The brainchild of visionary HAPAG general director Albert Ballin, Amerika was the first grand luxury liner, designed to cater to the tastes of an emerging generation of newly-wealthy Americans as well as Old World aristocrats. In steerage, the liner transported people (in relative comfort) seeking to build a new life in North America. For her first class passengers, she was decorated in the style of Louis XVI and featured her own Ritz Carlton restaurant.
Amerika made her Hamburg-New York maiden voyage on 11 October 1905. In June 1914, she was transferred to HAPAG’s Hamburg-Boston service and was, unluckily for her, in Boston when World War I began later that year.
Amerika was interned in Boston from August 1914 until the U.S. entered the war in April 1917. She was then seized, patriotically renamed America (Take back your “k,” Kaiser!), and placed into service as a troopship.
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