Rebecca Coriam beat out hundreds of other hopefuls when she landed a job aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship in 2010. But what should have been a great adventure ended in tragedy less than a year later when Rebecca disappeared without a trace.
24-year-old Rebecca had joined the ship as a childminder, having previously spent four months at Camp America teaching sports. Although far away from her home in Chester, England, Rebecca maintained regular contact with her friends and family via Skype and Facebook, and had also returned home on a couple of occasions, once in between cruises and another time for her grandfather's funeral. She had been working on the ship for nine months before she vanished.
On March 21, 2011, she sent her Mum, Ann, a message on Facebook, letting her know that she would give her a call the next day. But when the phone rang late the next evening, it was not Rebecca on the other end of the line, but a Disney official informing her parents that their daughter had gone missing.
At the time of Rebecca's disappearance, the ship had been just off the coast of Mexico, where she had missed the start of her shift. The last known sighting of Rebecca was at 5:45 am, where she was captured by a security camera talking on the phone, looking visibly distressed and wearing clothes that are far too big for her.
In the footage, a young man approaches her and asks if she is okay, to which she appears to reply, ‘Yeah, fine’, and hangs up the phone. Her whereabouts after that phone call remain a mystery. Rebecca was due for work at 9 am that same morning, and when she didn't turn up the ship put out a message over the tannoy system. When a search of the ship proved fruitless, the coast guard was called and an investigation was launched. The boat, however, was not turned around. Since then, the US Coast Guard and Mexican Navy have both searched the waters through which the Disney Wonder had sailed, but have found no trace of Rebecca.
A Bahamanian investigator came on board, tasked with searching for clues and interviewing the 3,000 passengers and crew on board, though it is not clear how many interviews were actually carried out. The investigator soon came to the conclusion that Rebecca had fallen overboard, possibly swept into the water by a rogue wave. Some suspect that she jumped. But on a ship covered with CCTV cameras, it's unclear how either of these scenarios could have happened unnoticed. Rebecca's family certainly don't buy the suicide theory - in her cabin they found three tickets to Disneyland Paris, which she had planned to surprise them with the next time she flew home.
Rebecca's parents were highly critical of the investigation, claiming that the investigator only spent one day aboard the ship, and that they have never received a copy of his final report. They were also given a pair of Rebecca's flip flops found on the ship's deck that turned out to belong to someone else - they even had a different name written on the side.
As Rebecca's disappearance began to gain traction in the press, details of her private life made their way into the public eye. Another woman who worked on board claimed to have been in a relationship with Rebecca and that she had been with her just before she made the phone call in the early hours of March 21. Also present was the woman's boyfriend, another employee, who had recently returned from shore leave. She claimed that they had a threesome before an upset Rebecca left the cabin, saying she was going to go for a walk. Neither the woman or her boyfriend have ever been arrested for any wrongdoing.
Though it is hard to separate fact from fiction in the disappearance of Rebecca Coriam, as far as the authorities are concerned the case is closed. In 2015, her parents reached a settlement with Disney for an undisclosed sum, under the condition that they would no longer speak publicly about their daughter's disappearance. Between the murky depths of international waters and a multi billion dollar company with an image to protect, it seems that the fate of Rebecca Coriam may forever remain a mystery.