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Mentor Spotlight

Mentor Spotlight - by Alex Schuchter

I started on the river at BB Riverboats in March of 2015, when I was just 14 years old. I started as a steward tending to the buffet on the River Queen, and it wasn’t until I first started working on the Belle of Cincinnati that I got to meet Alan Bernstein. Capt. Al seemed to take a liking to me, and would always invite me up into the pilot house whenever I was able to be away from the galley downstairs.

Alex Schuchter and Alan Bernstein

Very quickly I became inquisitive, and would often ask many questions, to which he was always able to answer. I was able to become a deckhand when I was 15, and then when I was 16, Capt. Kerry Snowden came and asked if I’d be interested in becoming a senior deckhand. From that point on, I knew where I belonged.

Over the next several years, I would spend as much time in the Pilot house with Capt. Al, and with Capt. Kerry, as possible. It wasn’t long before Capt. Al let me behind the sticks of the Belle and began teaching me everything that he knew about the river and how to navigate it. Not only did he teach me how to run a vessel, but also the responsibility that came along with the job. I didn’t realize, until I started learning from him, all the responsibilities of the job and just how important they are.

Through those years, Capt. Al, along with all of BB’s Captains—Capt. Kerry, Capt. Mike, and Capt. Rand—taught me an abundance of things that I still remember today. Things like navigation of the river, to the operation of the vessel, the responsibility of the captain, and so much more. Without any of these people, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and for that, I am grateful. Capt. Al gave me the opportunity to kickstart my career in the river world, and if it weren’t for him—and for his company, who knows what I’d be doing right now!

I think some of the most memorable things I learned, along with navigating the river, were from Capt. Al. Things such as how important decision making is, and how crucial it is to have the responsibility for this work.

During the COVID pandemic, operations on the excursion boats had to stop for a while. During that period, I went and worked on a harbor boat. After a winter of doing that, I got a call from Capt. Al asking if I’d be able to come in and captain the River Queen. I’d never been more excited in my life. After all those years of hard work and dedication, Capt. Al was now trusting me, and my knowledge, mostly which came from himself and other captains, to take command on my own. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that have been given to me from Capt. Al, and will always remember them throughout the rest of my life. I’m now working for the American Queen Steamboat Company, and will definitely remember his lessons throughout my time here, and see how they help me further my career.

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