As international cruise companies have struggled overall this year, they have sought ways to get more tourists on board, which has led them to focus more on the Chinese market. Some cruise operators in Europe have altered their menus to cater to Chinese travelers; others have actively hired more Mandarin-speaking staff to bridge the language barrier. And some are even starting to expand their use of Chinese mobile payments to entice passengers to spend more.
Princess Cruises announced on Wednesday that it would now accept China’s two biggest mobile payments — Alipay and WeChat Pay — on cruises in North America, becoming the first cruise line to do this. The payment options are now available on the cruise line’s Ruby Princess ship.
It’s one more step in accommodating the growing number of Chinese cruise passengers, as the company already offers more Chinese dining options and Mandarin-language services including shore excursions. The cruise line previously only accepted WeChat Pay and Alipay on its ships originating in China, which it began accepting in 2017.
Princess Cruises’ parent company Carnival Corporation also released its fourth quarter earnings on Thursday morning. The company noted that it acquired a minority interest in China-based cruise company CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping Limited, and it will now operate its own fleet designed to serve the Chinese market.
Carnival’s competitor, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., has a strong reputation in the Chinese market, according to a report from New York-based, brand experience agency, Jack Morton. And now, as competition for Chinese passengers grows, more cruise companies are expected to provide services, such as mobile payment options, to lure the rapidly growing Chinese travel segment.