Coronavirus and making tough decisions

Americans are all dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and must work together to stem the tide of this terrible virus. As business owners we also have the daunting responsibility of saving our businesses and preserving jobs for our employees.

When I was in my early 20s, my father told me that we can only manage things that are in our control. I now find myself telling my children — who are now adults — the very same thing. Taking steps to help control the coronavirus is something that we can all do. It means protecting ourselves and our businesses. This requires us to make some tough decisions.

In my case these decisions center around curtailing operations, furloughing employees and protecting those that continue to work. The governor of Kentucky shut down restaurants and other businesses, which included my riverboat operation. As a result, for the first time in my life, I had to tell employees, many who have worked in my company for 30 or 40 years, that they had been furloughed. This included members of my family. It was a tough pill to swallow.

I have been a member of the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) since 1980. In those four decades, we have faced many challenges. Unfortunately, the previous challenges seem to pale in comparison to what’s going on now with the coronavirus pandemic.

To try to keep things in perspective, I speak almost every day with PVA staff and many of the association’s members. PVA staff and board members have been working around the clock to disseminate information to members on how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The PVA Safety and Security Committee has been gathering resources with best practices to make available to members.

In addition, PVA urged President Trump and Congress to provide emergency assistance to its members to help them survive. In a call to arms, PVA members participated in a grassroots letter writing campaign to Congress to make sure that all members of the passenger vessel industry — vessel operators, suppliers and others — were included in federal economic assistance programs.

While it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I believe we will prevail. The U.S. maritime industry is creative and resilient. My company will survive and emerge stronger than before, and I will continue fighting.

Please stay healthy and safe during these difficult times.

About the author

Capt. Alan Bernstein

Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats in Cincinnati, is a licensed master and a former president of the Passenger Vessel Association. He can be reached at 859-292-2449 or


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    Albert Christian on

    Captain Bernstein, good luck to you, your family and crews during this difficult time for all. You’re right, the boat business has been through trying circumstances over the decades. For the Creole Queen it was 9/11, Katrina and the BP Oil Spill. We persevered, recovered and came back strong and wiser every time. This will be no exception. Smooth sailing ahead.
    Captain Al Christian

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    ronald gagen sr on

    Al, I worked with the cinti power squadron. You were always gracious and helped where you could. Now it’s your turn. God will look over you and your operation. I was bidding against you when you bought mike finks. Happy times are comming, just a small setback.
    Past commander of cinti power and past district commander of d/23 central east coast of Florida. Ronald Gagen Sr.

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    If anyone can recover from this Captain Bernstein can. Captain Bernstein and family are so kind, giving and thoughtful they will find a way to overcome the challenges that lie ahead. May we all remember the sacrifices that are being made to keep all of us safe.

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    I worked for BB Riverboats for many years. It was a great place to work. The other employees were great. The management was good to me when I was going through some hard times. This was a lovely sentiment. As I read it, it was in Mr. Bernstein’s voice. I loved it so much that I am still a patron of theirs. I look forward to a warm day on a cruise in the river as soon as the pandemic is over.

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