The seas have long been a mysterious place for the various peoples of the world. The vast watery expanses have been plied for thousands of years by seafarers and many seek out the isolation that a life at sea can provide. It is that isolation; however, that can make the seas a very dangerous place. Being largely outside the purview of shore-based authorities, many activities are conducted clandestinely at sea with much greater ease than they would be while ashore.
These activities can range from innocuous pursuits such as gambling to more sinister enterprises like drug smuggling or human trafficking. While many regard outrageous undertakings as the realm of a small minority of seafarers operating outside of the law, the fact is that even the most highly regarded vessels and lines can attract nefarious persons and unsavoury activity.
Laid down in 1995 and launched in 1997 from Saint-Nazaire, France at the renowned Chantiers de l’Atlantique, the Rhapsody of the Seas is a pleasure cruise ship that is owned and operated by Royal Caribbean International. While it is an excellent cruise ship, it has had a relatively unremarkable service record, except there are a few dark stains on that record that the company would rather not be known.
For many large undertakings there are sometimes hints of controversy. The Chantiers de l’Atlantique is a shipyard that has produced of several vessels that held “world’s largest” titles at various points throughout history. The shipyard also built two amphibious assault ships designed after the French Navy Mistral that were ordered by Russia, but after Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, the vessels were sold to Egypt under protest of the Russian Government.
The most interesting of the ships produced by the shipyard; however, was the Rhapsody of the Seas.
Designed to have more glass windows than other cruise ships, the Vision-Class cruise ship was consider to be a top-of-the-line cruise ship. She was a common sight in the Caribbean before undertaking a few world-spanning cruises.
Along the way there were some accidents that caused some of the extra glass used in the construction of the ship to break, but this damage was repaired and the ship was renovated and updated in 2012 and again in 2019.
Minor structure issues aside, the real shadow that looms over the Rhapsody of the Seas were cast by the misfortunes of some of the passengers experienced while aboard the vessel.
It can be reasonably expected that there will always be a chance for accidents to happen any time that a ship leaves safe harbour and enters the dangerous realm of the seas. What cannot be reasonably expected is that one ship seems to have “bad luck” situations on a regular basis. The Rhapsody of the Seas is one such ship, and it has had three known high-profile incidents that could fit in that “bad luck” category.
The most recent incident was the apparent suicide of a crewmember while the ship as in port. Authorities claimed that the crewmember leapt to his death, but his family claimed that he had no such suicidal ideation. With a lack of evidence and the ship with a busy schedule, the matter was all but dropped and forgotten. What makes the crewmember’s death all the more interesting is that this particular death is among 13 others that were similarly dismissed and given only a cursory investigation.
Earlier in her history, the Rhapsody of the Seas was the scene of something even worse than a murder that was possibly covered up as a suicide – the brutal rape of an under-aged girl by a crewmember. What makes that horrific incident even worse is that there are many other rapes and sexual assaults that go undocumented and unpunished.
The worst, most intriguing, and most renown incident in the checkered past of the Rhapsody of the Seas is the disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley.
The below images are excerpts from 4chan.org and contain language that some may find offensive.
Early in the service life of the Rhapsody of the Seas, a young female pleasure cruiser, Amy Lynn Bradley disappeared as the vessel was entering port in Curacao. Unlike other incidents connected with the Rhapsody of the Seas, this disappearance garnered significant media attention and remains unsolved to this day.
What makes the disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley the worst incident in the history of the ship is the sinister connotations surrounding the event. While theories of suicide or accidentally falling overboard were proffered, the dominant theory is that Amy was abducted and sold into slavery, confined for a lifetime of sexual service and prostitution at the behest of her cruel masters.
Since her disappearance in 1998 several tourists visiting Curacao have reported having contact with her, including a US Navy sailor who claimed to not only have seen her in a brothel, but that she identified herself and requested help – something that the sailor was too timid to do for fear of repercussions for having gone into the brothel against his Navy orders.
Much like the “suicide” and countless other unknown, unreported events, the disappearance of Amy Lynn Bradley will likely never be solved. When the Rhapsody of the Seas finishes her service life and is eventually scrapped, the tragedies and mysterious circumstances connected with the ship will just become forgotten memories of some old ship from a past generation.