A cruise ship carrying thousands of passengers was expected to return to New Jersey after encountering hurricane-force winds and churning waves during a rough night in the Atlantic.

Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas departed from New Jersey on Saturday and was headed for the Bahamas, according to ABC News. But on Sunday, the ship hit “an unexpectedly severe storm” in waters off North Carolina, which left the vessel battered, according to Royal Caribbean Cruises. Four people reported minor injuries, the company said in a statement.

“We appreciate our guests’ patience and cooperation, “the company wrote on Twitter. “We know it was tough day on Sunday apologize for their discomfort.”

On Monday, the company announced that the cruise, which was expected to head to Port Canaveral in Florida, would instead return to Cape Liberty, in New Jersey.

“This decision was made for guests’ comfort due to weather forecasts,” Royal Caribbean wrote.

The weather service had issued a hurricane-force wind warning for the area off Cape Fear, N.C., but it was unclear how windy it got and how high the waves were as it moved into the waters off North and South Carolina.

The Post’s Angela Fritz took a look at the storm conditions over on Capital Weather Gang, writing:

A large trough in the jet stream had been pushing toward the East Coast late last week. Then the storm deepened rapidly when it hit the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and blew up on satellite imagery. Meteorologists didn’t know what to follow on Sunday night, the Super Bowl or the strengthening storm.
Some compared it to Hurricane Isabel, which was fitting because on Sunday afternoon it was boasting 100 mph winds — the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane.

During the severe weather, the ship’s captain asked guests to stay in their rooms until conditions improved, according to a company statement. Some of the ship’s “public areas and guest staterooms” were damaged, but that has not affected the “sea-worthiness of the ship.”

“I was shaking all over,” Shara Strand of New York City, told the Associated Press via Facebook. “Panic attack, things like that…. I’ve been on over 20 cruises, I’ve been through a hurricane, it was never like this. Never.”

Passengers on the cruise tweeted photos and video of the storm and the damage it caused when it tossed the vessel. More than 4,000 passengers were aboard, and more than 1,000 crew members, a spokesperson confirmed in an email.

“I’m not going to lie: It was truly terrifying,” Robert Huschka, executive editor of the Detroit Free Press and a passenger, told USA Today.