A New Supporter Provides $550 Million In Funding For Virgin Voyages

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Richard Branson’s Miami-based premium cruise line Virgin Voyages announced on Wednesday that it has closed on $550 million in new funding from the investment management company BlackRock, with additional support from its existing joint-venture partners Virgin Group and Bain Capital Private Equity as well as other backers. This comes less than a year after Virgin Voyages first set sail.

Fledgling cruise line

The new funding will enable the fledgling cruise line to execute its growth strategy as demand for cruising gains momentum and the industry loosens Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, the company said in a statement.

In a very short time, Virgin Voyages has made quite a splash in the cruise industry with its adults-only, no-buffet sailings and steep-but-inclusive pricing that includes table-service dining, Wi-Fi and fitness classes — amenities that all but a few luxury cruise lines charge extra for.

“Virgin Voyages has successfully launched a new brand in the cruise industry and proven its appeal to both the traditional and non-traditional cruiser, allowing the brand to tap into new markets and re-imagine this travel category,” said Ryan Cotton, a managing director at Bain Capital.

Powerful rebound

Since its launch in August 2021, Virgin Voyages’ two 2,700-passenger ships — Scarlet Lady, sailing in the Caribbean, and Valiant Lady, which plies the Mediterranean — have snagged Cruise Critic’s “Best New Cruise Ship” title, landed on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2022 Cruising “Hot List,” and were named a top ocean cruise line in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards.

“Despite the unprecedented challenges the cruise sector has faced in the past few years, the industry is exhibiting a powerful rebound,” said Brendan Galloway, director in BlackRock Global Credit.

Cruising, which was decimated during the first two years of the pandemic, has been firing on all cylinders.

This year, the passenger volume will hit 95% of 2019 volume and is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels in 2023, according to an annual industry report from the Cruise Lines International Association.

Virgin will soon double its fleet with two more ships — Resilient Lady and Brilliant Lady — debuting in 2023.

 

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Source: Forbes

 

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