Two people have been arrested after a man dressed as a clown sparked a violent brawl on a cruise ship. A 43-year-old man and a 41-year-old woman, both from Chigwell, Essex, are in custody following the fight which saw plates and furniture thrown during a black tie event.

Families ran from brawlers in the 16th floor Horizon restaurant of the P&O Britannia ship as it was making its way back to Southampton from Norway at 2am on Friday. Six people – three men and three women – were assaulted during the ten-minute ordeal and a number of people suffered significant bruising and cuts.

The party started as the ship left Bergen, Norway, just after 2.30pm on Thursday and the fight broke out in the early hours of Friday morning, before the liner docked at Southampton at 6.45am on Saturday.

There had been a booze-fuelled ‘patriotic’ event on board the vessel as its week-long trip to the Norwegian fjords came to a close. A female entertainer who works on the ship said: ‘There was a person dressed as a clown and this upset the other passengers. Things got out of hand very quickly, people had been drinking, and there was a fight. Chairs and plates were being thrown, people were very angry. It was shocking to see and some of the staff and passengers were scared and had to hide.’

Another female employee, in her 20s, added: ‘There was a lot of shouting, it was very scary. The police have dealt with it now.’

Martin Symons, 54, from Plymouth, who was on the cruise, told MailOnline: ‘I saw four people fighting and they were pulling hair and shouting. There were two men who looked like they were the women’s husbands. One of the men was out of control, he had his shirt all ripped open and stuff. He was actually beating up who seemed to be one of the other man’s wife. They were being kicked in the head and one woman’s earrings were pulled out.’

GMTV correspondent Richard Galsford, who was on the cruise, tweeted that there was ‘blood everywhere.’

A P&O spokesman said: ‘Following an incident on board Britannia on Thursday evening we can confirm that all guests have now disembarked and the matter is now in the hands of the local police.’

Britannia is the largest of P&O’s seven vessels, carrying almost 3,700 passengers at a time. It is currently in the middle of a two month stint of cruises of the Norwegian Fjords and Mediterranean, with the former lasting seven days and the latter 14.