Alipay services will first become available on Costa Cruises' Costa Serena (Image: Costa Cruises)
Chinese guests sailing onboard Carnival Corporation’s Asia-based ships will soon be able to pay for onboard products and services via Alipay, China's most popular mobile payment and lifestyle platform.
Operated by Ant Financial Services Group, which is part of China-based online commerce company Alibaba, Alipay has more than 450 million users.
“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 have been 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.”
From June 2017, passengers sailing on ships in Carnival Corporation’s first and largest brand in China – Costa Cruises – will be able 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, 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 2017.
Based on the terms of the agreement with Alipay operator Ant Financial Services Group, Carnival Corporation’s other brand in the region – Princess Cruises – can also offer Alipay onboard its Asia-based ships. This includes the new Majestic Princess, which begins her first homeporting season from Shanghai in July 2017.
“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.”