Madeline and I again were up early this morning. Zodiacs started going to Paradise Bay at seven o’clock.
Paradise Bay, also known as Paradise Harbor, lies between Lemaire and Bryde Islands. The name became popular with whalers for its calm seas and light winds. It’s one of only two harbors used for cruise ships to stop on the continent. The other is Neko Harbor, where we’re going tomorrow. A small light house greets visitors to Paradise Bay.
Our Zuber driver steered us all around the bay, looking for the usual suspects: whales, seals, penguins and birds. Our first sighting was a Weddell seal who was taking a nap after a night of fishing.
Gentoo penguins were abundant, as well.
We saw large groups of nesting cormorants.
A large group of antarctic terns seemed unhappy with the cormorants getting too close to their nesting site. Hundreds of terns went after a lone cormorant who was unwelcome.
A Weddell seal lifted his head long enough to give us a smile.
Of course, we had to find a gentoo penguin. This little guy sat on his own iceberg, just minding his own business.
We saw the animals we were hoping for, except whales. They like to play hide-and-seek. We rode the Zodiac along the bay and saw interesting green shades in the typically black glacier. Our guide said it was likely malachite.
Almirante Brown Antarctic Base, a large Argentinian research station, lies on Paradise.
We saw lots of wonderfully sculpted icebergs and glaciers. Blue ice was everywhere.
Sometimes the ice forms a hemispherical structure like an airplane hangar.
Most cruise ships sail Antarctica for the penguins and birds. Many don’t think of penguins as birds since it can’t fly, but they are birds. Cuverville Island has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International. It supports a breeding colony of more than 6500 pairs of gentoo penguins. That’s the largest colony for this species on the Antarctic Peninsula. Other birds nesting at the site include southern giant petrels and Antarctic shags.
We rode our Zodiac to the rocky landing spot. When I say rocky, I mean small boulders. It was slippery, even with our rubber boots. Once out of the Zodiac, we navigated 200 feet or so to actual land where we deposited our life jackets started walking about.
We could choose from multiple activities. There was long hike up the glacier ending with a magnificent view. We chose to visit the penguin rookeries that are all over the place.
As soon as we found solid footing, we saw that penguins were everywhere, and they’d come right up to you and then go left or right. They knew where they were going, but we had no clue.
The impossibly cute gentoos made it easy to take photos. Many moms and dads sat on and warmed their eggs. One couple made loud cawing noise that we thought let everyone know the two of them were an item.
But then we saw an interloper penguin was approaching. We realized the couple were not happy with this intrusion.
Thousands of penguins walked all over on the island.
We spotted a large seal, probably a Weddell, resting at the base of the rookery. But we weren’t allowed to get near him.
We were ready to get back on the Zodiac, but I wanted to take another picture of the blue icebergs between us and the Silver Cloud.
On the way back, we took more pictures of icebergs. And we noticed another ship nearby. Cuverville Island is a very popular spot!
Tonight, we had dinner at La Dame, which is the Silver Cloud’s French restaurant. There’s a $60 fee per person to dine. The quality of the food was similar to what we’ve had around the world. But the complexity of the dishes and the intimate atmosphere, along with a selection of fine wines, made it worth a try.
After our Monopole champagne, we tried a French Pouilly-Fumé. It’s a sauvignon blanc in a controlled region of France. The Monopole has a rich heritage, as well. It was the official champagne aboard the Titanic. It comes from Heidsieck & Co. and has been around for centuries.
Our maître d’hôtel, Jeffrey, has been looking after us every day in the main dining room, aptly named The Dining Room. He waited until we chose our courses, and then selected wine for each course. Jeffery is delightfully charming. He’s been with Silversea for nearly 20 years. We were lucky to have him.
I won’t bore you with our entire menu, but Madeline enjoyed a great lobster salad.
I loved my caviar appetizer. The dinner at La Dame was wonderful.
Our expedition leader told us that after Cuverville Island, we were going to look for orcas. They were known to be in our area. After we came back from dinner, an announcement told us to head to the bow of the ship. Expedition staff on the bow communicated with the bridge and told us where to look.
Unlike Sea World, orcas in Antarctica not interested in being seen. But these were out feeding, and I was lucky to catch get a dorsal fin.
And then I captured his fin and a bit of his body.
This was another busy day for us. We turned in to get rest for another day packed with adventure in Antarctica.
That's it for Day 8 of our trip to Antarctica. More tomorrow!
Tips: You can learn how we planned our trip by reading Planning Our Antarctica Trip. Learn what we read to prepare at Reading Antarctica. And you can find out what we packed at Packing for Cruising Antarctica on Silversea.