Royal Caribbean: The Key VS Suite Perks

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The Key is a special package you can buy when cruising with Royal Caribbean. It offers a host of extra benefits compared to your standard cruise fare to make your cruise go more smoothly, especially on embarkation day.

Promotional image for Royal Caribbean's 'The Key' program, set against the interior of a cruise ship stateroom. The image features an overlaid text 'UNLOCK EXCLUSIVE BENEFITS' with a graphic of a key, suggesting enhanced experiences for guests. In the background, the room is modern and elegant with ocean views, a couch with blue pillows, and a wood-finished vanity, highlighting the comfort and perks that 'The Key' offers.

But how does it compare with the suite perks you can get when you book the higher classes of accommodation? Is it ever worth buying The Key if you have booked a suite? Or, is it worth foregoing The Key and upgrading to a suite from a regular stateroom?

Let’s take a look.

The Key Vs. Suite Perks – Meaning

Firstly, let me just explain what I mean by both The Key and the suite perks.

The Key is a package that is available to buy on most Royal Caribbean cruises, though in limited numbers only. Anyone on the cruise can buy The Key if they want to, but you need to buy it for everyone in your stateroom aged six or over. You can’t get it for only some of your party.

Suite perks, on the other hand, are the benefits you get when you book a suite on a cruise ship instead of a regular stateroom. 

Just to add an extra ripple of confusion, Royal Caribbean has two different packages for suite perks, depending on the ship you’re sailing on.

The Royal Suite Class package is for all Icon-class, Oasis-class, and Quantum-class ships, while the Royal Caribbean Suites Program applies to all other ships in the fleet.

Within both of those, you’ll get better perks if you book a higher class of suite.

Overhead view of Royal Caribbean's Ultimate Family Townhouse play area, vibrant with colorful decor. The room features a whimsical design with bright yellow and blue furniture, a red slide, funky light fixtures, and a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the sea. It's a playful and inviting space for children, with various toys and games, fostering a fun and imaginative onboard experience.

The Key Vs. Suite Perks – What You Get

It’s easier to compare The Key to the perks of staying in a suite if we compare it against each suite program separately.

Here’s how The Key compares with the Royal Caribbean Suites Program:

BenefitThe KeyJunior SuitesGrand, Panoramic & Owner’s SuitesRoyal & Villa Suites
Priority terminal access on departure dayYESYESYESYES
Carry-on bag drop-offYESNoNoNo
Exclusive welcome lunchYESNoNoNo
Private time at onboard activitiesYESNoNoNo
Priority tender departureYESNoYESYES
VIP access to live theatre showsYESNoYESYES
Free internet packageYESNoNoNo
Exclusive breakfast on departure dayYESNoYESYES
Use of a bathrobeNoYESYESYES
Luxury bathroom toiletriesNoYESYESYES
Lavazza coffee machine in-suiteNoYESYESYES
Pillowtop mattressNoNoYESYES
Priority departure on disembarkation dayNoNoYESYES
Concierge ServiceNoNoYESYES
Access to the Suite LoungeNoNoYESYES
Priority dining reservationsNoNoYESYES
Tours of off-limits areasNoNoYESYES
VIP pool deck seatingNoNoYESYES
Fruit and water welcome giftNoNoYESYES
Complimentary room service with expanded optionsNoNoYESYES
Complimentary pressing serviceNoNoYESYES
Officer escort onboardNoNoNoYES
Welcome bottle of ChampagneNoNoNoYES

The Key offers more benefits than staying in a Junior Suite, and has a couple of important benefits you don’t get even when staying in the best suites on these older ships…

Benefits that only come with The Key are…

  • free internet access
  • the option to drop off your carry-on bag and have it delivered to your stateroom
  • reserved time to use the onboard facilities such as the FlowRider surf simulator

They do share some of the other main benefits though, such as priority embarkation, priority tender boarding, and reserved theatre seating.

Here’s how The Key compares with the Royal Suite Class on newer ships:

BenefitThe KeySea ClassSky ClassStar Class
Priority terminal access on departure dayYESNoYESYES
Carry-on bag drop-offYESNoNoYES
Exclusive welcome lunchYESNoNoNo
Private time at onboard activitiesYESNoNoYES
Priority tender departureYESNoYESYES
VIP access to live theatre showsYESNoYESYES
Free internet packageYESNoYESYES
Exclusive breakfast on departure dayYESNoNoYES
Use of a bathrobeNoYESYESYES
Luxury bathroom toiletriesNoYESYESYES
Lavazza coffee machine in-suiteNoYESYESYES
Pillowtop mattressNoYESYESYES
Dine at Coastal Kitchen restaurantNoDinner OnlyYESYES
Priority departure on disembarkation dayNoNoYESYES
Concierge ServiceNoNoYESYES
Access to the Suite LoungeNoNoYESYES
Priority dining reservationsNoNoYESYES
Access to the Suite Sun DeckNoNoYESYES
Speciality bottled water in-suiteNoNoYESYES
Royal Genie butler serviceNoNoNoYES
Complimentary speciality diningNoNoNoYES
Complimentary Deluxe Beverage PackageNoNoNoYES
Complimentary gratuitiesNoNoNoYES
Complimentary minibarNoNoNoYES
Complimentary laundryNoNoNoYES

There are some important differences here – mainly that the Sea Class suites don’t include priority boarding, so if you want that perk, you’d either need to buy The Key or upgrade to a Sky Class suite or better.

But also, Sky and Star Class suites now come with the free internet package, and Star Class also gets priority time at the onboard facilities and the carry-on drop off.

Inside Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas Ultimate Family Suite, a cozy yet dynamic living area with a two-story window offering ocean views. The room bursts with fun, featuring a red slide descending from the upper level, plush seating with 'UFS' cushions, vibrant yellow bean bags, and playful decor elements like a watermelon cushion and whimsical lighting. It's an inviting and imaginative space designed for family enjoyment and relaxation at sea.

Royal Suite Class Deals

I recommend booking with luxury specialists Panache Cruises for the best service.

The Key Vs. Suites – Cost

It’s hard to directly compare the cost of The Key against upgrading to a suite, because:

  1. The cost of The Key varies
  2. Suite prices vary depending on the ship, dates and demand
  3. It depends on whether you would otherwise be booking a Balcony Stateroom or upgrading all the way from an Interior Stateroom

The Key officially costs “from $35.99 per day”, though it’s often higher, and yet also often discounted below that price too.

A laptop screen displaying an offer for 'The Key' on a Royal Caribbean cruise, showing a promotional price of $34.99 per guest per day, down from the full price of $49.99, advertising a 30% off pre-cruise savings. The laptop is placed on a marble table next to a modern sculptural vase, suggesting the luxury and value of the program.

I’ve looked at the average prices of a handful of cruises just to get an idea of the cost of a suite upgrade, but use this as a guideline only.

CruiseAverage Stateroom Cost (per person)Plus The Key (average)Upgrade to Junior SuiteUpgrade to Mid Level/Sky Class SuiteUpgrade to Best/Star Class Suite
Older ship, 7 night Caribbean, Interior Stateroom$100 per night+$36 per night+$100 per night+$150 per night+$250 per night
Older ship, 7 night Caribbean, Balcony Stateroom$150 per night+$36 per night+$50 per night+$100 per night+$200 per night
Newer ship, 7 night Caribbean, Interior Stateroom$150 per night+$36 per night+$150 per night+$550 per night+$800 per night
Newer ship, 7 night Caribbean, Balcony Stateroom$180 per night+$36 per night+$120 per night+$520 per night+$770 per night

Which to Choose

So, should you buy The Key or prioritise upgrading to a suite? And is it worth buying The Key if you’re in a suite already?

Generally, buying The Key isn’t worth it if you’re booking anything above a Junior Suite in either of the suites programs.

It’s true that suites on the older ships don’t get free internet access included, but it’s cheaper to buy the WiFi separately than it is to pay for The Key.

“In a full suite, the value of the Key is minimal and definitely not worth the money, IMO.”
Source: CruiseCritic

As for choosing between them, if you were only going to upgrade to a Junior Suite, then it might be better to save your money and just get The Key instead – the perks are better. But remember that a Junior Suite does also get you a more spacious room, so you have to bear that in mind.

While upgrading to a higher class of suite will be a lot more expensive, you do get a much longer list of perks, and so if you have the budget available, then it’s likely better to go for that, especially with the much better accommodations you also get too.

However, The Key is a great choice if you want to make your cruise that little bit more special without paying a suite upgrade price, as long as you make sure to book it early enough so that it hasn’t sold out!


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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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