'There Was no Clown on Board': Cruise Ship Company Denies Reports Violent Brawl was Started after Passenger Dressed up as Clown

A cruise ship company has denied reports that a mass brawl started on the Britannia cruise ship on Friday after a passenger gatecrashed a black-tie reception dressed as a clown.

Both P&O Cruises and local police said reports blaming the fight—which left six people injured—on a person dressed as a clown were incorrect, Sky News reported.

Violence erupted in one of the ship's 13 restaurants in the early hours of Friday morning. The vessel was returning from the Norwegian city of Bergen to the port of Southampton on Britain's south coast.

Reports of the incident described passengers grabbing nearby objects to use as weapons, including plates and furniture. Six people—three men and three women—were treated for bruises and cuts sustained in the melee. Staff and medical personnel were called to deal with the fight at around 2 a.m., Sky News explained.

A correspondent for a British television show said on Twitter that the fight broke out after a passenger dressed as a clown upset others attending a formal event.

Richard Gaisford, who works for ITV's Good Morning Britain show, said many of the passengers involved in the brawl were also drunk, contributing to the sudden outbreak of violence.

"One witness, part of a group involved in the trouble, explained to staff that things kicked off when another passenger appeared dressed as a clown," Gaisford wrote. "This upset one of their party because they'd specifically booked a cruise with no fancy dress. It led to a violent confrontation.

"There was blood everywhere. Passengers used furniture and plates as weapons. Witnesses told me they were so frightened they had to hide as family groups fought," Gaisford said.

But in a statement issued on Sunday, P&O Cruises said there was no passenger dressed as a clown, Sky News noted. The cruise line confirmed to Newsweek that there was no clown on board, citing staff on the ship and local police.

The company's statement was corroborated by Hampshire Police, whose officers met the Britannia when it docked in Southampton.

"There was no clown on board or involved in this incident," the service said in a statement, noting that officers are still investigating the fight. A spokesperson for P&O Cruises told CNN that the matter is now in the hands of local police.

Two British passengers—a man and a woman aged 43 and 41 respectively—were initially arrested when the Britannia returned to port. They have both now been released but remain under investigation.

This article has been updated to include a statement from P&O Cruises.

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P&O Cruises' Britannia ship is pictured in the final stages of being built in Italy on September 23, 2014. James D Morgan/Getty