Bain goes all in on Branson’s Virgin Cruise line

Virgin Group has tapped Bain as its lead investment partner for Virgin Cruises

Boston-based Bain Capital will be the lead investor in Virgin Cruises the new cruise line offering from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

Tom McAlpin will join Virgin Cruises as CEO and will head the management team. McAlpin has been president and CEO of The World, Residences at Sea. He 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.

Bain was unavailable for comment on the transaction at press time.

Virgin Cruises will have to stand out from an already crowded and established cruise line market. When McAlpin helped to found Disney Cruises in 1996, that was the first new entrant in a number of years, and few others have come to market. It is unlikely that the first Virgin Cruise will launch for more than two years as the company is only now beginning construction on its first two vessels.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Sources familiar with the transaction say the investment came from Bain's Capital Fund XI.

Bain is currently investing out of a venture fund that closed in June on $935 million, its Bain Capital Fund XI which closed on $7.3 billion in April, and its €3.5 billion Bain Capital Europe Fund IV. In October, the firm launched the Sankaty Direct Lending Fund which has a target size of $700 million to $1billion, according to Private Equity International’s research and analytics division.