A former president of Disney Cruise Line is to take the helm of Virgin Group’s planned cruise venture.

Tom McAlpin will join Virgin Cruises as chief executive, having most recently worked for The World, Residences at Sea in the same position.

Virgin Cruises, which will be based in the Miami area in Florida, plans to design and build two cruise ships.

New York-based private investment firm Bain Capital Partners is investing an undisclosed sum in the start-up.

Virgin Group would not say when the line will start operating, citing “competitive reasons.”

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson (pictured) said: “We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love.

“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.”

McAlpin said: “Cruise guests deserve something better and different to what is being offered today, and Virgin Cruises is committed to creating breathtaking experiences for them and a new generation of guests.

“Opportunities like this do not come often, so I am very excited to lead this business and introduce the Virgin brand to the cruise industry, as it has always put customers at the heart of what it does.”

Ryan Cotton, a principal with Bain Capital, said: “We are pleased to pursue this exciting opportunity with Virgin, one of the world’s most respected and iconic brands.

“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.”