“Like Middle Earth in One Place”: Silversea Guest Andrew Shiva on Inspirational Iceland

Dr. Andrew Shiva is no stranger to enclosed and crowded places. One might even argue that he thrives in them. As a clinical and forensic psychologist, he spent 10 years working in the maximum security prison ward at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, where he was a chief psychologist. And as a lifelong New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan, the 51-year-old has built his career in one of the world’s most densely populated megacities.

But when it comes to pursuing extraprofessional interests and endeavors, Dr. Shiva is drawn to opposite environments. As an an avid traveler and a devoted, professional-level photographer, he favors wide-open, far-flung and scarcely – if at all – populated destinations. “I used to love going to places like Paris or London… cosmopolitan cities. But at some point, maybe 15 years ago, all of a sudden it was about how far away can I get? How disconnected or off the grid can I go?”

Dr. Shiva found the answer in some of our planet’s most desolate and remote destinations. Wadi Rum in Jordan. Israel’s Negev Desert. The Atacama in Chile. The vastness of Antarctica. “There is a sense of freedom in these places. The solitude is energizing,” he says. “There is something about being so far from civilization. In a way, it recharges your batteries.”

Far-flung destinations like Antarctica and Iceland drive Dr. Andrew Shiva’s passion for travel and photography/Andrew Shiva

With 186 Venetian Society sailing days under his belt as a Silversea guest, and countless other voyages to just about anywhere across the globe, Dr. Shiva has found plenty of homes away from home to pursue his interests. But there is one destination that continues to fascinate him as much as it did when he first set foot in it: Iceland.

With about 3 people per square kilometer, Iceland’s notoriously low population density is only surpassed by less than a dozen countries and dependencies. This fact, coupled with the vast, otherworldly and dynamic landscapes of the island nation, makes it an irresistible destination for Dr. Shiva. The communion of the four classical elements – fire, wind, earth and water – is on full display in Iceland, providing endlessly diverse opportunities for capturing nature in its most primal state.

“Anyone familiar with the work of author J.R.R. Tolkien will find that Iceland is Tolkinian. If you drive across Iceland in any line, you will see glaciers, deserts, black sand beaches, volcanic craters, waterfalls… it’s like Middle Earth in one place,” he enthuses. “There’s a place called Þingvellir National Park where you can see the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates ripping apart from one another. It’s the only place where you can see this on land.”

As tends to happen with voyages of discovery, Dr. Shiva’s love affair with the Nordic island nation was borne out of pure curiosity. His first visit was in May of 2005, lured by the rising popularity of Reykjavik as a recreational destination.

Aerial view of Fagradalsfjall volcano’s crater/Andrew Shiva

“Everybody had talked about how Reykjavik was this party capital of Europe. Now I’m not a partier; I wasn’t coming here for the parties,” he reminisces. “But the idea that this small island nation was getting so much press intrigued me. And with all the glaciers, geysers, geothermal pools, I thought ‘why not’? It seemed like a cool place to go.”

The ‘why not’ quickly turned into a ‘why was I missing out’ as Iceland’s untamed beauty revealed itself well beyond the capital city. “At the end of that first visit, I remember saying to myself… I’m coming back. I didn’t know that it would take me 13 years to come back! But I came back with a vengeance.”

In summer of 2018, Dr. Shiva returned to Iceland as part of a Silversea expedition cruise onboard Silver Cloud. Traveling from Tromsø, Norway, and after visiting the Arctic islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen, the voyage featured calls in Grimsey, Akureyri, Isafjordur and Vigur Island before disembarking in Reykjavik. “I have always seen cruises as an opportunity to get an overview of a country,” says Dr. Shiva. “On that voyage, I certainly went to places in Iceland that I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise.”

Since returning to Iceland, Dr. Shiva’s visits have become more frequent and more extensive. This year, he has returned twice and enjoyed new experiences like photographing and erupting volcano from a helicopter. But whether the sights are new or familiar, the vast expanse of Iceland and the stunning geological diversity ensures that there’s always something new to experience. “In the space of one hour, I’ve experienced sun, rain, hail and snow,” says Dr. Shiva. “It’s like nature’s laboratory.”

A Visual Journey to the Land of Ice and Fire

On his numerous trips to Iceland, Dr. Andrew Shiva has become intimately familiar with the country’s vast, varied and visually vibrant natural attractions. And in the process, he has built a remarkable collection of photographs that encapsulate the rich diversity found within the island. From towering waterfalls to fiery volcanoes, the images below takes us on a visual journey through Iceland’s eclectic landscapes.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in southern Iceland/Andrew Shiva

Dyrhólaey, the southernmost point in mainland Iceland/Andrew Shiva
Hekla Volcano/Andrew Shiva
Aerial view of the active Fagradalsfjall volcano in southwestern Iceland/Andrew Shiva

“When I was a kid or a teenager or in my early 20s, traveling with a camera meant taking tourist pictures. But at some point it changed and it became not how do I take a picture of this, but how do I make it look different?. How do I make you feel something when you look at an image?”

Dr. Andrew Shiva
Iceland's Braided Rivers - Iceland travel
Skeiðarársandur braided rivers/Andrew Shiva

Hornafjörður fjord in southeastern Iceland/Andrew Shiva
Skógafoss waterfall on the southern coast of Iceland/Andrew Shiva
Iceberg fragments washed ashore in the black sands of Diamond Beach, near Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon/Andrew Shiva

About Dr. Andrew Shiva

A clinical and forensic psychologist, Dr. Andrew Shiva is currently an adjunct professor at City University of New York’s (CUNY) John Jay College of Criminal Justice and previously served as Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the NYU/Langone School of Medicine. He is also the President of the National Currency Foundation, a non-profit educational organization focused on the artistry and history of paper currency, and board member of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

But from an early age – 4 years old, to be exact – Dr. Shiva found a calling in photography. “My mother was an avid amateur photographer, so she definitely fostered an interest in me.” His first camera was a Nikon F – first introduced back in 1959 as the Japanese corporation’s first single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. Dr. Shiva also owes his passion for travel to his mother, as she started Ports of Call one of the first boutique travel agencies in the 1960s. “You could say I grew up with travel in my blood,” he says.