Is The Key Worth It On Royal Caribbean? My Experience (2024)

Is Royal Caribbean's The Key Worth it?

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Are you wondering if Royal Caribbean’s The Key is worth it? To be honest, I wondered as well. So, we decided to to purchase The Key for our recent cruise onboard Freedom of the Seas.

The Key has been a controversial topic among loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers and has many questioning it’s value.

On the one hand, some cruise passengers believe that The Key is a waste of money and is too pricey for what you get. On the other hand, some cruisers believe that given what is included, The Key is worth the price. In fact, they’ll purchase it every time they take a Royal Caribbean cruise.

I boarded Freedom of the Seas ready to try The Key and determine if it’s worth the price. With that being said, here is my honest review of Royal Caribbean’s The Key.

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How Much Does The Key Cost?

The Key Lunch

The price of Royal Caribbean’s The Key program can vary depending on the season and how many people are on your sailing. However, the price ranges between $25-$50 per day, per person.

As it gets closer to your sailing, the cruise line may offer discounts for The Key. Its common for Royal Caribbean to run online promotions on the cruise planner for drink packages, excursions and programs like The Key.

It’s important to note that each person over the age of 6 in the cabin must purchase The Key.

In our case, we purchased The Key for a total of $395.88, for 3 people on a 4-night cruise. This came to $32.99 per day, per person.

What Does The Key Include?

When you purchase The Key, you will enjoy the following benefits:

  • Priority embarkation
  • Carry-on drop off and delivery to your stateroom
  • Exclusive welcome lunch in the Main Dining Room featuring The Key Signature menu
  • Fast lane access for onboard activities and private time at the Flowrider and rock climbing
  • Priority disembarkation at tender ports (from ship to shore)
  • Dedicated seating at shows in the Main Theater, Studio B, Aqua Theater, and Two70
  • Voom Surf & Stream for one device (internet access)
  • Exclusive breakfast on debarkation day

My Experience With The Key:

Throughout my 4-day cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, I had the chance to test many of the benefits of The Key Program.

Since I was on a 4-day Caribbean cruise, I had no tender ports, so I never had the chance to test the priority disembarkation on port days. However, I was able to test all the other exclusive benefits that you get when you purchase The Key.

Priority Embarkation

Priority boarding is one of the benefits that you get when you purchase The Key program. This is a great way to enhance your cruise experience, and to take full advantage of your first day of the cruise.

This was my first surprise with The Key. I felt underwhelmed by the early check-in.

Upon arrival at the cruise port, there was a separate line for members of The Key. We were at the cruise terminal around 11:15-11:30 am and were able to enter right away. At this time, other passengers were also arriving, but there were no large crowds.

During the boarding process, there was no separate line for The Key holders, for check-in or security. Royal Caribbean’s boarding process was fast and efficient, but from what I could see there was no real benefit for Key guests.

We boarded around 11:50 am, along with many other guests who didn’t have The Key. In fact, the early embarkation benefit of The Key could be achieved by booking the earliest embarkation time possible.

Furthermore, when we asked the workers at the port if there is a separate line for Key members, they seemed to be unaware of the program. This could have been because of a language barrier, but there were several employees who confused “The Key” with the Seapass card (cruise card).

Welcome Lunch

royal caribbean the key lunch menu

One of the benefits of The Key is the embarkation day lunch. At The Key lunch, you will be served a 3-course meal that features menu items from Chops Grille.

Luggage Drop Off

At the embarkation lunch in the main dining room, The Key guests are able to drop off carry-on luggage. Carry on bags are then brought to each guest’s stateroom by the crew.

The carry-on luggage drop-off service was a very useful Key benefit, as we didn’t have to lug around our carry-on bags all afternoon. We went to our cabin directly after lunch and our carry-on luggage was waiting for us.

Related: 23 Essential Things to Pack in Your Cruise Carry-On Bag

The Key Lunch Menu Review

The Key menu featured three appetizers, three main courses, and three desserts. Anyone expecting a similar menu and options to Chops Grill might be disappointed, as it in reality it pales in comparison to the specialty dining experience.

Upon further research, I noticed that Royal Caribbean used to offer a choice of 3 different side dishes. However, they no longer offer this, and the main courses come with a side of fries.


  • Ceasar Salad
  • Wild Mushroom Soup
  • Colossal Shrimp Cocktail
royal caribbean the key lunch
royal caribbean the key lunch

The appetizers were decent and tasted good. However, they didn’t seem very different from what you would normally order in the main dining room during the cruise. I had shrimp cocktail (they were not super large).

Entrees (main course):

  • Chops Dry Aged Steak Burger
  • 6 oz Angus Filet Mignon
  • Grilled Branzino
royal caribbean the key lunch

We ordered the filet mignon, and it was served with crispy fries, ketchup and brown gravy. Unfortunately we were disappointed with the main course as our steaks were overcooked (even after returning our meals and pointing this out).


  • Royal Chocolate Cake
  • New York Cheesecake
  • Ice Cream
royal caribbean the key lunch
royal caribbean the key lunch

The desserts were tasty. We had the chocolate cake and the New York cheesecake. I can definitely recommend Royal Caribbean’s cheesecake!

Discount on Specialty Restaurants (while onboard)

When you purchase the Key, you get a 10-20% discount on specialty restaurants. This is great for those looking to celebrate a special occasion or prefer an enhanced culinary experience, especially if they haven’t booked this before the cruise.

However, something we didn’t enjoy was having waiters trying to upsell specialty dining while you’re trying to enjoy the embarkation day lunch. While it was understandable, it felt like a sales pitch for us to spend more money on specialty dining.

We did go to Izumi and Giovannis during our cruise, but just aren’t fans of at table solicitations.

Beautiful View

One of the things that we enjoyed about the embarkation day lunch was the beautiful view. We got to sit by the window in the main dining room, which overlooked Miami.

Overall, The Key embarkation day lunch was a bit of a letdown. After all, there are other options for lunch on embarkation day. In hindsight we felt we would have enjoyed other lunch options instead, whether included or at an additional cost.

Private Time for Onboard Activities


If you’re cruising with teenagers and kids, or if you’re an adventurous cruiser, you may really enjoy this benefit. One of The Key perks is that you get private time for onboard activities.

Since my cruise was only four days long and stopped in two ports, I never got the chance to take advantage of the private time for activities. However, on a longer cruise, I could see this Key benefit coming in handy.

On the Freedom of the Seas, private time was designated for the Flowrider and rock climbing wall. However, you’d have VIP access to more even activities on Oasis Class and Quantum Class ships.

For example, on the Quantum of the Seas, you’ll have designated private hours to try The North Star, iFly, Bumper Cars, and Roller Skating.

If you’re on a busy sailing, these activities can be super busy. Having private access will prevent you from having to wait in long lines, and you’ll get to fully enjoy these onboard attractions.

Voom Surf and Stream Internet


When you purchase The Key, you get access to the Voom Surf Wifi package on one device included. The cost for Voom Surf and Stream can vary, but is typically $20-$25 a day for one device.

Oftentimes, this benefit alone makes The Key worth the price.

In our case, one main reason we purchased The Key is that we would have bought the internet package anyway. Since we often work while we cruise and like to stay connected on social media, a wifi package is something we buy on every cruise.

Since we were sailing on an older cruise ship, we had quite a few issues with the Wifi. For instance, the Wifi never worked in our oceanview stateroom on Deck 2.

Therefore, if we wanted to use the internet (even on our phones), we’d either have to go to a public area or walk down the hallway to the elevators.

On the bright side, the Wifi did work around the rest of the cruise ship. This wasn’t the biggest deal since we were only on a four-day cruise. However, having no wifi in our cabin would be an issue if we were on a week-long cruise.

That said, while we had an issue with connectivity in our cabin on Freedom of the Seas, the value of Voom is still there. Likely, the internet is better on newer cruise ships.

Related: 15 Cruise WiFi Tips, Secrets & Mistakes to Avoid

Dedicated Seating

Ice Skating Show

One of the key benefits of purchasing The Key is dedicated seating at shows. I enjoyed this benefit, as I never had to worry about not having a good seat for the shows.

For example, I sat in The Key reserved seating area for the ice skating show, and I had some of the best seats in the venue. Studio B gets full quickly, so having a dedicated seating area is definitely a bonus.

It’s important to note that reservations are required for Quantum and Oasis-class cruise ships.

Exclusive Breakfast on Disembarkation Day

royal caribbean the key breakfast

When you purchase The Key, you’ll get to enjoy an exclusive a la carte breakfast in the main dining room on disembarkation day. Furthermore, you get priority disembarkation, which is a big time saver on debarkation day.

Disembarkation morning is always a bit hectic, and the breakfast on the last day was one of my favorite perks of The Key. The Windjammer buffet can have long lines, and we were glad to avoid this.

The breakfast menu was quite good, and the food was really tasty. One of the nice things about the disembarkation breakfast is that you get a great view of the city while you eat.

Priority Disembarkation


Once we finished breakfast, we grabbed our carry-on luggage and met a crew member who escorted us with priority access off of the cruise ship.

One of The Key benefits is we appreciated most was skipping that long line to disembark from the ship. This made it our easiest and most stress-free debarkation days yet.

It was the perfect way to wrap up our Royal Caribbean cruise vacation.

Is The Key Worth It? The Verdict

Oasis of the Seas Aquatheater

Based on my experience, The Key is not worth the price. Unless you get a great deal on The Key program, it’s hard to justify paying between $33 to $50 per person, per day for the benefits.

For me, The Key’s highlights were priority seating, disembarkation day breakfast, and priority departure. However, these Key benefits alone are not worth the cost.

When I looked at The Key, I thought I’d really enjoy the special embarkation day lunch and take advantage of the Wifi. However, the embarkation day lunch just wasn’t great and we had many issues with the Wifi.

In theory, The Key is a great idea. However, the embarkation day perks need some tweaking. In particular, The Key lunch could have been better (and had more options for sides).

While I would consider purchasing The Key again in the future, it would only be if it was offered at a discounted rate. Based on our sailing on Freedom of the Seas, The Key needs some tweaking to make it a great value for Royal Caribbean passengers.

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Final Thoughts On Royal Caribbean’s The Key

Well, there it is, everything you need to know about Royal Caribbean The Key program!

Although The Key was an underwhelming experience, I’m happy I gave it a try. The Key has been a controversial topic among cruisers, and after trying it for myself, I can see why.

On the one hand, The Key can make your cruise vacation more pleasant by reducing wait times in long lines, offering included Wifi, and serving an embarkation day lunch. On the other hand, many of The Key’s offerings were poorly executed, leaving me feeling underwhelmed.

In this post, I shared my review of The Key, as well as what’s included when you purchase The Key, how much The Key Costs, and if The Key is worth it.

Would you consider purchasing The Key for a Royal Caribbean cruise? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!


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  1. Susan Kaut
    February 11, 2024 / 8:36 pm

    Thank you for an honest review. Doing the math based on a $50 per day for a family of 4 on a 7-day cruise = Too much money to justify purchase of The Key. Even if I received a 50% off discount, I still wouldn’t purchase it. Your review only cemented many of my thoughts on the value of The Key.

    • February 12, 2024 / 7:48 pm

      So glad this was helpful. Keep an eye on the pre-cruise prices if you are purchasing wifi as well 🙂

  2. Jim
    February 12, 2024 / 12:46 am

    We always purchase Key, but never paid more than 24.99 day. (4, 7 and 9 day). 2 years ago I purchased it for 14.99/day. We leave in 4 days on a 4day and it was 22.99/day. To find the value, we deduct the cost internet. I wonder what your review would be if you had a better price.

    • February 12, 2024 / 7:47 pm

      Wow, great prices! Thanks for sharing this and have a great cruise

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