We had to turn back eventually, though Dad found one last photo op:
We were back at the bus well before all the stragglers, then almost immediately got off again to take a photo of a group of guanacos.
While admiring them I was chatting with our guide and mentioned that there was guanaco yarn available on the Web. She was extremely excited because she'd heard that there was a project to support guanaco conservation by selling yarn, but she didn't know the yarn was on the market yet. I must say that just by observation there seem to be a lot of guanacos out there, so the conservation efforts seem to be working.
The return drive was less entertaining than the drive out, mostly because the air conditioning in the bus broke. Faint cries from the soft American tourists went unheeded as the driver pushed all the buttons without effect. The blower was kaput. I slept as much as possible to get through the time faster. An hour out of Puerto Madryn they had a brainstorm: How about if we open the roof vents? (The passengers' earlier efforts to open the bus windows had been stymied by industrial sealant and impervious locking mechanisms. Hey, they warned us right on the NCL website that for Patagonian buses, working AC and microphones were the exception, not the rule!)
We were back on board the Sun in plenty of time, much to the chagrin of us thwarted penguin lovers - we could easily have had another half hour at Punta Tombo. I can't really blame our guide, though - I imagine NCL gets a bit cranky if they have to delay sailing because a tour bus isn't back yet.
We stayed up till 10:30 that night because there was a Chocolate Extravaganza in the main dining room from 10:30 to 11:30. There was a long line - we should have gone down early - but once in it was very pretty, with ice sculptures and beautifully arranged platters of delicacies everywhere. (Drat! I forgot to bring my camera.) I had to wake Dad up to come down for it, but he thought it was worth it!