Penguins and Ice and So Much More – My Favorite Antarctica Cruise Photos

These are some of my favorite Antarctica cruise photos from my recent trip on the Sapphire Princess that took me around South America and to the Antarctic peninsula. It was quite the adventure.

King penguin

Last Updated on 02/29/24 by Rose Palmer

The feature photo for this post was recognized with an Honorable Mention award in the Landscape and Nature category in the 2023 North American Travel Journalists Association Excellence in Travel Journalism competition.

To say that I took a lot of photos on a recent cruise to South America and Antarctica is a huge understatement. But if this was going to be a once in a lifetime trip, then I was going to make sure I captured every moment.

My cruise was on the Sapphire Princess, a large cruise ship with 2100 passengers on board. Because of its size, we would not get off the ship in Antarctica and would just do scenic cruising as weather and sea conditions permitted.

Black and white scenery lends itself to black and white photos.

Photographing in Wilhelmina Bay on the sapphire Princess

As an avid photographer, I was especially interested in the photographic opportunities of this cruise. Even though we didn’t land on the white continent and the weather was mostly cloudy, the scenery we passed by was stunning and I am quite happy with some of the photos I was able to capture from the deck of the ship.

Here are some of my favorite images taken during this memorable 16 day journey.


My favorite Antarctica cruise photos

Valparaiso, Chile

The cruise started in Valparaiso, Chile. The colorful old city center is a UNESCO heritage site. I took a little time to discover some of the many street art murals that decorate the buildings here.

Walls all over Valparaiso were covered with murals and graffiti.

Murals in Valparaiso, Chile


Strait of Magellan

We spent a day cruising through the Strait of Magellan with its soaring, snow dusted peaks and distant views of hanging glaciers. This was a quick introduction to the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina, and it made me want to come back and see more. Soon.

Cloud kissed mountain peaks in the Straits of Magellan.

Mountain views in the Straits of Magellan

One of the many glaciers coming down from the peaks along the Strait of Magellan.

One of the many glaciers coming down from the peaks along the Strait of Magellan


Ushuaia, Argentina

In Ushuaia I took a wildlife cruise that went along the Beagle Channel to Isla Martillo where we could easily see Magellanic and Gentoo penguin colonies along the shore. On the way we also passed the photogenic Beagle Channel lighthouse and rocky outcroppings covered in Imperial cormorants and sea lions.

A large male sea lion sits protectively next to his mate while Imperial Cormorants look on.

A large male sea lion sits protectively next to his mate

Three Gentoo penguins playing follow the leader.

three gentoo penguins

“Yes – I know I am really cute”.  An adorable Magellanic penguin looking right into the camera.

chinstrap Magellanic penguin“Do you know the way?” “No, I don’t know the way!” “Do you know the way?”

gentoo penguins

Up close with a Gentoo.

gentoo penguin close up


Antarctic Peninsula

We were scheduled for three and a half days of scenic cruising in the Antarctic Peninsula. But weather dictates the schedule in this part of the world, and stormy weather with high winds and waves meant that one day became a sea day as the ship and crew focused on keeping us safe.

Still, the captain and crew did a great job providing us with spectacular scenery on the days that the weather cooperated.

Admiralty Bay

Our first scenic stop in Antarctica was Admiralty Bay on King George Island which is part of the South Shetland Islands of the Antarctic Peninsula. The island is home to a number of scientific research stations, including four along Admiralty Bay which we were able to see in the distance as we cruised by.

Ice and clouds – typical Antarctica scenery.

Ice and clouds - typical Antarctica scenery in Admiralty Bay

A science research stations is dwarfed by the nearby glacier in Admiralty Bay on King George Island. One of the few instances where I could get a point of reference to show scale.

science research station in Admiralty Bay

Wilhelmina Bay

Two hundred miles to the south of King George Island our ship cruised into Wilhelmina Bay on the Antarctic Peninsula. The bay is often called Whale-helmina Bay because of the large population of humpback whales that come here in the summer to feed. We did see quite a lot of whales, but never close enough to get really good photos.

The scenery in Wilhelmina Bay was gorgeous. The bay was surrounded by steep, snow capped cliffs and the water was dotted with icebergs of all shapes and sizes. With overcast skies, Mother Nature gave us stunning black and white scenery with occasional hints of icy blue.

In Wilhelmina Bay

In Wilhelmina Bay

In Wilhelmina BayIn Wilhelmina Bat

In Wilhelmina Bay

a bergie bit

Neumayer Channel

From Wilhelmina Bay we cruised a few hours to the Neumayer Channel. This channel has an inverted S shape. As we cruised through it, it was hard to tell where the “exit” was. Fortunately, not for the captain.

All along the channel, the water was lined with fantastic snow and ice formations, mother nature’s natural sculpture garden.

in Neumayer Channel

In Neumayer Channel

In Neumayer Channel

Elephant Island

Our last stop in Antarctica was Elephant Island. The island is best known as the refuge of Ernest Shackleton and his crew after they lost their ship to the pack ice.

The island was one peak after another with glaciers in between. At one point I counted eight glaciers in a row but there was really no good way to get them all into one photo.

Elephant Island Antarctica

Elephant Island in Antarctica


Stanley, Falkland Islands

In the summertime, the largest number of residents in the Falkland Islands are penguins. They outnumber the human population 300 to 1. In the town of Stanley, I took a short bus ride to Gypsy Cove where I spent hours watching and photographing the local penguin residents hanging out on the beach. The best part was that they were not bothered by humans at all.

Megellanic penguins make burrows in the hillside where they lay their eggs and then raise their chicks. Once the chicks are older, the parents go out for the day to fish, leaving the young behind in the safety of the burrow. But like all curious teenagers, some of the juveniles come out to see what is going on.

Volunteer Point is where the big King penguin colony resides. But some of these juveniles have come to Gypsy Point to hang out, to preen off their fluffy feathers as they molt, and to get all the attention.

Watching King Penguins on the Falkland IslandsKing penguins in the Falkland IslandsKing penguins in the Falkland Islands

King penguins in the Falkland Islands

King penguins in the Falkland Islands

King penguins in the Falkland Islands

King penguins in the Falkland Islands

King penguins in the Falkland Islands

King Penguin on the falkland Islands

Nearby, in a large Gentoo penguin rookery, juveniles were either sleeping in the sand or running around after each other. Many of the juveniles were in that awkward, ugly teenage stage as they were molting their baby fluff.

While the King penguins were regally photogenic, the Gentoos certainly showed a lot more personality.

Gentoo penguins on the Falkland Islands

Gentoo penguins on the Falkland Islands

Gentoo penguins on the Falkland Islands

Gentoo penguins on the Falkland Islands


Montevideo, Uruguay

In Montevideo I took an excursion that included a performance by a Murga troop. A Murga performance is unique to Uruguay during the Carnival season. It consists of a group of singers, percussion drummers, and a leader, all of them decked out in fanciful costumes, colorful headdresses, and lots of face paint.

One of the drummers in the Murga troop performing for us.

Murga performer in Montevideo


Buenos Aires, Argentina

The cruise ended in Buenos Aires, and I did not have much time to explore the city, but I did make time to see the Recoleta Cemetery, where large mausoleums stand side by side like a miniature city. The cemetery is best known for having the grave of Evita Peron.

In the Recoleta Cemetery.

The Recoleta cemetery


This cruise exceeded my expectations in so many ways. But at the same time, I don’t think it fully satisfied my itch to see Antarctica. Now that I have seen some of it, I want to see more. I think another cruise to the white continent is in my future.

To take the same or similar cruise, please look at the Princess Cruise website.


Please note that I received a media upgraded cabin from Princess. All content is my own.


Other Antarctica cruise stories you may like:

My tips for getting your best Antarctica photos: Photographing in Antarctica – 19 Antarctica Photography Tips for all Skill Levels

Detailed review of the Sapphire Princess: My Blue Heaven on a Princess Cruise – A Detailed Sapphire Princess Review With Photos

How to see the penguins on the Falkland Islands: An Unforgettable Day With the Falkland Island Penguins


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