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Virgin to launch a cruise line

Richard Branson's Virgin Group Ltd. is jumping into the cruise line industry

The U.K.-based company that started with records, launched into the airline industry and hopes to pursue space tourism is now jumping into the cruise business.

Virgin Group Ltd., the company founded by entrepreneur Richard Branson, announced plans Thursday to launch a cruise line based in Miami.

The company has yet to announce a date for the service to start but said it will begin with two new ships. Virgin also named Tom McAlpin, a former president at Disney Cruise Line, to be chief executive of Virgin Cruises.

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

The cruise industry has been rocked by a series of accidents and mishaps over the last two years but bookings continue to rise, according to industry experts.

Virgin has announced that it is working on the venture with the private investment firm Bain Capital.

“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,” said Ryan Cotton, a principal with Bain.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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