TODAY   |  December 13, 2010

Rough seas rock European cruise ship

Wild weather and high winds churned up the Mediterranean Sea, violently tossing around a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and its passengers. NBC’s Lee Cowan reports.

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>>> a violent storm in the mediterranean is being blamed for the rough ride aboard a royal caribbean cruise liner . huge waves tossed the ship leaving the boat in shambles.

>> reporter: she's billed as one of royal caribbean 's finest, with glistening glass walls and elevators, but it's a floating mess this morning and the ship sailed headlong into stormy seas.

>> it was just violent and we truly thought it was tend for us.

>> reporter: for tent terrifying minutes, passengers say anything not bolted down became a flying weapon. the cruise ship with some 1,600 americans on board left sman for a mediterranean cruise that included a stop in alexandria, egypt's largest port. but severe winds and rain have been battering the middle east .

>> i don't know why he would subject to us to this. i think he really put us in harm's way.

>> unlike a carnival cruise ship which had -- the -- in a basement reports of the ship almost tipping over or coming even close to that would be greatly exaggerated a characterization that angers some passengers.

>> the boat was completely sideways and everybody thought they were going to die and it was not an exaggeration at all.

>> it's like last week's cruise ship being tossed around -- but the damage to the ship was enough to shake passengers up and they're still at least a day away from dry land .