The Mysterious Case Of Amy Lynn Bradley, The 23-Year-Old Who Vanished From A Cruise Ship

Published November 20, 2021
Updated March 12, 2024

In March 1998, Amy Lynn Bradley disappeared from the Rhapsody of the Seas on its way to Curacao. Seven years later, her family received a disturbing photograph that seemed to reveal her fate.

At around 5:30 AM on March 24, 1998, Ron Bradley glanced out at the balcony of his cabin aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and saw his daughter Amy Lynn Bradley lounging peacefully. Thirty minutes later, he looked again — and she was gone, never to be seen again.

The easiest explanation for Amy Lynn Bradley’s disappearance is that she fell overboard and was swallowed by the ocean waves. But Bradley was a strong swimmer and a trained lifeguard — and the ship was not far from shore.

Amy Lynn Bradley

Wikimedia CommonsAmy Lynn Bradley’s disappearance has stumped investigators for decades.

Indeed, her disappearance seems much more sinister than a case of someone lost at sea. Ever since Bradley vanished, there have been a series of disturbing sightings of her. In 2005, someone even sent her distressed family a gut-wrenching photograph that suggested she’d been trafficked into sexual slavery.

This is the unsettling, unsolved mystery of Amy Lynn Bradley.

Amy Lynn Bradley Podcast
History Uncovered Podcast
Episode 18: The Baffling Disappearance Of Amy Lynn Bradley
When Amy Lynn Bradley vanished during a cruise on its way to Curacao in 1998, everyone was left baffled — and that was just the beginning of this puzzling tale.

A Nightmarish End To A Family Vacation In The Caribbean

Amy Lynn Bradley And Her Brother

YouTubeThe Bradley family embarked on a cruise trip that turned into a nightmare.

The Bradley family — Ron and Iva, and their adult children, Amy and Brad — boarded the Rhapsody Of The Seas on March 21st, 1998, in Puerto Rico. Their voyage would take them from Puerto Rico to Aruba to Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles.

On the night of March 23rd — the night before Amy Lynn Bradley vanished — the ship was docked just off the shore of Curacao. At first glance, it was a perfectly normal cruise ship night. Amy and her brother partied in the ship’s club. They danced to a cruise ship band called “Blue Orchid”. Amy chatted with a few of the band members and danced with the bass player, Yellow (aka Alister Douglas).

Amy Lynn Bradley With Alister Douglas

YouTubeIn the last known footage of Amy Lynn Bradley, she’s seen dancing with Yellow.

Around 1 AM, the siblings called it a night. They returned to their family’s cabin together.

It would be the last time that Brad ever saw his sister.

“The last thing that I ever said to Amy was I love you before I went to sleep that night,” Brad later recalled. “Knowing that’s the last thing I said to her has always been very comforting to me.”

A few hours later, Ron Bradley saw his daughter on the deck of their family’s stateroom. All seemed to be well. Until he looked again — and she was gone.

Ron went to his daughter’s bedroom to see if she’d gone back to sleep. She wasn’t there. Aside from cigarettes and a lighter, it didn’t seem like Amy Lynn Bradley had taken anything with her. She hadn’t even taken her sandals.

After searching common areas on the ship, the family became increasingly concerned. They begged the cruise ship staff to cancel the docking at Curacao — but they were ignored.

That morning, the gangplank was lowered. Both passengers and staff were allowed off the ship.

Rhapsody Of The Seas

Wikimedia CommonsThe Royal Caribbean cruise ship could hold up to 2,400 passengers as well as 765 crew members.

If Amy Lynn Bradley left of her own volition, this gave her an opportunity to sneak off. But her family refused to believe that she would have run away. Amy Lynn Bradley had a new job and a new apartment back in Virginia, not to mention her beloved pet bulldog, Daisy.

More disturbingly, docking the ship in Curacao also gave any possible kidnappers an ample opportunity to whisk Amy Lynn Bradley off the vessel and disappear into the crowd.

The Frustrating And Fruitless Search For Amy Lynn Bradley

Age Progression Of Amy Bradley

FBIWhat Amy Lynn Bradley could look like today.

As the Bradley family desperately searched for their daughter, the cruise ship staff remained unhelpful.

The crew refused to page Bradley until the ship was at port. They didn’t want to announce her disappearance or hang photos of her around the vessel because it might upset other passengers. Although the ship was searched, the crew only searched common areas — not staff or passenger cabins.

It was possible — but seemingly unlikely — that Amy Lynn Bradley had fallen overboard. She was a strong swimmer and a trained lifeguard. No one could find evidence that she had fallen or was pushed. And there didn’t seem to be any sign of a body in the water.

The family turned their attention to the cruise ship staff. They believed that certain people onboard had been giving their daughter “special attention.”

The Bradley Family

The Bradley FamilyThe Bradley family shortly before Amy Lynn Bradley’s disappearance.

“We noticed immediately there was a tremendous amount of attention toward Amy from the crew members,” Iva Bradley told Dr. Phil.

At one point, Ron Bradley remembered one of the waiters asking for Amy’s name, saying that “they” wanted to take her to Carlos and Charlie’s Restaurant during the ship’s dock in Aruba. When he asked his daughter about it, Amy responded: “I wouldn’t go and do anything with any of those crew members. They give me the creeps.”

This anecdote is even creepier given that Carlos and Charlie’s Restaurant is where Natalee Holloway — an 18-year-old American woman who disappeared in Aruba in 2005 — was last seen.

The Bradley family also heard from witnesses who had seen Amy early the morning she had disappeared — with Alister Douglas, aka Yellow, in the vicinity of the ship’s dance club around 6 am. Yellow denied this.

In the subsequent months, Amy Lynn Bradley’s family would write congressmen, foreign officials, and the White House. Lacking any helpful responses, they hired private detectives, built a website, and started a 24-hour hotline. Nothing.

“My gut feeling to this day,” said Iva Bradley, “was somebody saw her, somebody wanted her, and somebody took her.”

Disturbing Sightings Of Amy Lynn Bradley Deepen The Mystery

The family’s fears about Amy Lynn Bradley’s disappearance were not unfounded. Although the initial investigation led nowhere, multiple people in the Caribbean have claimed to have seen their daughter over the years.

In August of 1998, five months after she went missing, two Canadian tourists spotted a woman who matched Amy’s description on a beach. The woman even had the same tattoos as Amy: a Tasmanian Devil with a basketball on her shoulder, a sun on her lower back, a Chinese symbol on her right ankle, and a lizard on her navel.

Porto Mari

Wikimedia CommonsDavid Carmichael believes he saw Amy Lynn Bradley in Porto Mari, Curacao with two men.

One of the tourists, David Carmichael, says that he is “100%” sure that it was Amy Lynn Bradley.

In 1999, a member of the Navy visited a brothel in Curacao and met a woman who told him her name was Amy Lynn Bradley. She begged for his help. But he didn’t report it because he didn’t want to get into trouble. The officer sat on the information until he saw Amy Lynn Bradley’s face on People magazine.

That year, the family received another promising clue — which turned out to be a devastating scam. A man named Frank Jones claimed to be a former U.S. Army Special Forces officer who could rescue Amy from armed Colombians holding her in Curacao. The Bradleys gave him $200,000 before they realized he was a fraud.

Ron Bradley said afterward: “If there’s a chance — I mean, what else do you do? If it was your child, what would you do? So I guess we took a chance. And I guess we lost.”

The sightings kept coming. Six years later, a woman claimed to have seen Bradley in a department store restroom in Barbados. According to the witness, the woman she met introduced herself as “Amy from Virginia” and was fighting with two or three men.

And in 2005 the Bradleys received an email containing a photo of a woman who appeared to be Amy, lying on a bed in her underwear. A member of an organization that locates sex trafficking victims on adult websites noticed the photo and thought it could be Amy.

2005 Photograph Of Amy Lynn Bradley

Dr. Phil/Bradley FamilyThe Bradley family received this photograph in 2005 from an organization that searches for human trafficking victims.

The woman in the photograph is identified as “Jas” — a sex worker in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, this upsetting clue didn’t generate any new leads.

Today, the investigation into Amy Lynn Bradley’s disappearance is ongoing. The FBI and the Bradley family have both offered sizable rewards for information on her whereabouts.

However, for now, her disappearance remains a disturbing mystery.

After learning about the unsettling case of Amy Lynn Bradley, check out the story of Jennifer Kesse’s disturbing disappearance. Then, read about the unexplained disappearance of Kris Kremers and Lisanne Froon.

Katie Serena
A former staff writer at All That's Interesting, Katie Serena has also published work in Salon.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.