Seems that the answer is ... quite a lot.
At least that's what we learned from more than 1,400 participants -- from the U.S. and Canada to England and Australia -- in our first-ever QE2 trivia quiz. Readers were asked to answer 10 questions, ranging from easy and difficult, to qualify for a prize courtesy of Cunard itself -- a copy of the coffee table book "QE2: Forty Years Famous," written by Carol Thatcher.
Just over one in nine of 164 takers purportedly earned perfect scores -- but sadly, several had to be eliminated from the running due to knavery (two-time quiz takers: one attempt only, please).
Some of the questions were considered snickeringly easy. Especially if participants researched possibilities on Cruise Critic as well as other Internet sources!
The opener -- QE2 was Cunard's third Queen to serve the British Navy as a troop carrier. In which war did she serve? -- was the easiest overall, and only 11 percent actually missed it. The answer? The Falklands, the 1982 conflict between Great Britain and Argentina in which QE2 served as a troop transport vessel.
Other pretty easy questions, at least in terms of correct responses, included:
QE2 is unique among Cunard vessels, because she was captained by a father, and then by his son. Who was the father/son pair? Indeed, this was easy any way you look at it because Cruise Critic had profiled Commander Warwick in a Q&A. Still, some 453 quiz takers answered incorrectly.
What colors was the single funnel of QE2 painted when she was built? This was another relatively effortless guess simply because the funnel -- yes, it's red, black and white -- is still observed on newer Cunard ships such as Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria.
A handful of other queries were not so easy to answer -- and here's where the proverbial wheat and chaff of ship lovers were separated.
One that stymied a lot of people was this one: When built, QE2 was properly called RMS Queen Elizabeth 2. What does RMS mean? Choices included Royal Majestic Ship, Regal Mega Ship (frankly quite understandable in this era of vessels being big, bigger and even bigger), Royal Military Ship (sure, QE2, as already mentioned, served in the Falklands) and, ding, ding, ding: Royal Mail Ship. As any aficionado of Cunard will tell you, the company was originally born of a need to ship letters and such from England to Canada.
But the real question that separated winners from, well, enthusiastic participants, was this one:
Which [of the following] was QE2's original grill restaurant? Only 400 out of 1,400 got it right. As fans of the line may know, Cunard has separate restaurants based on passenger classes. All the choices -- Queen's Grill, Britannia Grill, Caronia Grill, Princess Grill -- are actually dining venues for passengers residing in specific cabins, but there's only one original, and that's the Princess Grill, with an Art Deco decor which has remained largely unchanged since the late 1960's.
And the winners?
Bob Oglesby, who lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, earned a perfect score -- despite having never been on a cruise! The score must be credited in part to the help of his daughter's collection of Cunard books, which include texts on Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 (she has a huge ship collection too). She being the true cruise aficionado, he's decided to give her the prize. It'll be displayed with her other Cunard paraphernalia.
Member Supered of Scotland's Edinburgh owns commemorative menus from QE2's 40th anniversary cruise, together with the programme from the service at Liverpool Cathedral, England, to mark the 40th anniversary of her launch. Of the two cruises he's taken, one was a trans-Atlantic aboard QM2. Unsurprisingly, his favorite line is Cunard, referencing the "understated luxury combined with a sense of tradition" as reasons for the appeal.
Member Bramcruiser, a resident of Ontario Canada, considered his win a series of lucky guesses. Cunard tops his list of favorite lines -- for "its traditional ocean liners" -- and he's one of the lucky few who will be sailing on one of QE2's final trans-Atlantic cruises (his fifth cruise).
Still care to test your QE2 IQ? Though the contest is over, the quiz is still open -- but now just for bragging rights, perhaps as important for some as a commemorative tome. For the curious, click here for a rundown of all answers.
And if this whole affair has sparked reflection about your favorite QE2 moments, share your stories in our special QE2 Memory Book. Send memories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor