The U.S. Coast Guard is searching the waters off the east coast of Florida for a Canadian woman officials say may have fallen overboard from a cruise ship travelling from a stop in Freeport on Grand Bahama Island.

The woman's boyfriend alerted personnel with the Florida-based Celebration Cruise Line on Wednesday morning about her disappearance from the Bahamas Celebration, company president Charles Kinnear told reporters.

The captain then contacted the Coast Guard in Miami, which began a search by air and sea over an area spanning a length of about 1,400 kilometres.

Riviera Beach, Fla.

Kinnear said the man told the crew he last saw his girlfriend around 1 a.m. Wednesday. He left her at a gift shop on the ship while he went to an on-board casino before returning to their cabin.

Media reports say that when he cashed out and returned to his room, she wasn't there.

He went to sleep and raised the alarm when he awoke and found she still wasn't in their cabin, Kinnear said. Ship officials were informed of the missing woman at 8 a.m., as the vessel was about to dock at the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach, Fla.

Cruise line personnel conducted two searches of the Bahamas Celebration, but found no trace of her.

Federal and local authorities have not released the woman's name.

In a news release, the Coast Guard referred to "a 47-year-old woman who fell overboard," but the president of the cruise line said: "We're still hoping for the best, that somehow she snuck off the vessel, or she is hiding somewhere."

However, WPTV-TV, the CBS station in West Palm Beach, reported the woman's passport was still in the room.

The FBI has taken over the investigation and said it has nothing further to report.