We walked off the Norwegian Pearl (cruise from Los Angeles to Miami through Panama Canal) early (8am instead of 10) because it arrived in Cartegena earlier than expected. We were originally scheduled for 9 hrs ashore) People with shore excursions had to wait until their scheduled time to leave. We planned to take a taxi ride to town. We saw another couple who agreed to share a cab with us. It was $20 (5 each) for the ride. The driver agreed to pick us up at whatever time we liked for the return trip (another $20). He was there early waiting for us. There were many other cabs we could have used for the return trip. He stopped for some photo shoots on the way back. (the fort, the wall, the monastery). The cab driver dropped us off inside the walled city not far from the plaza. We visited the Palace of the Inquisition. We paid the admission fee, and also $5 per couple for a man who gave us a private tour in English. It was a very interesting tour. Of course he led us outside afterward straight to an emerald shop in the same block. There was some pressure to buy, but we didn't. We don't know enough about emeralds to know a good deal in that area. We had not attended the ship's talk about emeralds. Because we were there early, we had the museum to ourselves. It was interesting, though macabre. We learned about the continuation of the Spanish Inquisition in America. We visited the Gold Museum (Museo de Oro). It was free. We walked the streets of the old city near the plaza enjoying the architecture and doing a little souvenir shopping. There are hawkers pestering you on the streets, but not in the shops. We felt safe. We always use money belts. We bargained for a coke and a beer from a street vendor. $3 for the two drinks. We visited the cathedral. We spent 30 minutes at a small internet place right in the old town. It was less than a dollar each. I had information and a map from Frommers about the city. The taxi driver also gave us a nice map of the city. We had time to take taxis had we desired, to all the attractions around, and that would have been much cheaper than the ship's excursions. Taxi's were plentiful. It is hot there, so we decided to return to the ship at 1:30pm. We bought postcards back at the entrance to the port, but there was no place to buy stamps there. There was no big shopping area at the port. The ship mailed the cards for us from Miami. Pace yourself in Cartegena. It is very warm, although many shops and attractions are air conditioned.We were able to use American dollars everywhere.