BROADCAST DATE : Dec 2, 2011

Holiday Hell

Every year millions of Canadians pack up their bags and head out for the holidays, hoping that careful planning, travel insurance and a Canadian passport will help keep them safe.

In "Holiday Hell," the fifth estate looks at three cases of Canadian travelers whose dream holidays were shattered by tragedy. Their experiences raise troubling questions about whether vacationers' health and safety are properly protected.

Gillian Findlay examines a shipboard heart attack during a Mediterranean cruise. Heather and Bernie Hamilton booked a holiday ocean tour to celebrate their retirement and 38 years of marriage. It was supposed to be a risk free adventure with all the care and comforts of home. But when Bernie collapsed on the cabin floor, their dream holiday became a medical nightmare.

Bob McKeown tells the story of two daring travelers from western Canada. Their high-mountain trek to Macchu Picchu would turn out to be less a wonder than a struggle to stay alive when they got caught in a deadly landslide.

Diana Swain has the story of a mother of two from Ontario who went to Mexico for some fun in the sun. She'd just finished a game of beach volleyball and went into the ocean water to rinse off when she was attacked by a shark in front of horrified tourists. Her journey back to the Mexican resort where it happened takes her from tragedy to redemption.

Are vacationers properly advised about potential dangers? Is the medical care provided by cruise ship and resort operators adequate in case of emergency? And whom can you turn to when things go wrong?