Steve McCurry’s Spiritual Catharsis in the Arctic Circle’s Svalbard Archipelago

Ten years ago, in June 2008, Silversea’s first expedition cruise set sail for the far-flung waters of the Svalbard archipelago, a secluded Norwegian outpost in the Arctic Circle. Steve McCurry recently visited the place where it all began to capture the essence of what it means to be an explorer.

And the calm archipelago certainly delivered: Unique moments, rare experiences, and unforgettable sights greeted the era-defining photographer.

Traveling by Zodiac, McCurry navigated ice floes in serene, glass-like waters; experienced complete isolation on the remotest of beaches; and passed silently through the shadows of blue-tinted glaciers. He came face-to-face with giant walruses, witnessed fluking whales and wandered below vast colonies of soaring birds. He was humbled by the majesty of Mother Nature in this white-themed wonderland, as rarely witnessed spectacles imprinted on his soul.

McCurry’s photographs of Svalbard speak for themselves: They tell the story of an environment that is not governed by man, but instead by the elements. Here, wildlife is the protagonist of nature’s narrative, taking center stage for the experience of a lifetime. Approximately 6 million birds migrate to Svalbard each year, dwarfing the number of human residents which sits at less than 3,000. Polar bears, arctic foxes and blue whales can also be spotted by those in the know.

A type of spiritual catharsis, this was an exceptionally gratifying trip for McCurry. The storyteller captured moments that inspire a need to travel.

Svalbard by Steve McCurry
Marine birds in the Svalbard archipelago easily outnumber the human population./Steve McCurry
Svalbard by Steve McCurry
The rugged landscapes found in the Arctic Circle are hauntingly beautiful./Steve McCurry
Svalbard by Steve McCurry
An encounter with a giant walrus in the Svalbard archipelago./Steve McCurry

Capturing the authentic beauty of the world

Steve McCurry needs no introduction. He is most probably the greatest living photographer today. His iconic “Afghan Girl” image has captured the hearts and minds of thousands — the eloquence of her haunted expression, telling the world of her fate through her vivid green eyes — is simply stupendous.

So, when considering our new direction, Steve was a natural choice for us. He is a born storyteller with the soul of an explorer. His unique ability to capture what is left of the authentic beauty and truth in the world and express it with clarity and emotion is just brilliant. A McCurry image not only takes you on a journey, it inspires you to travel the world.

McCurry has been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, including the Robert Capa Gold Medal, the National Press Photographers Award, and four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest. To learn more, check out the partnership between Steve McCurry and Silversea.

Steve McCurry and Silversea Cruises

Ready to explore the Arctic Circle yourself? Browse these Silversea voyages in the Arctic Circle and Greenland, and see some of Steve McCurry’s images from Norway.