Dozens of cruise ship passengers were hurt after their luxury liner was battered by an intense storm which caused it to rock dangerously from side to side.
American and British passengers were among the injured when giant waves forced the Brilliance of the Seas to violently list several times, sending passengers and furniture flying.
Photos taken by those on board showed the ship was left devastated – the Christmas tree in the main atrium was upended, rooms were ruined and windows were smashed.
Passengers said the water crashed over the 12-deck ship’s 10th floor windows as what should have been a peaceful cruise of the Mediterranean turned into a living nightmare.
The Brilliance of the Seas’ 12-day cruise was supposed to take it from Spain to Italy, then on to Greece and finally Egypt.
The extreme weather began as it approached its final destination and it is currently limping towards Malta to find port and drop off its 2,110 passengers.
It is very rare for a cruise shop to list, but the combination of 60kmh winds and heavy rain caused the 90,000-ton vessel to do just that on its way to the port of Alexandria in Egypt.
None of the injuries were severe and the worst affected were in shock with cuts and bruises.
Passengers sent pictures to friends and news organisations which showed the hallways scattered with debris which had been tossed around as the ship was thrashed and battered.
One picture of a bedroom showed the bed had been moved away from the wall and clothes were strewn everywhere.
Many of the facilities on board including the hair salon and amusement arcade were closed down, although some later re-opened.
Members of the website Cruisecritic.com who were on board also posted accounts of what happened on its forum pages.
One female passenger called dirtgirl, who was in her cabin during the ordeal, wrote: ‘I was flying back and forth.
‘My roomie managed to brace herself. The beds were sliding back and forth!! Broken glass everywhere as everything on it went flying.
‘Gym is in shambles – Ellipticals looked like monkey bars; spin bikes everywhere. Only wine, beer, and soda available at the Centrum bar and Schooner bar. Casino closed, shops closed. No one allowed out on upper decks.’
Another Member jimbo5544 said his daughter and son-in-law were celebrating the honeymoon on the trip but that it was ruined.
‘They said all computers had smashed in Internet cafe and Grand piano smashed into wall. Much broken glass all over ship, Windjammer closed,’ he wrote.
The Brilliance of the Seas is operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises and is considered to be the among the most prestigious vessels in its fleet.
It was launched in 2002 at a cost of $350million and has a crew of 859. Cruises around the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera and the Mediterranean typically cost around $500.
The facilities on board its 12 decks include an indoor rock-climbing wall, a seven-storey atrium surrounded by shops, a casino, a string of restaurants and an Indian Raj-themed solarium.
Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said the damage did not affect the vessel’s seaworthiness.
‘The damage was not concentrated in one area of the ship. Some areas remain closed but most public areas are open,’ she said.