One of the newer lines on the river cruise scene, Emerald Waterways is hoping to generate some attention in a crowded marketplace with four-star pricing and aggressive deals. 

Launched in 2014 by Australian parent company Scenic, Emerald is offering free round-trip airfare from major U.S. and Canadian gateways on bookings made between Jan. 2 and Feb. 29 for any balcony suite (including a panorama balcony suite, grand balcony suite or owner’s suite) on 2016 Europe river cruise itineraries departing through Aug. 31, 2016.

“Being a newer player in the European river cruise market, we want to ensure that we’re competitive,” said Lisa Norton, vice president of brand management for Emerald Waterways, North America. “We know that one of the biggest hurdles to European travel is the airfare involved — we’re looking to finish 2016 strong while we get ready to roll out 2017.”

Guests booking a stateroom cabin category on a Europe itinerary will be eligible for a reduced airfare rate of $995.

When Emerald first launched, the idea was to create a sleek, four-star, mostly-inclusive river cruise company that would serve as a more affordable alternative to the upscale river cruise lines plying Europe’s waters.

Emerald will launch its fifth vessel in Europe this year, the 182-passenger Emerald Belle, which follows the Emerald Dawn and Emerald Sun, which both debuted in 2015. Emerald offers river cruises on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Moselle and Rhone rivers in Europe, and charters two vessels on the Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers, with itineraries ranging from eight to 24 days.

The company is also offering free airfare to guests booking any cabin category on all its 2016 Irrawaddy and Mekong River itineraries for bookings made by Feb. 29, 2016.

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