Three people have died after travelling on a cruise ship with coronavirus patients that has docked in Florida, authorities said.

Two people were reported dead on the Coral Princess, which docked on Saturday in Miami where 14 of its passengers were taken to hospitals.

It was not clear if those taken to hospital had coronavirus symptoms, but one person later died.

Earlier, Princess Cruises said seven passengers and five crew members on the Coral Princess had tested positive for Covid-19.

Passengers on board the Coral Princess (Lynne Sladky/AP)The Coral Princess, carrying 1,020 passengers and 878 crew members, had been in limbo for days awaiting permission to dock.

Those in need of hospital treatment disembarked first on Sunday, the cruise line said. Those fit to fly began leaving on Sunday, while others with symptoms of respiratory illness will remain on board until cleared by ship doctors.

Earlier, the cruise ships Zaandam and Rotterdam were permitted to dock at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, with 14 critically ill people taken immediately to hospitals. The remaining passengers were slowly being allowed to board flights for home.

The Coral Princess had been on a South American cruise that was due to end on March 19 in Buenos Aires. Since then, the ship has encountered obstacles to docking because of various port closures and cancellation of airline flights, the cruise line said.

Passengers have self-isolated in their staterooms and meals have been delivered by room service. Crew members have also remained in their quarters when they are not working.

The US Coast Guard said it has been involved with processing about 120 vessels carrying some 250,000 passengers over the past three weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic.