Where to see a Royal Penguin on your Antarctic cruise

Royal Penguins in Antarctica taken on Antarctic cruise

Royal Penguin (Eudyptes schlegeli)

The Royal Penguin

If you are planning an Antarctic cruise you may want to get a photo or at least a viewing of these gregarious little fellows.

From a distance Royal penguins (Eudyptes schlegeli) can be mistaken for Rockhopper penguins and vice versa, however Royal penguins are larger and do not have the black crest. Close up they are unmistakable. Unlike the Rockhopper penguins the only place in the world that Royal penguins breed is Macquarie Island.


The largest colony is at Hurd Point and has around 500,000 pairs breeding there, there are also many other Royal penguin colonies around the island. Some rookeries are located up on the escarpment quite a distance from the coast and the penguins travel up and down daily, usually along a creek, as they go to sea to feed.

On your Antarctic cruise you will only come across these guys if you are visiting Macquarie Island. They do however sometimes pop up on other Islands in sub Antarctica but very rarely as they may be lost or just stopping for a rest.

Royal penguins also look very similar to Macaroni penguins but have a white face and chin instead of black. There are no Macaroni penguins on Macquarie island, however they do populate many sub Antarctic islands.

Most Antarctic cruises visit sub Antarctic islands and the Antarctic peninsula, however not many Antarctic cruises go to Macquarie island, so if you want to see these guys on your Antarctic cruise make sure you pick an Antarctic cruise that visits Macquarie.

Below are a few facts on Royal penguins:

  • Royal penguins are migratory, leaving Macquarie Island after the breeding season.
  • It is unknown where they go during this time.
  • During the incubation stage birds travel over 600 km from Macquarie Island and back again in three weeks.
  • They have a highly synchronized cycle beginning when the males arrive in late September to claim nest sites.
  • The female penguins arrive in early October and lay their eggs in mid to late October with the chicks hatching about 30 days later.
  • Males then guard the chicks for three to four weeks.
  • From mid January onward both parents are free to feed the chick and each adult foraging cycle lasts about two days.
  • The chicks fledge in late February.

So now you know all about Royal penguins, enjoy photographing these guys on your Antarctic cruise. Also check out the books below:

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