Monday 27 January 2020

Royal Caribbean's The Key | Review


Hey Guys,

In November, I went on a quick weekend cruise to the Bahamas on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. My party and I opted to sign up for the Key Program as it boasted several perks. For little more than the cost of high-speed internet (which we would have paid for anyways), the Key gives guests the following:

• Carry-on luggage storage and delivery to their cabins on boarding day
• Boarding day lunch at Chop’s Grille
• VOOM Surf and Stream high-speed internet on one device
• Private hours on the FlowRider, zipline and rock-climbing wall
• Priority disembarkation on select ships, at ports, and on tender service
• VIP seating at shows
• Choice debarkation and an à la carte breakfast in the main dining room on the final day

I was very excited to 1) see how the Key Program would improve my cruising experience and 2) determine whether or not this was something I would be interested in paying for again in the future.

First, let’s start with embarkation perk. Once signed up for the Key Program, we were given an embarkation time of 1pm (keep this in mind for later). We were also encouraged by Royal Caribbean to use their app to check-in, prior to embarkation day. At the Port, the process to board the ship was smooth and easy; it took us no more than 15 minutes, from dropping off our bags, to get onto the ship.

When we got on board our rooms were ready, so there was no need to take advantage of the carry-on luggage storage and delivery perk. We headed straight to our rooms, dropped off our luggage and then immediately went to go grab some lunch. Boarding day lunch, which was supposed to be at Chop’s Grille, was actually served in the Main Dining hall. This is where it started to go downhill. When we got there at 1:15pm (remember the embarkation time mentioned earlier?), we were told that the included lunch ends at 1:30 and the kitchen closes off at 1pm. Based on this there was absolutely no way for them to serve us lunch! I can’t explain how livid I was! I asked the manager and the server if there was anything they could do to resolve the situation and we were told that they could provide the lunch for us the following day. That, unfortunately, was not going to work for us as we had excursions that required us to leave the ship first thing in the morning. So I proceeded to take my complaints to guest services in hopes of getting dinner at Chop’s Grill. After waiting in line for what felt like hours, I came to the realization that I was a little too ambitious. Chop’s Grill was not happening; it was fully booked and there was no way we could eat there. The guest services agent told us he could get us dinner at Jamie’s Italian Restaurant instead and, while I was disappointed that we weren’t going to be eating the steak I had dreamt about, we decided to take him up on his offer given we had no real choice in the matter. Jamie’s Italian it was! We opted for an early dinner because the whole situation took so long to get sorted out that we missed our opportunity to eat lunch.

Dinner at Jamie’s Italian blew my mind! The food was so good that I felt bad for being disappointed initially.

To start, we had the Cured Meat Plank for the table which included Fennel salami, pistachio mortadella, prosciutto & schiacciata piccante, served on a plank loaded with mozzarella, pecorino & chilli jam, a beautiful selection of pickles, olives & rainbow slaw.

I then ordered the Black Truffle Arancini - Crispy black truffle and mozzarella risotto balls with truffled béchamel for dipping

(no picture, sorry; I ate too quickly)

……and for my main course I had the Chianti-Braised Short Rib, which was tender and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Tiramisu (the classic Italian dessert with chocolate shavings & orange zest) for dessert.

Before trying Jamie’s, I would have never considered paying for specialty dining. Now, however, I just might because nothing I had to eat for the rest of the cruise tasted as good as dinner on the first night.

The following day we got to experience priority departure as we were placed at the front of the line for our excursion in Nassau. This is where I started to notice the flaws with this program. There is no one assigned to the people using the Key Program nor were there any signs telling you where to go. You literally have to walk up to the tour directors and let them know that you are part of the Key Program, which can tend to be a bit of a bother.

We also had the opportunity to watch the ice-skating show on board and, sure enough, we had reserved seating. The seating was located in the suite section of the theatre. I loved this perk! We arrived 5mins before our show, without having to worry if there would be seating available.

The only perk we didn’t get to take advantage of was the private hours on the FlowRider, zipline and rock-climbing wall. This was because the private hours were 1) at weird times and 2) not available to us due to the fact that we were not on the ship for most of the day. Maybe we could have utilized the hours if we had a ship day on this particular cruise.

Our à la carte breakfast in the main dining room, on the final day, was a very nice way to end the trip. I had the Royal VIP Steak and Eggs – Petit Filet, Fried Egg, Confit Idaho Potatoes, Roasted Cherry Vine Tomatoes and Sautéed Wild Mushrooms.

(no picture, sorry; I ate too quickly…..again)

What more could I have asked for? I felt like a real VIP on this program.


Throughout our cruise we got other little goodies; examples included a fruit plate and chocolate on our return to our room after a long day of excursions.

Overall, I think the program is great and well worth the money if you are able to utilize most (if not all) of the included perks. If you can, you should definitely consider splurging on this Royal Caribbean benefit. It’s one of the better and more economical ones.

Until next time guys, thanks for reading.



  1. Looks like a great time, and I love all of the perks you got. So fun!!!

  2. It sounds like you had mixed thoughts when it comes to the Key Program. While some of the perks are great upon hearing about them, it seems like they're not all as practical or plausible as they seem. But it also sounds like some of the options were fantastic - like the ability to have great seating at the shows! Glad you enjoyed your time overall!

  3. I've never been on a cruise, but this is making me want to change my mind!! Looks like a blast.

  4. I'm glad that overall you felt like a VIP! We are going on a cruise at the end of this month and I am so excited!

  5. Wow this looks exciting to go on a cruise and I have never been on a cruise. I would love to go someday!

  6. You look GORGEOUS! Especially in that white cover up! So beautiful. I'm not a huge fan of cruises, but it sounds like you had a great experience!

  7. I’ve never been on cruise but the Bahamas looks a great location. Love that your group were able to capitalize on so many perks. Your Chiffon Floral is so vacation perfect!

  8. My husband and I would LOVE to go on a cruise. Seems like so much fun.

  9. I've never been on a cruise before but thanks for sharing this program. The food looks so amazing!

  10. I've cruised a bunch but never on board where this program was offered at the time! It sounds really great!


Blogger Template Created by pipdig