Responding to the question about the food and pools on the Zuiderdam....
I haven't personally sailed on any HAL ship other than the Zuiderdam, but my wife was on the Veendam a few years ago. She and I just returned from a Zuiderdam cruise yesterday. We've cruised about ten other times, including all major lines except Princess.
The food on the Zuiderdam was excellent, probably the best we've had on any cruise. Consistent with other HAL ships, they don't try to get too fancy or exotic. But that suits me fine; there was always something on the menu I wanted.
Everything in the main dining room was great, including the service. They served Alaskan King Crab legs one night at dinner (and the next day at lunch). This is apparently a recent addition. The steaks were consistently good and properly cooked.
The Odessy dining room is absolutely fantastic. There's a $20 per person charge, but I'd say it's worth it, at least once. We all had steaks, which are are ultra-premiumn cuts. But they had some other great-looking dishes on the menu, too.
The Lido dining room is huge, the most extensive I've seen, with multiple stations for different kinds of foods. We never ate breakfast or dinner there, but had lunch and afternoon snacks there several times. Most everything was very good. They have always-available pizza that was just so-so, and ice creme that was great.
We ordered coffee from room service every morning, and full breakfast several mornings. It was always good, with a fairly wide selection.
The pool configuration was the same as on other HAL ships, with an open pool aft and a "convertible" lido pool mid-ship. Both are fairly large by cruise-ship standards, about 16x32 for the aft pool and 18x36 for the lido pool. Both have the usual very-shallow area surrounding the pool, and a teak "sitting wall" around that. The decking around the aft pool is all teak, as is the beautiful full prominade on deck 3. The floor material around the lido pool looked something like a corian counter-top, but a little more rubbery.
The lido pool has the traditional HAL statue, this one of mother and cub polar bears. Our weather was good, so they left the lido pool about 3/4 open most of the time, creating a nice mix of sun and shade. We spent most of our time there. Pool chairs have nice cloth pads, which they take up every night. The chairs are nice, made of heavy plastic, but I noticed that the adjustable-back mechanism had already broken on several of them. The chairs down on the prominade deck are really nice, all teak, with the same nice cloth pads.
There was the usual scramble to reserve pool chairs, but we were always able to get some. It was a late-rising group on that ship; we found that if we got out there by 10:30, most people were still eating breakfast.