Carnival Corporation & plc today announced it has signed an agreement to offer Alipay payment services onboard its cruise ship fleet in Asia, including multiple ships in China. The partnership will enable Chinese guests sailing with Carnival Corporation’s brands in Asia to pay for onboard products and services using the convenience of Alipay, China’s most popular mobile payment and lifestyle platform operated by Ant Financial Services Group, a related company of Alibaba, the largest online commerce company in China.
As part of this agreement, Carnival Corporation’s first and largest brand in China – Costa Cruises – will give passengers the option to use their existing Alipay accounts as a payment method for cabin folios. All onboard spending – including shopping, activities, excursions, food and drinks – will be added to each guest’s cabin folio as the purchase is made, and then cleared on a nightly basis via their Alipay account.
Alipay will debut on Costa Serena in China starting in 2017 before potentially expanding to additional ships in the Costa Asia fleet, including Costa Atlantica, Costa Victoria and Costa Fortuna in China, and Costa neoRomantica, which has been homeported in Japan since April of this year.
Based on the terms of the agreement, Carnival Corporation’s other leading brand in China and Asia, Princess Cruises, will also have the potential to offer Alipay onboard its ships sailing in Asia, including the all-new Majestic Princess that begins its first homeport season in Shanghai in July 2017 as the first cruise ship tailor-made for the Chinese market. Details of future rollout plans may be released at a later date.
Alipay is China’s most popular mobile payment and lifestyle platform with over 450 million users. It presents a significant opportunity for Carnival Corporation to ride on this digitalization trend and provide an upgraded experience for its cruise guests, offering Alipay as an additional payment option for onboard purchases.
“We are excited that our guests will now have the opportunity to use Alipay onboard our brands sailing in China and Asia,” said Michael Thamm, group CEO, Costa Group and Carnival Asia, who oversees operations in China for Carnival Corporation. “As we continue to grow interest and demand for cruising within the larger vacation market in China, this is another example of being able to stay close to our guests – understanding their needs and tailoring our offerings to their preferences. Alipay is a leading payment service already used by hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers, so we see this as a natural fit for us in China and a great opportunity to make onboard purchases even more convenient as we work hard to continually deliver a great experience to our Chinese guests.”
“Partnering with Carnival Corporation is yet another milestone for Alipay,” said Angel Zhao, COO of International Business Unit and Vice President of Ant Financial, “Since this Lunar New Year Chinese consumers were able to shop up-in-the-air via Alipay on some flights between China and Europe, and now they are able to pay via Alipay on cruises in the middle of the sea. One of the most important goals of Alipay going overseas is to provide convenient and efficient ‘cashless’ experiences for both Chinese tourists and global merchants.”
Carnival Corporation is the leading cruise operator in China with six ships based in the market across its Costa and Princess brands, representing four million passenger cruise days and nearly half of the overall cruise market in China. Based on increasing consumer demand for cruising in China, Princess Cruises will expand further this year when Majestic Princess will sail on her first cruise from Shanghai on July 11, carrying 3,560 guests to a variety of destinations.