The words Antarctica and penguins go hand in hand. Without a doubt penguins are the most popular residents of the 7th continent and getting a closer look at these entertaining birds is one of the main reasons many travelers make the journey south each summer season. Regardless of the cruise, guests will have the opportunity to see, hear and smell a lot of Antarctic penguins!  

Which species of penguins you will see will just depend on the itinerary or cruise. Below we are highlighting some popular Antarctic trips and the specific penguin species you are likely to see on each.

Antarctic Peninsula & Antarctic Circle Cruises

On the Antarctic Peninsula there are 3 species of brushtail penguins. The brushtails come to shore each summer season to build their rock nests and breed.

Gentoo Penguins
The largest of the brushtail penguins and most common penguin species to see on the Antarctic Peninsula. While they are seen awkwardly waddling around on shore, they are extremely graceful in the water and the fastest swimming penguin species.

Antarctic Penguins: Gentoo Penguin in Antarctica

Chinstrap Penguins 
Chinstraps are easy to identify with a single black band that runs along its white chin from one side of its head to the other. They are the smallest of the three brushtail penguin species and their numbers are declining along the Peninsula.

Antarctic Penguins: chinstrap penguin

Adélie penguins
Adélies are one of only two penguin species that are only found in Antarctica. They are entertaining to watch and can sometimes be seen taking the polar plunge in large groups around the ice edge.

Antarctic Penguins: adelie penguins

Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica Cruises 

In addition to the Gentoo, Chinstrap & Adélie penguins found along the Antarctic Peninsula, by adding in the Falklands & South Georgia you have the chance to see the Antarctic penguin species below.

Rockhopper Penguins 
Rockhopper colonies are found on cliffs and steep rocky outcroppings surrounded by tussock grass in the Falkland Islands. Their colonies are often intermingled with black browed albatross. It is the smallest of the penguin species found in the sub-Antarctic and also has one of the most unique appearances with bright red eyes and yellow eyebrows.

King Penguins
The second largest penguin behind the emperors. King penguins thrive on South Georgia and seeing their massive colonies are one of the highlights of the sub-Antarctic. King penguins take two seasons to rear their chicks so there are always brown downy chicks around regardless of when you travel.

Macaroni Penguins  
Similar in appearance to the Rockhoppers but larger, have more orangish plumes above their head and a pink patch of skin near the base of their bill. Macaroni’s breed on South Georgia and can be seen from November through mid-February.

Weddell Sea: Snow Hill Island Voyages 

Emperor Penguins 
Emperors are the largest and most iconic of penguin species. Along with adélies, they are only found in Antarctica. Emperors nest in very remote locations on the sea ice and therefore their colonies are difficult to access. There is a large emperor colony at Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea. Each November there are a few specialty voyages that will attempt to visit the colony with the help of helicopters.

Antarctic Penguins: Emperor Penguin

Whether you are a wildlife lover or not, penguins are one of the most entertaining species of animals to witness in the wild. Contact us to plan your penguin safari to the White Continent.