I would like to say that it makes me sick to my stomach to see Carnival and other cruise lines building these mega shopping terminals that they lock you into. You have to be savvy to find your way out of the maze of Diamonds International, Fat Tuesday, Del Sol, etc.
They are taking business away from the local economy by doing this. They are also (intentionally) confusing their own passengers who are afraid to leave the little cruise town they have built up to line their own pockets. Cozumel and Roatan were despicable approaches of these big titans of the sea trying to find more ways to separate you from your money----Carnival and RCI get a 40% split of all port / terminal sales--you better believe it. Why else do they only give you a shopping guide for the little terminal town they built up? Ask the locals---
Ports of Call:
We were dropped off at Puerta Maya Cruise Center---the all new tourist and trinket rip off center brought in part to you by Carnival. This place has over 50 retailers...they even force you to walk through Dufry ( a duty free cigarette, alcohol and trinket store) before you can go anywhere.
Once you find your way through the shopping maze, you then get to the taxi maze---yes there are taxis waiting for you at the end of the pier---but they also work in conjunction with Carnival and the terminal. We had to actually leave the whole area and walk a block or so to get a taxi that would take us to Playa Palancar. Sadly all the taxis at the terminal refused to take us where we wanted to go--because they get a kick back from some of the resorts. They also charged higher than normal prices.
Playa Palancar was awesome!--Great beach with a dive platform in the ocean, great beers and margaritas with great service and plenty of lounge chairs and tables---and it was all free--(except for drinks---but they were cheap)---we will definitely return there again.