Virgin Voyages, the acclaimed cruise brand within Richard Branson‘s Virgin Group, has embarked on a new and exciting phase of its journey. With the successful closure of a $550 million funding round, the company is poised to accelerate its growth plans and chart a course for expanded horizons.
This significant capital infusion, led by Ares Management‘s Private Equity Group, a prominent global alternative investment manager, includes additional contributions from existing investors, including Virgin Group and Bain Capital. Beyond strengthening its financial foundation, this funding paves the way for Virgin Voyages to rapidly expand into international markets while maintaining its unwavering commitment to delivering an exceptional and innovative customer experience.
A Leadership Transition
As Virgin Voyages charts a course for future growth, the company has announced a change in leadership. Tom McAlpin, the founding Chief Executive Officer, is gracefully transitioning into the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors. In this capacity, McAlpin will continue to provide invaluable support to the brand and its team at both executive and industry levels. Taking the helm as the new Chief Executive Officer is Nirmal Saverimuttu, the current President and Chief Experience Officer.
Since its official launch in August 2021, Virgin Voyages has swiftly expanded its operations, with three ships serving diverse regions, including the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and soon, Australia and New Zealand. The brand’s meteoric rise has not gone unnoticed, as it achieved the coveted top position in the mega-ship category in Travel + Leisure’s 2023 World’s Best Awards. Furthermore, it secured a remarkable clean sweep by winning all five cruise categories in the 2023 Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards.
A Strategic Partnership
The infusion of $550 million in capital represents a significant milestone for Virgin Voyages and underscores its compelling product and value proposition in the flourishing cruise industry. This partnership, which includes Virgin Group and Bain Capital, alongside Ares Management, positions the company robustly for the next phase of its growth journey.
Aaron Rosen, Partner and Co-Portfolio Manager of Special Opportunities within the Ares Private Equity Group, voiced confidence in Virgin Voyages’ unique offerings within the cruise industry. He believes that the company is at the forefront of industry growth and looks forward to collaborating with Tom McAlpin, Nirmal Saverimuttu, and the entire management team as they embark on the next chapter of their voyage.
Embracing a Vision of Excellence
Josh Bayliss, CEO of the Virgin Group, applauded Virgin Voyages for consistently creating extraordinary experiences and challenging conventions while prioritizing purpose at its core. He expressed deep gratitude for Tom McAlpin’s leadership and vision. Bayliss eagerly anticipates the forthcoming phase of the company’s growth and the continued impact it will make in the cruise industry.
Continuity and Progress
Nirmal Saverimuttu, a founding leader of Virgin Voyages, extended heartfelt thanks to Tom McAlpin on behalf of the entire crew and the Board. He emphasized the profound appreciation for McAlpin’s leadership and dedication to the business. Saverimuttu expressed enthusiasm for Virgin Voyages’ future, highlighting the brand’s ongoing commitment to growth and expansion.
The success of this significant capital raise was facilitated by strategic partners. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as the exclusive financial advisor and sole placement agent to Virgin Voyages, providing invaluable expertise in navigating the complexities of this funding round. Legal counsel was entrusted to Kirkland & Ellis LLP for Virgin Voyages and to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP for Ares Management.
5 Fascinating Facts About Virgin Voyages
Founder and Visionary: Virgin Voyages is part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. It was founded with a vision to create a unique and modern cruise experience.
Award-Winning Start: Despite launching in 2021, Virgin Voyages quickly garnered acclaim, winning top honors in various cruise industry awards, including Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Award for the best mega-ship ocean cruise line in 2023.
Unique Fleet: Virgin Voyages operates a fleet of “Lady Ships,” which are known for their contemporary and chic design, offering an elevated, boutique hotel-like experience at sea.
Culinary Excellence: The cruise line boasts over 20 dining options, featuring culinary experiences crafted by Michelin-star chefs, ensuring a diverse and delectable array of dining choices for passengers.
Innovative Amenities: Virgin Voyages goes beyond traditional cruising with innovative amenities like stylish workout spaces, daily group fitness classes, and a festival-like lineup of intimate and larger-than-life shows, creating a dynamic and immersive cruise experience.
Virgin Voyages has successfully raised $550 million in a funding round led by Ares Management’s Private Equity Group. This significant capital infusion will fuel the cruise brand’s expansion into international markets and enhance the customer experience. Founder Tom McAlpin transitions to Chairman, while Nirmal Saverimuttu assumes the role of CEO. Virgin Voyages has already achieved recognition and accolades in the industry, making it well-prepared for its exciting future endeavors.
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