1-Trade-offs between the optional & missing port-town explorations: e.g. full day Luxembourg vs. Traben-Trabach
At least 80% of the passengers on the ship took the Luxembourg tour. The ones who stayed in Traben-Trabach said they wished they had gone to Luxembourg. I expressed my opinion of the Luxembourg tour above.
Marksburg Castle vs. Boppard
We did not go to Marksburg Castle because we had been there before. If you have not been, I recommend it. Boppard is interesting but not that interesting.
National Liberation Museum vs. Nijmegan
The Museum tour was not offered on our cruise, but Nijmegan was not that interesting either.
Augustusburg Palace vs. Bonn
The palace trip was not worht the price, but we took it and still saw all of Bonn we wanted to see.
Alsatian Highlights vs. more Strasbourg
Tougher call. We took the Alsatian Highlights in a driving rainstorm, but it was still interesting. On the other hand, I would have liked more time in Strasbourg.
more Lucerne vs. optionals:
I took all three optionals and still saw all I needed of Lucerne. Would probably go to Pilatis if I went back.
Best of Switzerland
Weakest of the three, The boat ride was in a rain storm so saw nothing, The aerial tramway was fun as was the cog railway ride, but the dinner and entertainment were not that great.
This was my favorite. As someone said, it was "just a farm visit." I grew up on a farm, but not a Swiss farm. I loved every minute of it.
The time on the mountain was great. A clear day would have made it better. It was a long bus ride getting to and from the train.
Swiss day tours from Lucerne.
Other than Mt. Pilatis, which is probably desireable, I know of nothing else.
2-How good are the optionals' guides & are they native of their countries?
All of our local guides were good. Our guide in Luxembourg was an Englishman, but he had lived in Luxembourg for about 40 years.
3-Any weather or shorter day considerations for late Sept to Mid Oct?
We were there in early May and the weather was cool and rainy. The hours of daylight were probably a little longer than you will experience. Can't help you much there.
One of us took the Delta Works optional on the Holland Springtime cruise, which is recommended, but from a different port; so others should comment re Delta Works vs. Willemstad.
We decided against the Delta Works tour, and those who took it were mildly disappointed. Willemstad, on the other hand, is not a very exciting place to tour either. It's a small town with not much to recommend it as a tourist site.