I cruised on the Zaandam last January. This was our second cruise on Holland America and we have a third one planned for January of 2004 on the Veendam to the Western Carribean. We were definitely not disappointed by the food, activities, shore excursions or anything else with the HAL line. Yes, the ships are a bit older and more "refined" than some of the newer, larger ships. But personally, I like being on a ship with only 1400 passengers. People I've talked to who have been on the ships with 3-4000 passengers complain that it's overwhelming. The waitstaff and our cabin steward were all very attentive to our needs. In fact, in only a couple of days, they knew what our drink of preference was with our meals, he remembered that I didn't like mushrooms in my salad, etc. The meals for the most part were very good.
Diamonds International is a place where you can buy diamond jewelry. I think they have shops in St. Thomas and also St. Maarten. If you want to buy a diamond for your wife, you won't have any problem finding a reputable store in which to make a purchase. You may even meet some folks on the cruise ship who can steer you in the right direction. One of our tablemates at dinner recommended a jewlery store in St. Maarten where they had done business previously. He wrote down the name and address. I was able to find it with no problem and was very pleased with the service and quality of my purchases.
If you don't care for drunken partiers and screaming children, I think you will be very pleased with the Zaandam. It tends to be an older, more sedate crowd, but there is also a good mix of young families and younger couples.