It wasn't until mid-September that the Connecticut Maritime Association (CMA) made the final call to return its annual conference and exhibition to "live" status in October.
CMA President Christopher Aversano told TradeWinds in an interview this week that the organisation feels satisfied that it made the right call in avoiding relegating the event to a virtual format for a second consecutive year.
"Overall I was very happy. I think it went well," said Aversano, who is a product manager at Q88, the Westport, Connecticut-based vessel data provider.
The CMA had postponed the conference twice in Covid-19 plagued 2020 before deciding to go online, as has been the rule for most maritime events since March of that year.
In tandem with conference organisers Informa, it pushed the scheduled March 2021 event back to early October at the usual location, the Stamford Hilton hotel.
"While we don't have the final numbers yet, it was a little bit better than 50% of what we would normally drawn in terms of delegates and exhibitors," Aversano said.
"Looking around at other shows that have recently decided to go live, the norm seems to be about a third of what they typically draw, so we were better than where we needed to be."
A visitor to previous CMA conferences would have found traffic obviously sparser than in pre-Covid-19 years.
A closing panel featuring current CMA commodore Lois Zabrocky of International Seaways together with past honourees Morten Arntzen, Jack Noonan and Robert Bugbee had perhaps 25% of the room filled with delegates.
The Hilton's lobby areas as typically jammed to the bursting point as the masses pour in for the concluding Commodore's Dinner, but this year there were fewer drinks spilled amid plenty of room to navigate as delegates joked about having to locate business suits and dress shoes.
Organisers switched the usual tables of 10 to six seats for Zabrocky's dinner as a safety measure as the Seaways chief accepted the trademark tri-corner hat in person after donning it virtually a year earlier.
The main constituencies missing were delegates from Europe and Asia, organisers said.
Aversano is hoping to close out his two years as president with a fuller event next 29-31 March but is ever watchful.
"I know it sounds cliched but you have to expect the unexpected – we're very hopeful, but you have to make the best decision you can with the information you have at that moment," he said.