The World is Reopening: A Letter ‘To the Curious’

“To all of you who’ve been yearning to travel… it’s time.”

In 2017 award-winning photographer Steve McCurry and Silversea created a global creative partnership to mark an unprecedented fleet and portfolio expansion. It paired the world’s leading luxury and expedition cruise line with the eye of one the world’s most authentic explorers.

So in 2021, when the time came to celebrate a global return to travel, the choice fell upon a television ad campaign – a first for Silversea – with McCurry as the protagonist. The commercial opens with him sitting at a desk in an elegant cabin, as his ship prepares to leave port. As the camera pans closer, we realize he’s writing a letter: ink to paper, beautiful penmanship.

Over a montage of spectacular images – majestic glaciers, towering baobabs, temples perched atop jagged cliffs – his hypnotic voice encourages us to: “Go to the edges of the world and see there’s no end to discovery… the world is reopening, open up to the world.” Finally a butler walks in and, as he takes the letter from McCurry’s hand, we notice it’s addressed “To the curious.” Chief Commercial Officer Barbara Muckermann takes us behind the scenes of this new adventure.

This is a rather unprecedented campaign for Silversea. It’s also incredibly powerful: I watched it and felt an irresistible urge to pack and leave. How did you come up with the idea?

Silversea is facing its greatest expansion ever. Our fleet will more than double by 2026 and our portfolio will increase proportionally: already we cover 900 destinations. But this growth coincides with a very peculiar moment in the history of travel. The doors of the world were shut on us, quite abruptly; now they’re reopening and it’s our responsibility as the first global luxury expedition player to reignite a passion for discovery and let our passengers know it’s ok to start exploring again. They’ve waited so long, now it’s time.

Why Letter to the Curious?

Well, “to the curious” is our mantra, it identifies the kind of passengers we speak to. They’re travelers, not tourists; they collect people and experiences, not monuments. Curiosity is their common denominator, their driving force. Our job is to be knowledge brokers, at their service. Look, in the 19th century travel was a prerogative of the elite, and luxury tour operators were the pathfinders, opening the routes for all sorts of exotic destinations. Today exploring has become “difficult” again, fit for lucky few. Our mission is to accompany them to “travel deeper in luxury”, uncovering the most authentic gems at the most breathtaking destinations. This is also the reason why we launched S.A.L.T., our Sea and Land Taste global program: it provides our passengers with the lenses of flavor to make them better understand local cultures. The key is an exclusive approach to authenticity.

Was Steve McCurry your first choice for the video?

Absolutely! Steve is not only one of the most iconic National Geographic photographers. He’s also famous for his adventurous spirit and for capturing reality without giving up poetry. He’s the archetype of our passenger, perfectly embodying what we know to be true: luxury means showing reality from a point of advantage, knowing you can control all variables and offer the best experience possible. Featuring Steve as our narrator was a natural choice.

‘Letter to the Curious’ will also be a print campaign.

Yes, a very stripped down but equally powerful concept, with an especially breathtaking selection of images shot by Steve while he was on board with us; they’re almost like Polaroids on a naked page, taken from an imaginary travel journal, with the handwritten message “The world is reopening, open up to the world”. This connects us to the element of handwriting, of storytelling, and also to the original idea of an actual “letter to the curious” – an invitation, almost, though there is hardly need for one. People are ready to go.

What will travel be like in the next 12 months?

I think the key word will be “flexibility”. Our priority now is preserving the experience, while creating a safe environment. I was on board personally, since we resumed operations, and I’m happy to say our protocols have proven to be 100 percent effective, without disrupting life on and off the ship. But it is true we’re still adjusting, often facing sudden changes in local policies, so we’ll have to be flexible and be ready to change our plans as we go. Hopefully for just a little bit longer.

Do you think the ‘traveling brain’ of Silversea’s passengers has changed?

I think they have returned to the essence of the journey, which is the journey itself, more than the destination. They’re also more open, adventurous. Before the pandemic, what mattered the most was attention to detail. Now essence is what matters the most. Being able to travel is the number one luxury.

What about you? Has your sense for the journey changed?

I’m simply grateful to be able to travel again! I also promised myself I’ll put more effort into working through my bucket list. I would love to go to Antarctica for Christmas, and to go back to Galapagos. I was there once before, but for work. I want to see them both again, with the eyes of a traveler.