Hi sabrejobs, and welcome to MySwissAlps!
>> I read that Lucerne to Pilatus was covered on the Swiss Rail Pass and it costs 50% if you have the Eurail pass. Is that right?
Yes, Luzern to Pilatus is free with the Swiss Travel Pass in 2017. A Eurail Pass will get you a 50% discount for the whole trip. However, in order to get the discount on the bus between Luzern and Kriens with a Eurail Pass, you might have to buy the whole round trip in one transaction, as Eurail Passes don't cover "normal" trips on local buses.
>> I also thought I read that NO PASS covers the ride to the Matterhorn.
You can't ride to the Matterhorn, but you can go to places like the Gornergrat or Klein Matterhorn to view the Matterhorn.
The Swiss Travel Pass will get you 50% discount on the trip from Zermatt to the Gornergrat and Klein Matterhorn (as well as other mountain transport in Zermatt). The Eurail Pass is not valid for any mountain transport in Zermatt.
>> I believe the Lake Lucerne cruise is covered by the Swiss Rail Pass. Is it covered with the Eurail Pass?
Cruises on the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne) are free with the Swiss Travel Pass. You get 50% discount with a Eurail Pass.
>> It's really time consuming to figure out which is the best of all the choices.
You can download maps showing what is covered by each pass within Switzerland.
As explained in the legend on the maps, red lines are trains, yellow lines are buses, black lines are cable cars, white lines are boats. Solid lines are free, dotted lines are discounted. Discounts are mostly 50%, but only 25% for transport where you see the number "1" inside circle near the dotted line. There are a few grey lines on the maps as well, which are different for each pass. These indicate transport that is not covered by the pass.
Swiss Travel Pass coverage
Eurail Pass coverage
www.sbb.ch/content/dam /infrastruktur/trafima ge/karten/karte-geltungsbereich-InterRail-EuRail.pdf
>> We are in our 70's (seniors) and will be traveling together the whole time. We are in Switzerland 10/12 to 10/16 and Italy 10/16-10/22. The Italy cost is only about $98 PP by rail. The only other thing we can take separately is the ride from ZRH airport to Lucerne which is about $30 PP. We are only traveling 2nd class. We could really use some advise to pin this down.
I have not travelled extensively in Italy, but I have read that fares are comparatively inexpensive, and a Eurail pass is often not good value.
On the other hand, a pass of some sort will nearly always save you a lot of money in Switzerland, and a Swiss Travel Pass provides substantially better coverage than a Eurail Pass.
There is only one way to be sure, and that is to plan a detailed itinerary and add up the cost of every train, bus, boat and cable car you are likely to take during your whole trip, and compare the cost of individual tickets with the cost using various passes.
If you can't be bothered doing that, my best guess is that a 4-day Swiss Travel Pass would suit you. You would need to buy individual tickets for your first or last day in Switzerland, whichever was least expensive. Then individual tickets in Italy. But I say this without knowing in detail what all your plans are. If you want to do detailed calculations, this page will help you:
www.myswissalps.com/tr ain/ticketspasses/prac tical/chooserailpass