A SOUTHAMPTON-based cruised ship has been rocked by giant waves, forcing her to turn back to port.

Anthem of the Seas had sailed out into the Atlantic from New York, heading to Florida on a seven day cruise.

According to Royal Caribbean, the ship was hit by "extreme wind and sea conditions" which tossed the vessel around, off the coast of the state of North Carolina.

Passengers have posted images of the interior of the ship, showing furtniture strewn across the decks.

Robert Huschka, the editor of the Daily Echo's sister paper, the Detroit Free Press, is on board the ship.

He said: "The captain told everyone this morning that the day was among his most challenging — if not his most challenging — at sea.

"I'm not going to lie: It was truly terrifying."

Four passengers were injured during the event, though none seriously, according to a spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean.

There are 4,529 passengers and 1,616 crew members on board the 168,000 tonne vessel, she added.

A passenger posting on a message board at CruiseCritic.com reported waves crashing as high as the Deck 5 promenade, with water seeping into the ship through the doorways before watertight doors were closed.

Another passenger posting at CruiseCritic.com said a large white structure broke off the top of the vessel and landed in a pool.

Winds of up to 75mph were forecast, along with waves of up to 30 feet, as long ago as last Friday.

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3:10 PM Eastern time, the calm before the Hurricane. #anthemoftheseas #royalcarribean #Cruise #Pray

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150mph winds messed up our Royal Caribbean Cruise on Anthem of the Seas. Lots of damage and confined to our staterooms for 9 hours #anthemoftheseas Captain did a phenomenal job under the circumstances as far as I can tell

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Royal Caribbean said passengers will receive full refunds of the fare they paid for the cruise and a credit for a future cruise equal to 50 per cent of the fare.

Anthem of the Seas was christened in Southampton in April last year.

She was originally based in the city, but has since been relocated to New York, with sister ship Independence of the Seas heading back the other way.