Royal Caribbean Hides Starlets in Genesis Illustrations

April 24, 2008

When Royal Caribbean distributed renderings of the new Central Park area on its Genesis-class ships, we had no idea the digital illustrations were like a game of "Where's Waldo?" Instead of a funny man with big glasses and a red-and-white striped outfit, the pictures apparently hid photos of celebrities hanging out on balconies and strolling along pathways. But the joke may be on Royal Caribbean ... for breaking the law by using copyrighted material without permission.

Entertainment news source TMZ discovered that two of the Genesis renderings contained photos of Audrina Patridge and Lauren Conrad, stars of MTV's "The Hills." Rights to the original photo belong to photo agency Bauer Griffin, but Royal Caribbean never asked for permission to use the pics of the starlets.

To really appreciate the shrewdly engineered image hijacking, click on the photos below to view each rendering in more detail:

According to Royal Caribbean's PR firm, the cruise line had no idea the celebrities were in the illustrations, either. A vendor hired to create the renderings inserted the photos, without informing Royal Caribbean. Both the cruise line and the vendor have apologized to Bauer Griffin, and Royal Caribbean has removed the photos in question from its Genesis website.

At this time, Bauer Griffin has not contacted Royal Caribbean to demand payment for use of the photos.

Royal Caribbean doesn't know if other celebs are hiding out at the Parkside Gallery, Chops Grille or the Rising Tide Bar, and has asked its vendor to remove any other unauthorized images. Feel free to play your own version of "Where's Waldo?" and see if you can spot other stars taking a virtual cruise on Genesis. Let us know if you do.

Bauer Griffin's bloggers apparently find the situation as amusing as we do -- in response to the TMZ report, they've begun Photoshopping Audrina and Lauren into other celebrity photos on their website.

--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor