Cruise passenger capacity in South America will increase by 40 percent for the 2009-2010 season (November through April), compared to 2008-2009, according to estimates by Cruise Industry News.

The most significant jump is by MSC Cruises, which will sail with six ships in 09-10 (including the 2,550-passenger Orchestra), compared to four ships in 08-09, and is expected to have a passenger capacity of more than 250,000, compared to fewer than 150,000 in 08-09 – a near 80 percent increase year-over-year.

Costa Cruises will also be increasing its presence in South America – by nearly 20 percent – adding the 3,000-passenger Concordia (sailing with the Magica and Victoria) in 09-10 for a total of 110,000 passengers, compared to 92,000 passengers for the 08-09 season, when the line sailed with the Magica, Mediterranea and Romantica.

Royal Caribbean, Princess, and NCL are all expected to be relatively flat year-over-year, but are sourcing more passengers in South American markets.