Search for Missing Daughter After 1998 Cruise Still Ongoing

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A Virginia family desperate for answers is using aged images to hopefully generate new leads in the disappearance of their daughter.

Amy Lynn Bradley went missing from Royal Caribbean International’s Rhapsody of the Seas in March 1998, during a 7-night cruise that departed Puerto Rico and was visiting the popular Caribbean destinations of Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas.

Now that Amy would have just celebrated her 50th birthday on May 12, 2024, there is renewed interest to locate her and discover what happened to the young woman on what was to have been a college graduation cruise celebrating the then 23-year-old’s accomplishment.

Amy Lynn Bradley
Amy Lynn Bradley (Credit: FBI)

In the wee hours of March 24, 1998, Amy and her younger brother, Brad, enjoyed a visit to the ship’s nightclub before returning to their stateroom at approximately 3:30 a.m. By the time the family was to get ready for breakfast at 6 a.m. before spending the day in Curacao, Amy was nowhere to be found.

Despite a frantic search of the 78,878-gross-ton, Vision-class vessel – then one of the newest ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet – and an appeal to the ship’s crew to delay debarkation until Amy could be located, guests were allowed to debark for time ashore and Amy was not located.

Initially, the belief was that Amy may have gone overboard – either deliberately or as the result of foul play – and a search was launched that afternoon after onboard efforts failed to locate her.

The Netherlands Antilles Coast Guard used multiple assets in the search for the overboard passenger, including helicopters and a radar plane.

Amy was known as a strong swimmer and had been certified as a lifeguard, so hope was held that she could have survived going overboard and search efforts continued for four days.

Read Also: What Happens During a Cruise Ship Overboard Alarm?

Unfortunately, Amy was not located within that time frame. At no time was any evidence recovered, either on the ship or in the water.

Artificially-aged photos of Amy were added to the missing person files in 2017 in the hopes that she may yet be located. It must be noted, however, that such photos cannot take into account 20 years – now more than 25 years – of lifestyle activities.

Weight fluctuations, body modification, sunlight exposure for skin aging, hairstyle choices, scars, and more might affect Amy’s current appearance.

Later Sightings

In the months and years following Amy’s disappearance, tenuous sightings have kept the family hopeful that she may still be alive.

“We get up every single day with the thought that today, maybe we’ll find Amy,” said Amy’s mother, Iva Bradley, in a 2018 FBI interview.

In the first days of the search, two passengers on the ship claimed to have seen a woman matching Amy’s description onboard in an elevator after the time of her disappearance, but that lead did not provide any progress in the immediate search. Similarly, a local cab driver reported seeing Amy but his report could not be verified.

In August 1998, another visitor to Curacao reported seeing a woman appearing to be Amy accompanied by two men on the beach. The witness claimed that the woman seemed distressed and was trying to get his attention, and her tattoos – a sun, a blue Gecko, a Chinese character, and a Tasmanian devil – matched Amy’s description.

Another sighting was reported in January 1999 by a US Navy officer who claimed to have been approached by a woman calling herself Amy Bradley at a brothel in Curacao.

He did not report the sighting immediately, however, having been concerned for his career if he was identified as visiting a brothel. This is another sighting that was never confirmed.

In March 2005 another witness claimed to have spotted Amy in a store restroom in Barbados – more than 600 miles east of Curacao. The female witness claims that the woman identified herself as Amy from Virginia but was taken away by three men before any more information could be exchanged.

Finally, in November 2005, a photo surfaced that showed a woman with a strong resemblance to Amy posing in lingerie, appearing to be uncomfortable. This may be an indication that Amy could have been captured into a sex trafficking operation, but has been unable to be confirmed.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to offer a reward of up to $25,000 for information in the case, while the family is offering an additional reward of up to $250,000 for Amy’s safe return. There have never been any arrests made in the case.

“If you have any information concerning the disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley, please contact your local FBI office, or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate,” the FBI’s missing persons page reads.

Officially, Amy was declared legally deceased on March 24, 2010.

The tragic case has been featured on various television shows, including America’s Most Wanted in May 1999 and Disappeared in 2018, as well as Dr. Phil and numerous crime podcasts.

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