Today aboard National Geographic Endurance, we cruised north up the Antarctic Peninsula. It is an unusual experience to arrive at the peninsula from the south via the Ross Sea and New Zealand rather than by the Drake Passage. Traveling back north through familiar waters felt like a novel homecoming.

We started the day with a sunrise cruise through the Lemaire Channel, a narrow strip of water between Booth Island and the Antarctic mainland that is hemmed by towering heights. We photographed the hanging glaciers and marveled at Una Peaks. After a short respite for breakfast, whales were spotted. We rushed to the bow to view humpback whales diving, tail slapping, and fluking just in front of a beautiful iceberg.

Midday, we arrived at Cuverville Island in the Errera Channel. We climbed ashore to witness our first views of large groups of gentoo penguins. This was our seventh or eighth penguin species of the trip, and it is such an iconic one. We watched as dozens of gentoos descended the ice-covered slopes in funny little lines on their way to the water. Back on the ship, just before teatime finished, we were called to the bridge again to watch another stunning humpback whale display.

It was a fine day on the Antarctic Peninsula.

IMAGE: A skua bathes in shallow water at Cuverville Island. Photo by Brett Garner