By Angelo Grillo
Imagine the best job ever. Imagine spending 3 to 4 months a year, sailing the world, as a guest, aboard a luxurious ship of Oceania Cruise Lines. The Mediterranean, the Greek Aisles, the Caribbean, the Baltic Sea, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Vietnam, Bora Bora and Tahiti, are just some of the destinations to which these Five Star Ships sail.
Lake Lure artist Pat Grillo does just that. She is the Artist in Residence for Oceania Cruise Lines. The only cruise line that offers complimentary art lessons, with all supplies included, by a professionally recognized artist. For the last five years Pat has been traveling the world painting and teaching art. Her works now hangs in homes, businesses and galleries throughout the world.
Of course, the first questions she gets are “How did you get this gig?” and “Do you need someone to carry your bags?” Well her husband has the Bag Handling assignment locked up but, to answer the first question, Oceania Cruise Lines seeks out the best artists they can find, who can also teach and are ridiculously personable. Oceania discovered Pat through her website www.PatGrillo.com and the rest is history.
How does an Artist in Residence spend her time at sea? Well it’s actually quite hectic. Most days are spent at a storybook port such as Marseilles, Dubrovnik, Rio de Janeiro or Bora Bora. Pat is up by 7am to escort a group of guest on a tour. Then back to the ship for a quick bite and preparation for her 4:00pm class. The complimentary class of 25 to 35 students lasts about 90 minutes and, in this time frame, everyone completes a work of art that is framed and hung for the duration of the cruise. After the class there’s still time to catch the end of Happy Hour in one of the ship’s swinging lounges. By about 7:30 the guests move on to dinner in one of the Specialty Restaurants or the Grand Dining Room, or the outdoor Terrace for a sumptuous buffet. Time for bed yet? No way.
At 9:30 there’s always a show in the main theater featuring the ships wonderfully talented troupe or an invited entertainer. Is it time for bed now? Only if you choose. Otherwise there’s dancing, karaoke, musical trivia and, of course, the Casino. All of which are open till the last guest calls it a night. Days at sea are a bit more leisurely. On a sea day Pat will usually open the Art Loft to guest while she paints and coaches. The music is relaxing and the poolside bar is only a wave away.
When asked what is the best part of her job, she responds that she has received emails from former student guests, who had never picked up a brush before attending her classes and are now painting in earnest. Many of her students so enjoy her classes that, before they schedule another Oceania Cruise, they check to see if Pat will be aboard. If you would like to join Pat on the high seas, please visit her website and check-out her sailing schedule.