An inside look at how Royal Caribbean's Izumi restaurant went from concept to success

In:
10Sep2015

One of Royal Caribbean's most popular specialty restaurants is the Japanese cuisine establishment, Izumi, and it has been spreading to many ships across the fleet ever since it first debuted.

The man behind Izumi's prominent success is Izumi Master Chef Travis Kamiyama, whose 30 years of experience are now helping Royal Caribbean create the best sushi experience at sea.

Kamiyama considers himself an artist and a sushi chef and began training at only 14 years old.  He is the brainchild behind Izumi, having envisioned the restaurant while in a Japanese restaurant in Kyoto.  He wanted Izumi to be, "a Modern Japanese restaurant with both traditional and signature sushi that caters to the international market."

"I foresee Izumi being an iconic brand that offers a variety of sustainable concept of sushi and hot dishes that will suit our guests around the world."

The story of how Izumi began goes back to 2008, when Kamiyama was introduced to Royal Caribbean by the former Vice President of Celebrity Cruise Line, Jacques Van Staden.  

Kamiyama worked with Royal Caribbean's Food & Beverage start up team to create the Izumi concept.  Kamiyama was tasked with coming up with an iconic Japanese restaurant that was duplicatable.

Royal Caribbean chose the name Izumi for the restaurant, because it means natural springs and art/decor, so the name seemed like a natural fit.

Izumi first debuted on Oasis of the Seas in 2009.  Back then, the restaurant had a cover charge along with a la carte pricing for the items.  Eventually, Royal Caribbean dropped the cover charge and went straight to a la carte pricing.

"Izumi started out way under, but management was reluctant," Kamiyama said.  "Today it's streamlined with only a la carte pricing and we are spot on in pricing."

Izumi's success meant the restaurant quickly spread to other ships in the fleet.  Kamiyama believes the reason is because of the food and the people working there, "What stands out in Izumi is not only an excellent menu but the heart of the people, the chefs and servers. They are dedicated and loyal."

Today, Kamiyama serves as the Master Chef for Izumi, where he visits different ships in the fleet to motivate and relay his passion to others in the restaurant.

"As chef, my goal is to give the best every day. We are only as good as our last meal."

Izumi will be coming to Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, and the restaurant will feature not only sushi but teppanyaki style dining at the restaurant's hibachi section.

What does the future hold for Izumi? The chef simply says, "I forsee Izumi being an iconic brand that offers a variety of sustainable concept of sushi and hot dishes that will suit our guests around the world."