Welcome! I'm glad you signed up and I hope you contribute often and much. Never be afraid to ask questions, offer advice, or even post tutorials on your specialties! Plus post two million maps for us to enjoy!
I cannot answer #2 at all, but on #1 "The Grand Debate" between CC and other apps has been mentioned here before, so I do not think you will offend in raising it as long as you're open, honest, and kind (which you obviously are!) Also, this is a good place to ask since I think we boast perhaps the most talented CC users as members here, so you will get the absolutely best possible answer to your question.
Much of the answer to your quandry lies in the differnece between raster and vector apps. I myself use Photoshop because I find it fits my predelictions toward free-hand maps. Also, the ease of use in CC's symbol sets is in my mind the program's most powerful attribute. Finally, IMHO there is usually some nostalgia and personal history wrapped into most CC users' love of the program; what I mean is that Profantasy, being the best of the early mapping programs, drew many users "way back when" who are still loyal to the program today.
Those are my two bits' worth; I'm sure others will be able to round the edges out for you, too. In general, though, I think it's true that the artist/cartographer is more important than the user. A great user with a good eye could create a nice map in CC3 or Photoshop or GIMP or... Perhaps not every one is to every single person's tastes, but still the quality is there. Look around our board and hopefully you'll see what I mean.
Once again, welcome!