Godmother Joan Collins attends the christening of the Uniworld SS Joie de Vivre

Uniworld SS Joie de Vivre Christening“I’ve got 13 godchildren,” declared Dame Joan Collins, poised to smash a bottle of champagne across the bow of Uniworld’s new river cruiser, S.S. Joie de Vivre. “Now I’ve got 13 godchildren and a ship!”

We were all more than a little star-struck at the ship’s christening ceremony, which took place on the Quai Grenelle in Paris, in dazzling spring sunshine, the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. A cruise ship’s naming is always a celebratory and often emotional occasion, and the presence of a genuine screen icon to act as godmother, smash the bottle and utter the time-honoured phrase ‘I name this ship …’ only adds to the glamour.

Joan Collins - Uniworld SS Joie de Vivre ChristeningDame Joan looks incredible; she may be 83 but she was pure Hollywood star as she walked along the red carpet on the quayside in Paris on the arm of her husband, Percy Gibson, 51. For the christening ceremony, she wore a chic, white trouser suit, gold buttons adding a slight nautical touch; a cream blouse; a wide-brimmed cream hat and pale cream coat; and her trademark deep red lipstick. She seemed genuinely thrilled to have been asked to name the new ship. “I visit Paris as often as possible,” she told the assembled guests. “To me it is the most beautiful city in the world; the most elegant; the most cultured. It is without a doubt the ‘city of light’ and I think it’s wonderful that this beautiful ship is starting off here.”

Joan Collins christens Uniworld SS Joie de VivreA godmother’s role is to bestow her blessing on passengers and crew and generally sprinkle a bit of fairy dust over the ceremony but cruise lines always try to invite somebody who has relevance to the ship; Catherine Deneuve, for example, christened Uniworld’s S.S. Catherine, which sails on the Rhone, in 2014.

As another timeless beauty setting an inspiring example to women of all ages, Dame Joan is the perfect match to the 128-passenger Joie de Vivre, an elegant vessel with sumptuous interiors that reflect the best of Parisian style from the roaring twenties to the 1960s. No expense has been spared on beautiful crystal chandelier, antiqued bronze, red leather seating and the polished walnut that’s reminiscent of a gleaming Riva yacht. Toni Tollman, Uniworld’s head of global design, described the Joie de Vivre as ‘A grand hotel in Paris from the 1940s or 1950s; an ocean liner; a superyacht on the Seine’, and she’s right; the new ship really does epitomise the luxury of a bygone age.

Joan Collins christens Uniworld SS Joie de VivreJoie de Vivre’s proud godmother agrees: “I think that luxury should be the best of everything there is, in the most opulent and beautiful way,” she says. “My idea of luxury while travelling is access to the finest things and the opportunity to experience all that a location or setting has to provide. Anything less than that isn’t luxury; it’s run-of-the-mill, ordinary. I love luxury. I think that luxury is flowers and candles and beautiful decor, and comfortable cushions and great bedsheets. All of that you have on the S.S. Joie de Vivre.”

But for all her great love of France, Dame Joan hasn’t lost sight of a few British traditions. “I think that my favourite place onboard would have to be Salon Toulouse, where they serve high tea in the afternoon,” she says. “Being English, I love to have my cup of tea in the afternoon.”

Uniworld SS Joie de VivreSpeaking more seriously for a moment, Dame Joan, with dozens of film, TV and theatrical credits, reflected on her own good fortune. “There is so much that brings me an enormous amount of joy. The joy of living, I think that I appreciate life tremendously, especially when you see how much pain there is in the world today, to be able to have a good life, and a special life, is wonderful. I believe that a true joie de vivre comes from within, through a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment.”

But attitude surely has something to do with it; in an interview with women’s magazine My Weekly earlier this year, Dame Joan declared: “I won’t be defined by my age. I think people should be defined by the age they act, look and feel.” Well said.

Photos credit: Steve Dunlop

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Uniworld


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Other Members' Thoughts - 1 Comment(s)

  • Happy-Feet
    3 months ago
    Have always admired the much talented Dame Joan Collins and now being an octogenarian, can appreciate her views even more, especially joie de vivre. Long may she continue to entertain us and remind us to stay young and beautiful.