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Is The Royal Caribbean Key Program Really Worth It?

Is the Royal Caribbean Key Program a must-do or a hard pass for your next cruise?  

We’ve got your full review of these purchased perks so you can decide for yourself if this extra is worth it on your next cruise. 

On our last two cruises with Royal Caribbean, we purchased the Key Program.  We’re giving you our detail, unbiased feedback about what the program is and how it works for the average traveler.  

We always like to start our reviews by reminding you that we were not compensated in any way to write this piece.  All opinions are our own, and all costs were paid out of our pocket for this experience.

  • Priority access to the terminal upon arrival at the port
  • Carry on bag delivery to your stateroom 
  • Welcome lunch in the main dining room with selections from Chops Grille
  •  Access to VOOM Surf & Stream high speed internet for one device per paying guest
  • VIP seating to shows in the Main Theater, Aqua Theater, Studio B and Two70
  • Reserved private hours at onboard activities including the FlowRider, Rock Climbing and more.  
  • Priority departure at ports where a tender is required ship-to-shore
  • A la carte breakfast and choice departure time on debarkation day

Key Program Benefits Breakdown

While at first glance some of these benefits may not seem that great.  But when you’re actually on the ship, they all really do make a difference.  

Let’s break the benefits down by order in which you’ll probably use them.  

Priority Terminal Access

This terminology was super vague to us when we first came across it in the description of the Key Program.   “Priority Access” could mean a multitude of things.   

What it actually means is that you’ll get to board the ship early.  

Key guests still have to make their way to the port terminal and through security just like everyone else.   Key guests are NOT exempt from general boarding requirements like Covid vaccinations or negative Covid tests.  

But once guests are fully inside the terminal, there are special representatives that will check guests in quickly, avoiding some of the long lines that form for the average passenger.  

Check in area for Key guests on Royal Caribbean

Key guests are then called to get on the ship quite early in the boarding process, with just two or three VIP groups called first.  

On our first sailing with the Royal Caribbean Key Program, there was a designated area for Key guests to wait in the terminal for their turn to board.  During our second experience, Key guests were just asked to wait with everyone else.  

Key guests are asked to be at the terminal early, so as not to miss the embarkation lunch.  On our latest sailing, we were asked to arrive at the terminal no later than 11:00 am.  

This can be confusing for guests, since Royal Caribbean indicates in several places that Key guests get priority access during their “designated boarding window.”  These windows can range in start times from 10 am to 3 pm.  

Our designated boarding window was at 1 pm, which definitely would have made us miss the embarkation lunch.  But information emailed to us just a few short days before instructed us to arrive early.  

If your a Key guest that ends up with a later boarding window,  we recommend contacting Royal Caribbean to confirm what time Key guests should arrive.  

Carry On Bag Delivery To Your Stateroom

Overall, we feel like Royal Caribbean The Key is worth the money, especially if you aren’t splurging on much else.  

We can overlook the few miscommunications at the beginning of our cruise and say that overall, we really enjoyed being Key Guests during our sailings.  

If you’re already a suite guests or a member of the loyalty program, these perks might not be up your alley since you already get so many.    

But if you’re an average cruiser who wants to feel a little bit like a VIP during your cruise, the Royal Caribbean’s Key Program is definitely for you.  



Tuesday 15th of August 2023

Where does it say the Key is not refundable? I dont see it anywhere on the booking.

Louise Emery

Wednesday 16th of August 2023

It was confirmed when we spoke to a representative on the phone.


Monday 24th of July 2023

What time can you depart the boat with this option versus the normal departure on Debarkation Day?

Louise Emery

Wednesday 26th of July 2023

It varies from port to port, but you can be in the earliest group that leaves.

ubaldo alcala

Monday 10th of July 2023

To access private time at Flowrider and other fast lane onboard activities, are reservations required prior to boarding? Or is this done after boarding. I’m assuming priority dose not mean free, correct?

Louise Emery

Wednesday 12th of July 2023

With the Key Program, there are reserved hours for each activity. During those times these activities are only available to Key Program members. They are included in the cost of the key program. No reservations necessary. You'll get a schedule of these activities after you've boarded the ship.

Lynne Shapiro in SoCal

Saturday 17th of June 2023

Your points regarding the VOOM/streaming internet cost, the Chops Grille limited lunch menu for embarkation day lunch in the MDR (including filet mignon!!), early boarding, not having to haul around our carryon baggage, and early tender departure are the perks that REALLY made it for me! Great post, great mathematical calcs, you rock!!!

JUST IN CASE The Key logo isn't put onto our SeaPasses, I have the printouts with proof of purchase. I am ahead of what could go wrong, am prepared for it, and haven't had to go Karen for lack of service...YET.

My basic go-to persona is 'kill 'em with kindness'.

Louise Emery

Thursday 22nd of June 2023

ALWAYS a good plan to have proof with you, just in case. So glad the post helped you make your decision.

Lori D

Wednesday 3rd of May 2023

My husband and I are booked in a suite with an adjoining balcony room that we purchased for my daughter and son in law and grand daughter. Since we get perks and they don't, can this make the difference? I don't want to board or depart without them, and i want them to be able to go to coastal kitchen with us. Sounds like the key would do that? especially since they would make up part of the price with the internet package alone. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Louise Emery

Wednesday 3rd of May 2023

As far as boarding goes, Key guests are called very shortly after premium rooms, so that would likely be an easy transition. As far as access to Coastal Kitchen, I'm not sure. We definitely enjoyed the perks of the Key program and consider it to be a good deal.