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JasonL

KEY REVIEW on Mariner

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Since the never ending question of whether or not the Key is worth it, I thought I'd add to the discussion with my review of the program.

This was a weekday 4 night sailing that my beautiful wife and I did without kids. So just 2 of us and we got a good price of $19.99 per person/per night(total of $159.92).

We were going to get a 2 device internet package already so this played a major role in trying out the program. If we weren't getting the Key we would have paid $23.99/night (total of $95.96) for the 2 device package, so that would have put us at the Key being an additional $63.96

Embarkation day - we got to the port at 10am so we got a private seating area to wait for the ship to be ready. We were 2nd group to board the ship after the Pinnacle and Suite section. Pretty nice to beat the big groups of everyone else. This ended up being a really relaxing start to vacation which is nice because embarkation day can tend to be kinda hectic.

Once on the ship we stopped at the dining room for a Key luggage drop off, also super nice to counter the busy first day. After dropping off our extra luggage we sat down for a "Chops lunch by the MDR". This was a big disappointment as they set expectations too high calling it a Chops lunch. While the steak was good, it was not the same as a Chops steak. The biggest disappointment was from the much different atmosphere and lacking service. I don't blame the staff for the lacking service though, it's gotta be so tough to try and turn over the ship all in a few hours and also try to provide yet another service. Lunch was very slow and I feel like I wasted the early arrival waiting around for a lackluster lunch that went on for almost 2 hours. While this was much less hectic than the windjammer, it's advertised as something that it's not. I wish I'd of just grabbed windjammer food and jumped on the flowrider and took advantage of the small crowds. Key "Chops" lunch was a major dud.

No tenders on this sailing, but if there was I bet this is where I would be raving about my favorite part of the Key.

Special Key only activities:

Rock climbing wall - Not necessary since the lines are never very much

Ice skating - We didn't feel like iceskating so we didn't utilize this, but if you like ice skating this is a very nice perk. We have done the Open skate before and it's crazy! It's overcrowded and super hectic. Having this private skate time is the way to go!

Water-slides - Love the waterslides and during our 1 hour key time we went over and and over and over until I couldn't handle the stairs anymore. A nice perk to avoid lines for sure.

Skypad - I was very excited for this as I thought it looked very cool. Turns out you can always go with no lines because the Skypad is a complete fail by Royal. I only did it once and once again I wish I'd of just done another ride on the Flowrider. Sad to say the Skypad is a huge dud, it's not every worth doing once. You aren't missing anything

Flowrider - Yes please, love love love the Flowrider! Only problem here is you only get 1 hour of Key only and it seems every Key member took this opportunity to try it out. The line ended up being just as long as the open ride times. Still, anytime I can go on more of this, sign me up.

Special Seating at shows - This is especially awesome for the Ice Show. The Ice show is so A MAZ ING. We waited in line early for the first showing because even though we got private seating my wife wanted her first pick of front row seats. We loved the Ice show so much though that we went last minute to the second showing and sat in the Key/suite section. Nice seats, totally a great perk of the Key, but the show is so fun and interactive that I do recommend trying to go early and get front row seats at least once. If you don't know, the Ice show is super popular for good reason and you need to make it a priority on your cruise! We also used the Key/Suite seating for a couple of the headliner shows, center stage on balcony level. My wife prefers front row seating, but I was perfectly content with these seats as I won't get scowled at if I fall asleep. Still if you don't want to show up early for prime seating it's very nice to have the option. Only problem is other people used this seating as it isn't labeled very well and no one regulates it.

Disembarkation day we got a private breakfast in the MDR. The wife and I both got NY steak and eggs. This steak was better than the lunch steak, as was the whole experience. This was by far the best breakfast we had all cruise. They also hold your luggage while you are eating, if you kept your luggage for a self assist disembarkation as we did. The Key does offer a special luggage checkout system, but we like to self assist if we don't have the kids. After breakfast we met up with a Key disembarkation staff that lead us to the front of the line to exit the ship. Pretty cool, but we definitely got some dirty looks from the other guests.

Overall the Key was very much worth it for just the 2 of us. $63.96 was a steal for all the extra perks we got. $19.99/person is a steal of a deal though as we've seen it as high as $35/person. What's the highest I would go for the wife and I??  Well that depends on the ports and ship. Tender port on an Oasis I might go as high as $29.99, but a simpler ship I wouldn't go over $19.99. I'm not sure if we'll try it on our upcoming sailing with the 3 kids as this is a lot of extra money. I would probably have to find another $19.99 deal to keep the total cost down. I hope this review finds you well and my rambling didn't get too confusing. Nevertheless I am ready for another cruise, February can't come soon enough!

 

 

 

 

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My wife and I went on our first cruise ever this past July on Symphony  and we got the key at the same price. Since we wanted internet I thought it was a no brainer.  Also got the DBP for$49pp. 

We have a May cruise on Harmony and the key is currently priced at $37.99 and the dbp is $65pp. No way at those prices!!!

Gotta keep stalking the cruise planner I guess.

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Thank you for this!  The Key price is still at $32 for our February cruise.  Waiting patiently with fingers crossed it will come down.  Sorry to hear your lunch was a disappointment.   Did you feel like there were many other Key holders? 

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16 hours ago, JasonL said:

 

Once on the ship we stopped at the dining room for a Key luggage drop off, also super nice to counter the busy first day. After dropping off our extra luggage we sat down for a "Chops lunch by the MDR". This was a big disappointment as they set expectations too high calling it a Chops lunch. While the steak was good, it was not the same as a Chops steak. The biggest disappointment was from the much different atmosphere and lacking service. I don't blame the staff for the lacking service though, it's gotta be so tough to try and turn over the ship all in a few hours and also try to provide yet another service. Lunch was very slow and I feel like I wasted the early arrival waiting around for a lackluster lunch that went on for almost 2 hours. While this was much less hectic than the windjammer, it's advertised as something that it's not. I wish I'd of just grabbed windjammer food and jumped on the flowrider and took advantage of the small crowds. Key "Chops" lunch was a major dud.

Has anyone else had their lunch last this long?  I'm going on my first cruise in Dec and have the key too.  I don't like to take a long time to eat that's why I'm not sure if I even want to go to the MDR that much.  I've seen people say a meal can take around an hour and half.  I would rather go eat somewhere else.  If my key lunch was lasting more than a half hour I would walk out and go somewhere else.  

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With the exception of Izumi, you shouldn't expect a fast meal at any specialty restaurant or at the MDR. Even when you tell the wait staff in the MDR that you need to get out quickly for a show or something it will typically be 45 minutes to an hour, only because they have so many tables to wait and meals to serve, and they can only get around so fast.

If you don't want any meal to last more than 30 minutes, then I think your best bets will be the Windjammer or "quick bite" locations like Sorrento's pizza, Park Cafe / Cafe Promenade, Cafe Two70 on Quantum class, etc.

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Thanks for the review.  Glad that you were happy and worth it.  Unfortunately, it seems like 19.99 is a price of the past.  My Anthem cruise is up to $50 CAD.  Crazy.  

Sounds like a great option too since you get internet anyways. 

Too bad about the Chops lunch.

The activities are subjective.  The Sky Pad is my DD's favorite thing on Mariner, and because of it, it is her favorite ship.  But I can see it not being for everyone.  When we went last summer, you didn't book times.  It was first come first served.  I think now you book a time.  You found it empty on your cruise?  

One common comment about The Key is the Disembarkation breakfast.  Seems to be very positive feedback.

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55 minutes ago, TravisMA81 said:

Has anyone else had their lunch last this long?  I'm going on my first cruise in Dec and have the key too.  I don't like to take a long time to eat that's why I'm not sure if I even want to go to the MDR that much.  I've seen people say a meal can take around an hour and half.  I would rather go eat somewhere else.  If my key lunch was lasting more than a half hour I would walk out and go somewhere else.  

It’s a 3 course meal, so I can’t see it going less than 1hour on a fast day. If you want a sit down lunch and relaxation it’s fine. My point was only that they should advertise it as a MDR lunch not Chops. I also know now my preference is to grab a quick bite and head to the fun on day 1

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2 hours ago, WannaCruise said:

Thanks for the review.  Glad that you were happy and worth it.  Unfortunately, it seems like 19.99 is a price of the past.  My Anthem cruise is up to $50 CAD.  Crazy.  

Sounds like a great option too since you get internet anyways. 

Too bad about the Chops lunch.

The activities are subjective.  The Sky Pad is my DD's favorite thing on Mariner, and because of it, it is her favorite ship.  But I can see it not being for everyone.  When we went last summer, you didn't book times.  It was first come first served.  I think now you book a time.  You found it empty on your cruise?  

One common comment about The Key is the Disembarkation breakfast.  Seems to be very positive feedback.

I think the Key price also depends on the ship, the ports of call and how many have been sold. We are taking the French Dutch Adventure out of Southampton aboard the Explorer of the Seas departing 18 Oct and the key is still $19.99

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7 hours ago, markm said:

I think the Key price also depends on the ship, the ports of call and how many have been sold. We are taking the French Dutch Adventure out of Southampton aboard the Explorer of the Seas departing 18 Oct and the key is still $19.99

That's good to hear that you can still find it at that price.  Our other bookings are all $30ish so I assumed that was the going rate.

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We decided to get The Key for our upcoming Mariner of the Seas sailing on October 7.  I have read a few posts that the Chops Grille lunch at MDR is a smaller menu that their normal lunch menu.  Can you confirm this?  Or do you have a picture of the menu?  Thank you

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10 hours ago, knj said:

We decided to get The Key for our upcoming Mariner of the Seas sailing on October 7.  I have read a few posts that the Chops Grille lunch at MDR is a smaller menu that their normal lunch menu.  Can you confirm this?  Or do you have a picture of the menu?  Thank you

You are given 3 or 4 options for each course

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Great review.  

We purchased the Key at 19.99/pp/day on our FOTS cruise this past March.  It was around the beginning of the program which is why we got a good price.  On our cruise, the embarkation day lunch was in Chops (it was before they moved it to MDR) and it was absolutely awesome.  Sorry your experience in the MDR was not that good.  We didn't do the activities you took advantage of (rock climbing, Flow Rider, etc..) so can't comment there.  But our experience at breakfast on the last day pretty much matches yours. We sat in the reserved section in Studio B for the ice shows and that was great!  I don't remember if they reserved seats for Quest but it didn't matter since we got there early. The reserved section in the main theater was the front row center of the balcony but we preferred to sit in the front rows center of the orchestra.

Bottom line is that for a 7 night (or longer cruise), with prices greater than 20/pp/day and the embarkation day lunch moving to MDR, I'll probably pass next time and just buy Voom separately.  

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