Hi, Mary Ann. They are both very safe. Coz is more commercial and has more than half a dozen of each shop - a Diamonds International on every block. Playa del Carmen is smaller with good mix of independent craft shops and things like with less of the mainstrean chains in Coz. Depends on what you are shopping for I guess.
I will spend my next visit to Coz on an excursion of some sort because I like the fact that Playa is more laid back. You can shop, dine or enjoy the beach all within blocks of where you tender in. Actually, some ships tender in, others dock at a pier south of town.
NCL Sun, Oasis OTS, Navigator OTS, Legend, Fascination, Emerald, Glory, Mariner OTS x 2, Sovereign OTS, Celebration, Miracle x 2, Pride, Fantasy
Snorkeling would definitely be better in Cozumel. They have I think the 2nd most popular reefs in the world! You can book through the ship or book on your own. Cozumel is a very safe island. Check out www.cozumelinsider.com or www.travelnotes.cc for information on Cozumel.
Playa del Carmen in growing so fast. From the Holiday, you will actually dock at the Calica docks, which is about 8 miles south of Carmen del Playa. At the dock, there is nothing but granite rocks around, look around to see if you can find fred flintstone working! . There will be buses for the excursions, taxi's to take to whereever you want to go and also 2 rental agencies to rent a car from. Also, there will be about 10 tents with local vendors in to buy stuff from. We were on the Holiday in April, and we just took a taxi to Playa del Carmen, did some shopping, and stayed on the beach for the day. You can rent chairs for about $8 to $15 for 2 chairs and umbrella. The waiters from the hotels will come over to wait on you. Bucket of 4-5 bears is like $8-$10.
Have a great cruise!
NCL Dawn (Repo 14 nite) 11-1-09
RCCL Mariner of the Sea (Mexican Riviera) 4-18-10