands and go to the front of the line, in front of other guests who had been waiting. I was sure this wouldn’t be an issue for us, because we would have private hours on the Flow Rider, just like everyone else.  

 

When I looked at the back of the letter in our stateroom I saw the following schedule for private hours at activities:

 

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I had been following the discussion here regarding The Key, and several members posted the schedule for private hours they had on their sailings.  All of them had more than one scheduled time per activity for the week.  This was shockingly bare compared to every other schedule I had seen. Apparently the “priority access” was a replacement for private hours, and we were supposed to just go to the front of the line any time my son wanted to ride.  

 

When my son decided to try the Flow Rider, there was not a special line or sign identifying this front of line benefit for Key guests.  My son, age 13, was the only one in our family who used the Flow Rider and he was not comfortable cutting in front of everyone else to ride.  I  also did not feel comfortable with him doing that.  This benefit was wasted on us.  

 

Embarkation lunch:

 

We did eat our embarkation lunch at Chops, but we spent 90 minutes there, which is ridiculously slow for lunch.  I would not recommend lunch at Chops again after this long experience, even though the food was outstanding.  

 

Show seating:

 

We arrived late to most shows due to our (my) own poor time management.  Once when we arrived on time we were directed to the suite/Pinnacle seating area, and we were told there were 5 seats available.  We found them, and it worked out well.  Hiro was another success story, where we had excellent seats for the show.  This was probably a worthwhile benefit, and I wish we had been able to use this more but it was totally my fault that we did not.

 

Priority port of call debarkation:

 

When reading the benefits of The Key, it sounds like you get priority debarkation at all ports of call. The wording, however, is easily misinterpreted. 

 

33626546908_c0ce4606f7_h.jpg

 

So it sounds like Key guests get priority when leaving the ship in ports of call. Never saw a line or anything for debarking in a port of call. 

 

I asked GS and was told "Oh no, that's only when the cruise is over." I said "No, it is at ports, see this email from Royal Caribbean?" "Oh no, that is only for tendering ports." Well I pushed back a little and said "But it doesn't say that, it says 'ports of call'". Well he made some phone calls and apologized and said we would have priority debarkation if I just said something to the crew members as we were leaving. But there were no crew members anywhere except as you are actually exiting the ship. At which point there is no need for priority because you are 4 steps away from exiting the ship. There was no option for priority debarkation at any port of call on our sailing. This was not a benefit to us at all but we pretty much did not need it as it never took long to get off the ship. 

 

Disembarkation breakfast:

 

The breakfast was good, and we were able to get in and out quickly.  This was a nice benefit, but we could have done without it as it added stress to our disembarkation day by delaying our exit from the ship.  The food and service were great but this was not a benefit I feel was worthwhile.

 

Priority/escorted disembarkation from the ship:

 

When we had finished breakfast, it was about 7:10am. I asked about our priority disembarkation and I was told that they were escorting people off the ship at scheduled 30 minute intervals. This had not been communicated previously. I was told I could wait until 7:30 for an escort off the ship or walk off on our own now. There was no reason to wait 20 minutes for someone to walk us off the ship as we were able to walk ourselves off and be in a taxi within 10 minutes.  This benefit was of no use to us. 

 

I would not get The Key again, nor would I recommend it to others based on our experience.

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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.

 

Priority Boarding

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 Board

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.

 

Lunch

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.

 

Shows

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.   

 

Debarkation

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.

 

Final thoughts

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. 

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They just repositioned Harmony of The Seas to Port Canaveral so she sailed up empty one day and they made two  3 day cruises available to book. It was sold out so it was popular. We got there late, 12:30 but were able to by pass a large entry line by going in where suites are by mentioning the Key. We were however put in the long slow moving security line so no special treatment. I inquired about the expedited boarding cut that some people had and was told nope.Got through security and did checkin at the place everyone else enters. So no line wait. We headed to The Key counter, still in the terminal, and they banded us and told us to go eat at Chops. I inquired about Jamies and was told that was not a choice. So about 20 minutes in line , then straight on ship. So the Key saved 10 minutes, but we were very late so may have been better for others.

No need to drop bags bc cabins were ready for everyone upon arrival, which would be a unique feature of my sailing. . We dropped our luggage off and headed up to Chops to relax😏 We arrived at Chops at 1:10 and there was a line down Central Park. Everyone was standing in hot sun griping. I left hubby there and headed to empty Jamies , where I was informed "yes of course The Key eats here free for lunch". So one ding for even the key people working a key stand having zero idea  of Key benefits. Grabbed hubby and we had a lovely lunch at Jamies. while having drinks later on, couple told us they were begged out of line to Jamies and were allowed to order the filet there if they wished. So Chops was tooooo busy.

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On 4/29/2019 at 10:25 AM, Host Clarea said:

 

I'd be glad to keep a review only thread, but there are already more than 20 posts of non-reviews.

 

So, if you all want this to be a review thread, then don't post anything except reviews.

 

I'll delete all the non-review posts, we shall see how that goes.

So what happens to the rest of my posts  since it was moved in the middle.?

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Headed to the Diamond lounge in the basement, weird location but great service and very crowded by 4:32. Left there and went back to study the diamond letter, The key paperwork and the CentralPark paperwork. I wanted to be prepared and had already missed zip lining bc it was at 2. Oh well, it was never too long a wait. Goofed around and got to1887, the ice show, about 10 minutes before start. They whisked us past the standby line and gave us 2nd row dead center seats. A really great experience bc I am always late and never have great seats.Score one for The Key.

After dinner at Wonderland, headed over to see Grease and had perfect seats, dead center once again. Once again, by passed long standby line. We skipped the Rockwall hour  at 6 bc we had dinner. Pretty happy with The Key despite not using the activities.

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Day 3 , we missed the flowrider which was a shame but was feeling lazy, it was at 9am.We laid around until the C&A party I used the Flowrider in the afternoon and the line was a bear, wish I had gone in the morning .We went to see The Fine Line at the aqua show and got perfect seats again. They had people at both ends guarding the 4 rows and spent a bunch of energy fighting people off. The key saved the day. 

We put our luggage out the night before, something we never do. We left the cabin at 715 and headed up for breakfast. I got a fantastic Crab Benedict from a grumpy server. Everyone at our table loved The Key and said they would purchase again. 

They announced that they were stopping all exiting bc customs was too backed up or delayed. It did not apply to us. There was a very long line of people that extended up several floors. We walked in front of the Port merchants store where there was a large sign. We stood for one second and an officer waved us over and we bypassed the line.We grabbed our luggage from the closest place to the start of the line.  We still stood in customs line for about 20 minutes bc they were backed up and short agents. The Key was great once again.

I bought it and will absolutely keep it for the cruises that I already purchased it for. The seats were great and the breakfast and lunch were terrific. Key was GREAT.

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Here's my quick thoughts on The Key from our 5-day Bermuda cruise last week on Anthem of the Seas:

 

We purchased The Key for $24 each, since it was a short cruise i thought it was worth it especially priority embark/disembark.

Boarding was super quick and easy. We arrived about 11:30 and were on board in about 15 minutes. We went straight to the Key desk (right around the corner from where we boarded on deck 5) and they put the Key stickers on our set sail cards and briefly explained the benefits.

We could choose between Jamies or Chops for lunch (both had the same menu) so we went to Jamies for immediate seating. The food was great (really good steaks!) and we loved being able to have a nice meal and not fight the crowds upstairs. It took less than an hour to eat then we explored the ship a little.

We only had one light carry-on so we kept it with us and did not try the baggage check for that.

Our rooms were ready about 1:30 so once we got to our rooms we had all the paperwork for The Key benefits for the week. We had info for the WIFI (with passwords to activate it). Once activated, i thought it worked fine with pretty good signal throughout the cruise.

This is where we got the printed schedule for all the shipboard activities (Flowrider, Rockwall, etc.) and exactly as others have described - there were very limited times including several occuring on our 2 port days in Bermuda?!?! I will say - my husband and I were not that concerned with this since we didn't intend to do most of these anyway, but i might have tried if the Key times had been convenient. I had made a reservation prior to the sailing for the Northstar (which we did, it was really fun!) but other than that we didn't try any of these activities. If we had had our adult children with us and paid for this perk so that they could take advantage of the private times, i would have been pretty upset i'm sure.

We don't usually go to the shows, but i had made a reservation to see We Will Rock You prior to sailing. The Key paperwork clearly states you should arrive at least 10 minutes before the show, which of course i ignored and arrived just a few minutes before show time to find out that they had opened up the special Key/Suite seating area 10 minutes before showtime and of course it was all full!!! That was my fault, and with only limited or obstructed seating left we chose not to stay for the show. So, get there early even if you have The Key!!!!

On disembarkation day, the paperwork gave us the option for either self-embark early (i think it was 7:30-8) and you will be escorted off the ship) OR check your luggage the night before, go have breakfast in the dining room then be escorted off the ship to get your luggage and proceed out. We always prefer to self-embark, but we weren't in a hurry this time to get off so i didn't want to get up and out at 7:30. Instead, we went down to the dining room about 8, enjoyed a nice breakfast, then got our luggage and proceeded to the area on deck 5 with the Key sign (i can't remember where but there was a big sign). Even though by now it was about 9, someone immediately said "follow me", and with a large Key sign he escorted us past the lines, down the ramp, into the terminal and directly to the priority customs line. 10 minutes and we were off the ship!

So, in hindsight, was it worth it? For us, i'd have to say no. We love having priority embark/disembark. We loved the first day lunch. This was the first time we've ever had WIFI at sea, and while it was nice at times we both agreed that we could do without it and just stay disconnected while cruising!!! Since we don't typically do the shows, or the activities, we didn't need that benefit. So....I feel like we got some value but not enough to purchase again unless the price goes way down again. For others, who would utilize all the benefits i would say absolutely go for it if the price fits your budget!

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My Key Adventure - Oasis of the Seas May 5/19 - Western Mediterranean 

 

Our family has nothing but great things to say about "The Key". Right from the get-go it was totally worth it for us. 

 

When embarking in Barcelona we walked up to the first person we saw and indicated we had the Key. He directed us to a line at the end which was set up specifically for the key cruisers. As openings were available at the check-in agents we were directed to go. We were through security and check-in and on the ship in about 15 mins. We arrived at about 11:00 so just kept going and didn't need to wait to get on. They use 2 check-in terminals here for it moves very quickly. At the check-in we were given an envelope which had a letter and vroom pass for each of us and told us we could go directly to our staterooms. No waiting. This was because is it was the first cruise post crane drop of no passengers were leaving. 

 

Our stateroom had more information which told us that we could head to Chops or Giovanni's Table between 11:30 and 1:30. It also included the Private Hours. More on that later. 

 

We headed to Chops and had a fabulous lunch no wait at all. Same menu as posted by other guests...fairly basic but great for lunch. We were done within the hour and headed out to explore the ship. 

 

We made various reservations for shows as per the directions with The Key purchase. Again, what a nice perk. Many seats were reserved usually 2 rows at the larger venues. They do let them go about 10 mins before the start so if you're late it won't matter if you have the key or a reservation. The ticket scanner generally just let you through once they saw the key and didn't scan. Some of the busier shows they did not sure why. I did notice that they do check for the key on EVERYONE's pass so no taking in your new ship friends trying to get a good seat. They would check once again when you enter the roped off reserved suite/key rows. They do have some Star Class seats reserved separately as well. The key never affected the ability for suites to get great seats. They were always lots and usually quite a few released as the 10 min mark. We did go to an earlier show once without reservations and were still let in no problem. 

 

One great benefit we didn't realize we had was not only priority disembarking at ports but also front of the line for port shuttles. In Marseille, for example, you need to take a shuttle or taxi out of the port (no walking) As long as you pre-purchase your shuttle tickets on the ship you can just ask a crew member and they will take you to the front of the line to a bus. Believe me, there was a long line! One more major check for The Key. 

 

As this cruise was very port intensive and long port days the only days they could offer private hours was on the sea day.  We were given 10-11 for Flow rider. 11-12 for Rock Wall, 12-1 for Zipline 9:20-9:50 Skating. Skating was open more the day so it as fine. We used everything and it all went smoothly. There didn't seem to be a lot using it but enough to keep to steady and we still go 3-4 turns. 

 

Disembarking was also great. We received a letter with instructions and special tags. You could still have your luggage collected and walk off early or you could stay a little later. You could have dining room breakfast and be escorted off once finished or you could just have the buffet and head down to the clock tower on deck 5 and there was crew waiting there to escort you off. They took you directly to a special area for your luggage and then out to the taxi area. Took about 10mins to exit the ship. 

 

We paid 19.99 and for us, this was an amazing benefit. I would highly recommend purchasing THE KEY. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I just got off HOTS Sunday morning. The key was just a little more than Voom plus streaming when I signed up. I was on a 4 day cruise so the added cost was not exorbitant. Overall, it was worth what I spent. I think if you plan your day well don’t need the key, but if you need flexibility it’s a good investment. 

We used all of the benefits except for the activities. The lunch at Jamie’s was great, the seats for the shows were okay  (we found seats we liked better, but we came early to the shows). I think this is a good insurance policy for port days. If you’re late for the show AND have reservations you can still get a good seat.

I think the key paid for itself with the awesome breakfast and expedited disembarkation. We had a snafu on the way to the airport (not my story to share) if we didn’t have priority disembark we might have missed our flight because the lines to leave were very long. I was cruising w/ a friend who had never been on a cruise before. It made getting her into the groove of things much easier. 

Would I purchase again for more $? Yes, probably instead of the booze package.

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