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Sir Richard Branson Raises Virgin Cruises Flag in Miami

June 22, 2015

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Sir Richard Branson Raises Virgin Cruises Flag in Miami

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, announced today that Virgin Cruises has selected PortMiami as the home port for its first cruise ship that will set sail in 2020. He also revealed Virgin Cruises has signed a binding Letter of Intent (LOI) with Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri for three new mid-size ships.

Emerging through a cloud of iconic Virgin red smoke, Richard flew across Miami’s Biscayne Bay via helicopter landing at Museum Park. Joined by Virgin Cruises’ President and CEO Tom McAlpin, the two raised a Virgin Cruises flag to mark the cruise line’s official arrival in Miami.

“This is a very exciting day for Virgin and travelers around the globe,” said Richard. “We now have the right partners in place to build a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good. The Virgin Cruises approach will appeal to cruisers and non-cruisers alike, and we look forward to being in Miami and delivering an experience for people who want a new way to cruise.”

Virgin Cruises’ three new mid-size ships, of about 110,000 gross tons each, are slated for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each ship will feature 1,430 guest cabins to host more than 2,800 guests. There also will be 1,150 crew on board to deliver the famed Virgin customer service. Embarking from PortMiami, Virgin Cruises plans to offer a range of seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with a Sunday sail date.

Virgin Cruises’ binding LOI with Fincantieri is the first part of a two-step process with both companies committed to signing a contract in Q4 of 2015. The PortMiami agreement will be presented at the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners meeting on June 30, 2015.

“Virgin is a customer built brand that listens carefully to what customers want and then works hard to deliver for them. We are committed to making waves in the cruise industry, and partnering with Fincantieri and PortMiami sets Virgin Cruises up to do just that,” said Tom. “Today’s announcement brings together important ingredients in our future success -- Miami’s vibrant culture paired with the excellent Port infrastructure and Port team; and Fincantieri’s expertise in prototyping, their creativity and understanding of our vision.” Customers are invited to join the journey by visiting www.virgincruises.comto share their ideas on what the new cruise line can do to deliver an incredible experience at sea.

Virgin Group announced the formation of Virgin Cruises in a venture with Bain Capital, one of the world’s leading private investment firms, in December 2014. Ryan Cotton, a Managing Director of Bain Capital, and Virgin Cruises board member said: “As lead shareholder, Bain Capital is excited to contribute our deep experience in building and growing great consumer brand companies. We believe there is a large, underserved market and strong growth prospects for a cruise line that delivers a superior experience for young-at-heart customers. We’re very pleased to be partnering with the other important shareholders who share the same long term vision, and together we will provide a strong and broad support base for Virgin Cruises.”

Virgin expects the experts at Fincantieri to bring these ideas to life. Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: “I am honored our company is the selected partner for Virgin Cruises for such an important development in the cruise industry. I’m convinced this choice will contribute to the expansion of the cruising audience, especially considering the market segment still has wide growth margins. I am sure that together, our teams will create cutting edge ships that deliver a memorable guest experience.”

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez noted, “With the largest cruise port in the world, Miami is an exciting city that offers companies and brands an excellent environment for business. We are delighted to be selected by Virgin Cruises as their home port and I can’t wait to see their beautiful ships become part of Miami’s spectacular skyline.”

About Virgin Group

Virgin is a leading international investment group and one of the world's most recognized and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow successful businesses in sectors including mobile telephony, travel and transportation, financial services, leisure and entertainment, health and wellness, and space tourism.

About Virgin Cruises

Virgin Cruises is a new cruise line based in South Florida that is planning to offer its guests an outstanding experience matched with the famed Virgin service. The Virgin Cruises team can be reached at [email protected]

About Bain Capital

Bain Capital, LP (www.baincapital.com) is one of the world’s foremost privately-held alternative investment firms, with approximately $75 billion of assets under management in several pools of capital including private equity, venture capital, public equity, credit products and absolute return. Bain Capital’s more than 400 professionals are collectively the single largest investor in all of its funds and are dedicated to investing in and building its portfolio companies. Founded in 1984, Bain Capital has made investments in more than 450 companies around the world, and has deep experience in the consumer and retail space.

About Fincantieri

Fincantieri is one of the world's largest shipbuilding groups and number one by diversification and presence in all high value-added market sectors, having built more than 7,000 vessels in over 230 years of its maritime history. It is a world leader in cruise ship construction and a reference player in other sectors, from naval vessels to cruise ferries, from mega-yachts to special high value-added vessels, from ship repairs and conversions to offshore vessels. The Group has approximately 21,900 employees, of whom around 7,700 are in Italy, and 21 shipyards in 4 continents. Fincantieri operates in the United States through its subsidiary Fincantieri Marine Group (FMG), which serves important government customers, including the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, with three shipyards located in the Great Lakes region.