As the sun shone on the replica of the Statute of Liberty, overlooking the Seine, in Paris, the band began playing There Is Nothing Like A Dame.
Huge crowds thronged for the best view as camera bulbs flashed and TV cameras buzzed.
Dame Joan Collins was making a typically flamboyant entrance. Dressed in white from head to toe – the shimmering buttons of her gown with embossed anchors – the star was officially christening the SS Joie de Vivre.
Hollywood chic: Joan Collins christens the SS Joie de Vivre, which has 54 luxurious suites, eight juniors and two royal suites
“I am the godmother of 13 children,” said Dame Joan. “Now, for the first time, I am the godmother of a ship.”
The river cruise ship, with its 54 suites, eight juniors and two royal suites, has lavish decor that includes antiques and artwork from auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
Minutes after bottles of champagne crashed into the side of the 128-passenger Uniworld ship, she slipped past the Eiffel Tower on her way to the glorious Palace of Versailles and then the beaches of Normandy.
River cruising has huge benefits, and with a length of 125 meters instead of the standard 135 meters, the Joie de Vivre can dock effortlessly in the heart of cities like Paris, making downtown trips a breeze.
River cruise ship has lavish decor that includes antiques and artwork from auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s
The taste of the high life: all rooms are finished with fine finishes, with polished wood finishes and marble shelves
I walked, others jogged or bicycled. While some took a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the Ritz and the Rodin Museum, I disappeared at the top of the Eiffel Tower to take in fabulous views.
Others remained aboard, having lunch outside.
At breakfast the next day, we were docked for the voyage around Versailles.
The guide kept talking as we entered the royal bedroom and my mind drifted to BBC Two’s lewd drama about Louis XIV’s extravagant mansion.
The room suddenly took on a whole new meaning.
In Normandy the next day, and in the strangely quiet Utah Beach, where US troops were hit by deadly enemy fire during the Normandy landings.
SS Joie de Vivre was built at 410 feet compared to the standard 443 feet, allowing it to dock in the heart of Paris
Roses Coming: Bathrooms in the staterooms are light and airy, with fluffy white towels and luxury toiletries
Fit for a king or queen: all rooms are furnished with made-to-order Savoir of England beds
Particularly moving is the 170-acre American cemetery, the first on European soil, which contains the graves of 9,387 soldiers.
We also moored in the beautiful city of Rouen.
Then the ship set off, purring in the water without making a sound.
I gave up Monet’s garden in Giverny to enjoy Le Club l’Esprit, an area dedicated to health and wellness with a day spa, fitness center and heated indoor pool.
At night, the plumbing floors transform the pool into a dance floor or open-air cinema.
Since Joan Collins was still with us, we decided to dance to more choruses from There Is Nothing Like A Dame.
Uniworld’s eight-day Paris and Normandy cruise starts at £ 2,719 per person, uniworld.com, 0808 168 9231.
Price includes accommodation, onboard food and beverages, onboard excursions and entertainment, gratuities, port taxes and transfers.