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Dec 05, 2014

Billionaire Richard Branson is to team up with private investment firm Bain Capital to build two new cruise ships, which will be headquartered in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area of the United States, the business partners said in a joint statement.

The Virgin owner is set up a holiday cruise business, the company said on Thursday, weeks after a fatal crash sent his Virgin Galactic space tourism business reeling.

"We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love," Branson said.

Virgin Group encompasses more than 400 companies in sectors as varied as trains, wines, music labels, mobile phones, airlines and banking.

In the past the company entered new markets by promoting itself as a fresh, upstart rival offering better customer service.

Virgin and Bain did not disclose when their new venture would be started.


NEW YORK, NY - Virgin Group, the Branson family-owned branded investment group, today announced the formation of Virgin Cruises, its new cruise line business, as well as the appointment of a CEO and its lead investment partner, Bain Capital. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

Proven industry leader Tom McAlpin will join Virgin Cruises as CEO and will head the management team. Most recently, Tom has been President and CEO of The World, Residences at Sea. Tom also served as President of Disney Cruise Line having joined as part of the founding management team. 

Virgin Cruises will be headquartered in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area and plans to design and construct two new world class cruise ships. At this time, the company has not disclosed when it will start operating for competitive reasons. As part of one of the world's most recognized and respected brands, Virgin Cruises will offer guests an outstanding experience and service aimed at broadening consumer targets for the cruise market.

Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson said, "We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love. They'll be sailing on the latest ships offering great quality, a real sense of fun, and many exciting activities all delivered with the famed Virgin service."

Stephen Pagliuca, a Managing Director with Bain Capital, said, "From our earliest conversations with the Virgin team, we recognized there is a unique opportunity here to help build the next great cruise line serving travelers from around the world. We know that thanks to the strategic vision laid out by our collective team - and now under the guidance of Tom McAlpin - Virgin Cruises will help reshape consumers' expectations of what a cruise experience can be. All of us at Bain Capital are thrilled to partner with the Virgin team on this compelling opportunity."

Tom McAlpin said, "Cruise guests deserve something better and different to what is being offered today, and Virgin Cruises is committed to creating breathtaking experiences for them and a new generation of guests. Opportunities like this do not come often, so I am very excited to lead this business and introduce the Virgin brand to the cruise industry, as it has always put customers at the heart of what it does."

Virgin Group has partnered with one of the world's leading private investment firms, Bain Capital, to work on this new venture. The partnership is committed to exploring the creation of a global cruise business and setting new industry standards.

Ryan Cotton, a Principal with Bain Capital, said, "We are pleased to pursue this exciting opportunity with Virgin, one of the world's most respected and iconic brands. With a small number of global players, an experience in need of refreshing, and consumers ready for something new and exciting, the industry exhibits all the characteristics of one that is ripe for a new entrant. Drawing on our long history of growing and building great companies, we are confident that together with Virgin and the management team we will build Virgin Cruises into a new favorite for leisure travelers." Evan Lovell, Partner at Virgin Management Limited said, "Virgin Cruises complements our extensive travel and leisure experience, which includes our award winning global airlines, passenger train service, and new hotel brand which will open its first property in Chicago next month. We are thrilled that Bain Capital is joining us on this journey."

Allen & Company LLC is advising Virgin Group on the transaction

Snowbirds Flock to Sunny Florida and Caribbean Shores

Our last visit to Florida was overnight from Seattle aboard USAir, for the America Travel Market in Orlando. Our editors plan to return for the Annual Golf Travel Market this year in St. Petersburg to show off our Golf Supermap - fourth in a series. It's easy to see why so many Eastern Canadians, Quebecers in particular, are turned on to this area as a Winter Escape; so now thanks to the Open Skies agreement, and a variety of travel options available, its Western Canada's turn. We'll be talking about Florida hotel, resort and transportation packages, plus many other delightful perks. More on this pleasant topic to come. http://www.miami-ftlauderdale.com


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