As the sun gleamed on the replica Statute of Liberty, overlooking the River Seine, in Paris, the band began to play There Is Nothing Like A Dame.
Huge crowds jostled for the best view as camera bulbs flashed and TV cameras whirred.
Dame Joan Collins was making a typically flamboyant entrance. Dressed in white from top to toe – the gleaming buttons on her suit embossed with 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 junior and two royal suites
‘I am godmother to 13 children,’ declared Dame Joan. ‘Now, for the first time, I am godmother to a ship.’
The river cruise ship, with its 54 suites, eight junior and two royal suites, has lavish decor that includes antiques and artworks from Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses.
Minutes after the champagne bottles smashed into the side of the 128-passenger Uniworld ship, it glided past the Eiffel Tower on its way to the glorious Palace of Versailles and then Normandy beaches.
River cruising has huge advantages and, at 125 metres in length rather than the standard 135 metres, the Joie de Vivre can dock effortlessly in the heart of cities such as Paris, making trips into the centre a cinch.
The river cruise ship has lavish decor that includes antiques and artworks from Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses
Taste of the high life: All of the rooms are finished to a high spec, with polished wood finishing and marble counter tops
I walked, others jogged or cycled. While some took a guided trip behind the scenes at The Ritz and Rodin Museum, I disappeared to the top of the Eiffel Tower for fabulous views.
Others stayed on board, enjoying lunch al fresco.
By breakfast the next day, we were moored for the trip round Versailles.
The guide kept talking as we walked into the royal bedchamber and my mind drifted to BBC Two’s bawdy drama about Louis XIV’s extravagant palace.
The room suddenly took on a whole new meaning.
To Normandy the next day, and the eerily quiet Utah Beach where U.S. troops were hit by deadly enemy fire during the D-Day landings.
S S Joie de Vivre was built at 410 feet as opposed to the standard 443 feet, allowing it to dock in the heart of Paris
Coming up roses: The bathrooms in the cabins are light and airy, with plush white towels and luxurious toiletries
Fit for a king or queen: All rooms are decked out with made-to-order Savoir of England beds
The 170-acre American cemetery – the first on European soil – is especially moving, containing the graves of 9,387 soldiers.
We also moored at the beautiful city of Rouen.
Then the ship set off again, purring through the water hardly making a noise.
I gave Monet’s garden at Giverny a miss to enjoy Le Club l’Esprit, an area dedicated to health and well-being with a day spa, fitness centre and indoor heated pool.
By night, hydraulic floors turn the pool into a dance floor or outdoor cinema.
As Joan Collins was still with us, we opted for dancing to yet more refrains of There Is Nothing Like A Dame.
Uniworld’s eight-day Paris and Normandy river cruise starts from £2,719pp, uniworld.com, 0808 168 9231.
Price includes accommodation, food and drinks onboard, excursions and on-board entertainment, gratuities, port taxes and transfers.