I have a Merkur 33C which has a nice weight and feel to it. A DE will give a nice smooth shave if you take it slowly and carefully. Cartridge razors are designed to keep the blades at good (safe) angle at all times. With a DE, the angle depends on your hand, so it is far less forgiving, hence the need to take your time.
As far as blades, there is a large variety available. I've used Merkur, Wilkinson Sword, and Van Der Hagen and gotten good results with all three.
Use any good gel or cream and you should have no problem. Avoid the canned foams since you'll be shaving more slowly and they don't hold the moisture as well.