Last updated: 03:00 PM ET, Mon June 08 2015

River Cruise Pioneer Dietrich Neuhold Remembered

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Theresa Norton | June 08, 2015

River Cruise Pioneer Dietrich Neuhold Remembered

PHOTO: Dietrich Neuhold was a pioneer of European river cruising. Pictured is Regensburg, Germany (Courtesy of Regensburg Tourism via German National Tourist Office)

Dietrich Neuhold, who marketed European river cruising to Americans decades before it became a popular vacation option, died at age 87 at his home in New York.

His travel career began after World War II with Cunard in Vienna and Montreal. He then worked at Italian Lines and Marsh Shipping Company, where he was involved in a variety of international shipping activities, including the opening of the first Atlantic shipping route between the then-U.S.S.R. and Canada.

In 1965, Neuhold opened the Rhine Cruise Agency in New York City as the exclusive representative of KD German Rhine Line, a leading river cruise company at the time, and became the first U.S. general sales agent for a European river cruise company.

When KD expanded its operations to the Main and Danube rivers, it changed its name to KD River Cruises of Europe. And when Neuhold retired in 1989, he sold the company to his vice president, Jeff O’Rourke, who was widely known in the industry and remained at the helm until KD was purchased by Viking River Cruises in 2000.

After retirement, Neuhold remained involved with the Rhine Cruise Agency as a consultant. He also had been active with ASTA through the years.

“Dieter Neuhold was a visionary who saw the potential of bringing the European river cruise experience to the American market. As the U.S. general sales agent for KD German Rhine Line, with offices in New York and California, he focused on sales through the travel agent community,” O’Rourke said. “He also believed that a European river cruise would be highly attractive to the incentive market, and through partnerships with leading tour operators, he helped broaden the appeal of the river cruise to Europe-bound travelers. Starting with the Rhine cruise, the product has long since evolved into one of the most popular travel experiences on rivers throughout Europe and Asia.”

Neuhold died on May 12. He is survived by his wife, Erna, daughter Beatrice Neuhold-Orth, son-in-law John Orth, and grandson Ian Orth.

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