Cruise NewsRoyal CaribbeanRoyal Caribbean's The Key, the Cruise Line's New VIP Program

Royal Caribbean’s The Key, the Cruise Line’s New VIP Program

Royal Caribbean is rolling out a new pay for perks program onboard their cruise ships called The Key.  The Key will include everything from priority embarkation and debarkation to private hours at the Flowrider, rock climbing wall, and ice skating.

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The Key will begin to roll out to Royal Caribbean cruise ships starting in January and must be pre-purchased through Cruise Planner prior to a cruise.  This new program will provide one-of-a-kind experiences and special amenities during your cruise.

The following perks will be included for passengers who purchase The Key:

  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Onboard carry-on luggage service offering drop off and delivery to your stateroom
  • Exclusive welcome lunch at Chops Grille on boarding day
  • Private daily hours at onboard activities like the Flowrider, rock climbing wall, and ice skating
  • Access to reserved seating at shows
  • Surf and Stream VOOM internet for one device
  • Priority debarkation from ship to shore
  • A la carte breakfast and choice departure on debarkation day

Royal Caribbean announced this new program in an email to travel agents earlier today. Although the cruise line did not release the cost of this program, our readers stated that prices ranged from $20-30 per day per person depending on the ship.  I looked through Cruise Planner for my upcoming cruise on Voyager of the Seas in February and it was not yet available for my sailing.  If The Key is available for your upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise, let us know the price in the comment section.

All guests ages 6 and older in the same stateroom are required to purchase the Package if one chooses to purchase it. Guests age 5 and younger accompanying a guest who purchased The Key can enjoy these benefits: priority check-in and boarding, exclusive welcome lunch at Chops Grille, priority port of call debarkation, reserved seating at shows, and choice debarkation with exclusive a la carte breakfast.

The Package cannot be shared by guests. Guest agrees to not provide or share benefits with other guests; a violation of this may result in cancellation of the guest’s package and guest will not receive a refund or credit of any kind.

Package and price are subject to availability, subject to change without notice, capacity controlled, and may be withdrawn at any time.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries, taken over 70 cruises. He is one of USA TODAY's experts for their 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected].
Cruise NewsRoyal CaribbeanRoyal Caribbean's The Key, the Cruise Line's New VIP Program


  1. I love “The Key.” It is absolutely awesome! I have used it twice already. I book the cheapest cabin, and get treated like I’m a VIP in first class. Diamond members have cursed me, but I just smile and tell them they would do the same if they could go back in time…

  2. Leaving on Oasis Nov 24-Dec, this is our 1sr RC cruise ever and the first cruise after the Oasis is being AMP’ed, so with the incredible luck of that nicety, a terrific rate, a generous travel agent AND using my AMEX, the extra’s received are something to be excited about,. I splurged and did the KEY at $24.99, too many people posted it was totally worth it, so I did it. I hope to see the value, the internet alone is like $15 of the $24.99. I run a small business and cant be totally disconnected, plus my kids love watching movies/shows and social media before heading to bed. I do want to be sympathetic to the those who have earned the premium benefits for being so loyal, I hear you and agree mostly. It’s all about super-sizing(the Mcd way of getting more $$ out of your customers) so RC must have saw that people are willing to pay for instance gratification. I do know the # of tiks are limited, I guess I was lucky to still have them around when I paid for it but I think a loyal long time Diamond Cruiser with RC will trump me if we are in the line at a specialty restaurant, or some other access point throughout the cruise, so please don’t feel you are being mistreated. Life is Short, I’m not letting $25/day sour my first RC cruise. Here’s to making it up in the casino! Cheers!

  3. Diamond, Diamond+ and Pinnacle members already have privileges per person, this is a total waste of money as far as I am concerned. I’ve been cruising for the past 32 years and longevity has its perks.

    When you have cruised upwards of 5 times a year, you’ve pretty much been in most ports. My point is, paying to run off of the ship in every port isn’t my opinion of a smart passenger. In fact, when we do decide to disembark, it’s long after the big push of folks running to be first once the ship has been cleared by local authorities. I’m saying no to this “deal” and while I’m at it, “Royal Up” is just about as much of a waste of money unless your stateroom is a locker onboard.

  4. Can we please get away from these type promotions. I’m a Diamond. It took me a long time to get it and now I get a few perks. Woopty do! I know…Nothing great…But it is nice to know my loyalty means something. I love cruising Royal Caribbean. But hey…Why be loyal when for as little as an additional $19.99 per day, I can have front row seats, priority boarding and first class service. As long as I book it early. Missed out? Sorry. I guess you and your family should have pulled the trigger faster. I see now where the price is escalating, but the laws of economics suggest there will always be people who will pay. I know I’d be naive if I didn’t think cruising was class based already, but it sure seems like this new promotion is hell bent on getting us a bit more class defined in our cruises. Bow to The Key member as they cut in front of you for the tenders. They paid $19.99 to be a Diamond Plus today.

  5. We are sailing 11/23/19 on an 11 night sailing. It was offered at $19.99/day on Ovation, but went up to $31.99 yesterday! Yikes, I think they’re pricing it out of the market for most. May as well pay for a suite for that price! Over $700 for two adults.

    • Same thing happened to me! I booked a sailing for 01/24/20 on Navigator and the price was $19.99 per day. After doing some research and deciding that I did want to pay for it, the price went up to $31.99 per day about 72 hours later. I feel like they have a system whereas the longer you wait, the more the price goes up. They’re kind of betting on you to book it as early as possible.

  6. Our April 2019 Symphony of the Seas cruise offers it for 19.99 a day per person. It shows as unavailable to book online. I asked tech support and they said it’s already sold out. This is our first cruise with a 7 year old daughter and she loves stuff like zip lines, flow riders, rock walls. I’m really upset the keys sold out before I even realized they had them. I hear the lines are horrible for those things so private time in them and better seats for shows is something I wish we could have gotten.

  7. It’s available on my July cruise out of San Juan Puerto Rico for $19.99 per day. This seems to be similar to Carnival’s Faster to the Fun, but more expensive. It does include internet (normally 14.99 per day), so if you were planning on paying for that, then it’s only slightly more for the extra perks. In my case, not sure I want to board early in San Juan as the ship doesn’t leave until 8 pm. The lunch in Chops is from 11:30-1:30, so unless you get on early, no benefit there. If you do board earlier that is worth about $22. It says you can drop off carry ons and they will take to your room, but not necessarily early access to your room, or what time your carry on will make it to your room. Maybe the private times at Rock Climbing and Flow Rider are worth it? Would be interested to hear what people think once they pay for it and experience it.

  8. We are cruising Radiance OTS Alaska coast in June. We would primarily purchase the “key” to be able to disembark the ship faster at ports so that we have maximum exploration time at the port towns. It is 19.99 per day for two people. Does it decrease disembarking times that much to be worth $40 per day? Also- can our kids also disembark with us with our “key.” It says the “key” is for adults only. We have never been on a cruise before. We chose this cruise so we can see the coastal towns of Alaska and the glaciers.

  9. Be sure to read the fine print. It says that priority check in is not available out of Sydney which is one of the main reasons I was going to purchase. Glad I checked!

    • I was disappointed when it said no priority boarding at Sydney however when we turned up there was priority boarding which made it worth it. There was long lines and we just went straight through. Was so easy!

  10. This Key thing is a shocker for me. We will be on an extended cruise (15 days) and I am very worried about the cost of buying such a thing. Contrarily, I am also worried about our lack of availability to fun if we don’t purchase this. My young children are very keen to surf and rock climb. Good seats where they can see the shows is quite important to us as well. We have been attempting to make our trip to a family wedding in Europe as economical as possible, however the idea of this key would add on $1600 for my family. It appears that we need to buy this key just so we can enjoy the amenities offered/promised without being bullied away from enjoyment by those with more cash flow than us. It really doesn’t seem fair. This will be our first time on RC and so far I am feeling very tricked and I feel like a 3rd class citizen. $1600 is not an easy thing for most families): shame on you Royal Caribbean.

  11. The Key doesn’t make any sense for families with young children. Many young children won’t take advantage of most of the features with the Key – and I don’t see many parents shelling out for individual internet packages for each child in the family (some might, but not many).

    As such it’s somewhat exclusionary aka a waste of money for families with younger children who are just at the age cut-off.

  12. As a Diamond member, it is $19.95 per person per day. But my real question is: If my C&A status or room status gets me premier seating, will all the people buying the Key be vying for the same seats? If so, who will win out? Will there be enough premier seats at the shows for all of the C&A members, plus room type upgrades, plus the new Key Members?

  13. It is $19.99 per person, per day on my upcoming Ovation Alaska cruise in Sept, 2019. My question is, what if I wanted VOOM with TWO devices? Is this saying that each person gets their own wifi sign on, or is it one per room??? I wanted to use both our phones at the same time…

    • Well, I guess it pays to read the fine print…which says “VOOM Surf + Stream internet package for one device PER PERSON” and since it is presently going for the exact price of Voom S&S for two devices on my cruise…it’s a better deal to get the KEY! Got it, I’m happy!!! LOL

  14. On Jewel of the Sea in April 2019 for 11 night cruise. The cost is $19.95 a day times two, times eleven, comes to $439.78. To get internet for two on this cruise it cost $710.16! So it is a wonderful deal to get the Key for this trip. Also it makes sense if you are elderly and need more help on and off or are new to RCC. Oh and the drop off your bags is really nice idea. I hate to cary my CPAP and Backpack around.

    • $199 for my boyfriend & I on our september ‘19 enchantment of the seas cruise ! Came to $20 pp a day .

  15. I will still be ” Loyal to Royal “. Sure, it’s another money making scheme by the company, but that is what they are in business for. As someone else has already commented “It is available but not compulsory”; so if it does not suit you don’t buy it. We are Diamond C & A Members so we already have some of the “Perks” that are available on The Key. I have a feeling that if you desert the ship and cruise elsewhere these perks will also cost you whoever you sail with and will not be ” Free Gratis and for Nothing”

  16. Its on my upcoming sailing Allure of the Seas.
    I like the idea.
    Whats not to like about the key? Its a little more than the cost of internet.
    No bags, easy on and off, Chopps, reserved seating, private ice rink, flowerier etc.
    Internet included, priority debark with breakfast in main dining room..
    whats not to like?
    yes it was $175 for the week…its worth it to me. Cant wait. No hastle, no lines, no I think its a great idea.
    yes its an up charge…but you don’t have to use it…only if it makes sense to you…if you include internet its really only about $8 a day..for all that you get! You are getting the same perks that people who pay tens of thousands to stay in a suite…I like having my Shows planned and just walking into the theater and escorted to my seat…

    • We agree; we look at it as similar to “business class” on an airline. If you can’t afford first class on a plane or a suite class on a ship, pay a little more and get the perks. For two adults or even four adults that are getting onboard internet/streaming, this is a great deal. For families, I can see that it is a little extensive.
      We are taking advantage of it on an upcoming cruise. We are in a Jr Spa Suite in which does not come with any perks on RCI. Again it’s you choice if it suits you or not. It’s got our vote!

    • I couldn’t agree more and don’t get why people are complaining. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. I am thrilled to have it bought and paid for for my trip on Harmony in August.

  17. Carnival has been doing something similar for many years, call “Faster to the Fun” $50 per cabin and honestly it just gets you on and off the ship faster. Since we don’t cruise carnival too much we love to take advantage of it. As diamond plus members on RCCL I don’t think this benefit would ever be worth it to us

  18. With more ships being built I think the cruise lines are going to end up having to give more free perks if they plan to stay in business. The competition is just beginning. Have been cruising for 38 years and every year they seem to reduce the freebies. But I have about had enough. Wonder if pay toilets are next!!!!

  19. Wow what’s next? Checked baggage fees. Table reservations in the windjammer.
    So if the cost per person per day is $100.00 the cost increase is about 30%.
    That’s one heck of an increase if you take this con for what it is, a money grab………
    Nope isn’t for us.

  20. I was able to add this to my cruise on the Oasis of the seas salling Feb 24, 2019 for $14.99. It was on sale and I wished to try if nothing more than for the internet. I am a solo cruiser so it wasn’t to much. Much cheaper than the same Serf & Stream for one device.

  21. 25.00 aday is crazy… especially the first and last day, when the time on board is minimal…so you are basically paying for a lunch and breakfast. I will not shell out 200.00 for my family to get this. It’s bad enough, I have to pay for non alcoholic drinks, which cost the company pennies!! But if someone wishes to get’s their money!!


  23. Just saw it for $24.99/day/person for my March 2019 sailing on Liberty. Kind of like the airlines making you pay to get on the plane earlier, and yes, just as annoying.

  24. Our “regular” boarding experience has always been fine. I don’t climb rock walls, or use the fake-surfing toys. I can find my own way to the buffet. And while I’m old, I can still manage my own luggage. So – thanks, but no thanks. I can ignore special offers without prejudice. After sampling several others (we live in Florida), RC remains our cruise line of choice.

  25. We have done 6 cruises with RC, I think we may have to look at other companies for future cruises.
    We cruised on Allure a few weeks ago and were not quite happy with it.

  26. It’s available for 7 day cruises for the Allure, Ovation, and Liberty (at least on ours). It’s under “Internet and More” section. All list it as $24.99 per day per person.

  27. It’s available for 7 day cruises for the Allure, Ovation, and Liberty (at least on ours). It’s under “Internet and More” section. All list it as $24.99 per day per person.

  28. It’s available for 7 day cruises for the Allure, Ovation, and Liberty (at least on ours). It’s under “Internet and More” section. All list it as $24.99 per day per person.

  29. Goodbye Royal Caribbean. There are many choices to be had in the Vacation and Leisure industry. Royal Caribbean has just eliminated one as far as I’m concerned. It will be interesting to see how many people will react positively to ” the Key”. As for me ,it just unlocks a door to look elsewhere to spend my entertainment dollars. To quote Dire Straights, ” Money for Nothin”.

    • Right on Ron. As a Diamond, why should I remain loyal when loyalty can be bought for as little as $19.99 per day. I bet it won’t be long before all cruise lines catch on and anyone can jump to the front of the line anytime for a few more dollars. Like you, it opens up more choices for me to leave the loyalty behind. I think Royal is making a Royal mistake, but what do I know?

    • Jeff, they limit it to 100-200 people on the cruise so no, not anyone can jump to the front. Seems like people just need to complain

  30. Goodbye Royal Caribbean. Thanks but no thanks. If the other cruise lines want to commit economic suicide,be my guest. There are a lot of choices in the vacation sector of our economy and cruising will definitely be affected by a nickel and dime philosophy that appears to be growing within the industry.

    • I am confused why a voluntary perk program would make you leave? You do realize that other cruise lines have this too right? You aren’t required to do it and if you don’t want to do it you can still very much enjoy the ship. Seems weird to complain about a voluntary option on a cruise.

  31. It’s available for my upcoming Radiance OTS Alaska cruise in June 2019! It’s $24.99 per day (per person). Not sure if it’s worth the price.

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