Arcadia Restaurant Crew Ousted Following Protest
150 Indian restaurant workers aboard the P&O cruise ship MV Arcadia were summarily dismissed following a dockside protest in Seattle last year which delayed dinner aboard the ship. The workers were trying to raise awareness that falling standards and the implementation of automatic tipping aboard the ship led to falling wages for them. Their base salary is as low as 75 pence (about $1.25) per hour, so they depend on tips for the bulk of their income. Although they were intially told there would be no recriminations for the protest, P&O Parent Carnival Corp. and the staffing firm they use in India later decided not to renew the workers’ contracts when they expired. Ironically the news was delivered concurrently with an announcement that those still working on the ship would receive a base salary increase and other incentives to make up for lower tips.
P&O is celebrating its 175th anniversary tomorrow with festivities in Southampton with special cruises and shoreside festivities. All seven ships in the line’s current fleet will be in Southampton, along with a RAF aerobatics team.
The Arcadia, laid down in 2004, technically had three names before she ever touched water. She was ordered from Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard for Holland-America Line in 2000, but before she was built the decision was made to send her to Cunard as the Queen Victoria. She is built on the “Vista class” platform that spans multiple brands operated by Carnival Corp, including Holland-America, P&O and Cunard. Based on feedback from Queen Mary 2 passengers, Cunard decided they wanted some different features for their next ship, and so — shortly before launch — the ship was transferred yet again and entered service for P&O in 2005. As such, her mast and funnel more closely resemble that of the Cunarders Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth than her own fleetmates Oriana and Aurora, which evoke older P&O ships.