Accommodation for 432-1st, 200-2nd and 674-3rd class passengers. Built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, she commenced her maiden voyage on 4th March 1927 when she left Southampton for Cherbourg, Lisbon, Las Palmas, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. She continued this service, with the occasional cruise until 1934 when she was rebuilt to 22,209 gross tons, with accommodation for 330-1st, 220-2nd and 768-3rd class passengers. She was also lengthened to 666ft, her two funnels heightened and she was fitted with new diesel engines to give her a speed of 18 knots.
In 1939 she was rebuilt as an Armed Merchant Cruiser. Her forward (dummy) funnel and mainmast were removed at this time. Sent to Malta for further conversion, she was involved in a serious collision with the Cunard ship Franconia en route, but remained afloat and managed to reach Alexandria for major hull repairs.
In December 1939 she commenced South Atlantic patrol work.
In July 1940 she was engaged in a battle with the German surface raider Thor and scored a number of hits, but was damaged on the waterline by an unexploded shell and had to reduce speed. The Thor withdrew under cover of a smokescreen and the Alcantara put into Rio for temporary repairs.
In November 1940 she returned to Liverpool where she was fitted with better armament and then returned to South Atlantic patrol work.
Converted to a troopship in 1943, she made trooping voyages to the Mediterranean, Singapore, East Indies, Halifax, India and Ceylon. Refitted after the war to carry 220-1st, 185-cabin and 462-tourist class passengers, she resumed the Southampton - Buenos Aires service on 8th October 1948.
On 17th April 1958 she left Southampton on her last voyage to Buenos Aires having made 172 round voyages to South America.
Sold to Japanese shipbreakers, she was renamed Kaisho Maru for her passage to Japan for scrapping and arrived at Osaka on 30th September 1958.