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I tried The Key (again) to see if it's worth it

06 Oct 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

Back in January, I purchased The Key on my Royal Caribbean cruise to determine if this cruise add-on is worth the extra cost. At the time of my first review on The Key, I determined that the benefits were not worth the price.

Nine months later, it was time to give The Key another try.

On my recent 6-night cruise on Allure of the Seas, I purchased The Key to see if my experience would be different from my first cruise with The Key on Harmony of the Seas.

I sailed on Harmony of the Seas when cruises were sailing with limited capacity, and this meant some of the benefits (priority access to the terminal, private time at onboard activities, etc.) were not as important.

Now that I’ve disembarked Allure of the Seas, let’s dive in and see whether I thought The Key was worth the cost this time around—and if you should purchase The Key on your upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise.

The Key benefits on Allure of the Seas

Benefits of The Key are subject to change by ship and sailing. These are the benefits I received on Allure of the Seas:

  • Early access at the terminal
  • Drop off your carry-on luggage in the Main Dining Room on embarkation day; carry-on luggage will be hand delivered to your stateroom
  • Exclusive lunch in the Main Dining Room featuring the Chops Grille menu
  • Private time at onboard activities like rock climbing, FlowRider, etc.
  • Priority departure from ship-to-shore at tender ports
  • Seats in the exclusive VIP seating section at shows in the Main Theater, AquaTheater, and Studio B
  • VOOM Surf & Stream package for one device
  • Private à la carte breakfast and choice departure on disembarkation day

Related: Royal Caribbean’s The Key review

Cost of The Key

I purchased The Key for $24.99 per person, per day prior to my cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner website. I was sailing solo in my stateroom, so I only had to purchase The Key for one guest, bringing the total cost to $149.94 on my 6-night cruise.

When choosing whether to purchase The Key or not, it’s important to take a look at current pricing for VOOM Surf & Stream internet packages. Because The Key includes an internet package for one device, it’s helpful to calculate the price difference between the two pre-cruise add-ons.

At the time I purchased The Key, the VOOM Surf & Stream internet package was offered for $19.99 per day. For only $5 more per day, I found The Key to be a great deal.

This was the lowest price difference I had ever seen between The Key and a regular VOOM Surf & Stream internet package.

Embarkation day benefits with The Key

Most of the best benefits of The Key are found on embarkation day.

Check-in time was slated to begin at 11:00 AM for The Key guests, but I was able to enter the terminal around 10:30 AM. The Key embarkation area was mixed with suite guests, and it offered a shorter line than the regular check-in area.

That being said, my original check-in time slot outside of The Key was 10:30 AM. I probably could have been one of the first in line at the regular check-in area and had a similarly quick embarkation process.

Once in the terminal, we were able to sit in an exclusive area just for The Key guests. After ~15 minutes or so of waiting, it was time to board Allure of the Seas.

Chops Grille lunch

One of my favorite benefits of The Key is the private embarkation day lunch in the Main Dining Room featuring the Chops Grille menu.

While the menu offered at embarkation day lunch isn’t the full Chops Grille menu, it features many of the most popular dishes at the restaurant. Menus can change by ship and sailing.

This lunch ended up being one of my favorite meals I had all week on Allure of the Seas. I had never seen a blackened salmon offered at Chops Grille before, and it was beyond delicious.

In addition, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to not enjoy a chocolate lava cake, and I fully savored every bite of my plate of gooey, chocolatey-goodness for dessert.

The best benefit of embarkation day lunch, in my opinion, isn’t the food, but the ability to escape the chaos found at other dining venues onboard. The Windjammer, Park Cafe, and other embarkation day lunch spots can get crowded, so dining at a private lunch is a relaxing way to start any cruise vacation.

Luggage delivery

Another fantastic benefit of The Key is that carry-on luggage is hand delivered to your stateroom.

I travel only with a carry-on suitcase and I usually give my suitcase to the porters upon arrival at the terminal, hoping to see it in the hallway outside my room by ~5 PM.

What I appreciate with The Key is that I can bring my carry-on luggage to the Main Dining Room and know it will arrive promptly inside my cabin. In my experience, I’ve received my carry-on luggage several hours earlier with The Key than without.

The Key benefits throughout the cruise

Outside of embarkation day, there are other ways to enjoy benefits of The Key throughout your sailing.

The benefit I used most throughout the cruise was internet access. This is the benefit that makes The Key most worth the cost, especially when the price difference between internet packages and The Key is small.

Another benefit I used several times during my cruise was reserved seating in the Main Theater, AquaTheater, and Studio B. Allure of the Seas has spectacular entertainment options, and it was nice to know I had access to some of the best seating in each venue.

The final benefit I enjoyed with The Key was an exclusive, à la carte breakfast on disembarkation day. The final morning of the cruise can be extremely hectic, so it was nice to enjoy a sit-down meal in the Main Dining Room away from the hustle and bustle found elsewhere onboard.

Benefits of The Key that I did not use

One benefit I did not take advantage of was select private times at onboard activities like the FlowRider, rock climbing wall, etc. This benefit would be nice for those looking to try several onboard activities, though, as I noticed long lines for these activities during non-Key times.

Another benefit I did not use was the priority tendering access for those with The Key, as we did not stop at any tender ports on the itinerary.

Was The Key worth it on my recent cruise?

After a week onboard Allure of the Seas, I determined that yes, The Key was worth the extra cost.

My main reason for determining that The Key was worth it was mostly because The Key was only $5 more per day than the VOOM Surf & Stream internet package. As I would be purchasing an internet package anyway, The Key was only $30 extra.

Priority access to the terminal, exclusive seating at entertainment, and private meals on embarkation and disembarkation day were well worth $30.

Sea day ocean view on Allure of the Seas

Would The Key have been worth the cost if it was $15-20 extra per day than the internet package? It’s unlikely.

When I purchased The Key on my Harmony of the Seas cruise back in January, for example, the internet was offered for $19 per day and The Key for $39 per day. For $20 extra per day, The Key was absolutely not worth the cost to me.

Additionally, I had my own cabin on this cruise. If you purchase The Key, everyone in your stateroom older than 6 must purchase it as well. This can easily get expensive, especially if the price difference between The Key and an internet package is significant.

Would I purchase The Key again? I would, but only if I found another deal like I found on my Allure of the Seas cruise. While I wouldn’t shell out $200 extra for The Key over an internet package, I would definitely consider it for $30-50 extra.

Jenna DeLaurentis enjoys exploring new ports of call around the world on a cruise ship, learning about new cultures, discovering beautiful landscapes, and trying diverse cuisine. She loves to get active while at port, whether cycling through mountains in the Caribbean or scuba diving under the sea.

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