Construction on the new liner was carried out at the Rotterdam Drydock Company. Christened by Queen Wilhelmina in April 1937, Nieuw Amsterdam was, at 36,000 tonnes, the largest liner ever constructed in the Netherlands up to that time. Proudly she was dubbed the Dutch "Ship of peace" since there were no provisions for possible war use incorporated in her design. The Nieuw Amsterdam was the Netherlands' "ship of state", just as the Normandie was France's, the Queen Mary was Britain's and United States was the United States' Numerous Dutch artists vied for the honor of creating some part of the ship.
Their creation emerged in the spring of 1938, a light-colored and very spacious ship throughout, and although she had spacious public rooms, the colour scheme used gave her an even larger feel. Modern in every way, her owners proclaimed her "the ship of tomorrow". She followed the Art Deco trend of the day in both interior decorations and exterior design. The interiors were distinguished by fluorescent lighting, aluminum motifs, and gentle pastels throughout the ship that created an understated elegance that would make the liner a favorite among seasoned transatlantic passengers.
On April 23, 1938 the Nieuw Amsterdam set out on her sea trials, which were to take place on the North Sea. Testing her speed and maneuvering capability, the new vessel turned out to be all that she was supposed to be. Upon her return from the sea trials, the Nieuw Amsterdam was transferred to Holland America ownership and officially registered in the Dutch merchant fleet.
The sleek new liner’s maiden voyage was set for 10 May 1938 and upon her arrival in New York she immediately won adulation and acclaim.