Covid has certainly taught us to be flexible. The maritime industry has shown remarkable resiliency over the years, dealing with bad weather, high and low water, economic downturns, fuel price surges and a variety of other challenges. We have always emerged stronger and wiser. Yet, while we pride ourselves on being fiercely independent, we also need to interact and learn from each other.

For over two years Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) members have not been able to meet face-to-face because of the pandemic. There have been webinars and numerous Zoom meetings, but there has been no organized in-person contact. That changed when PVA decided it was time to resurrect its annual convention, MariTrends 2022. The PVA board acknowledged the importance and value of face-to-face networking, and idea and information exchange.

PVA’s MariTrends 2022 was held in early March in Covington, Ky., on the banks of the Ohio River. It was the first time in many years that the PVA convention was held at an inland river location. While attendance was smaller than normal due to Covid, the program was as powerful as ever and attendees were immersed in a wide variety of issues and topics important to their operations.

Key government leaders participated, with Rear Adm. John Mauger, the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for prevention policy, and Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, both delivering keynote addresses.

PVA members also heard from tourism experts and participated in roundtables and sessions on marketing, waterways event permitting, ferry operations, propulsion technologies, environmental issues, drug testing and legalized marijuana, vessel and facility security, and safety management systems.

The PVA’s annual convention would not be complete without a few social events sprinkled in. A highlight was a ride aboard BB RiverboatsBelle of Cincinnati, where PVA ushered in new leaders for 2022 and convention attendees celebrated being together once again.

If the effects from Covid continue to wane, these types of gatherings will grow. It is important for the industry to begin meeting again in person — renewing acquaintances, discussing pressing issues and solving industry challenges. We are an independent bunch, but we also need each other.

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 [email protected].